Last December, Holt adoptive mom Andrea shared her family’s moving story about bringing home Rini — a little girl born in China with severe congenital heart disease — and the months-long struggle to save her life. One year later, Andrea shares an update about her daughter Rini and the incredible gift that she has given their family in their short time together as a family.
On November 13, 2015, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of our youngest child’s heart transplant. And just a couple of weeks later, the day arrived when she had officially been living longer with her donor’s heart than with her birth heart.
It’s sacred and surreal to listen to your child’s heart beating and know that another mother heard that same heartbeat emanating from her body during her obstetrical appointments. We are the beneficiaries of another family’s selfless gift given during their time of deepest grief, and the parallels to adoption are not lost on us. Loss, gain, pain and joy coexist in a complex dance in this life. We appreciate that now more than ever.
Rini is doing beautifully and we are doing our utmost to drink in every moment! Sometimes, the darkness creeps in when we read statistics and ponder the reality of transplant and its long-term outlook. But then we take a deep breath and refocus on the here and now, and remember the days not too long ago when we would have been overjoyed to have just one more hour with Rini.
Over the past year, there have been so many milestones to celebrate! She has progressed from g-tube feeds to an all- oral intake diet, and has gone from 27 medications down to a mere three. In September, we watched with tears in our eyes as she marched into preschool, and her brothers and sisters will attest to the fact that she is a mightily feisty little girl! She is tenderhearted and compassionate, but goodness gracious she sure has a stubborn streak! She never ceases to cause us to chuckle when she stands with her hands on her hips and says, “Rini says ‘no’!” when confronted with a task that she’d rather not take on.
Her November heart catheterization and biopsy showed minor rejection of her heart but nothing that is considered of any real clinical significance at this point. She is growing and thriving. And although some problems are beginning to rear up — problems with her heart that we knew could eventually be cause for concern — we are doing our best to stay focused and not allow the uncertainty of tomorrow to interfere with the joy of today.
Grateful doesn’t do justice to how we feel for the gift of the past two years with our baby, and for the personal growth we have experienced and the strength our family has gained. Don’t get me wrong. Trauma leaves its imprint, and sometimes you have to tear down the parts of the foundation that no longer support the new reality of your life and begin anew. But in the wake of that, you may just find yourself strengthened.
We call it “Rini’s Gift.” It is the gift of a new perspective, of increased gratitude, of an increased appreciation for the part we all play and for the good we can bestow upon others by the choices we make. Rini’s fight, and especially the indescribable gift given by her donor’s family, has illustrated to us the impenetrable shield that hope provides.
I remember what my husband said to Holt staff ten years ago, during our first of what would be five adoptions, when asked whether we would consider a medical needs adoption. He declared, “I don’t even want a hangnail on this kid.” Needless to say, that statement has become the thing of legends in our family! We are so glad, so thankful, that we pushed through our fears and allowed ourselves to become a part of the greatest journey we could ever have imagined for our family!
Andrea | Adoptive Mom
To view a video about Rini’s journey to heart transplant, click here.
Read “A Heart for Rini,” their family’s story of bringing home Rini and the struggle to save her life.