I believe wholeheartedly that following Christ means a pathway of bends in the road, so we cannot see what lies ahead...but trust Him one day at a time. I had no idea whatsoever what lay ahead when Caleb was born...but Jesus led me all the way.
After the hearing, I knew the decision would move at the pace of bureaucracy, and it would be months until I heard if we had prevailed or if we did not, which meant we would have to appeal to a higher level.
It was amazing the peace I had after that hearing. I hardly thought about the decision. Here was the timeline:
- November 1997 - Caleb was hospitalized in Pittsburgh
- January 1998 - Caleb went into a re-opened group home near me
- March 1998 - Informed funding for those services would cease April 1; filed due process through Ohio Legal Rights Service against our local county board of developmental disabilities
- July 1998 - Feature article about case appeared in The Cleveland Plain Dealer
- August 1998 - Administrative hearing; then hearing before the county board members
It was December. I was sitting in a conference room waiting to meet with folks running Caleb's group home to talk about a behavior plan or something. Kevin, Ron, and Heidi walked in and congratulated me. For what????
I had not heard yet. But the board members reversed the superintendent's decision, and Caleb would continue to get residential services just minutes away from me. I would remain his mother, guardian, decision-maker, advocate, case manager, and his constant. Caleb would be assured of a life of safety, contentment, and functioning to his highest potential.
So back to Genesis 50:20:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.So how did Caleb's autism and this decision affect the lives of others? I don't have enough time, but here are a just a few ways.
- A new group home was created based on Caleb's needs making openings for 3 additional guys to have a place in a residential setting. (There are long waiting lists!)
- Caleb's needs created 14 autism specialized classrooms in our local school district.
- Because of my experience and my job, I was able to walk beside a parent during her two-year journey with her son to fight this same fight.
And I could go on...
I still hurt daily and yet the tears are what create the rainbows I've experienced to see God's hand on Caleb's life. Without the renewal of God's word and leaning totally on Him (and not following after the idols of power/control, affirmation/approval, and security/comfort), I would not have made it.
But as the Psalmist wrote, "Surely the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes!"