find my family: Libby

May 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Two year old Libby is listed with Madison Adoption Associates via an orphanage partnership. She is the most precious little thing!

Libby is diagnosed as having refractive amblyopia (it is suggested she wear glasses), CHD-ASD, microcephaly, and mental delay.

In December of 2014, Libby joined a foster family. At the age of 19 months, she couldn’t talk, but was making the sounds yi and ah. Her foster mom said she can understand some words and she does make eye contact. Libby is active and can quickly change positions from sitting to standing. She can walk independently. She likes playing at home and can carry a small bucket or stool when walking. She likes to help by putting things on the table into the garbage. She sometimes makes messes at home. When her foster mom blames her or asks her about it, she hides behind the foster dad.


Libby likes to smile and she loves playing with her foster dad. She will pat his face to tease him. Libby can cry easily, but prefers playing most of the time. She is described as very hospitable. When visitors come, she will be a little shy at first and hide behind her parents. After a while, she will warm up and will laugh when being teased by the guests. She can stamp her feet in excitement and screech happily when she sees her foster mom coming back into the house after being outdoors.

Update May 2015: Libby is not talking yet, but she can understand what adults say. She is happy. She can wave good bye and she can walk by herself. If she falls down, she can stand up and walk. She likes playing with other kids. She is in hospital for her heart surgery right now.


There is a $1,000 grant for Libby’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions.

If you are interested in reviewing Libby’s file or in adopting Libby, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form.

My Daughter’s Red Thread

May 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” – Unknown

The day Lydia was placed in my arms (what many call “gotcha day”), I had so much excitement and anticipation. I was about to become a mom for the first time and see my precious daughter in real life. During the months prior, I had fallen asleep staring at a photo of her sweet round face. I wondered what she would be like, how she would smell, and what her laugh would sound like. But on the day she was placed in our arms, I also felt tremendous grief and sadness. I was so sad because, in order to become a member of my family, it meant she lost her first family years before, and then on that day, it meant she said goodbye to important people in her life at the orphanage. People, I imagined, she loved. I ached because for her to become a part of my world, her world was turning upside down. The emotions involved in adoption — and “gotcha” day — are complex, weighty, and at times conflicting.  

On the day I met Lydia and became her mommy, I learned just how much she adored a little girl, Nina, from her orphanage who had been adopted five months before Lydia. I brought photos of Nina and her adoptive family to give to the orphanage director. Immediately, Lydia yelled out Nina’s nickname and scrambled to see all of the photos. With the orphanage director (her past) and me (her future) on each side of Lydia, we explained that I became friends with Nina’s new mommy, and that the girls would play together again. My heart ached, I promise, you will play together again. That’s a lot to comprehend.  


Those first several days in China, my daughter wanted Nina’s photo either in her hand or tucked safely inside her backpack.  Clinging to her photo meant clinging to someone familiar, someone she knew was safe.

The photos the orphanage director gave me of Lydia’s time at the orphanage show that Lydia and Nina were inseparable.  


Over the next 14 months, I would bring up Nina and I would talk with Lydia about the orphanage, but she did not want to talk about it.  Until one evening recently, Lydia melted into my shoulder and said…

“Mommy, I want you to come with me!” she whined in her sleepy voice as I was trying to get her to go night night.

“Okay, where are we going?” I asked enthusiastically, anticipating the places my precocious three year old daughter’s imagination might take us.  

“We are going back to the orphanage in China. I want to see my friends, but mommy, I want you to be with me at the orphanage. You are my favorite mommy.”  I snuggled her in closer to reassure her.

“Oh sweet girl, are you missing your friends at the orphanage?” I asked.

“Yes, but I want you with me!” she said with concern. I reassured her that we always stick together.

“I bet you miss them. You spent a lot of time with them.”  

That night, my heart ached just like it did on the day we met Lydia, I promise, you will play together again.

Earlier this month, my husband, Lydia, and I travelled across the country to reunite Lydia and Nina.  We were enthusiastically welcomed by Nina’s adoptive family.  Lydia and Nina played together again.


Meeting Nina was like meeting another part of Lydia. The moments I had the privilege of witnessing over the next several days were breathtakingly beautiful, emotional, and precious. I often watch my Lydia try to find her place with a group her age — but sweet Nina and Lydia are a perfect fit.

