okay, so this young woman? She’s turned out to be one of my best friends. Brave as all get out, smart as a whip, walks only in leaps of faith, & if you follow her on Instagram you know how relentlessly determined she is to always find the hope, always find the humor — always find Him. My heart friend, Meredith Toering , takes the front porch today — and talks about what’s beating hard in all of our hearts today and that Kimmel piece that’s blowing up the internet….
“A murmur in his heart — skin a little bit purple.”
I sat early this morning — still in bed — checking email and there it was, quietly playing in the background, the video of Jimmy Kimmel sharing about the birth of his son.
His son, born with a complex congenital heart defect.
“Not enough oxygen in his blood… his lungs were fine — but his heart wasn’t.”
As I sat there in bed, his words pierced my heart a bit — and I had to stop working to fully listen… to watch. Tetralogy of Fallot. Pulmonary atresia. The fear he describes as the doctors explain what must come next; the photos he shares of his Brave warrior son, just hours after his open heart surgery.
I’ve been there. I’ve heard those words and felt that fear. His words drew me in… pulled my heart close, because I’ve walked those halls.
I don’t have children of my own, but I run a foster home in China for a houseful of babies who call me Mama — children, all abandoned, all with Brave warrior hearts. Our little tribe fighting so hard, all with congenital heart defects of their own.
It was his words that followed — the words that came next — that grew a lump in my throat and made the tears well.
“We need to take care of each other,” he said, as he swallowed back tears.
“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.”
But the thing is? It does.
Almost two years ago, my little Ruby went in for emergency heart surgery in the middle of the night. We rushed her to the hospital and paced outside that ICU… paid the required $15,000 in cash upfront… and waited anxiously for her to come through surgery. And while we wore a path down one side of the hallway, a Chinese father paced the other side.
I didn’t know him yet, but I remember his tears. I’ll never forget the way hopelessness looked, as it etched it’s way across his face.
After surgery, I was allowed back into ICU, to be with my baby, and in the bed next to Ruby in that Chinese ICU, a tiny six day old baby lay.
I didn’t take much notice of him at first, just another baby on a ventilator among the rows. Not until I overheard the doctors discussing his case — the quiet words reaching my ears.…
“The surgery… they said today it’s too expensive. His parents can’t pay. They have sacrificed everything they have for his ICU costs here, but it’s not enough. We can’t do the surgery without the funds…so they are going to have to choose.”
They are Going. To. Have. To. Choose.
My heart broke. Those parents. Without health insurance. Without the cash in hand for the cost of a unfathomably expensive surgery. Knowing full well that, if they were to choose to abandon…to walk away from their son — their baby Jia Qi, there are systems in place to care for the orphan. But where are the systems for the family? Who will stand for them?
I walked out of that ICU and saw the tears streaming down that new daddy’s face.
I shook his hands and asked him if that tiny baby — the one who needed surgery — was his son. The way his hands shook when he held mine, his slow nod… told me everything I needed to know.
He would do whatever it took to save his baby’s life. Even if that meant saying goodbye.
The thing is… I have this house full of broken-hearted babes, the bravest and most beautiful souls, because of this very thing, of exactly what Kimmel said:
“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”
The devastating reality here — is that so many do.
For so many families across this globe — they have to choose.
Due to a lack of medical insurance, poverty, and unaccessible or unaffordable medical care… parents are forced to make the most heartbreaking decision in the world:
Will you bring your child home to die… or choose to abandon your precious child, hoping beyond hope that they will be taken for medical care?
Placed outside a hospital, orphanage gates, beside a river or a public square — hoping that they will someday be one of the few who are adopted to the West. Choosing to abandon, desperate for their baby to somehow receive the lifesaving surgeries and care that they need. Care — that they are unable to provide.
Abandoned — not because of a lack of love… but because of DEEPEST love.
Abandoned — not because of a lack of family… but simply because of a devastating lack of resources.
Children abandoned — because it was the only way to save their life.
My heart-broken blue little babies, so much like the son Kimmel described, left outside hospitals — often with notes, “Please — we have done all we can but we have no more money. Please, someone? Save my baby. Give her a chance to live”.
That Chinese father, being forced to make that decision that Kimmel rightly said no parent should ever have to make — that father sparked a movement that we call our Love Project — and it is my very heartbeat.
Working with local hospitals to identify at risk families. Equipping them — and partnering with them to provide the financial means for medical care. Arranging the medical care. Standing with and for these brave families — who want nothing more than to simply remain a family.
Orphan prevention. Family preservation. This is it… this — right here.
I grasped his hands and told him that whatever it took — whatever the cost — we would find a way…
True religion is this — caring for orphans and widows in their distress. We are called to stand for them — for the orphan. For the widow. And always? For the family… so they never ever have to choose.
So, hey, Jimmy Kimmel — you’re right. You’re really kinda heartbreakingly right.
There’s a whole world of desperate parents who would agree with you. “We need to take care of each other. No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.”
So that no father ever has to choose. So that no child’s heart remains unhealed.
So that no family is ever shattered.
And so that no heartbreak ever wins.
Meredith Toering is Oklahoma-born — transplanted to China. Her heart beats hard for heart babies around the world, and as the International Director of Morning Star, she not only advocates for surgeries for orphans with complex congenital heart defects, she champions the Love Project that financially provides heart surgeries for babies of families who could never afford heart surgeries — so that families can be kept intact and babies can LIVE! She is, hands down, absolutely one of my favourite people on Instagram and joining her in the Love Project to help broken hearted babies — is one of the most fulfilling, meaningful JOYS we’ve ever had.
You aren’t going to want to miss out on joining us in the Love Project — even a bit of spare change — so a heart baby gets to live… and a mama gets to hold onto her heart baby with her whole grateful heart. For Jimmy — for Jimmy’s kids — for all of the world’s kids, let’s do this thing. May’s #BeTheGIFT calendar prompts us today to grab a jar to collect our spare change for the rest of the month — and use it to change the world. Join us right now to be part of the global Love Project, because Love always Gives.
We could all together kinda start a little movement of Giving It Forward Today, choosing to #BeTheGIFT, living broken & given like bread out into a world down right hungry for love right now.