Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 3 - Joshua FanKang & Joy MeiNi Peterson

When we introduced you to Joshua and Joy last year, we had no idea the twists and turns that we would be asked to navigate on the road of life with our two very special China heart kids.

To go back to the beginning of Joshua and Joy's 28 Days of Hearts, please click here.

Joy’s journey was one of surprises. The one special need we never checked off was developmental delays. With nine kids at home and a variety of mental health issues, including emotional and physical needs, we didn’t feel it that we could handle much more. Yet this tiny six-year-old daughter of ours with an unrepaired heart defect presented more like a two year old when we met her in China.  She had a rough go in a poor orphanage with little stimulation or care.  And she was extremely delayed. And scared. And terribly sad.

 Once we enfolded her into our family, fixed her heart the best we could, and loved her through those first few transitional months, we discovered the gem that was hiding beneath those developmental delays we had been so scared of. Our hearts grew bigger and wider as we fell completely in love with this little girl named Joy who has added a plethora of happiness, sass, and smiles to our family.

 Her unrepaired heart gave her a disease called Pulmonary Hypertension, which will eventually affect her life expectancy but we hope that she will have decades of symptom free life before this often-silent disease catches up with her. She has regular check ins with the cardiologist, takes round the clock medication, and otherwise lives her life like any other healthy seven year old. Once we got her stable, the doctors told us she would have been very sick in a matter of a few years had she remained in a Chinese orphanage with no access to specialized heart care. That knowledge alone made each and every penny, sacrifice, and worry completely worthwhile.

 Joy has adapted and conquered everything that we have asked of her. We couldn’t be more proud of what she has accomplished since coming home from China in the fall of 2012. While she continues to learn and progress at her own pace, we enjoy the privilege of being her family each and every day.

 When we adopted Joshua in August of 2011, we accepted his “terminal” diagnosis. We grieved for months and began to learn how to live each day as though it were extra special because that might be the best day we ever had together. We wanted this very special boy to have a family who would be there for him during the good times and walk alongside him in the hard times. Joshua’s single ventricle heart would not last forever or even very much longer, we would learn as the year progressed.

Joshua enjoyed a decent quality of life through 2013 doing most things other nine-year old boys do, although he never could muster quite enough energy to take off on two wheels.  His smile and zest for life are contagious and just knowing him makes you a better person. In spite of his diagnosis, his broken heart, his life circumstances, Joshua lights up a room and makes others happy because of whom he is! We were so happy to be a part of whatever life he had to live whether it was ten years or one year.

 After a second opinion and a heart catheterization, we were absolutely stunned to learn that Joshua would be accepted at Boston Children’s Hospital as a heart transplant candidate. We had spent almost two years coming to grips with his mortality only to be told that his life could be extended beyond what we had imagined. But not without a price because heart transplantation is exchanging one illness for another in many ways because of the inherent risks and immense medical maintenance required post-transplant. It took months to make the decision that could potentially give or even take his life.

On December 2, 2013, we received the call that would change Joshua’s life thanks to a incredibly brave family who was willing, in the midst of their own personal tragedy, to give the gift of life to another child. In less than twelve hours, Joshua had a new heart beating in his chest earning him the chance to learn to ride a bicycle, to swim and run like never before.

After 10 years of unrepaired congenital heart disease, Joshua’s body had adapted and made the best of a bad situation. Joshua had dextrocardia where his native heart was located in the right side of his chest, and his donor heart now sits about midline beneath his ribs. Often we catch ourselves watching his chest rise and fall in complete and utter wonder. Along with his other diagnosis, this made a heart transplant very high risk and his new heart journey has not been without complications. Today he remains hospitalized recovering and looking forward to life with a new heart that can take him anywhere he wants to go.

 We never imagined the heart journeys our beautiful children would take us on. But repairing their hearts has forever changed ours. For the better.


Drea said...

What a joy it has been to witness this transformation, my dear friend!

Jean said...

I love how this story unfolds-GOD is so amazing! And you were brave enough to trust HIM and step out in faith! because of that your blessings are abundant!

Holly said...

I could read and view for hours the wonder and miracles of these beloved children in their courageous journeys along with their courageous, sacrificial family who loves them "to the moon and back". You inspire us all, dear Petersons, each and every one of you!

Matthew_Dougherty said...

I want to comment but there are no words that can express the feeling in my heart for Joshua and Joy and the entire Peterson family. You are in our prayers daily. Thank you for the privilege of getting to know this incredible story of Faith, Hope and Love in action.

The Dougherty Family

Mary Sammons said...

So blessed to have been able to share a few days with you and Joy. It has been an honor to pray Joshua through his current journey , he certainly has my heart!!!! Love you all !

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