Reece’s Rainbow Report #36: Weaver Family

Ten-year-old Nathaniel Weaver is what his parents call a “sour patch kid.”
No, he doesn’t resemble the neon candy mascot; in fact, he’s far cuter. Instead, Shamei and Nathan Weaver gave him the nickname after discovering a particular personality quirk: that of being both sweet and sour. 

“We call him our sour patch kid because he will pick on you and then hug you,” Shamei laughs. “He is super funny.”
Funny, alright and smart, sweet and quick to both pull a prank and learn tasks through watching others. Nathaniel began showing off these sides of himself almost immediately after his adoption from China in 2018. 

But before Nathaniel was even born, the Weavers, a Pennsylvania couple, had two sons. The second one had special needs from birth. Raising him made Nathan, a 43-year-old fleet manager for a local business, and Shamei ponder: should they adopt a child with special needs, too? Maybe even from China, where Shamei’s father was born? 
The stay-at-home mom saw Nathaniel’s photo on Reece’s Rainbow, then a few months later through another organization called RODS. He was “Charlie” back then, an adorable toddler with wispy black hair, almond-shape eyes and a tiny, mischievous tongue sticking out at the camera. 

“If Reece’s Rainbow didn't advocate for these children, I personally would have never seen my son or learned about the orphan crisis,” Shamei says. The 41-year-old soon became grateful for the way special needs adoption advocates like Reece’s Rainbow didn’t “sugarcoat” what adoption was really like but “shar[ed] the real but hard reality.”
Hard reality smacked into them almost immediately after bringing Nathaniel home. Alongside his Down Syndrome, Nathaniel has neurological issues leading to weakness on his left side. He cannot walk independently. Doctors told the Weavers that their new son would require lifesaving surgery. 

“The neurosurgeon was shocked he wasn't dead, or at the very least paralyzed,” Shamei remembers. “We believe God has other plans for him.” 
Those plans, at least for now, include hanging out with his two big brothers, taking photos with whatever phone or camera he can get his hands on, singing along to music videos, living in his family’s swimming pool in the summer and gaining strength on his weaker left side. 

There are good days and bad moments just the same as any other family. “We have great, amazing days filled with laughter and fun,” Shamei says. “And some days are chaotic, but all days bring a certain level of joy that an average family cannot understand or experience.”
That being said, the Weavers consider themselves pretty average, raising a pretty average family. Nathaniel’s adoptive mother wishes she could let the world in on the truth about kids like her third son. “That given the opportunity, they are not different from neurotypical children,” she says. “Sure, they may need extra time or extra help, but kiddos with Down Syndrome are simply beautiful and nothing to be feared.” 

So much so, in fact, that the Weavers are going back. Over a year ago, Shamei wondered if they truly were done expanding their family, as her husband had been asserting. So she prayed, God, either change my heart or my husband's

“Well, here we are going through the process once again to adopt,” she laughs. “Just goes to show, never say never!”
Indeed ― to the sour, to the sweet, nor to another child who could bless the Weavers beyond their wildest, kid-in-a-candy-shop dreams. 
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.