Ann Arbor Bound

I fully intended to stop in and peck out some words on these keys last week and then last Tuesday morning rolled around.

I started Tuesday off in our DCS office at 8am sharp and then spent almost the next two hours in a meeting which left me absolutely emotionally all over the place.  I sat for as long as I could, but my anxiety soon started spilling over so I got up from the conference table and paced the floor in a pattern.  In our team meetings I always remain quiet unless someone speaks to me or we get near the end of the meeting and my concerns for our littlest have not been discussed…those are the moments I  choose to speak.  When the meeting ended I felt so bad for so many different people involved…my heart was so broken for them.  I was also really pissed.  I was talking to a friend who is also a foster parent and we just continue to talk about how we can be so brokenhearted on behalf of others and so compassionate and simultaneously so pissed off.  This world is just a mess…I’m just a mess…God will always be the goodness in this world.

I met Josh afterwards at church to exchange the kiddos and to attend a mini service camp.  I stayed because Everett 🙂  We headed home afterwards.  I got a message from my friend Brooke…Everett’s best friend’s mom…that their dossier was officially logged in to China.  We rejoiced.  Their sweet boy…our sweet boy…is coming home soon and soon is just not quick enough.  At 1:59 pm my phone lit up with the words Ann Arbor, MI.  My stomach sank and I immediately knew what else our day would hold.  I stood in our laundry room and my mind raced back to a similar day back in 2012 when I stood in this same laundry room with this same pit in my stomach as I talked with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and scheduled Amon’s open heart surgery date.  I hit accept on my phone and spent the next 11 minutes talking with a kind lady named Lindsay.  And just like that Everett was officially on the books with Mott Children’s Hospital for open heart surgery.

Since arriving home our sweet boy has been through so many tests and medicines and a slew of doctors and experts and specialists have looked as his case and his little body and they all just shake their heads.  Our cardiologist was very upfront with us from the first time she got to see his special little heart and body in person that she was unsure if or how Everett’s heart could be repaired.  She said she did not see a path…his heart is very broken and very complex.

We have the best doctors around.  Our pediatrician and cardiologist are insanely good and we absolutely trust them.  We have just continued to lean in to their wisdom and guidance.  An entire team at Vanderbilt sat with no ideas of how to fix Everett’s heart and no surgeons willing to make an attempt.  We appreciated their honesty.  Our pediatrician has been speaking into us from day one that we don’t want just anyone working on Everett’s heart and this may lead us out of Tennessee.  Our cardiologist continued to reach out to other experts in the pediatric cardiology field.  We waited to hear back from Boston and Ann Arbor.  We sat in limbo for a few weeks while leading experts reviewed his case and then we got word that a world renowned surgeon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who only accepts very complicated and hard cases, thought he could do an initial surgery to move Everett forward.

For all you medical/CHD people…our surgeon is going to try and repair Everett’s severely leaking atrioventricular valve and also close off his pulmonary artery.  The goal is that if successful this will make him a candidate for a fontan procedure next.  Josh Kelley and I met with our cardiologist and had to have a conversation no parent wants to have and ask questions no parent wants to ask, but afterwards it was very clear this was Everett’s chance…this is his shot.  There are no other options if we want Everett to have a chance at life.

In 14 days Josh, Everett and I will board a plane with one way tickets headed to Ann Arbor.  And on the 28th we will hand our boy over to a team of the best-of-the-best for a risky open heart surgery.  It makes me want to vomit every time I think about it.  I have cried my eyes out this past week and we have been sitting with this reality and trying to process through it.  It’s a lot to take in and when someone asks how I’m really feeling all I can say is sad.  I simply feel so very sad.  I have a hard time reading my Bible…I have a hard time knowing what to say to God…I muster out tiny little prayers with very few words…and all of that is okay.

What I love about God is that He sent Jesus to walk this earth and to know so personally how broken and hard and sad and complicated this life is.  He can actually feel and relate to all our feelings because He experienced them Himself.  He knows and therefore, when I don’t have the words to say to Him, that’s okay with Him…He sees my heart true and deep.  Just because I’m sad doesn’t mean I don’t trust Him or love Him or think He’s any less good or in control.  Just because I’m sad doesn’t mean I don’t think He’ll work a miracle in Everett’s body or that He loves any of us any less.  Not at all.  It just means I’m a human being living in this fallen world and I know the reality of this world is sometimes shit things happen that are heartbreaking.

So please continue to pray with us for our sweet Shuai boy.  Tell all your family and friends and co-workers and neighbors and strangers and ask them to cover his little body in prayer.  We simply want pretty much everyone praying over him…that’s not too much to ask right!?!? 🙂 Thank you guys for always be so incredibly kind and loving and supportive.  You really are the nicest.

And last thing:  The Nothing Bundt Cake store in Hendersonville, Tn is donating 10% of their sales this month when you mention the Carman family.  We are so anxiously awaiting Shuai’s bestie…like that boy seriously cannot cannot cannot get here soon enough.  So let’s all head out and get some cakes, mention the Carman family and let’s support their adoption fund.

 No matter what…God will be praised and His goodness will remain oh so good and if you need us, we’ll be living it up with our Everett Louie Shuai and kissing his face off.  Ann Arbor, we’ll see you soon.


  1. Thank you so much for the update — praying praying praying for your sweet boy! 🙂

  2. Jessica says:

    Praying for sweet Everett and you momma! I have loved following your family’s journey. Praying for you to feel the nearness of our heavenly Father in these hard days. Praying that God would bring healing to his little heart.

