Monday, November 23, 2015

HOPEfull Hearts {Tanner Jay}

We have been home for about 7 months now with Brave and Ever. They have both adjusted very well. It has been a VERY full 7 months filled with medical appointments, to say the least.

Brave was considered terminal in China. His heart was far too complex to be fixed, so for 10 years he sat in an orphanage without any intervention for his severe heart defect.  When we first met him, he was a very sick little guy. Although he was 10 1/2 years old, he only weighed about 35 pounds. His O2 sats were in the 50s and 60s and his breathing was very, very labored. You could hear him breathing from the other side of the room. He was unable to walk very far at all, so I often carried him on my back in China.

Once home, we still weren't sure if he would be a candidate for any type of repair due to his heart defect being left untreated for so long. We made the 1,000 mile trip to our cardiac team in Boston for his very first heart catheterization. Surprisingly, his pulmonary pressures were not nearly as high as anticipated, but his anatomy was much more complex than anyone expected. His unique anatomy made an arterial switch much too risky. Instead, he underwent an atrial switch along with a complete replacement of his pulmonary artery, all while leaving his VSD open. His heart is currently palliated, but it is not fully repaired. He may never be a candidate for a full repair, but he is now THRIVING! He is full of energy with normal O2 sats. Our son, our AMAZING son went from being terminal to having HOPE for the future.


When I think of the years our son waited for a family to take the chance on fight for him, it breaks my heart. When I think of the other children just like him who are living out their last days, weeks, or years in an orphanage just waiting for a family to take the chance on give them even the possibility of HOPE for the future.....but, even more than that, to give them the LOVE of a family that every child deserves, it moves my heart to action. This boy, this AMAZING boy, reminds me so much of our son.

Tanner Jay, like Brave, is 10 years old, and he too is living with a severe, unrepaired heart defect just waiting for his chance......his chance at life and a family. And, that is why we have signed up to be his Angel Tree Warrior on Reece's Rainbow. We are working on raising the funds to help grow his adoption grant so that when a family does decide to take a chance on him, money won't stand in the way. This sweet boy will die without a family. There is no doubt about that.

Our very first fundraiser for him are these great "heart" MudLove bracelets. If you have never heard about this amazing company, every product purchased from them helps to bring one week of clean water to someone in need. So, not only will you be helping Tanner Jay's future chance at a family, but also helping support this great organization. Each "heart" bracelet is $10. You can purchase them using the top right donate button on this blog. If you would like to donate $2.50 to help cover shipping, feel free to do so, but it is not required. All profits (after costs) will go straight into Tanner Jay's grant on Reece's Rainbow.

If you would prefer just to donate to Tanner Jay's grant on Reece's Rainbow instead of buying a bracelet, we would also love you for that. All donations directly to his grant are tax deductible. You can donate directly to his grant fund right here:

Please help us bring HOPE to Tanner Jay this Christmas season!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

We are HOME

THANK YOU to all of you who prayed and gave so sacrificially to help us bring Brave and "Saige" HOME!!!! In case you didn't follow our journey in China, I will give you an update on our time in country.

One March 25th, we met Brave and "Saige" for the very first time. Because Brave's orphanage was not too far from the Civil Affair's office, he was actually already there in another room when we arrived. Knowing he was already there, but that paperwork had to be finished before meeting him, just added to the anticipation. We could barely contain our excitement!

Before too long, we met the 2 newest members of our family. What an INCREDIBLE day! (I will update with better pictures soon)

The next day, I signed the paperwork and they officially became ours FOREVER!

On this day, March 26, 2015, they officially became:

Brave Malakai SanFeng


Ever Journey MaeLin

Son, daughter, brother, sister, family FOREVER

We spent the remaining time in China learning more about our newest family members, including the medical struggles of our son, filling out more paperwork, visiting Brave's orphanage, and spending time in a beautiful country full of such history and culture....but that will be left for another post.

THANK YOU for helping us bring Brave and Ever HOME!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Brother's Love Giveaway

Thank you all SO MUCH for helping us bring Brave and Ever (Saige) home!!!! The drawing will take place on Friday, April 17th! Stay tuned for the winners!!

Sunday morning was Wild Hair Day at church. For weeks, our oldest son, Koah, was trying to decide what he wanted to do to participate in that day. After doing some research, he decided that he wanted to be Albert Einstein. He worked hard on coming up with ideas of what he wanted to do, and finally, we ended up with this.

And, just for fun, this is what his sisters ended up doing.

When I came to get them from children's church, one of the workers approached me to tell me about the sweet thing Koah had done. He had won the crazy hair contest for the boys, which meant that he won a $25 Walmart gift card. He approached the children's pastor quietly and attempted to give the gift card back so that they could pick another boy to win the gift card. He had been the boy winner during scientist day at church several weeks before, and so he felt it only fair that another boy win the gift card. They insisted that it was his, and he should keep it. Hearing what he did made me proud, but it didn't surprise me. That is just the type of person he is, and I honestly think it has much to do with what he has experienced with his baby brother, Isaac, and with his other siblings with special needs (you can read Part 1 here: What About Your "Other" Children )

We had not even reached home yet when Koah handed me that same gift card and said that he wanted me to use it to help with the adoption. During this adoption, he has been trying to come up with ways to earn money to bring his brother and sister home, but this one made my heart melt. I know $25 may not sound like a huge amount to many, and considering we are still almost $13,000 short, it wouldn't make a huge dent. But, to an 11 year old little boy, who shares a home with 5 other siblings, almost all of them with special needs, there aren't many times that he gets to buy a toy just because. He doesn't even earn an allowance, especially while we are in the middle of adopting. That $25 could have bought him a very nice toy, but he willingly gave it with such a giving heart.

