There are lots of families out there who would love to find Surrogate Grandparents for their children because a Grandparent/Grandchild relationship is missing in their children’s lives. There are also lots of Grandparents out there who would love to find Surrogate Grandchildren to nurture and love because a Grandchild/Grandparent relationship is missing from their lives.
In 2015, Donna Skora, a Florida paralegal, recognized this unmet need and decided to take action. She started a Facebook group called Surrogate Grandparents – USA where grandparents who are missing grandchildren in their lives and families whose children are missing grandparents in their lives, can find and connect with each other for a possible lifetime of love.
I was so happy when I found Donna’s Facebook page several years ago. For years moms have been writing to me who were looking for surrogate grandparents and grandmas were writing who were looking for surrogate grandchildren. After I discovered Donna, I started forwarding those requests to her. Now I’m delighted to report that O Magazine shared Donna’s story and Surrogate Grandparents – USA in their March 2019 issue. I’m hoping this publicity will bring more attention to the need for Surrogate Grandparents. Here is the article from O Magazine.
In 2014, Florida paralegal Donna Skora wanted something you can’t find on Amazon: grandkids. “I was looking for a way to spend time with children,” she says. “My daughter and I are very close, but she doesn’t have kids. And for complicated reasons, I haven’t seen my son and grandchild since 2013. I tried being a baby cuddler at a neonatal unit in our local hospital for almost two years, but it was tough to fulfill the minimum hourly commitment while working. I wanted to be able to give someone a grandparent’s love and attention, and I couldn’t.”
So in January 2015, Skora founded a Facebook group called Surrogate Grandparents USA, a place where strangers can potentially become much more. On the page, prospective grandparents across the country offer their services for book reading and cookie-making, while parents post photos of kids who need the kind of cheerleading, comfort, and butterscotch candies that only grandparents can provide. (Access to the group is by permission only; Skora reviews each membership request and encourages anyone meeting up in real life to do a background check beforehand.) Short bios and locations are shared, and if there’s interest from a compatible family, the two parties start messaging privately and take things from there. Currently, the group has more than 3,700 members.
Beyond fractured relationships, there are plenty of reasons people join. “Distance is a big one,” says Skora, now 63. “Those with family outside the country might look for someone local. And, of course, there’s death: People who’ve had a family member pass away say they’re searching for a relationship to help fill a void.”
Happy beneficiaries regularly post success stories: One woman praises a surrogate grandma’s weekly visits and homemade meatballs; surrogate grandparents show off photos of kid-centric trips to the zoo. “The success stories fill my heart,” says Skora. “And the dynamic serves both sides. I read that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren tend to live longer. Meanwhile, seniors offer kids knowledge and a connection to the past.”
The effect on Skora has been profound as well. “One premise of the group is healing through moving forward, and it’s served that purpose for me,” she says. At the moment, moderating the Facebook group nightly and holding down a full-time job means she can’t devote time to a surrogate grandkid of her own. But Skora looks forward to rectifying that after she retires. “Until then,” she says, “I feel like I’m the parent of a very large community, and I’m so proud of that.”
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