Paternal Grandparents’ Guardianship Finalized, Securing Family Ties
Nikia Jones has cared for her 5-year-old granddaughter, Aniyah, since she was four months old. In 2021, after working with One Hope United for four years, Aniyah’s case was closed, and Nikia and her husband, Delrico Jelks Jr., were named Aniyah’s private guardians.
One of the most special things in Aniyah’s life is her connection with Nikia’s second son (Aniyah’s uncle), who is three years older than her. “Their relationship is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Nikia shared. “If one of them has a cookie, they will break it in half and give that piece to the other child. When they come home from school, they hug each other right away. They’ve always been this way – I can’t imagine them being apart.”
Nikia found out that her eldest son’s girlfriend was pregnant with Aniyah about one month before Aniyah was born. “My son and I can talk about most things, but he hid this. He was making bad decisions at that point in his life, but now, he and Aniyah have a beautiful relationship,” Nikia said.
When Aniyah was an infant, Aniyah’s father asked Nikia and Delrico to come to the hospital, because Aniyah was sick. Nikia received a call from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) around the same time, letting them know Aniyah’s arm was broken – probably from someone picking her up the wrong way – and they worried her son’s home wasn’t suitable for an infant. Nikia looked at her husband and said, “we have to go get that baby.”
When Nikia and her husband arrived at the hospital and met Aniyah for the first time, they immediately noticed that Aniyah looked just like Nikia. That night, they brought their infant granddaughter home, stopping on the way to purchase formula, diapers, and everything they would need to care for her.
“Aniyah has been with us ever since,” Nikia said. “She is sweet, sassy, funny, and everything a little girl is.”
One Hope United Case Managers checked in on Aniyah, helped obtain vouchers for furniture in her bedroom, and engaged with Nikia and Delrico in honest conversations about their family’s progress. “Our One Hope United workers got to know our children, which meant a lot to me,” Nikia said. “They wanted to be a friend if we needed anything. They helped us understand terminology from the child welfare world, and worked with our family’s schedule to set up visits. I appreciated those things so much.” After three years of visits, Nikia and Delrico’s OHU team agreed that their home should be Aniyah’s forever home.
Nikia’s OHU team describes her granddaughter as “sweet, respectful, and very intelligent.” She is currently in kindergarten, but she is already getting a head start on first grade-level learning. Aniyah loves reading, Minnie Mouse, and her older brother.
Aniyah and her brother know that they are actually niece and uncle, but they “protect each other as siblings.” Her relationship with her biological father, Nikia’s oldest son, is also blossoming. He visits often and helps Nikia with laundry and day-to-day household needs. “Aniyah knows her dad loves her, and she loves him so much,” Nikia said.
When asked what she would tell other parents or guardians in similar situations, Nikia advised, “make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. We don’t want our children to grow up hurting, or asking questions and hearing lies or unclear answers. As parents, we are shaping them for the world, so we owe them truth and clarity.”
She concluded, “These children need us. We are all they have.”
Learn more about One Hope United’s foster care and adoption programs here.