Suddenly grandma had a newborn boy and two-year-old girl to raise.
Carol Halwood was babysitting her two-year-old granddaughter Alyssa when she got the call from Child Protective Services (CPS).
The girl's mother had been arrested for violating parole in Cottonwood and told CPS to take her month-old son Caleb to Halwood in Flagstaff.
That was the day Halwood's life changed forever. Suddenly she had two children to raise. She already had a full life, which included caring for her quadriplegic husband.
"Just out of nowhere," she said. "It was a big shock." That was nearly five years ago.
Two kids. No diapers. No clothes. No toys.
"The first year was a struggle. Our church helped, my daughter helped a lot. Friends helped." Then she found Kinship Kare of Northern Arizona – known as KKONA – a program of the UACE.
"I was on the internet looking for feedback on grandparents raising grandchildren. I checked for local resources and came up with KKONA, which offers support groups, workshops and other services," she said.
"I met other grandparents. I think that was the biggest help to me. I didn't realize so many grandparents had similar stories – parents who abandoned their own kids. I was relieved. I felt I wasn't the only one anymore. KKONA has been our support ever since."
Years later, Halwood continues to attend the monthly support group meetings, learning from other grandfamily members and trained KKONA volunteers.
"The toughest job is to be a parent and a grandparent at the same time," Halwood said. She took parenting classes which helped.
"I put a lot of work and time and money into my grandkids. We're pushing it to give them whatever we can." That includes counseling, trips, and outdoor activities. "We encourage reading. We have a lot of books. They're so smart. Alyssa was advanced one grade. Caleb will be in school this year and I know he'll do very well."