A young child in Ireland has been removed from the care of its grandparents after the grandparents -- both in their mid-60s -- were told they were too old by the state agency in charge of child care, according to TheJournal.ie.
The child, who had lived with its grandparents for four years and is in primary school, has been moved to a foster family -- over the protests of the child's school, doctors who said the grandparents were healthy and fit, and of course the grandparents themselves.
In a letter, the grandparents were told that the state guidelines don't recommend placing children with families where the caregivers are more than 40 years older than the children. In a letter from the agency to the grandparents and viewed by TheJournal.ie, it states "While there can be some flexibility on this to a small degree, the 60-year age gap which exists between yourself and [child's name] is very concerning especially if [child's name] is to remain in long term care (which is the social work application before the court) until [the child] is 18 years." In other words, you may be fine today but will you be fine tomorrow when the child is a teenager?
According to TheJournal.ie, the child’s parents are not in a position to care for the child and the mother suffers with mental health difficulties. When the situation became apparent, the site reported, the grandparents stepped up to take care of the child for the next four years.
In order to convince the state agency that they were capable and healthy, the couple had full medical exams and attended parenting courses. “We are fit and well,” says the grandfather. The child's pediatrician confirmed that the child’s condition had improved under the grandparents' care and living with the grandparents had “afforded a huge degree of stability."
The child’s school principal also testified to the child being “very happy.” But despite this, the child was removed from its paternal grandparents and placed with strangers.
“We are honest people, I’ve never been in court in my life. All we want is for our grandchild to come back to us,” said the grandfather.
This case is reminiscent of another one, in the U.K., where a set of grandparents who were 58 and 70 were told they were too old to raise their grandchild too.
Clearly, it's a situation that resonates with grandparents around the world. In the U.S., the 2010 U.S. Census found 4.9 million American children were being raised solely by their grandparents. The number doubled from the 2000 Census figure of 2.4 million.
The good news for U.S. grandparents is that by and large, age requirements are flexible as long as your health, energy and desire are appropriate. The California Dept. of Social Services even noted this: "Retired foster parents are needed."
Readers, what do you think? Should there be a ceiling on the age of foster parents? And do you think it was a good decision to remove the child in the Ireland case?