Mother Makes Emotional Quest To Reunite With Son
Lori Hodgson was on a desperate mission. Along with her mother, Dee, she flew from her California home to Austin, Texas, hoping for a reunion with her estranged son, Jeremy. “I'm hoping that the more I share my story that other people will see what Scientology does to families," said Lori. "They break up families and that's wrong.”
She became a Scientologist when she was 13 years old and raised both of her children in the controversial church. But in 2010, she says she resigned in bitterness over church policy. Twenty-year-old Jeremy and his 23-year-old sister, Jessica remained true believers and Lori claims they stopped talking to her based on a church policy she says is known as "disconnecting. "
“If you're having trouble with a person who is critical of the church you have to either handle them so that they're not critical anymore, or disconnect. Disconnect means you can never talk to them again,” said Lori.
She asked INSIDE EDITION to come with her because she says she's been followed in the past by an aggressive Scientology video team known as “The Squirrel Busters,” that former church members say harassed them.
Exhausted and in near tears on the night before she tried to see her son, Lori has been keeping a video diary. “I have to be prepared for the worst. But just the chance to see him and give him a hug and hopefully I can help end this cruel disconnection that he's being forced to do , "Lori said . "I am afraid of the rejection. I don't know how she is going to act."
On the morning she's been waiting for, Jeremy didn’t know she's coming. When she spotted him in a parking lot she could hardly contain her joy.
But Jeremy didn’t want the camera present. So, INSIDE EDITION cameras stayed at a distance when mother and son had an emotional reunion. “He talked to me and we hugged each other. He really hugged me. It was incredible," an emotional Lori said. "It was just amazing.”
She practically begged Jeremy to end their painful separation. But she said that Jeremy insisted she must first go through the Scientology program referred to as “Steps A to E,” where she would have to admit she made a terrible mistake for leaving the church.
She said even for the love of her children she can never do that. “The thing that he kept coming back to was ‘Mom, just go in and do the Steps. 'I just want to be your mom, ' ” she said.
Lori was also joined by Jeremy’s grandmother, they talked more and hugged and cried, but in the end, Lori left with no promises. “What was great about today was that I got to see my son. But now I have to be prepared for the worst,” she said.
Lori said she asked her son for his phone number but he wouldn't give it to her. She said she hasn't heard from him since that meeting.
A spokesperson for Scientology told INSIDE EDITION that they do not have a policy that requires a person to disconnect, "from anyone, let alone family and friends, who simply have different beliefs." They also said they encourage excellent family relationships—even if a member leaves the church. And the Scientology spokesperson also added that each member can make an individual decision to communicate or not with a particular person.