Waiting to be Chosen: Robert

January 18, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

In September of 2015, I met the most special baby boy in an orphanage in China. He was to be advocated for as ‘Robert.’ Robert was 14 months old at the time and he didn’t have a file even started.

This precious baby boy was found abandoned in a toilet. Unfathomable to me, but I knew God had a very important reason for keeping this baby alive. He is special – beyond special really. Back on that September day in 2015, I walked into a room full of kids of all ages. Most lay still in their cribs, not very interactive. They had grown accustomed to their solitary life.

Not Robert. Robert was moving around, made awesome eye contact, and had the best smile. His eyes were piercing. As he looked into my eyes, I knew he was special and that I had to find this boy a family.

Later on, I went into a room to meet all of the children with Down syndrome who didn’t have files yet. In came this boy with a nanny who clearly adored him. I could tell he was her favorite by the way she cared for him, how well he appeared, and because I saw he was wearing these beautiful little bracelets, one on each hand. I knew it was that boy… the same one I had saw hours earlier in his crib. Then I saw him interact with his nanny. His smile and his laugh… it stole my heart. I found myself wishing I could somehow sneak him out and take him home because he was adorable!

The sad reality was that it would be at least six months before his file was even available. And, unfortunately for Robert, it took much longer than that. It took over a year for his file to be made ready and to arrive to the agency… 15 months from the first time I met him to be exact. But it’s here and it’s time to find this precious little boy a forever family.

He’s going to be such a blessing to his forever family!

New videos of Robert from November 2016 (note that he had just woken up from a nap) can be found here, here, here and here. Password for all is Adoptmaa.

Older videos from September 2015 can be found here and here. Password for all is Adoptmaa.

Robert is two years old and has Down syndrome. He is listed with Madison Adoption Associates via an orphanage partnership. Robert has been met by multiple MAA staff members on multiple occasions.

There is a $5,000 agency grant with Madison Adoption Associates for Robert’s adoption. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year (January and July) and to families that are matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Robert’s file or in adopting Robert, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

– guest advocacy post by Brooke

No Hands But Ours: Looking Back at 2016…

January 17, 2017 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

2016 was an amazing year for No Hands But Ours. Hundreds of posts shared. Twelve special topics featured. Guest series. Family stories. Book reviews. Recipes. And advocacy posts written that turned faces across the sea into treasured sons and daughters.

Here is just a glimpse of all we shared…


A Look Back by the Numbers

No Hands But Ours on Instagram

We finally got on Instagram and now have over 1500 followers.

No Hands But Ours on Facebook

Our likes grew from 4980 to 8758. Yay! Thank you to everyone in our NHBO FB community! (If you haven’t liked us yet, please do. It’s an incredibly easy way to keep up with the NHBO content as well as help get the word out about orphan care, adoption, special needs and children who wait.)

Our 2016 post with the largest Facebook reach (at 88,715) was Urgent Aging Out Child: Lily. Lily found her family! If you are Lily’s family please contact us, we’d love to celebrate with you!

No Hands But Ours Blog

466 total posts were published in 2016.

No Hands But Ours was viewed 998,387 times and had 398,948 visitors.

The top three posts of 2016 were:

1. Urgent Aging Out Child: Lily

2. Why We Won’t Be Seeing Finding Dory on the Big Screen

3. Not the Same


A Look Back at a Few of Our Favorite Guest Posts

January: Worth It

February: On Siblings and Adoption: From the Oldest of 14

March: The Beginning of Surrender

April: I Never Felt Called to Adopt

May: The Blessing of an Unknown Road

June: Different Than What We Asked for, Better Than We Imagined

July: Her First Smile

August: When God Honors Our Yes: Our Sign Language Journey

September: Journey to Gabriel: Adopting a Child with Ichthyosis

October: Every Life Has Value: Adopting a Child with Lifelong Needs

November: Saying Yes to a Child with a Terminal Diagnosis

December: It’s a boy! And yes, he’s from China.