You see, he has known loss. He lost his little brother to heaven almost 3 years ago due to complications of his severe heart defect. He has known fear, as he faced his own heart surgery to repair his heart defect that had gone undiagnosed for 7 1/2 years. And he knows that his brother on the other side of the world will die due to his heart defects if we can't get to him in time. Please help us bring his brother and sister home before it is too late. We leave in less than 3 days and we are still almost $11,000 short!!!!

His selfless gift inspired this next fundraiser: A Brother's Love Giveaway. I would LOVE to see that first $25 donation turn into something BIG to show him just how much he truly helped bring his brother and sister home.

And, so here it is: For every $10 donation to our adoption account ( Brave and Saige for the Wetherington Family ), you will be given 2 entries in the giveaway. You can win 1 free entry per day by sharing, but you will need to email me at to let me know that you have shared. And the part that I am sure you have been waiting for, the prizes:

Grand Prize:

Apple iPad Air 16GB Wi-Fi

(generously donated by an anonymous donor)

First Prize: 
$100 donation to winner's choice of any waiting child's grant or family's grant on Reece's Rainbow


Other Prizes:

$25 Walmart Gift Card

(donated by Koah)


$50 Amazon Gift Card

(donated by Melissa Moos)  


$25 Visa Gift Card

(donated by Dawn Brook)

Ebags Slim Packing Cubes

(set of 3 raspberry)

Custom Burlap Art

(winner chooses design from here: Bravely Ever After Burlap Art

You Make Me Brave
navy marble v-neck size: XS

Be the Voice
navy canvas raglan size: S

Be the Voice
white marble v-neck size: M

Be the Voice
Canvas charcoal raglan size: L

Be the Voice
charcoal dolman size: XL


$10 Build a Bear Gift Card

What About Your "Other" Children

We received our Travel Approval on Friday!!!! Because we are medically expediting, we are leaving in 4 DAYS!!!

Recently, our oldest son did something that inspired our newest fundraiser. Before I tell you what that one little act was, I would like to tell you a little more about the children that have been referred to as "our other children" on more occasions than I would like to admit.

The news of our upcoming trip to finally meet our newest son and daughter has made me quite sentimental. That, and the fact that 4 years ago yesterday, we handed our son, Isaac, over for his 2nd open heart surgery. Many times, when adopting children with special needs, you will often hear comments about "what about your other children?". Believe it or not, we have not only heard that with our adoptions, but we heard that with our sweet little boy, Isaac. What about your other children? You need to think about them. As if we should have stopped fighting for Isaac's life to make their lives easier. As if somehow his life was less valuable. Those kind of questions are the questions that hurt the absolute most. Those questions imply that only some of my children have value. I love all of my children with all of my heart, and I would fight for all of them with everything I have. As a mom of a child with complex special needs, you already often worry about your other children. You wonder if you are doing things right. You wonder if they will somehow be scarred for life. You know with all of your heart you are doing the right thing, and you know that you would do the same for them, but you worry that somehow they won't understand, or somehow they will feel less important. Living in the moment of being with my sweet boy in the hospital, I often worried about Abi and Koah. I went from being with them every second of every day to living in the hospital with their baby brother. You would expect there to be some kind of jealousy or resentment. You would expect them to complain or not understand why their new baby brother suddenly needed much more attention. But, their attitudes amazed me. Not once did they complain that I was with their brother. Not once did they say things weren't fair. Not once did they show any sort of jealousy or resentment.They embraced their new life with their brother. They loved him with all of their hearts. 


Just 3 days after Koah's own heart surgery, what he wanted to do the most was walk down to his brother's Cardiac ICU room and check on him.

We did our best to never hide the rawness of Isaac's delicate life. We never kept him from them no matter how sick he was. We allowed them to see him in his worst, because that is right where they wanted to be. They loved him and fought for him right along side us. They were able to see past all of the tubes and wires and see their brother for who he was. They never complained about spending so much time in the hospital, because wherever their brother was, that was home. They grieved deeply when their brother left our arms for heaven. They have experienced things that most adults have never experienced. Did it change them? Yes. Did it ruin them? Absolutely not. Instead of depriving them, I believe with all of my heart that those moments in their lives have defined them. 

So, back to the original question.....what about our "other" children? Are their lives the same? No. They will never be the same. They are not the same children they would have been had they not faced these things early in their lives. They are not the same children they would have been had their brother not been born with complex special needs. They are not the same children they would have been had their baby brother not fought for his very life on this earth. They are not the same children they would have been had their brother not left our arms for heaven. They are not the same children they would have been had we never adopted children with special needs.

(Orphanage Visits: China and Ukraine)

So, what about them? They are not the same, but I believe with all of my heart that these experiences have shaped them into children who love so much deeper because of the struggles they have witnessed. They love deeply. They fight for justice. They have a depth of compassion that I have never seen before. They see people for who they are instead of seeing the special need. They are strong. They are brave. They are selfless. They are amazing. They inspire me. They are making this world a better place. And, I am so blessed to be their Mom!

Stay tuned for part 2: A Brother's Love Giveaway