Neighborhood resident Beverly Baine thought she and her husband had to be “the only grandparents in the world who weren’t allowed to see a grandchild.”
A small newspaper ad seeking out other grandparents denied visitation proved her wrong.
“I was flooded with calls,” says Baine. That outpouring led to the creation of Grandparents for Intergenerational Family Ties (GIFT), a support group for grandparents denied access to their grandchildren.
Group members support each other in studying the law and taking legal action. Typists, notary publics and process servers are available to help. Guest speakers, such as judge, teach members about their legal rights as grandparents.
The 9-year-old organization has a solid, if constantly changing, membership. Grandparents leave once they obtain visitation, but are soon replaced by new ones.
Baine says divorce is the most frequent reason grandparents are kept from seeing grandchildren, usually in connection to the parents of the non-custodial parent. Family disputes and abuse (by the parents) are other common causes.
“Sometimes it’s just plain meanness, when there’s a falling out in the family,” says Baine. In some cases, the youngsters are simply bargaining chips as parents refuse to let grandparents visit the children if the elders won’t co-sign loans for houses or cars.
Baine says children ultimately wind up “feeling very rejected by their grandparents,” often not knowing the whole story. Some are told their grandparents are dead.
“We work for children’s rights,” Baine says. “Every child has a right to see his family unless there’s a legitimate complaint. In nine years, I’ve only seen two grandparents who wouldn’t be beneficial to the children.
“Grandparents love their grandchildren, and have so much to offer.”
GIFT meets the second Sunday of every month from 2-4 p.m. at 5923 Goodwin. The next meeting is June 14. For more information, call 824-2960.
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