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'What heaven looks like'

"'What heaven looks like'" Continued...

With Kiel's support, Carolyn founded a nonprofit enterprise, Project Hopeful, designed to raise awareness of children's needs. Efforts of the family and volunteers have now assisted nearly 300 families and helped HIV-positive children from 15 countries. Project Hopeful publishes a waiting list of children in need of adoption and helps American families look into possibilities.

Project Hopeful also has a Family in the Gap program that connects orphans to foster families and a Hope+ Sisterhood program that is starting by assisting eight HIV-positive mothers and their children within Ethiopia by providing medical care, shelter, clothing, and job training. The goal is to make them self-sufficient in their own country and prevent their children from becoming orphans.

Read articles from past Roe v. Wade issues from our archives.

Miracles

Drew and Lily/Handout photo

My brother Drew and I are identical twins. We each married a woman named Rebecca Anne. Within months each of us, with our wives, had to make life-or-death decisions concerning our unborn daughters.

The challenge to Drew and his Becca came first. In August 2008, after three hours of ultrasounds and tests, a pediatric cardiologist told them, "Your daughter has a very serious heart defect. She has no right ventricle. She has transposition of the ventricles and aortic stenosis. She's only at 21 weeks. Would you like to terminate the pregnancy?"

Drew and Becca, without looking at each other, both said no. Surprisingly, the doctor smiled and said, "Good, because we are confident that with a series of open heart surgeries, we can repair your daughter's heart." Lily was born Aug. 26, 2008. Two days later Dr. Richard Jonas performed the first of what became three heart surgeries. Lily is now a healthy and happy 3-year-old.

Hospital personnel were not so optimistic at 3 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2008. For several days I had watched my Becca hemorrhage off and on. Doctors told us, "Very large blood clots are forming. All the amniotic fluid is gone. There is a very good chance this pregnancy will have to end today to protect your wife."

Our little girl, whom we had decided to name Charlotte Love, was only gestationally 24 weeks old-still four months from her due date. Doctors gave us staggering odds: They said she would almost certainly have brain damage, blindness, and long-term health problems. Three times hospital personnel suggested that we consider ending the pregnancy.

This was the time Becca and I had to authenticate and validate our belief system or destroy it through our actions. We refused to do anything that could contribute to ending Charlotte's life. We told the doctors and nurses they should work to revive Charlotte should she not be breathing after delivery.

In the morning our wonderful personal doctor walked in, in her scrubs, and asked how we were doing. I replied that we were hanging in there and then asked if the emergency C-section would be in the afternoon. She smiled and said, "No, you have 15 minutes. The operating room is ready. We'll wheel Becca down, you'll get your scrubs on, and we are delivering the baby."

She delivered Charlotte-1 pound, 7 ounces-at 10 a.m. on Nov. 4. Charlotte went into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her ups and downs over the next four months included an emergency heart surgery and a bacterial infection. But she never had bleeding on the brain, never needed eye surgery, and never suffered anything that would lead to long-term health or disability issues.

When I look back at what doctors in the middle of the night said would almost certainly happen, Charlotte's health seems nothing less than a miracle. We had no guarantees that Charlotte would live or even be healthy, but we chose life, no matter the consequences. I think about the experience often when I get Charlotte up in the morning, or she climbs on my lap to cuddle, and I know that this all took place for a reason. It certainly showed God's love.

-Ned Ryun lives in Virginia and is president of American Majority

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