Everything his grandpa does, 5-year-old Colton wants to do. Even if it means wearing Crocs with socks.
"If grandpa wears his Crocs with socks, Colton has to wear his Crocs with socks," Pennie Krietemeier, 53, told NBC News. "I have to walk behind them because it's so embarrassing."
Her grandson's idolization of his grandfather Randy, 53, is one of the sweet spots in a childhood that has otherwise been marked by chaos.
As the opioid epidemic forces increasing numbers of children into foster care or otherwise out of their parents' custody, grandparents like the Krietemeiers are stepping in, NBC News reported. Those grandparents face the daunting task of caring for young, vulnerable children while navigating courtrooms and complex child welfare systems, often with little financial or social support — all while coping with their adult offspring's addiction.