John and Mike are in their late 30s and have been partners for 7 years. John is a teacher; Mike is a writer who works from home. He is also a musician who supplements his income by playing gigs a few nights a week at a local nightclub and teaching piano lessons to children on the weekends. John and Mike have twin daughters, Presley and Aubrey, who are 3.
Lately, they became the guardians of Charlie, the 5-year-old son of Mike’s brother, Stan. Stan is currently deployed and will be away for the next year. Stan fathered Charlie with his girlfriend, Deirdre. The two never married.
Deirdre struggled with mental illness most of her life and suffered from postpartum depression after having Charlie, so her mother, Lorraine, moved in to help out with baby Charlie. The arrangement worked well until Stan was deployed.
When Charlie was only 4 months old, Deirdre left and died from a drug overdose a few months later. Lorraine, a kind and loving widow from Poland, grew up with her parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents living in the same house. For her, grandparents taking care of grandchildren is part of her culture. She found that her grandson Charlie was the only thing that helped her through the loss of her daughter. Lorraine is disabled and unable to safely care for Charlie without assistance, so she and Charlie moved in with John, Mike, and the twins until Stan returns from deployment. The house, however, is barely big enough for all of them. They have no extra space, no extra money, and no extra time. They do, however, have plenty of love to spare.