A Look Back at Our Favorite Contributor Posts

Amy A. – This is Real Life

Amy S. – Knit Together

Andrea O. – Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart be Broken

Andrea Y. – China Trip: When Brother and Sister Travel, Too

Bryson – I am Not a Babysitter, I am a Dad

Carrie – Dear Younger Me, You’re Braver Than You Know

Chris – When {Older} Siblings Aren’t Supportive

Courtney – Weaving

Faith – Learning Curve: Adopting a Child with Hemophilia

Jean – The Best Decision We’ve Ever Made

Jennifer – Hope for Connection

Jennifer – International Adoption Clinics: Services and Locations

Katie – Beauty from Ashes

Kelley – We Could Have Missed This

Kelly – Dear Driver…

Mandy – Tackling Food Issues: My Family’s Experience with “Love Me, Feed Me”

Nicole – 15 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Randall – What Will This Do To Your Kids

Rebecca – Adopted

Stefanie – RainbowKids, Martha Osborne and the Shared List

Whitney – Not the Same


A Look Back to our Special Features

In 2016 we’ve had shared multi-post series spanning several months and written by one author:

A Beginner’s Guide to Special Needs Adoption

My 2¢ on Adoption Fundraising

We’ve also had monthly special features.

Each month focusing on a specific topic and containing numerous guest and contributor posts – full of insight and information.

January: Celebrating China

February: Siblings

March: Special Circumstances

April: Sensory Processing

May: Large Families

June: Books

July: Dear Younger Me

August: Sign Language and Adoption

September: Back to School

October: When Mom Works

November: Then and Now

December: Adopting Boys


A Look Back to Advocacy

105 of our 466 posts were advocacy posts. In those 105 posts our advocacy team, headed by Liberty Joy, highlighted over 200 children.

Many of those children are now forever treasured sons and daughters. Here are some of their stories…


Then and Now

The adoption of our son was a whirlwind. We had just switched countries and were trying to catch up on what special needs were typical for China, so we started reading NHBO’s blog every day. Opened up their blog on a Friday night and there staring back at me was this tiny, 2×2, blurry photo of the sweetest little boy. I clicked on his post and just knew… this was our son!

We switched agencies and never looked back! We brought our son home months later and he has been one of the biggest blessing to our family. Our best Yes!

By Stephanie



Then and Now

After completing four adoptions over an eight year span, I continued to hear whispers from the Holy Spirit that we’d go back to China. In fact, I thought we’d probably reuse our dossier, and felt like the time was ticking away. During that season of my life, I felt completely drawn to Facebook advocacy sites, and then one day I saw her — the beautiful face that stopped me in my tracks. Lulu. My heart was pounding, and I quickly sent a message to the advocate who was working with her file.

I begged my husband to open his heart and promised I’d fundraise to get her home. Together we prayed for discernment, and God made a great, big way. Lulu marched onto U.S. soil last Mother’s Day, and the rest is history.

Leaping in faith for Lulu introduced us to a new and unfamiliar special need. As the result of a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered as a baby, Lulu has hemiplegia on her left side, but her special need in no way defines her. What does define her is that she is a confident and spunky little girl who sees zero limitations within herself. She is joyfully determined, and we are convinced she will do whatever she sets her mind to in life.

Lulu is a true champion, and we are incredibly blessed to call her our daughter. Thank you, NHBO, for your tireless advocacy efforts!

By Lisa, founder of Open Hearts for Orphans and author of With an Open Heart



Then and Now

I was reading NHBO, as I often do, without any real intentions in January, 2016. We already had seven preteen to teen children in our home, five who were adopted from China; we were done. Then I saw her description: 13 year old girl, aging out, shy, quiet, loves to read – and I instantly felt a connection. I called the agency; her paperwork wasn’t ready as her orphanage was new to international adoption. No background was available other than a verbal report of repaired CL/CP.

After my husband got over the incredulity of my request, he too agreed she would fit into our family. We were unconcerned about the lack of paperwork; we would deal with whatever needed dealing with when she got here.

We sent in our matching request to the agency on February 2 and got very busy on the paper chase. On Sept 12, three days before her 14th birthday, we adopted Serena in Fujian. She joined the eight other children in our home – because God worked another miracle (besides a start to finish adoption of 7.5 months) and opened our hearts to another 13 year – a boy in a wheelchair who joined our family two days after Serena, and who we would have never seen except for our pursuit of our daughter.

By Valetta



Then and Now

We weren’t looking to begin the adoption process for many more months, but one late night in February, I logged into Facebook and saw “Neil’s” sweet face staring back at me from the top of my newsfeed (via his advocacy post), and I knew immediately he was our son.

We started the process to bring him home but were met with a few challenges due to the fact that I wouldn’t turn thirty years old for five and half more months. We were finally able to lock his file a few days later and went on to complete our dossier in record time; we actually had our dossier to China and our log in date before I even turned thirty! We finalized his adoption on Halloween, less than nine months after seeing his picture for the first time.

We are so blessed to call this precious boy our son; we could not possibly love him more!

