(CNN) – Meet the Flynn family. Grandma Sandra is 64 years old. Her husband, Michael, who everyone calls Poppy, is 73. They are now raising five children.
Willa, 16, is the oldest. She hasn’t seen her mother in five years.
“She kinda disappeared. No one knew where she was,” Sandra said.
The “she” Sandra is referring to, is her own daughter whose youngest children were all born addicted to drugs.
“The state came in and said she could not care for them anymore, and they called and asked us if we would take all 5, and we said of course,” Sandra said.
An estimated 3 million kids in America are being raised by someone other than their mom and dad. The opioid & heroin epidemic has hit Kentucky especially hard. More than 68,000 children there now being taken care of by grandparents, relatives, or foster-parents.
“They’ve been abandoned. They’ve been forgotten in a lot of ways, in preference for the drugs,” said Mary Jo Dendy, resource center coordinator.
The group Generations United says nearly 40 percent of grandparents caring for grandchildren are over age 60, and one in five lives below the poverty line.
Sandra says she fears the long-term impact of being abandoned will have on her grandchildren.
“There is always going to be a want, a need. Something they didn’t get from mom,” Sandra said.
A generation of children who feel abandoned by parents they believe chose drugs over them.