Grandmother with foster kids faces eviction by condo board
A dispute over maintaining rights-of-ways

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

A Deerfield Beach condo association is forcing a grandmother to choose between her home and her two foster grandchildren because association bylaws do not allow children.

Diane Jacobson, 59, moved her grandchildren, Matthew, 18 months, and Melissa, 7, into her condo, the Newport N in the Century Village East retirement community 10 months ago.

The condominium association board voted a month ago to evict the children.

They gave Jacobson until June 10 to give them up, or the board will fine her $25 a day.

''They [the board] are not yielding,'' Jacobson said.

``If they do it for one, they will have to do it for others, they say. But they have done it for others in the past.''

The association will not budge.

''We have 80- and 90-year-old people here. We're not changing our minds,'' said Helen Drouin, association president.

``President Bush can call me and I'm not changing my mind.''

The state Department of Children & Families removed the youngsters from their Margate home after a number of domestic violence clashes between their parents.

''There was fighting, I won't say there wasn't,'' said Jacobson, who is the children's maternal grandmother.

``And I'm not there saying there weren't problems, but there wasn't physical violence except for some pushing once in a while.''

Jacobson's daughter and her husband are deaf, making communication with others difficult, said Stephen Jacobson, the children's grandfather.

The parents are attending state-ordered classes on parenting and domestic violence, in order to meet requirements to get their children back.

''It's a little hard to find psychologists who use sign language,'' Stephen Jacobson said. ``They are working to get their children back. The kids want to be with their parents.''

Matthew's eyes light up when he sees his mother, said Diane Jacobson. She keeps her daughter's photo in the living room and the toddler walks up to constantly saying, ``Mommy, Mommy.''

''It's difficult for all of us,'' Jacobson said. ``It's hard for them, for my daughter and for me.''

Jacobson asked the board to allow her grandchildren to stay until May 2003, after her 60th birthday, when she'll qualify for additional income that will allow her to move out of the retirement community and rent an apartment.