80 years old and still raising a toddler

Video posted December 9, 2013 in News, Best of CommMedia by Danielle Malmgren


Eva Mae Conner lives with her great grandparents. She has been raised by them since she was born in jail five years ago. Eva’s mother, Adrian Conner, was not able to raise her. Eva’s father, Devon, has never met his own daughter. He is in prision for manslaughter.

Carl and Nancy Burns chose to raise Eva because they opposed putting her up for adoption.

Eva recently started preschool and is a very active toddler. Taking care of their great grandchild can be very draining for Nancy, 78, and Carl, 80, since they are so old. Carl is retired from the carpenters union, but still does a lot of favors for families in his hometown. Carl is also a member of the water authority and borough council, which keeps him busy. This leaves Nancy taking care of Eva most of the time. For most people their age, retirement is, “me time” but raising a 5-year-old doesn't leave much time for relaxation.

Eva’s mother Adrian is currently in and out of jail. She has been in jail for drugs, bouncing checks, and for hitting a police officer while under the influence. Adrian says she is grateful that she has wonderful grandparents who are raising her daughter for her. 

Eva learns everyday more and more about her background and understands why her mother is not around, but she is constantly pointing at pictures of her mom and says, "I love you."

Raising a toddler a huge commitment for people Nancy and Carl’s age. In the smal central Pennsylvania town where they live, Eva's racial background is an added challenge. Her father, Devon, is black and her mother, Adrian, is white. "I was always nervous from the begining. Not only does Eva have two parents in jail, but growing up in this society is very challenging when it comes to acceptance of race," Nancy said. 

Video: Grandma Nancy/What life would be like with out this little girl

Grandma Nancy says that if she and Carl weren't caring for Eva, life would be boring. Raising a 5-year-old keeps them young.