Everyone enjoys a good story of love, charity, and sacrifice, where a kind-hearted individual sees a life that needs tending, and gives up much — if not everything — to foster that life.
These days we see those kinds of stories mostly in relation to people willing to go the extra mile for dogs and other critters who need a helping hand. There’s no doubt that animals need love and some need a daunting amount of care to live their best lives, but it takes a special kind of selfless person to devote themselves to adopting a child with a laundry list of conditions.
Kelly Lively of Kokomo, Indiana, is one of those people, and this story has God written all over it.
Lively is a nurse, which is the first good thing to know about her. In 2014, she lost her mother to cancer on Feb. 6 — the 8-year anniversary (to the day) of her father’s death.
It was the loss of her parents, she told the Kokomo Tribune, that grew and festered inside of her, making her feel hollow. Add to that the fact that she knew she couldn’t carry her own children, and you have someone who felt deeply lonely.
“I started praying to God to restore my joy,” Lively said. “I started praying for God to break my heart for what broke his heart.”
So she started to reach out. Using her unique skill set, she started volunteering as a nurse for the Make a Wish Foundation and other organizations, where her role was to tend to children who needed the intensive care she was able to provide.
One day, she overheard a foster care worker and a caseworker talking about a child who everyone thought would soon pass from this life to the next. Lively asked after him, and when she saw a photo, she broke.
“I just started bawling. They said, ‘What’s wrong? He’s so cute.’ But all I could see was that there was no life in his eyes. He was so sick.”
She found out that nobody had shown any interest in the 13-month-old who had been born to and abandoned by a heroin-addicted mother. He’d been born premature, weighing just a pound, with a long list of defects and a 30% chance of making it to 2 years of age.
“They told me that no one wanted him,” She said. “That just broke my heart. These kids deserve a loving home as much as the next. They can’t help they were born with disabilities or born early. I couldn’t allow Marcus to just end up in an institution.”
Lively was hooked. She had to meet him — which she did, in early 2017. He wasn’t well, and desperately needed her, which she must have been able to tell. Her sister, Tammy Lively, posted a picture on Facebook of the two from their first meeting.
“This was the day Kelly met Marcus…” Tammy Lively wrote on Jan. 19. “He was born VERY early, addicted to every type of drug you can think of, and being kept alive on a ventilator. He’s a little fighter…all he needed was a mommy to love him and a chance.”
“I’m so glad God brought them together. ❤️”
When Kelly met the little redhead, she asked him a question: “My name is Kelly. I want to be your mom. Would you like to come home with me?”
He couldn’t speak, but his response was a strong affirmative. “He smiled so big when I kissed his cheek, and I knew I was going to do everything I could to give this baby a chance,” she said. “In my heart, I felt he had just been waiting for me. It gave me chills. I knew he was my son.”
It’s been a long road, countless sleepless nights, and a lot of grueling work, but Kelly and Marcus are doing well. Marcus is doing so well, in fact, that the doctors have called Kelly an “angel fallen from heaven” for taking Marcus in, and they’ve told her “Whatever you are doing for this child, keep doing it.”
“I was shocked,” said Megan Deweese, the social service director where Marcus was being kept. “You just don’t have people who want to take on medically complicated children, let alone to love them as your own and treat them as your own. She blew me away quite honestly.”
Marcus still can’t speak because of the trach tube, but they have hope that it will be unnecessary soon and they will be able to remove it. He loves books, he signs with Kelly to communicate, and despite the conditions he still faces and will continue to face, he has known love, and is much happier.
“He’s the greatest joy of my life,” Lively admitted. “It’s a lot of tears and a lot of sleepless nights and mixed emotions, but it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.”
And all because she was brave enough to open up her heart after loss and was willing to love again. If that weren’t enough of a sign that it was meant to be, there’s the date she first met the little boy who has become her everything: February 6.
“The same day that broke my heart when I lost my mom was the same day I met my joy,” she said. “I know that God brought us together.”
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