Contents

One

The Alienation Of Grandma: The Lost Connection

17 Two

Upon Becoming An Activist: Empowered Boomers

23 Three

Importance Of Grandparents: The Vital Connection

31 Four

Effects On Grandparents : When Access Is Lost

57Five

Effects on Child : When Attachment is Broken

68 Six

Passing My Bill: How I Did It

95 Seven

Grandparent Rights: Standing Up for a Child

129 Eight

Grandparent Stories: Common Enemy Revealed

153 Epilogue 165 Resources 169

 

One

THE ALIENATION OF GRANDMA: THE LOST CONNECTION

Once I was a grandmother, but I was stripped of that title and all it means by circumstances beyond my control. I was forbidden to see my only grandson ever again by his biological mother and adoptive father. This occurred when Jacob was five years old. My son, the biological father, and Jacob’s mother never married. They loved each other once but their relationship changed. They became estranged and my son eventually gave up all rights to his son.

Given these circumstances, which were awkward and sometimes difficult, Jacob and I still managed to continue our relationship. I loved Jacob even before I met him. He is, after all, a part of me. Jacob’s mother and I got along well enough for her to trust me to baby sit and

17Grand Wishes ~ Susan Hoffman

be a part of their lives. She was comfortable with me to the point of seeking my assistance emotionally and physically. I established my role as a grandparent and was able to see Jacob regularly, to hold him, to care for him, to play with him, to enjoy him. What fun we had! I was Grandma Susan. When Jacob’s mother eventually married another man, my regular visits with my grandson became less frequent until they were eventually non-existent, at which point the court’s involvement became necessary. Jacob’s mother felt it was in his best interest for the new stepfather to legally adopt him, and therefore, her campaign began for the cooperation of my son and myself to allow the newly formed family to form an “intact” status. The parents both promised me that my relationship with the child I loved so much would remain the same. I trusted them. But on the very day of the adoption, Jacob’s mother and now legal father sent a letter that stated that they no longer wanted me in Jacob’s life, terminating my visits.

I felt betrayed. I believed that they would keep their word and honor their agreement. I was wrong. I kept re- playing in my head the sequence of events as I struggled to make some sense of the new situation. Can’t they see how Jacob interacts with me when we are together? Isn’t our mutual affection obvious? What about his feelings? His heartbreak when he realizes there is no more Grandma Susan? Will he think I’ve abandoned him? They didn’t explain why they were pushing me out of Jacob’s life. Legally, they didn’t have to. It’s the law, the attorneys told me. “When a stepparent adopts their stepchild they assume all the duties of parenthood as well as all of the parental rights. Those parental rights include the right to decide who may or may not visit the minor child.” The circum- stances changed in the eyes of the law because, now the

Grand Wishes

Inside The Book:

Grandparent rights are really about children's rights.

The book is an overview of grandparent rights from one person's point of view as well as interviews with other grandparents experiencing alienation. There is detailed legislative information about the California bill that became law. Professionals weigh in about parental alienation syndrome. Vital information is provided for grandparents looking for answers.

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