Oklahoma grandparents rallied at the state capitol Wednesday. The event was geared to raise awareness of a growing problem, the number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for the number of grandparents forced to become parents again. More than 57,000 Oklahoma children live with a grandparent. Many grandparents say they don't get the state support they need that would make it easier to raise their grandchildren.
News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger talks a Muskogee grandmother who has raised her grandchildren "I like being alone and so did he but we finally decided to get married." After being divorced from her first husband for 20 years, Sharon Reed married her second husband Malcolm in 1988.
She says the honeymoon lasted a couple years and then. "Then suddenly boom, three lively children. I think it helped us stay younger!" For personal reasons, Sharon and her husband took custody of her only daughter's three children, Heather, Michael and Mark.
It's been 11 years now, Heather is married and living on her own. 13 year old Michael and 18 year old Mark still live with their grandparents. Itâ€™s been difficult financially at time.
Sharon says they actually had a savings account but with three children, it didn't last long. And she couldn't get much support from the state. "The state is short on money. I don't think they're getting as much from the federal government."
Sharon says her boys receive vouchers for school supplies from DHS, $170 from the state for child support and medical benefits, but it's more than just financial support, but emotional, too. She says even though Michael and Mark see their parents often, it's not that way for all children. "A lot of children who are taken from their children have problems. Do you realize that if they are really deeply disturbed there is no place for them to go.â€
Sharon says her grandchildren are active, good students, and have bright futures ahead of them. While they don't have the money they thought they'd have for their retirement, she says they wouldn't change their lives with their grandchildren one bit. It's a life she says no amount of money in the world could replace.