Have you met this crazy brave little girl?
If not, I’d love to introduce you. This is Tess. Her history is long, and amazing, you can read about it by clicking her name in the header of this blog post. Here’s the very abbreviated version though. Tess was born in China with a severe Congenital Heart Defect. She didn’t receive surgery when she should have. In fact, she didn’t receive surgery at all. We hemmed and hawed about adopting such a sick kiddo. We waited longer than we should have. Tess nearly died. She didn’t though. And, it looks like she will live a long, and amazing, life.
She went through a lot to get here though. She lived through two scary open heart surgeries, countless procedures, X-rays, blood draws, echocardiograms, and she will need a lifetime of monitoring for her heart. , Tess has a little mantra for when we have to see her doctors, and sometimes have scary or painful procedures. She will look at me before the procedure, usually with tears welling in her little eyes, and say “I can do this, mom. I know I can, because I’m crazy brave.” Sometimes, the bravest people come in the tiniest packages.
We adopted this phrase in reference to many kids in our life, including other ones who live in our home. Tess is the very best at comforting and motivating other people. Feeling bad about yourself? Tess will find the reason you are crazy brave. You may not even know it. Don’t worry. She’ll find it for you. She does it for her sister, Gigi, all the time. “Oh Gigi, it’s okay. They’re going to give you sleepy medicine. You’ll go to sleep and they’ll take pictures of your eyes. When it’s all done, you’ll know how crazy brave you are because you DID IT! I’ll tell you that you’re SO brave. I’ll be right here.”
She does it for the teenagers too. “Cam, don’t let that bother you. That boy just isn’t very nice. You stood up to him and told him so. That’s crazy brave.” 13-year-old Cam never openly admits to being bothered about anything. But, Tess is covering all her bases by telling him, just in case he needs to hear it.
She does it for kids we’ve never met too.
Tess is extremely committed to helping kids who live the way she did in China, without the surgeries they need to survive. China’s socialized medicine system is in its infancy. Most citizens will pay for every surgery they will have. Some parents have to pay out of pocket for live saving surgery for their child. For some families, this makes it impossible to continue to parent your child. Some parents are forced to choose: parenting them and watching them die, or letting them go and hoping, by some miracle, they are given the chance to live. We believe this is what happened to Tess. It happens in China every day.
We advocate for adoption for these kids whenever possible. Sometimes, the child needs surgery prior to adoption. Sometimes, they need someone to be crazy brave and stand in the gap for them while they wait. They need surgery to survive long enough to be adopted. Tess sees these children’s picture in my email in basket and talks to them. It’s just about the sweetest thing I have ever heard. “Tian Ci, you need a heart surgery. I needed heart surgery too. You’re small. I’m small too. You have Down Syndrome. My sister’s best friends in China have Down Syndrome. WE LOVE THEM!!!”
Tian Ci does need heart surgery, and he does have Down Syndrome. We do love him.
Tian Ci lives at Dew Drops Cardiac Care Home currently. Dew Drops provides life saving care for children in China living with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) while they wait to be adopted wither domestically or internationally. Dew Drops is a part of the larger organization Little Hearts Medical (LHM). LHM was instrumental in helping us get answers for both Tess and Gigi’s CHD. LHM’s team of Cardiologists provide medical reviews of files of children who wait in China to be adopted. These reviews help would-be parents understand the complexity of the child’s heart diagnosis. The volunteers of LHM also to travel to China regularly to help educate the staff of orphanages about CHD and best practices for caring for children diagnosed with heart defects.
These people are crazy brave FOR these kids. They stand in the gap until their parents can come for them.
Tess and I are asking you to help us stand in the gap too. Over the next few weeks we’re going to try to raise funds for Tian Ci’s surgery. LHM needs $6000 for his surgery to be fully funded. To raise this much money, we’re ALL going to need to be crazy brave. Can you do it with us?
We start next week. Come join us! Some of it will happen here, some of it will happen on Facebook. Wherever we are, we’ll make sure you don’t miss a minute!
–FullPlateMom, who feels a little crazy brave herself. Some days there’s more emphasis on the crazy. Some days, it’s more brave. Whichever way you feel today, let’s feel it together.