This week's cover of the Nashville Scene describes what happened and is happening to 4-year-old Alessandra Villalobos as "a fate worse than life." In 2007, at about two years old, Alessandra fell ill and ultimately suffered from tragic medical complications. Not only was her body damaged beyond human repair, but since then, she has been separated from her parents as part of a multi-layered (and multi-lawyered) legal nightmare.
Excerpts from the Scene:
Alessandra doesn't speak. When she cries, she doesn't make a sound—there are only tears and a pained grimace. She has a tracheotomy. The hiss and click of the mechanical ventilator sounds beneath her shirt. She is on two medications for seizures, has cerebral palsy and severe brain damage. Her kidneys continue to fail her.Read the entire cover story in the Scene here.
[Her mother Ingrid Diaz] slips her fingers into her daughter's limp hand. Alessandra's eyelids droop and her mouth is slack like the rest of her body, which is strapped to a wheelchair to prevent her from listing. Diaz is angry about the way the little girl's hair looks today. She'll weep for this and for a thousand other things when she returns home, once again, without her daughter.
Diaz just wants her daughter back. ... She wants to go back to Mexico, and to take her daughter with her.
There's another agreement to sign. This one would leave Alessandra in the group home for the time being, but allows her "liberal" visitation rights. They tell her she's not giving up any of her parental rights.
In a case sprawling across multiple courts—with millions of dollars potentially at stake—this small, soft-spoken woman from Mexico seems swept up in a current she can't resist.
Diaz's nurses watched as her attorneys spelled out the agreement through the translator.
"She's gonna cave," predicted Kristin Johnson, one of Alessandra's nurses who had come to the hearing. "Anytime she gets under pressure, she'll cave."
Diaz signed the document.
In court, Judge Kennedy read the agreement into the record. He asked Diaz if she understood and agreed with its provisions.
"Sí," she said, nearly inaudibly.
May God heal this girl's body and bring healing to her family, as well. As many adults are involved in Alessandra's story, one would hope that she is bathed in prayer both here in her native Tennessee and in her parents' native Mexico. If you have a prayer list, please keep Alessandra and her family on it.
Photo by Thomas Wollbeck. Licensed under Creative Commons.