Sunday, April 21, 2013

On Heroes, Faith, Children, and God: One Incredible Journey

It has been my true honor and privilege over the past few years to help a large and growing number of families who find themselves in the horrific storms of international parental child abduction.  Reflecting on the children who were kidnapped to countries such China, Nigeria, The Ivory Coast, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, India, Sweden, and Mexico, just to name a handful of countries, and who were all safely returned home, the sense of benevolence toward others creates deep bonds not just to those families assisted, but generally, to the majority of families caught in the mayhem of abduction or planned abduction.

Fighting against abduction is not an easy task by any means.

More often than not failure is the drink of the day. With it, there is dire concern for an abducted child's safety and well-being. Anger and despair are common emotions chasing parents seeking to reunite with their child often feel. The heaviness of the sense of helplessness reminds me of a dark, drab, heavy wet black canvas that covers you as the resources needed to recover a child are vast, but by no means come close to guaranteeing a child's safe return.

Lingering always in my mind is the reality that parents do murder their children (filicide).

This thought often causes me to wake up in the night. I often find myself asking, "What can I do better, or what can I do more of to help these families?"

On the abduction prevention front, there exists a different type of battle.  The challenge for a parent attempting to prevent the international parental child abduction of their child is filled with many serious challenges, including the reality that most judges still do not understand the depth of how serious this issue is, and how rules of law and court orders issued by them really have limited bearing on an abduction case should a taking parent successfully be able to snatch a child.

Like anything, balance is essential to a good, healthy, and meaningful life.

Now, over the past 4 months, the I CARE Foundation has been involved in numerous successful legal international parental child abduction recoveries.  And thought I take great pride in each reunification, I am also reminded that there are so many other parents and children desperately trying to reunite. So the victories, if you will, are in some sense in fact reminders of our failures, and need to do more.

This said, I am human. I put my heart out on my sleeve each and every time I get involved in trying to help another parent.

There is never a day that goes by that I have not communicated to at least 3 or 4 parents in crisis, nor the support team that are assisting at-risk or abducted children.

Sometimes that dark, wet, drab black canvas of abduction seems to heavy for my shoulders.

Now those of you who know me know that I hold close to me my spiritual faith. I am by far not perfect: far from it.  But I do believe HE is.

So, last week I traveled to Florida in order to see some of the young girls who were recently freed from the worst of all nightmares that I previously spoke of. Thank goodness each is doing well. Laughter has broken the chains of mankind at our worst.

And I had some professional responsibilities that one day in the near future I am certain to share.

But truth is, I really needed some space and time for myself as the dark cloaks of abduction were enveloping my spirit.

And so, I did what I know and what I love: I went scuba diving with one of my best friends - one who has a heart of kindness as big as the grand canyon (see reference in Chasing The Cyclone). 

So, here we are off of Key Largo, and for whatever the reason, I started the day in reflective prayer.

While heading out to the dive site that I was clueless on what awaited us there, I remember talking to God in my own special way as the ocean's mist cooled my sun-stroked face. Across from me was my pal of nearly 20 years.

I felt my heart slow down. The dark canvas was being pulled back and rays of light were warming my spirit.

About 5 miles from shore, our captain stopped the boat's engine. We were at our dive site.

There he simply said, "This is a very special place for some. Its said that you may find an answer or two down there."

I looked at my pal, shrugged, and began to double check my diving equipment.

Moments later, I plunge into the blue water and descend onto a delightful coral reef filled with scores of beautiful fish.

Still thinking of the children of abduction and the new direction of the Catholic Church I am proud to be a part of and Pope Frances' offerings, I begin to pray.

It was one of the most peaceful times I have ever known.

I was looking for God.  I was looking for Christ.  Well - guess who showed up?

So here I stayed, two tanks later, deep in prayer, asking the God I believe in to help the children who are targeted, taken, trafficked, and abused.

It is a day I will remember forever. A defining day.