Dear Could-Be Heart Mama…

February 14, 2018 complex heart defect, February 2018 Feature - Heart, Heart System, heterotaxy, major aorto-pulmonary collateral arteries, medical needs checklist, Morning Star Foster Home, pulmonary hypertension, referral, single atrium heart disease, single ventricle heart disease 1 Comments

Dear Could-Be Heart Mama, thinking of bringing home your own little Broken-Hearted Brave,

It’s the morning here, on this Celebration of Hearts, and I wake up to a house full of little hearts — brave and broken ones, that is. We like to call ourselves this “Little House of Brave” — like a warrior rally cry, declaring it to be true — reminding us who we are.

Every heart that comes through these doors is broken and brave — a baby with half a heart… or ventricles with gaping holes. Arteries that haven’t grown as they should… valves that leak out a back flow of blood.

I live in this upside-down little world, where I sometimes forget… that behind sparkling little eyes and precious laughs, they are warriors from the moment they take their first breath. Deep purple lips and blue nails are our favorite accessories — tiny little hands know how to deftly work the stethoscopes and pulse oximeters. They grin and swallow down meds, Brave Scars line the outside of each chest.

But you know? There was a time, not so long ago, when I really had no clue. I didn’t know that fingers could turn so scary deep blue – I couldn’t have listed a single heart defect or spouted a statistic or explained anything to you about this wild and crazy world… this world called CHD.

Perspective can change in the blink of an eye and sometimes the choice that kinda upends your whole life turns out to be the greatest gift you didn’t know you were missing — the irreplaceable gift of each day.

Oh, Could-Be Heart Mama, I know you’ve read the medical files. I know you’ve seen the laundry lists of defects — words that are hard for even the smartest of us to pronounce and even harder to understand. You’ve googled your heart out and consulted with more specialists than you’ve ever talked to before you your life and maybe your mind is kinda racing and heart is kinda pounding and you’re wondering “How on Earth could we say yes? How — could we do that?”

Brave Mama — I know those tearful fears. I know that uncertainty. I know that desperate longing for guarantees, for assurances, for hope. I know how it feels to love a little broken heart and hope for healing with everything you’ve got… Oh, how I know.

I know — how hearts can heal. And I know — how hearts can break.

“Choose Hope” is the mantra around here — my surgeons know it, my ayis know it, I know it.

And, I’ll be honest with you… Sometimes I wish they didn’t.

When you’ve got broken and brave little hearts that have gone and stolen your own — little hearts that will soon be stilled and stitched in surgeons’ hands — the stakes feel pretty darn high. Hope isn’t always an easy choice, but it is absolutely the greatest gift.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is what I know: Hope always costs. It takes pieces of your heart.. your time… your funds. Sometimes, hope hurts — but hope is always a choice.

And no matter what? Hope is always worth that cost.

For 73 years, surgeons have been putting little hearts on the line — brave mamas and daddies too, just like you — because HOPE is on the line. Hope is worth the greatest risk.

And yeah — Hope. It can be the absolute hardest fight.

But this I want you to know, with all of my heart…

Choose Brave Hope. Choose courage when it doesn’t make sense. Say yes — despite the odds. It will break your heart and heal your heart and gift you the worth of every single day… and it’s always worth the risk.

Don’t you ever give up that hope. Fight crazy hard and hang on to it with all you’ve got. You never know the end of the story — the story being written for you. It might turn out the way you thought or maybe nothing like it at all. The outcome may be just exactly what you hoped… or maybe it really won’t. But this I know, with all my heart — no matter what, no matter the cost… fight.

He is worth the fight. She is worth the fight. You are braver than you think and stronger than you feel, and don’t ever let go of your hope.

Oh — brave Heart Mama… I can’t wait for you to know the joy of this little warrior you will soon call your own. I can’t wait for the moment your heart splits wide open, the first time you snuggle her close. I can’t wait for you to know how very normal your life will be — how scary files and words on a page find a way to disappear when you’ve got the sweetest eyes looking up at you, asking you to play.

You’ll watch that warrior little heart grow and change and and laugh and learn before your very eyes, and you’ll soak up every minute… grateful for the GIFT of every minute, in a way you’ve never been before.

This brave little heart will burrow it’s way into your own and this upside-down world of dangerous love will feel like the most natural place on earth.

I can’t wait for you to see.

And the sun will set another night, here on this Little House of Brave. Hearts broken and hearts healed, these babies will come and go, someday to join families of their very own — one very much like yours <3. Our little white couch will hold countless more little faces… and when asked “Can they come?”, the answer will always be yes.

We’ve got it hung up on the wall — these brave little faces and their brave little hearts. I read it 100 times a day, glancing up from my couch spot from across the room.

“In this house, we choose love. We live with joy and we believe that Hope always always ALWAYS should be given the chance to shine.”

No matter who fills this couch — no matter how hearts may heal or how hearts may break… Hope is worth the cost and we will always let it shine.

I can’t wait to watch yours blaze.

If you are considering adopting a child with complex congenital heart defects and would like to talk more, please feel free to email me at

guest post by Meredith Toering, International Director Morning Star Foundation: email || Instagram

One response to “Dear Could-Be Heart Mama…”

  1. Julie says:

    Your words brought tears to my eyes… Tomorrow morning, my little superhero, my 4yo daughter, will go to see her cardiologist for a check up. Finally, after 2 years home, I will finally have a better idea of what was her surgery in China. She’s so full of life and energy that it’s hard to believe that she was a really sick blue baby. She’s stole my heart in a second and I’m so lucky to be her mom!!

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