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!