Every so often you hear of a person who has overcome tremendous odds in order to succeed. The journey was long and at times very lonely, and yet with the goal in sight they persevered forward. My niece, Erin, is one them.
Erin was born to an unwed teenage mother. She was loved dearly by her maternal grandmother and adopted Grandma "Net". Through a series of choices made by her mother she ended up with 3 others siblings and mother who dealt with 2 difficult marriages. Her mother succumb to drugs, depression and isolation forcing everyone out of her life. Erin's stepfather moved from job to job due to drug addictions. The addictions of her parents led them to become in trouble with the law due to theft, fraud, concealed weapons violations, and heavier drug charges. Erin as a young child became the mother to her brothers and sister. She cooked the meals, helped try to clean the home, sent her siblings to school and did her best to make sure that she was in school. She carried a heavy, silent burden and seldom talked about her family whenever she was even allowed to come to family functions.
I'm ashamed to say that my family knew what was going on but due to the way my sister had treated everyone, no one wanted to step in and help. I think each one of us will have to answer for that someday.
Things came to a sudden turning point 2 years ago this month. My mother was dying and in a hospital in Salt Lake City. My life was busy; I was working full time and trying to care for a terminally ill parent. Jake was trying desperately to complete his last class to graduate with his bachelor's degree and between the two of us, we were doing our best as young parents to care for our 2 year old daughter. I had just found out I was pregnant and with that came the mixed emotions of knowing I was going to loose my mother and would be having a child that she would never know.
A couple of weeks before Mom passed away I received a phone call from the police at work saying that my sister and her husband had both been arrested and that I needed to go quickly and pick up their kids. I went to find 4 frightened children sitting in the living room with the police as their parents were handcuffed and shackled on the couch. I quickly grabbed some clothes for the kids and took them to my house. I had just became a "parent" to 4 kids who had needs bigger than I knew how to deal with. I was not mature enough to care for those kids.
It was with a heavy heart that Jake and I made the decision to place the kids in foster care. It was really the best choice for everyone, but the looks on the kids faces as I left them were indescribable. Erin, especially, had a hard time dealing with everything that had just happened to her family. She had tried so hard to keep them together and yet nothing was ever going to be the same.
For a long time I used to blame myself for Nathan's health problems. Was in my fault? Did I eat something wrong? Was it because I was caring for my mother who had a deadly strain of bacteria? No, it was the Lord's plan. I have had no regrets since Nathan was born that we placed those children in foster care. We couldn't have cared for them in the way they needed and Nathan at the same time. They were placed with the best foster parents, Doug & Jane and another mother, Carolyn. What a tremendous impact these adults have had on these children. They have been loved and well cared for. The foster care system truly worked for these children.
Jake and I have kept in contact with Erin and have seen the kids several times in the last two years. Erin's parents have been in and out of jail several times. Even on graduation day, Erin's mother was currently serving more time in jail.
Erin graduated with honors from high school yesterday afternoon. She has learned to love our Heavenly Father and lean on Him for guidance. She is slowly learning that she has worth as a young woman and that if she works hard she can achieve her goals. Graduating from high school is just the first in many great achievements that she is going to make. Statistically Erin should have followed in her mother's choices and been involved in drugs or becoming a young teenage mother. She set her mind on a goal and even though she struggled emotionally these last 2 years she made it! Erin has been accepted to Brigham Young University and will be attending college there.
Jake & I are extremely proud of Erin. What a privelege it is to be her aunt and uncle.
1 in every 120 babies are born with a heart defect. What if that ONE was YOURS?
Our Little Man
We unknowingly became elite members of a world no one wants to be a part of on January 22, 2008 with the birth of our little boy, Nathan, but looking back we can't imagine life any differently. Nathan has had to endure 21 surgeries in the first 25 months of his life including open heart surgery for Tetralogy of Fallot, jaw surgery at 3 days old, 5 cleft surgeries and many surgeries involving his airway, ears, and eyes. He has a g-tube which he uses as his sole source of nutrition. In February 2010 he underwent a second jaw distraction as he was showing signs of right heart failure.
Nathan is our little hero; our witness that prayers are answered individually and that we couldn't be blessed with better family and friends to support us.
One day my world came crashing down, I'll never be the same. They told me that my baby was sick. I thought, "Am I to blame"? I don't think I can handle this. I am really not that strong. It seemed my heart was breaking. I have loved him for so long. I will not give up on this child. I will listen to your advice. I will give my son any chance. No matter what the price. I will learn all that I need To help my baby thrive. I'll even use that feeding tube. My child must survive! Will he need a lot of therapy? Will he gain the needed weight? Please God, help me do this. As I accept our fate. When the monitors beep at night, it serves as my reminder. How many parents would love that sound. Tomorrow I will be kinder. As another Angel earns his wings, I run to my baby's bed. I watch him sleep for quite a while. I bend down and kiss his head. I cry for the parents whose hearts have been broken. I look to You wondering why? Oh Lord, I just can't know your ways.... no matter how I try. And yet, I trust you hold his life, and guide us through each day. My mind says savor each moment he's here, but my heart begs, "PLEASE let him stay"! From pacing the surgical waiting room, to sitting by his bed. From wishing for a good nights sleep, to learning every med. From wondering, "Will he be alright?", to watching him reach out his hands. With every smile my heart just melts, despite life's harsh demands. For all who see that faded line. I look to them and smile. You see my child is loved so much. I would face ANY trial. That scar I trace with my finger (It's the door to his beautiful heart). God must have known how much I'd love him (Just as He loved him from the start). A heart mom is always a heart mom. Now wise beyond her years. For those who have angels in heaven, Our hearts share in all of your tears. Every day I will try and remember, I was chosen for him (and no other). I will always embrace that beautiful day....... When I became a "Heart Mother".
~Stephanie HustedMommy to Braeden HLHS post FontanCarepage name: babyhusted
I "borrowed" this poem off of another blog. I'm not sure who the author is, but it truly touched my heart.(Original version found at http://garyandcamille.blogspot.com Thank you!) Heart Poem:
It's a beautiful day up in heaven. Jesus is rounding up his tiniest angels, to go live on earth, and be born. One of the sweetest angels says to Jesus "I don't want to leave, I like it here, and I will miss you". He reassures the scared little angel that everything will be okay, and that she is just going for a visit. She is still not swayed on this idea. So Jesus kneels down, and says, "How about if you leave half of your heart here with me and take the other half with you, will that be okay?" The angel smiles and says, "I guess that will work". But the little angel is still a little scared. She asks,"Will I be okay with only half of my heart?" Jesus replies,"Of course you will, I have other angels there that will help out, and you will be fine." Then Jesus gives the angel more details about his plan. He says "When you are born, your mommy will be scared, so you have to be strong, and when you feel weak just remember that I have the other half of your heart. Enjoy your time with your family, play and laugh everyday. And when its time to come back to heaven, I will make your heart whole again. Always remember that you are not broken, just torn between two loves."