Paula Freeman is the founder and executive director of Hope’s Promise, and adoption and orphan care ministry. She shared her story “Long Journey Home” in part 3 of Grandparenting Through Obstacles, which addresses “The Challenge of Non-Traditional Families.”
GTO: Paula, thank you for sharing your difficult but important story about your daughter who was in an abusive relationship. Why did you decide to share that story in our book?
Paula: I chose to share this story because it introduced additional grandparenting twists I believe others will relate to: having an adult child and grandchild move back home, and adoptive parenthood and grandparenthood.
GTO: What are you hoping our readers will gain or learn from your story?
Paula: Being a grandparent is relational, not biological; three of my grandchildren are not biologically related to me. God continues to write His story in me through my grandchildren.
GTO: What has happened in your life since writing your story? Any new developments or fun adventures?
Paula: I returned home this afternoon from Kansas City where I spent a week helping out with a new grand-baby. My daughter and her husband adopted their first child nine months ago. They now have two beautiful (one Caucasian and one African-American) daughters who joined their family through adoption and are nine months apart in age. Now in her mid thirties, my daughter was raised with three sisters, two adopted from India and one from Cambodia (in addition to three biological brothers). Our family photo looks like the United Nations. It’s beautiful, diverse and filled with stories of God’s grace and goodness. What a privilege to begin this grandparenting journey yet again.
GTO: What can you tell our readers to encourage them to not give up on their kids or grandkids no matter how bad their situation might look?
Paula: Wow! What a great question. I would tell them to put their hope in Christ, not in other people, jobs, circumstances or programs. God’s arm is not too short to rescue. Keep praying, but don’t stop your own life. Lean in to God’s grace then invite others to join you. You can still be okay even if they are not.
GTO: What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values to their grandchildren?
Paula: Pray for opportunities then pay attention! These will probably come in unpredictable ways. Cultivate your relationship with Christ, enjoy your life and grab every opportunity you can to do something to let them know you love them, delight in them and are on their team.
GTO: If you could give yourself a grandma nickname to represent your relationship with your grandkids, what would it be and why?
Paula: Mimi…because that is what THEY have chosen to call me. It is free from titles and other relational expectations. It is theirs.
GTO: Thank you, Paula, for sharing your wonderful story in the book and your thoughts here. You have such an amazing family. We’re grateful that you shared them with us and helped us learn from them and from you.