LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - "I would have never wanted this role, but God's put it on me to do it," said Ross Horton, a West Toledo man raising his grandson. "I've been the best parent I possibly can be."
It's a story becoming more and more common; grandparents raising their grandkids.
A lot of this can be tied to the opioid epidemic hitting not only our state so hard, but also our community.
Ross Horton's kids are all grown, but instead of traveling and being an empty nester, he now sits and watches cartoons with his grandson.
"It was scary to jump back into going into parent-teacher conferences," said Horton.
Ross is raising King, his seven-year-old grandson who lost his mother, Shalonda, to a drug overdose in April of 2015.
"He's had to deal with death and that's probably been our biggest challenge the last probably six months," explained Horton. "He now is realizing that mom is not coming back, that we are the ones that are going to be taking care of him for the rest of his life."
Ross said it's been difficult to step back into the parent role while also grieving for his daughter's loss.
"My grandson has so much of her in him that there are days that I struggle because he'll say a joke, or he'll look at me a certain way and I see my daughter all over again," explained Horton.
While it's not easy, there are resources to help like at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.
Starting this Monday is the "Grandparent's Project" at the West Toledo Branch Library. They will discuss four topics at eight different sessions for those raising kids as a result of the opioid epidemic or other circumstances.
"The library is just a place of learning and this is another form of learning," explained Andrea Hudak. "It's learning what's going to be important for your life. It's learning how there are resources in the community to help and we're really serving as that connector."
The sessions are open to anyone for free and also offer food and programs for kids. They will talk about legal matters, behavior, education and resources that are available to those now looking out for a child not their own.
"We're really looking to help people just be successful to understand their children and understand what children are going through," said Hudak.
For Ross Horton it's been a learning experience, but what's helped him most is having others support him to provide for his grandson.
"It's just nice to know that you have a network that you can reach out to," said Ross Horton. "That is the most beneficial thing of all is knowing that you don't have to do it alone, just like an addiction."
The first session of the Grandparent Project is Monday April 9th at 6:00 p.m. at the West Toledo Branch Library.
The session will feature a panel of experts in the legal field to discuss legal guardianship, custody and more.
There is another legal session on April 24th at the Kent Branch Library at 6:00 p.m. with an attorney.
The second topic discusses emotions. The first session is at the West Toledo Branch on May 14th at 6 p.m. and the second at the Kent Branch at 6 p.m. on May 22nd with a psychology professor to discuss handling emotions, grief, bullying and more.