It’s February 1. Happy American Heart Month! To start off heart month here at NHBO, I asked Andrea to share. Andrea has shared here before, as mom to four children with complex (some with very complex) heart needs.
But today Andrea is sharing as the Executive Director of Little Hearts Medical. One of her roles in this is to hear from parents like me… parents painstakingly navigating the confounding waters of reviewing a file of a child with a complex heart condition. For us, Andrea expertly managed Magnolia’s file review with an amazing pediatric cardiologist. She also helped us with the translation of numerous Chinese documents and informed us that the hospital where Magnolia had her surgeries is the hospital that LHM supports via training missions by their cardiology team. Such an incredible blessing.
I would encourage anyone in the process for a heart child to consider working with LHM. With one hand working here in the US to help inform and equip adopting parents, and the other in China working to educate orphanage staff and support orphans with heart needs, there’s really no one better. LHM does not charge a fee for the work that they do in reviewing files and providing much-needed insight to potential parents, but they do appreciate donations to help further their efforts in China. You can contact Andrea and LHM here
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
– Psalm 143:8
If God asked if you were willing to allow Him to place a blindfold on you and be led by Him into the abyss, would you be? If you knew the path you would travel would lead to challenges unlike any you had faced previously, including financial hardship, the loss of friendships, and heartache, would you follow? What about if He told you that you would also experience great happiness, enjoy the camaraderie of amazing people, and experience profound personal growth?
Would you be willing to take that leap?
I think it is human nature to view the unknown with suspicion and fear. But what if we replaced those feelings of trepidation with joyful anticipation, and opened our minds to the idea that we may find ourselves broken free from the life that we once clung to with such ferocity?
My husband and I once fiercely held on to the desires of our hearts, desperately attempting to control outcomes and manufacture the version of our family that we held in our minds. That version did not involve much giving on our parts, and certainly no firm sacrifices, and it centered on finding the right child for our family. The concept of becoming the right family for a child was foreign to us at the time, as was the idea that our lives would burst open in amazing ways we could not begin to fathom!
God laughed at our plans and our worldview changed. Ten years and five adoptions later, we who began our first adoption journey wanting a healthy female, as young as possible, have since welcomed three girls and two boys from China, four born with congenital heart disease. So far, we have supported our children through fifteen heart catheterizations, three open heart surgeries, four cardiac arrests, almost two weeks on ECMO, one heart transplant, more emergency procedures than we can count, enteral feeding, medication schedules to make our heads spin, cross country trips for cardiac care, and logged in over one year of in-patient time since 2011. It has been difficult, and it has been glorious!
I thank God for asking us to trust Him. Our lives are so much greater, richer, and more fulfilling than they previously were. We are experiencing life in a way we used to view as being lived by others who were stronger, certainly not the life that average and imperfect people like us we were capable of living.
The introvert that I am at heart, the intensely shy child who would cling her mother and cry when “Happy Birthday” was being sung to her, a person who became adept at flying under the radar and avoiding notice, has become a woman who now loves leading an organization which strives to improve the lives of children in China born with congenital heart disease.
Who would have thought? God, that’s who! All I had to do was follow His promptings. That is something that we are all capable of doing! God used my children to help give me the courage to step into the abyss, and how grateful I am for that!
I am delighted and proud to work as the Executive Director of Little Hearts Medical, an all-volunteer organization whose mission it is to help improve cardiac care for orphan and impoverished children in China through the medical partnerships we have formed with hospitals in Beijing. Founded in 2012 by adoptive parents Mike and Tanya Lee, LHM also works hand-in-hand with the China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption to assist in advancing cardiac care within China’s social welfare institutions through the education of orphanage staff and local officials.
A service we provide to orphanages, adoption agencies, and prospective adoptive families is our Cardiac Case Summary service. Free of charge (although donations are always appreciated!), our team of Pediatric Cardiologists and Surgeons from children’s hospitals across the country provide file assessments, as well as work with Cardiologists and Surgeons in China to plan interventions and surgeries for children there. LHM provided 116 Cardiac Case Summaries in 2015, our first year of providing this service.
Other highlights from 2015 included being invited to the CCCWA’s assembly in Shanghai in September to present the Little Hearts Medical/Holt International Children’s Services’ “Love You More” Cardiac Care Presentation to orphanage directors and Civil Affairs officials. Also in September, we assisted at the Shandong province Journey of Hope Camp, and made presentations at multiple orphanages throughout the province as well as at Peace House medical foster home in Beijing.
In November, we participated in the Beijing Ambassador Program, and thanks to our generous donors, we fundraised and presented Harmony House Beijing with an air conditioning unit. I was thrilled to be able to present Dr. Zhou, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at BaYi Children’s Hospital in Beijing, with much needed new surgical loupes during my trip in November, again thanks to the generosity of donors during our fundraiser.
We are currently planning our medical team’s next trip to China, tentatively scheduled for late spring. As we did on previous medical trips, our plan is to provide echocardiograms, heart catheterizations, and open heart surgeries to some of the thousands of children in China who so desperately need diagnostics and intervention.
Life is busy, and it feels incredible to be of service! So many wonderful things have happened since we opened ourselves up to having our hearts broken! That may sound peculiar to some, but I know there are others who understand exactly what I am talking about. For those who do not, I encourage you to take that leap! Allow your heart to be broken open by the suffering of the children, allow yourself to embrace a child with whom you will have the privilege of walking an uncertain path with, and let go of the hold that fear has on you.
Prepare for miracles!
Andrea can be reached via email. Follow LHM on FB here, their new website will be launched soon!