Real Housewives of Orange County alum Lauri Peterson has certainly been an open book when it comes to her son Josh's struggles with addiction. And following the birth of her granddaughter, Kennedy, in 2012, the RHOC mom made the life-changing decision to adopt her and become her guardian as Josh and his wife continue to deal with personal issues.
"As most of the viewers know, I have a son and he's had just a lot of challenges. And he and his wife had a baby almost three years ago. He's really struggling and, well, they're both really struggling. And so [my husband] George and I elected to help out and we actually adopted Kennedy, and so we're raising her," she told The Daily Dish in an exclusive interview. "It's been such a great experience because this is helping them out and hopefully they can get their lives together and be OK. But on the other hand for George and I, I've watched him raise his kids, he's watched me raise my kids, but we didn't have a child together and now I get to see a side of George that I've never seen before. And if I was in love with him before, I've fallen so hard in love with him now because he is so generous to take on this huge responsibility."
The decision to adopt the tot wasn't an easy one, but Lauri shared that "there just wasn't a lot of options." "There's this beautiful child. I was there for her birth and I connected and bonded and I never knew it would go in this direction. When it was evident that we needed to step in to help and I talked it over with George — we were like two seconds away from being empty-nesters. And I would say it was something, I mean, he was startled and he was really opposed to it initially."
But after spending time with Kennedy, that all changed and the twosome stepped up and trasitioned from grandparents to parents again. "I brought her home, just to kind of feel it out," Lauri recalled. "She was six months [at the time]. And so I brought her home while George was sleeping... In the morning, I put her over to him and he was like 'What was that?' And he like growled at her and it scared her... and then all of a sudden, over the two weeks that I had her, they just formed this little bond and they'd growl at each other. She's got him so wrapped."
Lauri made it clear that the decision wasn't all fun and games for the couple, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary back in September. "It was long conversations because George is at a time where he's thinking of winding down his business and we really wanted to travel the world and put that 'Gone fishing' sign on our door and be gone," she said. "But this my first granddaughter and she's precious and she's smart and she's beautiful and she needed somebody."
Having already raised three kids, the RHOC alum says that she brings those past experiences to her experience raising Kennedy, who she adds now calls her "mommy." "It's starting all over again, but it's totally different," she said. "So I've got so much wisdom and it's so easy and I've got my oldest daughter, Ashley, and she's a huge help. And Kennedy just loves Ashley. And she loves all of her little cousins and her aunts and uncles and everybody."
Not that the situation hasn't come without some issues. "So we're at a weird place because initially she was calling me 'Nana' and George 'Papa.' And now she's starting to go to pre-school and realizing [kids call their caregivers] 'Mommy' and 'Daddy.' So she'll come home and say, 'Are you my mommy and daddy?' So, we're going through a lot of transition right now and trying to figure out how we're going to approach this. And we'll use doctors and psychologists and figure out the right way, but we're in her life and we're there permanently. I try not to cry, but it's really touched our whole family."