After 30 years of marriage raising three of our own children and taking in two foster children with all its ups and downs, our nest was finally empty.

Yay freedom, freedom to recapture our very early days of marriage, albeit much older, but just the two of us with only each other to consider, life was ours and ours alone. We bought a convertible. The last one we had been in was a very old Mark 1 Zephyr, which had a leaky roof. Every weekend with hood down in our new convertible, we would venture out into this beautiful country of ours in search of antiques, many happy miles we travelled. A cruise was on our long list of ‘us’ time, to sail the seas and be waited on and see different parts of the world. Well why not, after all we had worked hard through our lives and had given back to society.

Our dream lasted a whole 6 months until we were asked to take on 2 foster grandchildren by Child Youth and Family. Our dreams came to a crashing halt, lives turned upside down, the needs of the children were so great we had no time to give any dreams a thought. And although we had moved into ‘dream time’ one very quickly moved back into the pattern of child raising again, akin to like slipping in to a comfy slipper. But this time of child raising bought about many challenges, challenges one certainly did not experience first time around and at times would drop us to our knees.

To look into the innocent frightened faces of two beautiful children a new dream developed, one that would make their lives safe and enjoyable as best we could. Also out of this experience a new and very different dream developed, an expanding of our circumstances and a realisation that many others, just like us had, had their dreams shattered into a million pieces. There was no support, so our dream became tangible and one that would make a difference hence an amazing dream unfolded and grew into Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ.

Over the years of raising this new family we were still able to take that cruise, although not to wider parts of the world and with a couple of little precious people extra in tow, thank goodness for kids’ clubs on these ships is all I can say. Instead of a relaxing trip to Australia, it was a crazy exhausting time spent at theme parks.

A memory from our Australian trip was going on a crab boat where they picked up the crab pots and cooked them for lunch, the children were fascinated and could be heard giving all the crabs names, much to the horror of the other people on the boat – now you try and eat a crab that has been named! Needless to say the children did not eat any crab and had chicken instead. Our dreams were being fulfilled but just a little differently to what we envisaged. People looked at us and smiled thinking what good grandparents taking their grandchildren on a holiday, giving the parents a break. Little did they know.

changing dreams

This was all 18 years ago that we began to live our dream for a mere 6 months, there was an interruption to that dream. Things changed as did the convertible very quickly, not very practical for young children being a two door, but we still managed to grab snippets of that illusive dream.

Now once again our nest is empty, but we are so much more tired these days and the energy is just not there. But would we change it……………nope.

Our dreams just took an unusual turn and we have given the children, now adults, a chance to dream for their positive future. This is a gift and a dream we happily give, may they cherish it and live it to the full.

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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