By Ashley



Then and Now

Though we had been a foster and adoptive family for years, we weren’t looking to adopt again at this time… that is, until we saw his face and heard his story. A NHBO post had been shared by a friend on FB and we were captured – for this 10 year old boy in China, adoption was his chance at life. He had waited for years for a family to come to him, all the while receiving nominal medical care for his thalassemia.

The conviction was clear in both my husband’s and my heart – this child needed a family, we needed to go to him and bring him home as our son. He deserved a long and fulfilling life… snd that was it. We started the process right then and there, and were able to travel to China 7 1/2 months later to adopt our beloved little boy on November 1, 2016 – his 11th birthday.

By Terra

*watch Oscar’s story here.



Then and Now

As the beginning of 2016 rolled around, my husband and I were discussing adoption once again. We thought we’d take it slowly – sign on with our agency, begin our home study, and wait to be matched – but God had other plans! Since we were taking it slowly, we weren’t looking at advocacy sites, but I was of course subscribed to the NHBO blog, and one day a little face popped up on my screen. Something about her made me pause.

In our marriage, I’m the one whose heart falls for a hundred kiddos and wants to bring them all home, and my husband is the brakes, making sure we think through our family dynamic and ability to parent any given child… but in this case, he felt drawn to her, too. We requested her file and sent it off to doctors, and I began making connections with mamas who had adopted children with her special need, osteogenesis imperfecta.

We prayed that God would bring her a family and prayed for wisdom about whether that was us and prayed that He would provide the best care possible for her in China in the meantime. He was literally, at that very same time, putting the wheels in motion answering that last prayer, and as we gathered information and continued to pray, we believe he was leading us to adopt her, thereby answering our first two prayers for her. We received PA on February 16, and just under 10 months later, on December 12, I met her in an office building in Nanning, China!

As I write these sentences, she is sleeping peacefully in a pack ‘n’ play a few feet away from me in our Nanning hotel room, and while she has been grieving heavily the wonderful nannies at the foster home that has cared for her for the past 9 months, she is also beginning to trust me, and her true personality is emerging. She is beautiful and funny and expressive and delightful, and we are so thankful to have her as part of our family!

By Alison



Coming Home Soon

I just think of the verse about how God cares for all the wildflowers… there is a sea of orphans, but he took the time to pick just one fragile flower and one unlikely family to show His might works through. Poppy, our precious flower​.

Our family is adopting this precious little one from China! Poppy Mae has been diagnosed with MPS VII, or Sly Syndrome, and has had a rough three year start. Since one of our sons has MPS II, we believe God has uniquely qualified us to be her family. And now we are on this beautiful, crazy adventure!

By Becky


So much to celebrate as we look back at all the ways God used No Hands But Ours made an impact in 2016.

Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, liked, commented and tweeted, we are so grateful for you as we joyfully continue on this mission – His mission – of loving and advocating for the most vulnerable, and supporting and encouraging those families who have been called to love them forever.

May 2017 be a year filled with good things for those who wait!

Child Who Waits: Whittingham

January 16, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Yi, er, san, qiezi!” (One, two, three, eggplant!)

I can still hear these words in my head and remember exactly how he says them. Every time I took my camera out, he would yell this phrase loudly and throw his two fingers up in the air in “V” and put them right in front of his face as a snapped a picture.

I met Whittingham at Children’s House International’s (CHI) winter advocacy camp in Wenzhou. We had 18 kids and 18 advocates attend the camp and he was my buddy for the five days we were there. He’s eight-years-old and will turn nine in February 2017. His special needs include epilepsy, left-sided hemiparesis, strabismus, and developmental delays. He was abandoned around the age of two. His file was prepared over two years ago and in those two years he has been overlooked by many families for adoption for whatever reason. He attended this year’s winter camp because CHI wasn’t able to find a family for him in the past when his file was prepared, and after making the rounds with other agencies he still had no family.

But, wow. This kid is one of the friendliest kids I have ever met. He says “thank you” and says “hello” to everyone he meets. Every time we were in the elevator he would say “hello” to the other people and start telling them about his day and where we were off to next. At one particular restaurant, as you were leaving, you walked down the line of all the chefs, and he waved and smiled and told each of them “hello” and “goodbye” as we walked out. Everyone that met him for even a few moments couldn’t help but smile at his sweet spirit and kindness.

