Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 19 - Morning Star Foundation


ready to face or endure danger or pain; showing courage.


I have this house full of brave ones — over here in Beijing, China. You might not think so… at first glance. In so many ways, we are so normal… so everyday… maybe somewhat above average on the chaos scale, because 12 toddlers. But then — as you observe — you’ll notice one and then another. Peeks of Brave, as little shirts are shifting — a defined mark, a line, a scar… running down each little chest… their Brave Scars. 

You’ll hear it — if you listen. The thudding of a heart working a little too hard. The rasping breath of little lungs that are trying to keep up. You’ll pull one of my little warriors into your lap and realize in an instant their frail weight. You’ll feel their heart beat against your own — in a rhythm that’s altogether unfamiliar. You’ll glance down to turn the page — and notice that the little hand resting on your own is an unsettling shade of blue.

We are so normal — but yet so very not. You see, each and every child that comes into this home was born with a life threatening cardiac defect. Each and every child that comes through our door — battles for their life with every heartbeat. Behind every impish grin and little giggle is a warrior of a soul — a child who lives Brave. A child who endures open heart surgery… and survives. A child who takes yucky medication every morning, noon, and night — to sustain their very life. These are the hearts who know that blood draws are normal, that doctors visits are expected, and that yes, it is not easy — but they live and love with JOY.

Oh what courage — my dear little hearts.

We do this every day, me and them. In a houseful of babes with brave warrior hearts, we sit at the end of every day… and count beats. Feel rhythms. Take that pulse ox Theo is so intently studying — place it on tiny fingers and take note of the oxygen levels running through each little one’s veins.

They love to sit with me — to hold up the stethoscope and hear their own hearts… to listen to each other’s’. They know they are brave. They point to their scars, their hearts, their brave — and they say it out loud. Brave. Each heart so broken… each so beautiful… each one beats unique. I love to hear the difference — to learn their hearts, the sound of each beat.

Their scars tell their story — they tell the stories of their Brave. They fight so very hard — and they are always worth the fight. In this home, we believe in dangerous love. We believe in risky hope. We believe that every heart is worth loving and that we will always choose courage. We will always live Brave.

These tiny ones — oh, how they dare me to be brave. They have taught me over and over again — that we don’t have to be afraid of our scars. They have taught me to embrace — with arms wide open — this thing called life. There will always be pain and we will always need courage — and I will be honest. The CHD world is not for the fainthearted — it truly is for the Brave.

There’s so much that changes when that “Single Ventricle” description is attached to the most beautiful pair of almond eyes locked on your own. “Hypertension” doesn’t really make much of a difference to you anymore – not when you’ve got the sweetest little 12 pounds of tiny curled up against your chest. A diagnosis can be scary and stepping into the unknown can feel more like a dive than a soft little step, I know. But these babies? They are so much more than those words on a page. They are brave beating hearts, all wrapped up in spunk and sass – little miracles right in front of our eyes – teaching us more about living wholehearted than we ever could have imagined. 

The CHD world is now my world, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. The hope I get to see – all the little Morning Star babies who come tumbling through my home – their stories are going to change the world. They show us all how to live life brave, and those scars running down each of their chests proves it true. If you are considering adopting a child with complex CHD, I cannot encourage you enough to take the risk. Jump in. Your life and heart will never ever be the same. Each heartbeat of theirs that I feel so strongly against my own reminds me over and over again. Hope wins. And it’s always, always worth the fight. 

international director at Morning Star Foundation


LisaE. said...

I always love to see updates and pictures of Meredith and her babies. Thank you Morning Star for all that you do.

Andrea Olson said...

Thank you for sharing, Meredith, in the way only you can!

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