Grandparents Raising Grandchild Start Online Support Group

MOUNT AIRY, NC — A North Carolina couple is helping other grandparents raise their grandchildren with a virtual support group, Mount Airy Grands.

What do you want to know

  • Nearly 2% of grandparents in North Carolina are raising their grandchildren, according to the US census
  • Rich and Allene Young adopted their granddaughter, Sebellah, in 2018
  • The Youngs started a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren when they lived in Arizona, and practically revamped it once they moved to North Carolina.

Rich and Allene Young adopted their granddaughter, Sebellah. Their daughter was struggling with an addiction. When they discovered she was pregnant with Sebellah, they urged her to resume treatment.

The Youngs brought Sebellah home when she was four months old. What they thought was temporary turned into the beginning of their life together. Sebellah’s mother fought her parents for custody of her daughter for three years. Eventually, the Youngs were able to adopt their granddaughter in 2018.

“Our daughter could never cope with this separation or this loss, and I think that contributed in large part to her continued drug use,” Rich Young said.

Their daughter continued to struggle with addiction, dying of an overdose the following year. In 2019, the Youngs decided to move from Arizona to North Carolina. One of their sons and his family also moved to North Carolina. The Youngs wanted to give Sebellah the life she deserves in a safe environment.

Now 7-year-old Sebellah knows no life without Lolly and Pops, who she affectionately calls Rich and Allene. Navigating that journey prompted the Youngs to start a support group, Mount Airy Grands, to help other grandparents who have stepped in to care for their grandchildren. Initially, they had a handful of families meeting in person in Arizona. When they moved to North Carolina, they transitioned to virtual meetings.

“There are a lot of single grandparents who do this on their own, and there are a lot of grandparents who don’t have that kind of support. We know we are blessed, so we wanted to share our story to invite others to get the help they deserve,” said Rich Young.

The Youngs say building a community of grandparents who understand the experience is priceless. They are happy to be able to share ideas, advice and grievances together.

“For them, having a community of people on the same journey feels less alone when there are other people there to share experiences,” Allene Young said.

The Youngs have seven grandchildren in total, so Sebellah spends a lot of time with her cousins. Growing up, the Youngs anticipate difficult conversations about Sebellah’s mother, but they pledge to be honest with her.

“We will follow his example. We will be honest with her, and if she asks questions, we will answer them,” said Rich Young.

According to the US Census, nearly 2% of grandparents in North Carolina care for their grandchildren. Mount Airy Grands meet virtually every first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. For more information, click here.

Virginia S. Braud