As many people have followed me and my Advocacy the past six years, they know I am open, honest and candid. I share updates and news on legislation in FLORIDA & INDIANA as it moves through the process. People ask me why I haven’t gave up since it takes so long to pass The Jennifer Act law. Watching your child suffer from a chronic substance addiction for thirteen years and then die from that disease called addiction, is life changing. The situations and all the complexitites that went along with seeking help and advocating for Jennifer’s treatment to save her life have impacted me in a very profound way. I decided to give it to God in prayer and not to be jaded by the trauma & grief. There is no way you can experience that situation and their death and walk away un-affected. When the Pinellas County Sheriff came to my door Jan.15, 2009 and told me my child had just died and I saw my daughter’s deceased body at the coroner’s office in Pinellas County, FL, I was permanently changed. That was a life changing moment. As I planned Jennifer’s funeral, I kept asking God, “why” and “what was the purpose of all of this suffering”? Jennifer’s suffering, my suffering, Trey’s suffering, her siblings and family watching her succum to addiction? I know that there is a purpose and plan for everything God allows and also I know that He alone is in control of all things. I felt lead to take all of the pain and the experience, and use it for the purpose of helping others who are suffering like Jennifer, and their families who are trying to save their life. It was not even a question in my mind what I must do. Because I was Jennifer’s parent and advocate, I knew how to lobby for saving a person’s life. I knew what worked in Florida and what didn’t work as I went through the Legislative process of filing a Involuntary Commitment petition, the process and procedures. It failed many times and Jennifer fell through the cracks. She did not get the help or intervention she deserved. Ironically, She did get a court appointed attorney who ended up taking advantage of her and she became pregnant by her attorney in Tampa,FL. This sounds like a bizzare story, but all the facts are true. I saw things in the judicial system that needed to be addressed and improved. I contacted my Lawmakers in 2009 and started working with them on Legislation of The Jennifer Act in Florida & Indiana. Jennifer lived her life in Pinellas County, Largo, FL and died there. Jennifer was born in Bloomington, IN and is buried in Spencer, IN. This is why I work in these two states but I would like to see The Jennifer Act law passed in every state.
I also advocate for Grandparent Visitation Laws in Florida. Again, people ask my why I lobby for this bill, as well. Grandparents are affected everyday in every way and so are their grandchildren by alienation. This happens by one parent choosing that their child does need or deserve a relationship with their family (grandparents) (Parents of their parent). This year in FLORIDA: HB 149 has been introduced in FL. The bill is sponsored by Florida State Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Florida State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. It would allow grandparents or great-grandparents to go to court and ask a judge for visitation rights on a case-by-case basis. Especially in cases such as mine (the parent has died). When there is an intentional seperation of the natural structure of the family, it profoundly affects the natural bond and attachment a grandchild has with their grandparent (who was regularly in the child’s life). These children need mediators & advocates to allow them a voice to speak and share their feelings and desires for family members in their childhood as they grow into young adults.
A Grandparents presence offers unconditional love, emotional support and another human to spend time and make enjoyable memories.I have four grandchildren. I can only see three of them. My three grandchildren that I do see regularly have made great memories together. They bless my life with love and laughter and we have a great relationship. Jennifer’s son, Trey has been removed from us (his grandparents) since his mother died Jan.15, 2009. My situation is more complicated, because my grandson’s father is an attorney (Family Law) in Tampa, FL. I would need a seasoned, fantastic attorney to plead our unique case for Trey to have visits his grandparents who raised him the first five years of his life in Pinellas County, FL. I have contacted Florida State Attorney Pam Bondi and explained this case. She is aware of the situation.
This brings us up to the present. I am waiting for The Jennifer Act draft to be filed in Florida in the House & Senate this legislative session. In Indiana, a modified bill draft of The Jennifer Act has been introduced by Indiana State Representative Steve Davisson as HB 1448 & HB 1449. It passed 13-0 in the Committee hearing last week. It will have another hearing on Feb.12, 2015 at the Indiana Statehouse.
Thank you for following a Mother on a misson to save lives and a grandmother who loves her grandson and will keep advocating for my right as his grandmother to have visits with Jennifer’s only son. God is on our side.