They insisted on holding hands everywhere they went and even on busy sidewalks in our nation’s capitol, old men in stiff business suits stopped in their tracks to comment on the sight that is Nina and Lydia together. Strangers saw the bond, and that was not lost on us. Curious friends and family were eager to know, “Do they remember each other?”  Yes, absolutely yes, even though Lydia was only 19 months old when Nina was adopted.  

holding hands

Nina’s brother, an intuitive and kind six-year old boy, watched Nina and Lydia play one afternoon. He wisely said, “Mama, Nina and Lydia are special friends, aren’t they?” in a tone that indicated more of a statement than a question. For all of us, the beauty of this friendship was something to breathe in and cherish. Reuniting Lydia and Nina gave my daughter an important and missing connection to her past.  

Lydia’s life did not begin when we adopted her.  

Adoption begins with loss and grief (and many times, multiple losses). But adoption also involves these beautiful images of restoration — of placing two children from an orphanage in YongFeng into families, of becoming two beloved daughters who are thriving, of reuniting friends, of uniting two families together and of turning strangers into friends.

Adoption brings people together in unexpected and life changing ways. We become friends with people we might not otherwise because of this common bond we share. We speak a common language. Though adoption involves loss, adoption also involves addition beyond adding a child to a family.  

bright smiles

It is such a privilege as Lydia’s mommy to help form an important connection to past and present together through her friendship with Nina. When I think of the gift of Nina and Lydia’s friendship, I am reminded of the Ancient Chinese Proverb, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.” Without a doubt, there is a red thread that connects my daughter with her precious friend she made in her orphanage in China and reunited with in Washington, DC.  

Lydia Grace, I promise you and Nina will play together again. Always.  


Have you connected your child with his or her crib mates or friends from the orphanage? What were your experiences?

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 4)

May 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Today we’re back with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with the fourth in a mini-series by Kelly – who blogs at Mine In China – on How To Choose An Agency. You can read the first three posts herehere and here.



LID File Agency Questions and Transferring Files Between Agencies


While we will be discussing many different factors to consider when choosing an agency, what is most important to everyone when starting out is getting a match! If you are wanting a young child (usually a girl) with minor needs then you will need to decide on an agency, complete your homestudy and send your dossier to China to wait for a match.

This post will discuss issues you should consider about the matching part of the process if you have decided that the LID only route is best for your family. 

Your agency will find a match for you based on the date your dossier was submitted, so basically your “place in line”. You might think that you’d get matched faster with a big agency because they have access to more files, or faster with a small agency because they have fewer families waiting in line. While either of these can be true, there is really no way to know what the shortest wait is without asking some questions.

You don’t want to wait until you’ve already handed over a couple thousand dollars to your agency to realize that you’re looking at a 2 year wait for a referral while if you’d chosen a different agency you’d have been matched in under 6 months. Most agencies have more young boys with minor needs than they can place so this is less of an issue for those who are open to a boy.



The most important question to ask any potential agency is this:

Q: How long is your average wait for a match for a child that matches our profile?  

A: Most agencies will tell you the wait from DTC, or the date your dossier is logged into China’s system. One major agency will give you the wait based on when you submitted your medical needs checklist (MCC) to them. For most first time adopters, this will be when they send in their agency application, so about six months prior to being DTC. That means that if that particular agency tells you that you should expect to wait 18 months from MCC to be matched, and another agency is telling you that you would wait about 12 months from DTC to be matched, then they would have a similar timeline.

Many agencies will be vague and say, “We are able to match most of our couples within a few months of DTC.” Despite this answer, it may be wise to ask these specific questions:

  1. How many families do you currently have waiting to be matched?
  2. How many families do you usually match per month?
  3. What is the current wait time for a child with the profile that we are looking for?
  4. Will we be updated on changes in wait times, or told how many couples are ahead of us in the process?
  5. Do you have any partnerships?  If so, how many?
  6. Do you also match from the shared list?


No agency will be able to guarantee you a set amount of time until you are matched. It varies by how many families are with the agency at the time, how many files they receive, and what special needs you are open to. However, by asking these questions you should be able to get a general idea of the wait times between the agencies that you are considering. While there are some agencies who successfully match using only the shared list, LID files are increasingly being matched through partnerships. Choosing an agency which matches parents using both the shared list and partnerships will usually decrease your wait time for a match with a LID only child.

