Reece’s Rainbow Report #18: Rinehart Family

by Crystal Kupper
Brenda Rinehart had made it.
She had climbed the corporate ladder and just about crested the top: a doctorate in psychology, big paychecks, a cushy job in hospital administration, the tantalizing possibility of being a CEO someday of her own practice. 
But then came a dream one night. And then on another night, and another. 

“I’d see this little girl with a soup-bowl haircut with Down Syndrome, walking down our hallway, opening up our door and yelling, ‘Mom and Dad!’” Rinehart says. “Considering our age, we didn’t know what that meant. We thought maybe one of our kids was going to adopt a child with Down Syndrome.”
Rinehart and her husband, an engineer and manager named Joseph, were in their 50s. They already had six children, with some of them grown and gone. Heck, they were already grandparents. Retirement wasn’t terribly far away, their bank accounts were steady and life was good. 

But that dream. Maybe it meant they should be foster parents? Rinehart and her husband completed training to foster with their county, but something didn’t sit right. They shared their thoughts and Rinehart’s dream with their social worker. 
“When you describe this child in your dreams, all I can think about is China,” she responded. She began showing them photos of waiting children. Though none of them resembled the dream girl, the Rineharts decided to switch tracks. 

They were headed to China. The couple selected Brooklyn, a three-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. Right before they traveled in 2017, their agency sent them one final photo of Brooklyn. “It crushed me,” Rinehart says. 
Because it was the exact girl from her dream. 
“If God hadn’t given me the dream, I never would have thought of adopting a child with Down Syndrome at our ages,” she admits. “I was making a substantial amount of money in a lucrative career, but we decided I would change my lifestyle, and God made it work.”
Rinehart watched her new daughter blossom upon coming home. Brooklyn went from size 18 months clothing to 5T in just one year and was reading by the end of preschool. She also gained a second diagnosis of autism.

Still, the family fell into a workable routine. “Her autism we thought would be this incredible challenge, but it’s turned out to be one more thing that just makes her who she is,” her mother says. “I just love this kid so much.”
Only one year later, they felt a divine directive to return for another daughter with Down Syndrome. Carol, six at the time, became Brynlee, a “mother hen with a heart of gold,” according to Rinehart. “She’s always saying, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’” 

Rinehart homeschools her children (as well as some of her nine grandchildren) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Their days are full of therapies, swim classes, schoolwork ― normal family things “just like any other parent,” she says. 
“There’s nothing that’s scary about our life on the day-to-day stuff,” Rinehart says. “It takes longer to teach them how to do things, but they learn.” 

The family is longing for China to open back up to adopting families; a third daughter with Down Syndrome, Brighton Hope, awaits there. The Rineharts are committed to sticking with the process until she comes home or ages out. 

It’s an entire way of life that baffles some people, especially when they’re around retirement age. Rinehart’s own best friend told her she was crazy ― at least at first. 

“You were this high-income power couple and you could have had anything you wanted!” she said. “Then you traded it all in for this. I don’t get it!” 

But Rinehart did. She saw how Brooklyn went from not knowing how to express her emotions to being able to cry and comfort others when they cried. She watched as Brynlee went from no self-confidence to bossing her siblings around. Rinehart felt a new, different sort of happiness through adoption than what she experienced at her old job. “It’s changed my entire life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she says. 

But then Rinehart’s best friend began spending time with Brooklyn and Brynlee, now eight and 10. Her heart thawed, and she soon changed her tune. “Now I brag about the decisions you have made, and I see it’s perfect for you,” she told Rinehart recently. “It’s what other people should have the courage to do.” 

Rinehart understands ― because she once thought the same. 

“What I thought I wanted, climbing the corporate ladder and all that, it all went away in one day,” she says. “Those other things don’t matter to me anymore.”

A dream come true, indeed. 
Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.
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