Watching My Worst Fears

Lifetime Mom

Ever since my ex-husband moved back to his hometown of London last year, I’ve had lingering concerns about his visitation. You know, the kind that make you worry that you could end up as the subject of a made-for-TV movie.

Since our separation and divorce, I’ve gone above and beyond what would be reasonably expected to make sure that he is still part of our children's lives. That has always been my primary concern.

But when I boarded a plane over the holiday season to drop them off and leave them in London for a two-week visit with their dad, my fears about all the things that could possibly go wrong were at Code Orange level. In fact, in the nights before we left, I had frightening, keep-you-up-at-night dreams about the “wasband” not returning the children as planned. I researched international laws governing U.S. visitation and custody orders, and I reconnected with every friend and former colleague in London in case I needed on-the-ground assistance. In my mind, I saw every terrible scenario that you can possibly imagine, the kind a mother prays she never has to encounter.

The exact kind that Tiffany Rubin did encounter. So, with this still on my mind, I couldn’t wait to watch the new Lifetime Original Movie “Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story,” starring Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P.Henson.

Of course, Henson, (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Karate Kid”) gives the kind of amazing performance we expect from her, and I'm a huge fan of her work. The film is based on a dramatic true story of Tiffany Rubin, played by Henson, and her daring 2008 rescue of her six-year-old son, Kobe, after he was abducted by his biological father and taken from his home in Queens, New York, all the way to Seoul, South Korea.

The movie touched me personally.

First of all, I’m also from Queens, New York. And as I negotiate the murky waters of co-parenting and post-divorce life, I too, as the custodial parent, have struggled with differentiating what is typical “being a jerk” behavior from what is actually a safety threat to my children. I know what it feels like to have your mother and loved ones suggest — or tell you outright — that you are foolish for letting them visit with their dad so far away. But I could see every day how much my children were needing their father and missing him. How many times did I say to myself, If something were to go wrong, how would I ever forgive myself? Taraji’s character deals with all of this in the movie.

Once, during their stay, I couldn't reach my children or ex-husband for three days. I had purchased a phone in London for my 10-year-old daughter to use to contact me, but she was not picking up. I tried to stay calm. I couldn't sleep. I cried. And in my mind I planned my own Tiffany Rubin–like drastic maneuver — the kind that only a desperate mother ripped from her children would even think of attempting.

Having lived only the fear, but thanks to God, not the reality, I watched the film with an acute understanding and empathy that any mother, or anyone who has a mother, would feel.

Thankfully for me, the U.K. is not South Korea as in Tiffany Rubin’s story. And my children's first transatlantic visitation went off relatively without incident.

But anyone can relate to the frustration, pain and anguish of one mother on a risk-it-all mission to get back what is most precious in her life.