  3. You have a whole group of people here in Iowa praying for you all!! Also…. I can’t get over all of his hair!!!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Well said Laura. I love you and will be praying for your sweet boy and of course you too!

  5. Many prayers from Georgia. Prayers of peace and rest and joy in the midst. Thank you for being so transparent and asking for prayers. Much love!!

  6. Melissa says:

    Lifting your family up in prayer and believing for a complete healing of little Everett’s heart!

  7. McKenzie says:

    My niece is a CHD warrior who has had 3 open heart surgeries in her first year of life. She is a living miracle and such tangible proof of the incredible miracles our God can perform. Praying for your precious boy and that God will guide his surgeon and entire medical team to perform a miracle on his broken heart.

  8. Andrea taylor says:

    Praying, praying, praying! And some air hugs being sent your way also!

  9. Allison says:

    I just read this post at work and I am unsuccessfully trying to hold back tears. Please know that I will be praying for Everett, his doctors and nurses, and your family. I will share with my mom who will share with her prayer group/bible study. I will also fill out a prayer request for you all on church on Sunday and check every box to get as many people praying as possible. I will request prayers on Facebook too. I also am my Pastor’s prayer partner and it just so happens that today is our day to connect and I will share Everett’s story with him also. Wisconsin is going to flood God’s ears with continued prayers for little Everett and everyone involved.
    In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:3

  10. so hard—- i would love to make a pillowcase for him to take with him to the hospital—- something to cheer him up and brighten his room– what kinds of things does he like?

    • Thank you Emily. He would love that. He loves just all kinds of things…cars, mickey mouse, the minions, animals…he would be pleased with just about anything I’m sure.

  11. Jamie J. says:

    Sending so many continued prayers!!

  12. Marianne cupples says:

    I will be lifting you all up daily and am going to share you story across the interwebs with my friends to get your boy covered even more!

  13. Daniele smith says:

    I’m praying for your sweet boy! I will share with othe prayer warriors!

  14. Praying, praying, praying. I have a little book for you that I will bring my before you leave! Lots of love and prayers from the Lafayettes!

  15. You all are certainly in our prayers. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Laura!

  16. No words but I’m praying for you and your whole family!

  17. Diane Turpin says:

    Praying for sweet Everett. Can’t get enough of that sweet little face. Know that we are praying for you and Josh as well. We are praying and studying and carrying you along in the faith with the help of the Holy Spirit. Now, enough with the sappy posts that make my blubber like a baby. Love you all!

  18. Kelsey harvEy says:

    Best of luck!!!! Our 6 year old Beau has had three open heart surgeries at Ann Arbor and we LOVE them! You will receive such wonderful care! We will be praying for you 🙂

  19. Lisa Russell says:

    Praying for you all! <3

  20. Tootsie says:

    Lauta, this breaks my heart! Know I will be praying. I’m glad they have been so selective of the doctor. God has so used you & Josh in so many little lives.
    I wish I could give Everette a hug, love you all.

  21. I’ve been following you a bit since I signed up for 2 of your classes at C4C March of this year 😉 It has been a joy to follow your journey to, & now with your sweet boy. When I saw your instagram post I immediately thought of the scripture that was in my reading the day we got the referral for our daughter from China. I hope it will encourage you in some way as you get ready for Everett’s surgery –
    I will be praying for Everett and for all of you!
    “he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.”
    Psalm 33:15

  22. Frances Dunaway says:

    I will be praying for all of you – and for the doctors who are fixing that sweet boy’s heart. God is good and I know He is going to make all of this turn out right. Praying, praying and more praying.

  23. Amy RosS says:

    Praying for sweet Everett, for the doctors and for your family! May God heal him and bring about peace to all of your hearts!

  24. My nephew was born with CCH (cross-cross heart). He had open heart surgery within days of his birth. His prognosis was guarded. Most specialists said he “might” live 6-10 years. We have covered that boy in prayer his whole life. He has lived an astoundingly ordinary and wonderful life. This year he graduated from high school. God works miracles everyday and I will be praying for an Everett miracle. God Bless your sweet family. ❤️

  25. AL (Nina) says:

    Laura, I’ve been praying for Everett before I even knew his name. He is a special little boy…as are all of your children. God is in control. His will be done. Will be praying for you and Josh and the rest of your family…as well as the doctors, nurses, and especially Everett. Love you. Can’t wait to meet him.

  26. cOUSIN MARSHA says:

    Oh, Laura! Charlie & I will be praying for sweet Everett. I am believing that God will do more than we can ask or imagine. That sweet boy is so blessed that you and Josh CHOSE him! Love you all. Let me know if there is anything I can do!

  27. Tracy Cornett says:

    Praying Laura!

  28. Kathleen says:

    Praying for sweet Everett. I have a special place in my heart for children from orphanages,and obviously my babies with CHDs. Let me know if you need anything!!! Resources, etc or anything else!!

  29. You said: “It just means I’m a human being living in this fallen world and I know the reality of this world is sometimes shit things happen that are heartbreaking.” One of the things I love about you is that you clearly see the reality of this broken mess of a world and, yet, you lovingly and patiently trust in the One who is making it new again. I believe that may be the hardest thing for us humans to do. We want our messes fixed… now. But to walk through the valley of darkness and continue to say God is awesome? Yes… that’s what I love about you.

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