Children's Voice Mar/Apr 2008

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Grandparent Notification Holds Promise for Families

Pat Owens knows first-hand the devastation a grandparent can experience when a child becomes involved in and, in her case, lost to the child welfare system.

Owens was caring for an older grandson while her own daughter battled a drug addiction. Little did she know that her daughter had also given birth to another boy in a nearby hospital, only to have him removed by child protective services at birth.

"I didn't even know he had been born," she recalls. "His mother and I were estranged, but social services never even tried to contact me. He went to a foster home and I never even knew it."

Owens's daughter never was able to regain custody of her grandson, and his foster parents adopted him. To this day, neither Owens, nor his brother, has met him. Hoping to prevent other grandparents from experiencing the same kind of loss, Owens now advocates for stronger grandparent notification laws so relatives are notified when children are removed from their homes. Notification laws have passed in her home state of Maryland, as well as Connecticut and New York.
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