Documentary explores grandparent visitation rights
As Grandparents Day rolls around, one Newport Beach woman is working to let grandparents know their rights.
In “A Precious Bond,” a documentary released Sunday, Susan Hoffman chronicles her experiences fighting for her visitation rights as a grandparent.
Hoffman, a UC Irvine alumna, lost her rights and ability to file a petition for visitation after her grandson’s stepfather adopted him at age 6 in 2006.
“Once I was a grandmother, but I was stripped of that title and all that it means by circumstances beyond my control,” she says in the documentary.
Hoffman told then-Assemblyman Van Tran about her situation. His Assembly Bill 2517, which allows grandparents to petition for visitation after a child has been adopted by a stepparent, was approved without opposition, according to his newsletter at the time.
“Every state has grandparents’ visitation rights,” Hoffman said in a phone interview. “Some are better than others.”
She founded Advocates for Grandparent Grandchild Connection as a nonprofit support group for grandparents fighting for visitation rights.
Members of the group share their stories in “A Precious Bond,” which features various locations like Newport Harbor and the Balboa Peninsula.
“Relationships are not disposable,” Carol Menck says in the film. “And this is family.”
Earl Sandvigen agrees.
“You don’t think you love anyone more than your children until you have grandchildren,” he says.
Hoffman also has written two books on the subject — “Grand Wishes: Advocating to Preserve the Grandparent-Grandchild Bond” and “A Precious Bond: How to Preserve the Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship —" to help other grandparents who may be facing rights issues.
“I’m trying to reach people who need help and can give help,” she said. “If I can provide some tangible resource, then they can help themselves and learn they’re not alone.”
Hoffman said grandparents seeking visitation rights should try to resolve matters on their own before involving the courts.
“I have learned that it’s always better to take the least adversarial approach,” Hoffman said. “Get support. Get educated about the laws in your state.”