Suzanne Scott paced the waiting room seven years ago eagerly awaiting the birth of her great-grandchild six weeks premature.
In the spirit of devout Catholicism and a genuine love of children, Scott, 57, and her husband, Virgil, 73, planned to adopt the baby because their granddaughter, Mary Ann Vopel, could not financially support the child.
"You would have thought I was a first-time mother," she said. "I was pacing the floor."
But the Scotts were not new parents.
Their family is made up of "yours, mine and others," chuckled Suzanne, the mother of two from a previous marriage. Her husband brought three children from a previous marriage and his mentally handicapped sister into the family's fold. The couple adopted two more children together.
The Scotts planned to name their newest addition Scarlet, but the baby surprisingly entered the world a boy. On June 9, 1996, they named the dark-eyed, healthy preemie after Ryan White, a young hemophiliac who died of AIDS in 1990.
"How do you name a child that is just such a miracle," she said of the now 7-year-old boy, who is in second grade at Belair Elementary School. "I've never been in a home without children in it. I love children, I really do."
The first Sunday after Labor Day was proclaimed Grandparents' Day in 1978 and is the day many Americans will celebrate the influence of grandparents in their lives.
Many schools are inviting grandparents to join their grandchildren for lunch at the school this week. The annual lunch always has been incorporated into the first-grade curriculum, said Joy Quinn, Evans Elementary School's principal.
The Scotts went beyond the duties of great-grandparents when they adopted Ryan as their son, and they said they enjoy every minute of it.
More than 2 million grandparents provide basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing to their grandchildren, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are nearly 4 million multi-generational households in the country.
The Scott family can be a confusing one, but a loving one, as Ryan is told by his adoptive mother. He knows Suzanne wanted another baby but couldn't, and that he came from Mary Ann's belly. Only 10 months after Ryan's birth, Mary Ann died in Orlando, Fla.
"I told him we are just one big family," Suzanne has said to Ryan. "We all love each other, and that is all that needs to be."
Suzanne, a former Columbia County school board member, had no qualms about taking care of another baby despite her age. Her husband, on the other hand, had to think about it a little more, he said.
"I am having the time of my life with him," he said of the typically active boy. "I knew our ages and all. We talked to our kids, and especially our daughter (Ryan's biological grandmother). "It is a confusing family, but he is a lucky little boy."
Even Ryan's teachers can tell that the Scotts are very involved.
"We are going to school, talking to teachers," said Virgil, who takes Ryan to school each morning, helps with homework and plays in the pool with him. "His teachers tell us, 'We know you are working with Ryan, and we don't know of any other parents working as hard as you two are with your child."'
Although Virgil's age deters him from a few activities with Ryan, such as rough-housing in the pool, but Ryan understands he is not like all his friends' fathers, Virgil said.
The Scotts now share their Glennwood home with their daughter and grandson, whose father is in Iraq, and two dogs.
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