When Debra Aldridge became her grandson's primary caregiver, she was making $7.50 per hour as a cook. The alternative for the newborn, she was told, was to put him up for adoption.
"I took one look at the little fella, and that was it," said Aldridge, now 62. "I couldn't let go."
For more than 11 years, Aldridge, who is divorced and lives in Chicago, has struggled to feed, house and clothe her "baby," Mario. As she ages, she is sinking deeper into poverty.