In 72 hours, I found myself on the brink of losing everything I loved. Yet, I had this indescribable focus, strength, and Peace. Which is not to say I wasn’t hurting, I was, but I was able to push the pain aside and bring the “doer” in me to the forefront. I believe this is what is referred to as the “Fight or Flight” response in psychobabble. There are a number of physiological and psychological changes that occur in your body when it senses a threat, either physical or emotional. The ever trusty Wikipedia explains it like this: “the initial response (physiological) and subsequent reactions are triggered in an effort to create a boost of energy.” Essentially, the response prepares the body to either fight or flee the threat. All of these are adaptive bodily responses which are designed to keep us alive, and because these responses are important to our survival, they occur quickly and without thought. They are automatic.
I was definitely in survival mode. And while I love the biological sciences, I know there was a Greater Force in me throughout this entire process.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
There you have it. Just like in our physical bodies, my spiritual “fight or flight” was also triggered automatically when I put my hope and trust in God. There was absolutely nothing I could do, but trust in God, or I would have literally lost my mind. But God is faithful, and if you “draw near to him, he will draw near to you.” Don’t ever forget that.
During the weekend before the hearing, I was able to gather 23 character letters. They ranged from lifelong friends, to college acquaintances, to medical professionals. I thought there was no way a Judge could read these “referral letters” and still think I had abused my sons. Our primary pediatrician went as far as to say he would “stake his career” on us as parents. I never felt so loved, and at the same time this feeling of “I don’t deserve” all this love. Not in a sense of guilt, or self-hate, but an indelible sense of gratitude is the best way I can describe it. You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “GRATITUDE?! Grateful for WHAT?! Your children have just been taken away, you’re being falsely accused, and you’re GRATEFUL?!” God has appointed gratitude as the one of the essential guardians of your soul, and to kindle in you a deep feeling of thankfulness is the only way to survive in this crazy world. We are fair game to the devil when we are not guarded with thankfulness. The presence of a struggle, the sense of injustice and pain, while at the same time a sense of community, is exactly the way God architected us to be strengthened and encouraged in the Faith. My friends grieved, and shared in my suffering, which drew us closer together. God was creating a beautiful quilt by sewing the hearts of individuals together with the threads of love. The Bible says that with love comes greater understanding:
“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
During that weekend, I had friends travel from hours away come to the hospital and pray for Lucas. There were people, literally, all over the world praying for our family. I was never alone, even if I was in an empty room.
I was going to need all the encouragement, and hope I could get when I was told by my lawyer what was going to happen at the hearing on Monday. I braced myself, and called from him to discuss what our strategy was. Not surprisingly, he bluntly told me, “They are not giving you your kids back, so I’m not even going to fight for you. Your best bet is to ask the Judge to give sole custody to your husband, since he wasn’t even home when this occurred to Lucas.” So, far so good… I could care less what was
stated on a piece of paper as far as “custody” was concerned, I just wanted to be with my family. I loved my husband, I trusted him, and he trusted me, so I didn’t even have to think twice about this option. But of course there had to be a twist, he continued, “This is your best option. That being said, if the judge grants us this arrangement, they are probably going to kick you out of your house.” My heart starts pounding, I could feel my blood vessels throbbing in my head, and the tears start running down my face. He kept talking, “You’re probably only going to get monitored visits. I’m not guaranteeing you anything. They can still decide to place both kids in Foster Care, they already placed David with your mom, correct?” They had released him to my mom. After the heartbreaking visit we had with David at the shelter, Social Services (i.e. CPS) let my mom pick him up after vetting her and her husband. She was a public school teacher back in the day, and already had her fingerprints in “the system.” She was able to pick him up on Saturday afternoon, whereby the social workers asked her if she was willing to adopt my boys in preparation for the upcoming hearing. My mom was offered $670/month per child, plus WIC and Medicaid benefits for the children. While she nearly fell off her seat when the social worker suggested such a thing, my mom received the “fair warning” that if she did not adopt them, again, the boys were going to Foster Care (with strangers). Neither me or my husband were allowed to contact David until the Court ruled on Monday.
So many questions racing through my mind, and every time I spoke to my lawyer the plot seemed to thicken. I am an only child, and my entire extended family lives in Brazil. If the court decides to kick me out my house, I have nowhere to go! My mom was now the primary caretaker for David, so I couldn’t live with her. “Where am I supposed to go?” I asked my lawyer. “You can stay in the hospital while Lucas is there. It’s a monitored facility, so they can’t argue against it.” At least I would have contact with Lucas, who at this point was no longer in a medical coma. He was awake! Still feeding through a tube, with a bunch of wires sticking out of his head, but he had survived the first 48 hours. Again, gratitude and God proves once again He keeps his promises (He is mine). “What happens when it’s time for Lucas to go home?” I asked my lawyer. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” I couldn’t stop asking questions, “How long am I going to be kicked out of my house? When am I going to see David? How am I going to nurse Lucas? What about the nanny?” He stopped me in my tracks, “RACHEL, this is the best we can do right now! Do you want your kids going to Foster Care? NO? Then do what I’m telling you!”
Once again, I hung up the phone in tears. I told my husband “the strategy”, and he contacted his lawyer who agreed. I called my mom, my friends, my family in Brazil, and told everyone to pray. No one could believe their ears. It was unbelievable.