November 11, 2010

A matter of the heart

I was sixteen when my cousin's son was born with a hole in his heart.  Back then I had no idea that such things were actually rather common.  Or that it was likely that the hole would close up on its own ~ which actually ended up being the situation.  All I knew was that for a short period of time, his life was uncertain.  And I was terrified.  I distinctly recall thinking at the time that heart conditions were something I wouldn't be able to survive someday as a mother.

Fast forward just over twenty years.  Walking the road of special needs adoptions, I've learned a lot about the heart.  Defects range from quite minor (requiring no surgery) to quite severe (that despite world class surgeons may not even be surgically repairable).  I personally know families at both ends of the range and their willingness and stories have changed my life and my way of thinking. 

And so now I'm awaiting the arrival of my second son ~ a little guy who had 'radical heart surgery' (not my words, but taken directly from his file) at the tender age of nine months.  Last night it struck me as somewhat ironic that I would come full circle in my thinking.

I guess to analyze that circle, I'd have to admit that it really wasn't my thinking that changed, but rather that I allowed God to change my thinking.

Because if I'm going to be perfectly honest, there is something still terrifying about opening my mother's heart to a child with an imperfect (physically) one. 

Why?  Because as we prepared to write our LOI, we spoke with two pediatric cardiologists and realized that even though he looks stable, (he's in that 'middle ground' of conditions) there are still a lot of 'what ifs.'

What if he does indeed have to have a valve replacement surgery in his teens or early 20s?  Yes, I have spent my time in an OR waiting chair, but it is a BIG step from eye surgery to open heart surgery.

What if  his pulmonary artery can't keep up and has to have frequent catheterizing to provide adequate blood flow?

What if that increased chance of sudden cardiac arrest, though rare, catches us?

What if he only lives to the current life expectancy of 50 to 60 years and I find myself doing the unthinkable and have to bury my son?

But instead running away from doubt and fear, we stopped and faced them head on.  By spending time in prayer.  And then God sent more important questions to hit me.

What if we walk away?   

What if we miss this blessing because we are afraid to trust?   

What if we go the rest of our lives wondering what if?

And so we took a deep breath, looked at that sweet picture one more time, and hit send on our LOI...

Amazing what 20 years and the peace of God can do!


  1. He's such a sweetheart. We adopted a little girl who needed open-heart surgery for Tetralogy of Fallot. Eventually, she will also need a valve replacement too. Going through her surgery was the hardest thing I've ever done. It puts life into perspective but I'd adopt another SN heart child again in a second. Blessings to your family.

  2. I am 27 years old and underwent repair for tetralogy of fallot as a very little person. My life has been wonderful. My childhood was filled with swim team, running, softball, and dance. Pregnancy was no issue for me, although after our first biological child, God has called us to adoption and hope to get our second little girl from Uganda soon.

    I will have to have valve replacement surgery in the next several years. We asked our cardiologist if we should get pregnant again quickly if we desire more bio children, and he felt very sure that we can have children however and whenever we like, and to not let surgery play a role in our decision -- except of course the year of surgery.

    No one feels sure of my life expectancy, but we do all expect that I will live a full life and love on some grandchildren. Each day of my life was written in God's book before one of them came to be (Ps 139:16) The same is true for your son. God has planned His number of days perfectly.

    None of us get any assurances, except that God is love, and His ways are perfect!

  3. Oh my word that gives me chills and tears and more chills. You put it so perfectly, Kristi!
    What if? Thank GOD that He allows us to ask HIM "what if?" and then He answers us with such gentleness and assurance that He has all the "what ifs" taken care of!
    Love this! I'm so glad you are willing to listen and obey! That little guy is going to BLESS YOUR SOCKS OFF! And Daniel is SO blessed to become a member of the M's! :)

  4. Kristi, that was beautiful!

  5. Wow, Kristi... so beautifully written. I love what Rachel had to say, being a 'heart' child herself. Especially how she ended her comment with the scripture from Psalms. So true!! He has already mapped out our days!

    And if anyone has walked a mile in your shoes, Laine is one of them, with her sweet Kevin. Most everyone who adopts a child from the SN program has their own list of "what-if's" ...but I think the most profound part of your post was the end where you wrote:

    "What if we walk away?"

    "What if we miss this blessing because we are afraid to trust?"

    "What if we go the rest of our lives wondering what if?"

    I couldn't have said it better myself! We still have some "what-if's" with Khloe's SN that we are praying for more solid answers to when she has some testing done at Children's Hospital next week. But regardless of the outcome...I CANNOT imagine our lives without our little spunky ray-of-sunshine! She is worth every single doubt that may be, and to think that if I hadn't allowed God to change the 'ideals' of my own heart, that we could've missed on one of the greatest blessings of our life!

    I'm so glad you wrote this post, because I think there are many prospective AP's who are in that very place of questioning, wondering if they can move forward. But if they have God as their guide, I think they will find the answers they are looking for... and posts like your's are a helpful encouragement in the right direction!

    God bless you and your family as you bring this sweet boy home. You already know the place he holds in our family's hearts (especially Dawson's!) and we couldn't be more thrilled to know he will be joining your beautiful family!! What a bright future he now has!!! <><

    Love and Hugs,
    ~ Tanya

  6. Amazing indeed!!
    So glad you allowed Him to change your heart... He is THE miracle worker :)
    Can't wait to see sweet Daniel in his mama's arms!!

  7. What a beautiful boy! I can only think that if you walked away, that won't change his situation, he would still have all the unknowns, and he wouldn't have a family to love him all his 50 years.

  8. Good Morning Kristi - I don't often comment at NHBO - Generally on the 'private' blogs - but I'm here all the time.....

    Bless you for stepping out in Faith - "What if" is a powerful question - one that causes us to 'freeze in our tracks' or liberates us to 'move with unbridled freedom' - it all depends on how we answer it.....

    "What if" - today I get hit by a bus? today I loose my job? today something completely unspeakable happens?

    We can hide in the safety of our 'nest' and never have to worry about those things - or we can accept the fact that "what if" can happen at any time - and choose to live, laugh, and love just in case it does!

    "What if" you had hidden in fear and not sent your LOI? ..... Your son may have lingered forever in an SWI with no one to call Mom and Dad....and you wonder why we what to give you guys "that hug" - you know the one that you get from someone who really understands - cause we've been there (and thank God every day that we still are!) and it's a wonderful place to be.

    And yeah - it looks like our daughter will out live me!

    hugs - aus and co.