Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 8 - Hope, Benjamin & Evie Ellsbury

My children often joke about not wanting to tell others our family story because it just takes too long.  It is true that our family story is complicated (8 children (soon to be 11), 1 deceased, 5 biological, 3 adopted, 3 pending adoptions, and out of all of those, only 2 are without medical conditions.)   The good news, though, is today’s blog should be fairly simple because I am writing about only a couple of my wonderful children.
This blog is supposed to be about our heart kids from China, but I would be remiss to not mention the other things that lead up to us choosing to adopt children with unfixable heart defects.  The first being Kyle’s death, 25 years ago, which gave us the strength to take the chance on adopting Hope. Hope’s wish brought us to Benjamin, being blessed with Benjamin brought us to Evie and truth be told, it doesn't end there – we have another little boy with pulmonary atresia that we hope to adopt. (We’re just waiting on his papers.)  God calls and we have tried our best to be obedient to His calls. 

Since it’s such a big part of our story, I’m including some of Hope’s story too. Thirteen years ago, my husband accidentally fell in love with a little girl. While working as a physician in a newborn intensive care unit, he admitted a baby that had been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome just before delivery. The mother had previously arranged to give the baby up for adoption. Sadly, the adoptive family said “No” when they were told of her unexpected diagnosis. The biologic mother opted to withdraw support from the baby and let her pass away. But that was not God’s plan. Dan simply, and unexpectedly, could not let her go. His heart chose hope, which became our new daughter’s name.    

We decided, along with our 6, 10 & 11 year old children, to bring her home so she wouldn’t die alone.  Dan and I had previously lost a son, Kyle, at 5 days of age, due to prematurity and Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome, so we knew what we were signing up for.   Our children were wonderful with this whole decision.  They believed, even at their young ages, that “no baby should die alone and without a family” (their exact words).  They also believed that she would be their sister forever, even if she only lived a few days, and they would have eternity with her.  Her story did not end there though; the cardiac surgeon told us he would do his best, if we would give her a shot at surgery.  She has been through 3 open heart surgeries and is now a beautiful 13 year old named Hope Elizabeth.

Hope’s story is truly a miracle.  God’s hand was there, at every step, leading her to us and us to her. Twelve years later, Hope would lead us to Ben. When we decided to adopt again we were rapidly matched with a little girl who was deaf.  The agency told us that we could adopt a second child at the same time, if we picked one from the “special focus” list – a list of children that had much more severe health problems. Hope quickly asked if we could adopt a little boy with the same heart defect as hers.  Most babies with Hope’s condition die as newborns if untreated, but we told her would look for a little boy with a heart defect.
Inevitably, the babies always end up with nicknames before we even find out their names.  We nicknamed our new son-to-be “Tigger”, and started praying for him.  We were looking through the agency website when we came across the picture below.  This picture stole our breath away – the little boy holding the Tigger was our “Tigger”. 

We reviewed Ben’s echocardiogram report and talked to our cardiologists. It wasn't good. Ben had transposition of the great arteries, with a large ventricular septal defect. This is very fixable if surgery is done in the first months of life, but Ben was three years old. The window of time for fixing his heart was closed; it was far too late now. He would develop irreversible pulmonary hypertension which would end his life prematurely. We did not know how much time he would have – years, months, weeks? Would he die before we could even get to China? There was no way to know.  I remember wondering how many days of loving Ben would it take to make the pain of losing him worth it.  I quickly found out.  The answer?  One day! One day is all it took.  One day to see that sad little boy open up and smile and laugh and I knew it was worth it.  Benjamin is a sweet, sweet soul and he deserves the love of a family.   I am blessed every single day by being his mama.

All of this leads us to our next “heart” adoption – Evangeline Faith.  Since the agency had seen what suckers we were for little blue babies, they dropped little Evie’s file in our laps – a sweetheart with a single ventricle. After the leaps of faith we took with Hope and Ben, the leap to accept this child was easy.  We will travel within the next couple of months and I can’t wait to hold my little girl. I look forward to the days that I am allowed to be her mama. 

We don’t know what the future holds for any of our children.   Having a child with a severe heart defect only makes that fact a tad bit more clear.  Having a child who has limited time makes you see very clearly what is important in life.  You take those extra moments to appreciate a giggle fit.  You read stories more readily.  You give extra hugs.  You don’t worry as much about the unimportant things.  Things take on a whole different meaning because you know you would trade any of your “things” for just a few more months with your child. 

Every child deserves the love of a family, whether they have one year to live or one hundred.  The blessings they bring are immeasurable.   If God has placed adoption or a specific child on your heart, please don’t be afraid to do something.   Take that leap of faith.  I can’t guarantee you that there won’t be pain and tears, but I can guarantee you that the joy you will receive from opening your heart will far outweigh the pain.

Follow our journey at

To read the newest update on Hope, Ben, Eli & Evie Ellsbury, please click here.


Lisa said...

What a beautiful, inspirational, God-laced story! Just amazing what our Lord can do. Thank you so much for sharing you precious children with us.

LaKasha Strickland said...

Wow! Just got a chance to catch up on my days and it was worth the wait. I agree ....we havnt even got Bella home yet and just taking the leap of faith for her has changed our lives. I am excited what more blessings the Lord has in plan to lead us to. God bless your children's hearts,lives, and family.

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