Life coaching: Crisis of the month
It has been said that most Americans have a crisis at least once a decade.
"It's Your Imagination Running Wild" - Brian Wilson
It has been said that most Americans have a crisis at least once a decade. Danny Sanders was no exception to that rule. In fact, he was close to setting the country's new crisis curve.
Danny was a member of the Crisis-of-the-Month Club. He's been down and out about money, his career, and he was especially distraught when he was diagnosed with Color Uncoordinated Syndrome (CUS), which wreaked havoc on his wardrobe. Nonetheless, his latest breakdown put more strain on him than all the previous crises combined. Luckily, this episode had a happy ending.
It all started when his second child was born. On the way to their favorite hospital, Danny's wife couldn't hold out any longer. Amidst Jennifer's screams and curses from her painful contractions, Danny pulled into the closest medical facility he could find.
This particular hospital had a reputation for providing mediocre medical care at best, and being the source of irreversible nightmares at worst. Danny wouldn't feel comfortable leaving a houseplant in their care, but at this late hour, he had no choice.
Surprisingly enough, the emergency Cesarean section went smoothly and was performed by an exceptional staff. However, Danny noticed that his newborn daughter looked nothing like him or Jennifer, nor did she resemble either set of grandparents. They began to entertain the notion that the hospital accidentally switched their baby with another one in the nursery shortly after birth. As the baby grew, however, Danny and Jennifer managed to control their overactive imaginations and banished this silly notion.
After their daughter's 9th birthday, their worst fear began to materialize. A registered letter came from the hospital where their daughter was born. The letter was cryptic, but was urgent in tone and hinted at DNA tests and out-of-court settlements. The parents were invited to meet with the head of the hospital the following morning.
Danny and Jennifer didn't sleep all night. They kept conjuring up the worst possible scenarios of losing their daughter, whom they loved more than life itself. They were playing images in their head of getting custody of their biological daughter who would no doubt be the victim of a decade of parental abuse, given the nature of the hospital's clientÃ¨le. Danny was prepared to hire a team of lawyers to sue the hospital. Years of law suits and counter-suits would be their lot for the next several years as they would fight to keep both girls.
All his other crises combined couldn't hold a candle to the desperation and anguish he felt from the time he received the letter to the visit to the hospital the next morning. He couldn't dream up a solution to get them out of this heart-wrenching situation.
The next morning, the anxious parents sat down in the hospital administrator's office at 9 A.M. sharp. The hospital head was flanked by a social worker and a woman Danny recognized as the gynecologist who performed the surgery on his wife.
"Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, thank you so much for coming today. I'm sure you are upset so I'll cut right to the chase," the man said.
"Upset is an understatement," Danny said.
"Your baby was accidentally substituted with another baby at birth," the administrator said, with a grave expression.
Danny looked at Jennifer and saw tears streaming down her face. Danny wanted to cry as well, but he needed to be strong for her. However, Danny did allow his anger to surface.
"How could you be so careless? I wouldn't even expect this from a clinic in a third world country, and here we are in the United States in the 21st century witnessing criminal negligence! I'm going to make sure this hospital's doors are closed forever," Danny started.
"I understand you are outraged. Who wouldn't be? But please, let me continue," the administrator stated calmly.
Danny decided to stop raging and hear the guy out.
"We corrected the problem within 24 hours and returned the infants to their biological mothers. We ran a series of DNA tests just to double-check ourselves, and the situation was rectified." he stated calmly.
Danny and Jennifer both breathed a huge sigh of relief. But what were these clowns up to? Why were they messing with their minds?
"Why did you have to send us a letter and worry us if nothing was wrong? Are you some kind of a masochist?" Jennifer asked.
"I apologize, but writing an ambiguous letter was the only way we could get you to show up today," the social worked chimed in. "You see, the story didn't end when we corrected the switch."
"What are you talking about?," Danny asked.
"While the switch with the babies was corrected, another set of DNA test results were accidentally placed in your daughter's medical file. This paperwork was stolen by the other girl's parents. Apparently they were holding on to this information until the time was right to hold "your" daughter ransom. They were planning a de facto kidnapping." the OB-GYN stated.
"When we caught wind of this a few weeks ago, we called them into the office to explain that in addition to stealing hospital documentation, which is a federal offense, they took the wrong documents. They were disappointed that they wouldn't be getting a windfall from you. As a result, they decided to give their child up for adoption, " the administrator said.
"And where do we fit in?" Danny asked.
"We told them we wouldn't press charges in exchange for their written request that the two of you be their daughter's legal guardians. We wanted you to have the first chance to adopt the girl and avoid all the months of paperwork that accompany the standard adoption process," the social worker said.
"So why didn't you just explain that to us over the phone instead of putting us through this living hell?" Jennifer asked.
"If we had done that, would you have bothered showing up today?" the social worker asked.
Danny stopped to think about it for a while, and realized that they wouldn't consider adoption under normal circumstances. The hospital staff felt they had to create an abnormal situation that would motivate them to consider adoption.
"This child wasn't abused, but she was neglected. She's bright and warm, and from what my intuition tells me, the two of you could provide her with a stable and loving home," the social worker said. "You don't have to give us an answer right now. You can take some time to think about it."
Danny looked into his wife's eyes, and he knew her answer, which concurred with his.
"Just tell us what we need to do, and we will adopt her ASAP," Danny said.
Three days later, their new daughter was home. Her parents would not agree to meet with them, perhaps out of shame about their foiled ransom plan, or maybe out of apathy about their daughter's future.
The nature/nurture problem played itself out for a few months, but eventually their newest addition to the family adapted well to her "twin sister" and the rest of the clan.
Danny and Jennifer were thankful that their collective imagination was wrong in creating painful scenarios that fateful night before their meeting at the hospital. In addition to the challenge of adoption and the joy of loving another human being unconditionally, they learned an important lesson. If they are going to let their imaginations run wild, then they should at least direct their thoughts in a neutral or positive direction. That was a mindset worth adopting.
Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. He has given seminars and training sessions at Israel Aircraft Industry and Philips Medical Systems. His book, "Take Two: Directing Your Life for a Change" will be published in May. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to email@example.com
Â© Copyright 2008 by Ben Goldfarb