His seizures are definitely his greatest special need at this time. He is currently taking three medications for his seizures, but that medication is not controlling them. I witnessed at least five seizures every day that I spent with him. They were all very minor and came and went before most people would even notice them. I noticed them most often when it was time to eat. That is because when he would have a seizure his head would drop onto the table and then he would immediately pick it back up – typically only one second from start to finish. So it’s very possible he had more than five a day and I just didn’t catch them because they were so quick. The doctor at his orphanage said he had recently been in the hospital for a month to change his medications and observe him. She said his seizures have greatly improved since this month-long stay in the hospital.

Even with his left-sided weakness, Whittingham is a fairly normal boy physically. He can walk, run, jump, dance, color, feed himself, use the toilet, and put on clothing/shoes. When asked to use his left hand, he completes a task much slower than with his right hand, but he can do it. He seemed to really enjoy coloring with crayons and markers, but his coloring skills are very far behind. He would draw circles around the paper and not color inside the lines at all. When asked to count a few objects in front of him, he could not. These are areas of development that concerned me, but with how well he memorizes songs and poems and how good his fine motor skills are, I’m not sure why he is behind in these areas. On Thanksgiving, he participated in a performance that included singing and dancing and while he was a little behind the other children on the movements occasionally (he had also been in the hospital for the past month before attending camp, so that could have been part of the reason), he belted out each song like he was on American Idol.

Whittingham found adventure and joy in every activity that we did during our time together. Simple things like playing with a balloon in the hotel room, to riding in a shopping cart at a Chinese Walmart, to getting to pick his own food at the hotel buffet. I truly got to experience a lot of “firsts” that adoptive families typically get to experience. I got to see what a potential adoptive family would go through in their first five days with him. I saw joy. I saw hope. I saw love. I saw excitement.

Before I left, his nanny from his orphanage begged me to help him find a family. She knows this child and she knows how eager he is to please others and make friends. She knows how other kids/adults can be bullies and take advantage of kids like him. She’s afraid of what will happen to him if he ages out and never has a family.

He called me “mama” for five days. At first, it was hard to hear. I told him to call me “ayi” (aunt) instead. But he constantly reverted to “mama” when he was calling for me. He’s longing for his “mama”. It was very clear. He had so much joy in his voice when he would call out “mama.” And every time he would say “xie xie mama” (thank you, mom), my heart would break a little. This little boy deserves a family. He needs a family. He needs someone to love him and protect him. Are you the mama or the baba that he’s longing for?

For more information and to request this child’s file, email Nina at CHI. To contact this child’s camp advocate, email Amanda at The Lily Project.

Reluctant Spouses: Of One Mind….

January 15, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Choosing to grow your family is a monumental, life-altering decision. And choosing to grow your family through special-needs adoption? Even more so. Which makes this decision an understandably difficult one to make – one that is typically easier (or harder) for one spouse than the other. This month we’re focusing on Reluctant Spouses. Or, when …Read More

Homemade Jiǎozi: Making Chinese New Year a Family Affair

January 14, 2017 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I learned to make dumplings a few years ago when we hosted an exchange student from China. Everyone in the family enjoys eating them, and the process is so fun! Making dumplings, or jiǎozi, is definitely a social affair – it’s meant to be shared as a group. We enjoy making and eating them to …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Gia and Gage

January 13, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet Gia. Gia is 5 years old. She is a special focus child, on Lifeline’s individual list, and has a left finger deformity, G-6-PD deficiency, and Down syndrome. Gia gets along well with children in her class and uses gestures to express her own needs. It is reported that she is fairly attached to her …Read More

In the Meantime

January 13, 2017 by nohandsbutours 6 Comments

Right now I am in a place I like to call the sweet spot. The paper chase is finished. There are no more adoption documents to sign or forms to fill out or fingerprints appointments to attend. All of our paperwork is submitted and everything on our end is done and out of our hands. …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Danielle

January 12, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Introducing precious Danielle! Danielle was born in November of 2012 was admitted into the CWI in January of 2013. Her special needs are macroglossia, heart disease, and hypertrophy of limbs on the right. Danielle was found abandoned at the park in January of 2013. When she was first admitted to the CWI, her height was …Read More

My Plan vs. His Plan

January 11, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

You know how you make plans for your life and then God has something completely different in mind (and probably laughs at you for thinking your plan would measure up)? That was me. In fact, I had my whole life figured out. I was going to go to college, fall in love, get married, and …Read More

Child Who Waits: Seth

January 10, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet Seth! Little Seth is 5 years old and is on Wide Horizons For Children’s Individual list. He lives in one of their orphanage partnerships so I have met with him a few times. Seth is described as a social butterfly! He loves playing with the other children at the orphanage. He is quick to …Read More

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