Young Relative Guardian Steps in for 3 Cousins

"When I was 18 yrs old my grandmother passed away unexpectedly. ODHS came in and took my three cousins, as there was no direction on where the children would go when she was gone. My whole world caved in. I felt alone and helpless not knowing where my cousins were. I started having dreams of my grandmother showing me the kids and putting their hands in mine. I didn't understand the dreams and I was just happy to see her. But the reoccurring dreams continued, her placing my cousins' hands in mine.

I decided to stop by my grandmother's grave lost and hurt. Once there, it hit me...she wanted me to fight for them.

So I called the caseworker and said "I'm only 18 but I'm an adult now. What do I need to do to prove I can raise them?" They told me I needed a job, a home and that there would be classes. I told them I was ready to start.

I was excited, but also so scared. Can I really do this? Will they even truly approve me? What if someone else gets to keep my cousins because they are "more fit"? I'm just a child, why would they let me care for them? Sometimes it even felt as though I had done something to get them placed into foster care. But I was not going to give up. I told myself, "enough! This is your family and your grandmother raised you to never give up and to keep fighting."

Getting a home at 18 big enough for all of us was no small task. Beds, clothing, everything! I had no choice but to get my stuff together and be a good role model for the kids — scariest thing in the world, especially when you really just need one of your own.

So, after a few months of doing what ODHS asked, I got the call. "You're approved!" I cried out loud and told my grandmother she could rest now.

I remember the first day they came home. Hearing them fight with each other was music to my ears. Walking into their rooms that night seeing them asleep was like a huge weight had just been lifted off of my shoulders. Today, 20 years later, they are thriving with families of their own. We are closer than ever and I'm a grandma to their babies. I wouldn't change any of it. The hard, painful, difficult seasons were all worth it."

-Relative Guardian

This is the reality of many families impacted by foster care -- their lives changed in an instant. We want to be there to support and walk alongside them through these times of uncertainty. Learn how you can join us at everychildpdx.org.