22-year-old is raising her teen half-sister after parents' death: "She’s my own child"

A 22-year-old college senior filed for guardianship of her 16-year-old half-sister after the teenager's mother died. For Hunter Nelson, it's worth the sacrifice if it means her sister gets a chance to live her teen years to the fullest. Hunter, who hails from North Carolina, lives in Kentucky with high school sophomore, Gracie, after her father died in October 2015, and her mother passed away in May 2021.

"I knew she was already facing difficulties with her life at home. I felt the strong need to make sure Gracie’s life after her mom’s passing was as normal as possible," said the elder sister. "I didn’t want her to be making ‘grown-up’ decisions so young, and truly felt no one in her mom’s family could make that possible."

Their father and the teenager's mother suffered from alcoholism which ultimately played "the biggest role" in their demise. "Our father also had numerous other health issues, including a form of cancer," Hunter told Epoch Times. "I love my life with her, and I love her like a sister and like she is my own child," Hunter said but noted that she wasn't aware of the emotional complications she would have to face when she was taking up the role as Gracie's guardian.

"But I sometimes do mourn the life I will never get back and what could have been my early 20s," she shared. Apparently, the two had been close since childhood but grew apart when Hunter became a teenager. However, that changed with they lost their father and subsequently Gracie's mother. "I protect her like a mother, and emotionally support her like a sister. She agrees that she supports me like a sister and looks up to me as her guardian as well, and I think that is really sweet," noted the big sister.

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One of the biggest challenges she's faced is being taken seriously. "Their first words are usually, 'Oh! Wow,'" said Hunter. "Then they usually ask how I did that, and tell me something similar they’ve heard of." Talking about her everyday schedule as a 22-year-old guardian of a teenager, Hunter said, "If it’s a game day, after school I make dinner and she gets ready, we eat, and then leave for the game. On practice days, I drop her off, make dinner, pick her up, and then we eat dinner. By the time all that is over with, we are ready for bed!"

They have a bunch of rules to make their lives easier, including swapping schedules every day, not making any last-minute plans until Hunter’s college semester and Gracie’s cheerleading season are over, discussing changes a day in advance, except of course emergencies. The two are thrilled to live together and Hunter cannot wait to "see where the future takes her (Gracie)." >

Source: Cover image source: TikTok | hunterenelson

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