(Newport Beach, CA. January 2008) Author Susan Hoffman spearheaded California Bill AB2517, allowing grandparents the right to petition the court for grandchild visitation, enacted into law Jan. 1, 2007, has published a book, "Grand Wishes: Advocating To Preserve The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond," about grandparents' rights and how she was forced into action after the courts refused to let her petition for visitation with her only grandchild.
"I never thought this would happen to me and when it did, I thought that I was the only one!" cried yet another orphaned grandma. How could grandparenting, such a normal part of the life cycle, be so fragile?
Disenfranchised grandparents are part of a growing population of loving grandparents unreasonably denied visitation with their grandchild by the parent(s). People ask: "What did you do? You must have done something?" Actually, no! These grandparents are the target of parental alienation either by association such as during a dissolution of marriage or a percolating family feud. The days of "spoiling them rotten", are over, sometimes that is all it takes to lose access.
Denied visitation causes not only the grandparents to suffer, but the children are equally harmed when they lose contact with grandparents. Grandparents' rights encompasses children's rights. Indeed, children should have the right to maintain a loving relationship with their grandparents, no matter what is going on with the parents.
Susan Hoffman of Newport Beach, California, experienced being the target of alienation from the custodial parent resulting in a separation from her grandson. She did everything in her power to remain connected including walking on quite a few eggshells.
Just a month short of her grandchild's fifth birthday, her luck ran out, because of a change in circumstance, a California law was on the side of the parents. She sought support from others like her and when there was none, she stepped out of her comfort zone and started her own support group. The support group developed into a non-profit organization, appropriately named, ADVOCATES FOR GRANDPARENT-GRANDCHILD CONNECTION, that because of the Internet immediately reached a broad audience of disenfranchised grandparents.
Emails stuffed the mailbox; the call center was deluged with inquiries. Susan's advocacy for preserving the grandparent-grandchild connection intensified into tenacious activism in the form of legislation. An AARP executive and ardent supporter, Ernie Powell, once made an off the cuff remark about Susan's spunky persistence by playfully asking, "who are you?" She saw a flaw in the system because of her own situation and independently lobbied for and sponsored a bill in California that would serve others with similar circumstances.
GRANDPARENT RIGHTS LAW IS UNANIMOUSLY PASSED IN CA
After a year of gathering petition signers and the support of California Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove), all 120 legislators unanimously agreed that the relationship is important, therefore passing the bill, which was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug. 22, 2006.
Research indicates denying access to the grandparent-grandchild bond is a form of emotional child abuse. Extended family relationships are crucial to a child's development in every way, so when faced with family discord, we need to work on removing the problem, not the person.
While Hoffman's book "Grand Wishes" evokes emotions by tugging at the heartstrings of anyone who has a grandparent or is one, it is not a sob story. According to Carleen Brennan, co-author of "Custody For Fathers": "Susan starts out a little like Danielle Steele, and before you know it you are treading into the legislation process."
The book is an olio of grandparent stories and self-help information, as well as Hoffman's journey of self-discovery as she wades into uncharted legislative and non-profit territory. But most of all, it is her Grand Wish that the special and deeply significant bond between grandparent and grandchild be preserved and revered, starting with the judicial system.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO HAVE ACCESS BOTH TO GRANDPARENTS AND GRANDCHILDREN IN ORDER TO BE A FULL HUMAN BEING
Getting in touch with SusanHoffman:
Speaking, Print, Television, Radio, Interviews, Consultation
PO Box 5622 Newport Beach, Ca 92662
TRAN CELEBRATES GRANDMOTHER'S ACTIVISM ON BILL PROTECTING FAMILIES
COSTA MESA- On September 21, 2006 , my staff and I held a small celebration for constituent Susan Hoffman and her efforts to help pass AB 2517.
The idea for AB 2517 was brought to my attention by Ms. Hoffman, a constituent of the 68th Assembly District and a grandmother. The bill received broad bi-partisan support and received no opposition through the entire legislative process.
On August 22, 2006 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed my Assembly Bill 2517, which will allow grandparents to petition the court for visitation of their grandchild, after their grandchild has been adopted by a new stepparent. Visitation will be granted by the court if visitation with the grandparent is in the best interest of the child.
When situations arise between adults, children are often the ones that lose; they have no rights when visitation issues occur with grandparents. Children should be allowed to know and maintain loving relationships with their grandparents.
Often families are ripped apart through divorce or other negative circumstances. Solid relationships that children could once count on, are then in doubt and become less stable. Stability can come through maintaining strong grandparent/grandchild relationships through those family changes.
I am pleased to celebrate Susan's work with me to send this important measure to the Governor for his signature. In today's changing families, it is crucial to foster healthy, loving, supportive relationships between grandparents and grandchildren.
Thanks Susan. Grandparents everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude!
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