Many parents who have signed on with an agency and are faced with a long wait to be matched begin searching photolistings and advocacy sites to try and find potential children. When they find children they are interested in who are designated to an agency rather than on the shared list, they often become frustrated that an agency won’t release the file to the agency they are working with.



Other questions prospective parents might have:

Q: I’ve seen a file or two on agency lists that I’m interested in but why won’t any agencies transfer them? It seems like it’s all about the money!

A: The potential parent has already made a financial commitment to their agency and it is understandable that they would not want to lose money by switching agencies. At the same time, adoptive parents need to realize that agencies do need to make enough money to stay in business. International adoption numbers have plummeted the past decade and there is now a lot of competition for the few families who are adopting. Agencies especially rely on the files of young girls to make enough money to stay in the black. Several smaller agencies have closed within the past two years, so this is reality for the agencies.


Q: When will agencies transfer files?  

A: It depends on the agency and for some the answer is never. Other agencies will transfer if they have no families who have shown interest in the file. It is most likely that an agency will transfer a file if it is not a young girl, or if it is almost to the end of the time that the file is designed to them. Typically agencies have LID only files for 3 weeks and special focus files for three months. Agencies are least likely to transfer a partnership file because when they enter into the partnership agreement they commit to placing 80% of the files that they receive from the partner orphanage. China will end a partnership if the agency does not live up to this part of the bargain. 

One last thing to keep in mind is that while you might feel very sure this child is the child for you, agencies have experienced times when file transfers have not worked out. A common scenario: a couple has assured an agency that they are committed to this child, the agency transfers the file, and a week or two later the child shows up on the other agency’s waiting child photolisting because the couple changed their mind. After agencies experience this a few times, they become less likely to transfer because they know that they will lose the chance to find the child a family if the couple they transfer the child for changed their mind.

So while you may be frustrated, there is more involved than the agency not caring if the child gets a family. Some agencies are better about transferring files than others, and it would be wonderful if all agencies would transfer the files of aging out children and those who have serious medical conditions. If you find an agency that won’t transfer the file you are interested in, ask when their designation for the file will end and if they will contact you or your agency if they still haven’t placed the child by the end of that time period.



It is possible to transfer agencies in order to adopt a specific file, although it will require financial sacrifice on the part of the adoptive parents. For information on changing agencies during the adoption process, join this Facebook group.


Next Kelly discusses the pros and cons of different size and style agencies.

photos by Stefanie


waiting for a family: Felicity

May 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

You are not even going to believe the preciousness we have in store for you today! Felicity! Felicity was born in February of 2011. She is very social and loves to play with other kids. She’s been diagnosed with Down syndrome. A natural little leader, she can become loud trying to get the other children …Read More

“Now That You’ve Done it, What Do You Think About Adopting Two Kids at Once?”

May 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Hi! I’m Erin and my husband and I just returned home from China on March 27th with our two newest daughters, Grace and Josie. They are both 5 years old and they both have Down syndrome. We already had four children at home, an 11 year old boy, an 8 year old girl, a 7 …Read More

find my family: Langston

May 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Langston is an adorable 11 month old little guy! Langston is a quiet and happy baby who loves brightly-colored rattles and listening to music. He giggles and loves to laugh and dance when tickled or playing with other children! His special need is listed as thick-skulled reflex to light of pupils. He is designated to …Read More

Your Permission Slip

May 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


When I asked you how things were going, you started to cry. Through your tears, you told me how great your new son’s eye contact is, how he likes to be held, how he lets you know what he wants. You told me how everything is really so good, so much better than you were …Read More

God is (Still) Good

May 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8 Sometimes I don’t like what God does.  Sometimes I can’t taste the sweetness, because of the hint of bitterness in the heart lesson. I don’t like when He calls me to something and then makes me wait.  …Read More

find my family: Sunny

May 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Sunny was born in February 2011. He was found when he was approximately two months old. When he was admitted to the orphanage, they noted that he “had black spots on his skin, and cysts in his neck, arms, and back.” Read more about this special need under Congenital Nevus here. Children with nevus face …Read More

The Hands of a Faithful God

May 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Before this year, I really thought I was the one writing my story.  I knew that God was leading, but I was really the one planning where I wanted to go. In the course of ten years I had graduated college, married, quit my job teaching, and was a busy home-school mom of three little …Read More

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