Waiting Children: Holden and Arlo

June 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Holden is almost 3 years old and has a sweet smile. He is described as full of energy & ticklish. He has repaired cleft lip and palate and his file notes that his development is behind other children his age. As of Dec 2015 when his file was prepared he was able to sit up for brief periods of time and was not yet walking. He is able to stand and take a few steps while sitting in a walker. Referral videos are available.


Arlo is a sweet little boy who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He is almost 5 years old. His caretakers describe him as lovely, a little shy, but full of energy. Arlo can pick his favorite toys to play with, can turn pages in a book, and can imitate sounds. We have new photos and a video of Arlo on file.


Both of these boys are from one of AWAA orphanage partnerships and their files are designated by the CCCWA as special focus files, so a family or a single woman at any stage of the process or just beginning the process is eligible to review these files.

America World has had assessment teams at this orphanage. A family reviewing his file will be able to connect with individuals who have been to his orphanage and who may have additional information about these children and the orphanage. If you would like to learn more about how to make Holden or Arlo a part of your family, please contact AWAA.

What exactly is “smart parenting”?

June 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

I figured when I shared here on NHBO about our decision to wait to see Finding Dory on DVD that it would be a well read post. The movie had just come out which meant that there were a whole lot of mamas and dads perusing the web for reviews and the like before a family night out at the theater. What I did not expect was that the post would be so widely shared and that it would generate as much dialogue as it did right here via comments and on other associated social media platforms.

Dialogue is good. It connects us, makes a one-way conversation an interactive one, challenges us. This time was no different. Some parents appreciated my take on things and approach with our kids as described in that post; some were glad to have the heads up about the movie; some not so much. I’m quite okay with that really. I devote a lot of time to researching and processing and being intentional when it comes to parenting our kids — after all, I actually get paid by the hour to help other adoptive families do that sort of thing, so I better be doing it myself, right? But, in the end, I’m just a mom trying to put what I know to be true into practice who often feels like I need the support and coaching that people come to me for. It’s by God’s grace that I get things right when I do. So, yeah, to those who said I was overthinking it; you are right, I totally was. And, to those who said I was sheltering our kids, I can see that, sure, I might be.

While I didn’t read it all, I did read a good bit of the dialogue about the post. One particular comment made me take pause:

“…I am so glad my parents weren’t like you. I mean seriously, come on, you honestly think dosing out a movie to your children with constant ‘let’s explore our feelings’ barrages is smart parenting? I emphatically disagree….life is never so soft and safe as your delivery method. Our children are in for hard times and heartbreaks, no matter how we try to warn, prep, or train them to deal with. I’d rather mine have a little more ‘hide’ on them, and some room to discover themselves and their emotions without mollycoddling them like you mention….”


I don’t think that drawing any sort of conclusion of my parenting skills based on one explanation of my approach to a single movie is not “smart logic.” But, this man’s comment did lead me to ask myself how I would answer the question: what exactly is “smart parenting” anyway?

When I come alongside parents who are looking for some help with strategies to help them help their kids, I always emphasize message over the strategy itself. The message drives the strategy. As I approach our own kids, I do my best (which is far from perfect) to do the same and consider message over strategy. What am I telling my kids? What message am I sending them when I do a, b, or c? And, what message are they receiving? Do they match up?

Whether I am seeing a less than stellar report card for the first or twentieth time, responding to a tantrum, breaking up a sibling argument, catching him or her in a lie, responding to another unreasonable demand, facing a breakdown over something seemingly insignificant, or being proactive to give my child a little extra support to better set her child up for success, I want my child to hear the following messages:

There is hope. Always. You are never stuck where you are.

You are capable. This may be a challenge; it may be hard; but, I believe in you.

I am for you. I may not always agree with choices you make but, I am on your side. And, I not only want what’s best for you; I also am your biggest cheerleader.

My love for you is not shaken now and won’t ever be. It’s forever, baby. It’s no matter what.

Challenges will vary; strategies will vary; the messages should not. Twenty years from now, my kids (both those who joined us via adoption and biologically) may commiserate when they talk about me when I’m not around (and maybe when I am around). In fact, I’m sure they will; that’s what kids do. I’m nearly positive they won’t recall that I didn’t take them to the theater to see Finding Dory. And, I’m nearly positive they won’t specifically remember any little comments I may make about my own feelings and potentially theirs when we eventually watch it at home on DVD.

They will recall my approaches in general and how I tried my best to use opportunities to crack open doors of conversation. I don’t do it everyday; though they might laugh, roll their eyes, and say I did. They may say I was always overthinking and that my approach was overly “soft and safe.” If they do, I’ll just smile and take it because I’ll know that the messages I intended to send in all those “soft and safe” approaches was received.


Twenty years from now, I pray that my children who already know more about hard times and heartbreaks than many adults are able to look back and say, “My mom didn’t do everything just perfectly. There are some things she did great; some things not so great. But, even when she did things not so great, I knew she was doing it because she wanted us to know that there was always hope, that I was capable, that she was for me, and that she loved me no matter what.”

I will continue as best I can to be intentional in my responses to my children and consider what each one can handle alone, what he or she can handle with support, and what he or she cannot yet handle. I will continue as best I can to ask questions and make observations when I see an open door because sometimes they walk right through those doors and we have amazing conversations that leave me in awe that even in my frailty, I get the exclusive and significant task of mothering these specific children. I will continue to parent forward, keeping in mind not only the here-and-now but where we are headed as a family and as individuals. If you want to call all that “mollycoddling,” you can. To me, it’s “smart parenting.”

– image by Tish Goff

No Limits: Adopting a Child with Amniotic Band Syndrome

June 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

As mom to four biological boys, I remember the ultrasound appointments where the heart, kidneys, bones and limbs were surveyed and carefully measured. I was blessed with healthy boys and encouraging news from each of those prenatal appointments.

Often, I wonder if my girls’ China mommies had ultrasounds, and if they knew prior to birth that their daughters would have medical issues. I wonder if that affected the very difficult decisions that were made and resulted in two beautiful girls becoming beloved daughters in our family….


We brought home our first daughter in 2011 at 20 months old. Her medical need was related to a defect in the urological system and was listed as hydronephrosis. She had one surgery to correct the issue and was released from medical care.

We found her medical special need was relatively easy compared to the difficulty she had learning to accept love and a family.

She rejected me in China and would gorge herself at meal times. It was very difficult trip and a long adjustment once we arrived home. She has taught me so much about parenting children with traumatic backgrounds. Karyn Purvis became my mentor through her book, The Connected Child, and the associated videos from TCU Institute of Child Development.

In 2014, as we began researching special needs for our second adoption, we felt open to kidney/urological conditions that our first daughter had, but I kept feeling a tug at my heart for children with limb differences. We considered several special needs such as heart defects, cleft lip/palate, and scoliosis.

We reviewed several files, but my husband and I couldn’t get peace about the files. One day, while browsing agency waiting child pages, I saw her. I immediately emailed and asked for her file.


Of course, several other families were interested as well. I proceeded to call our local Shriners Hospital and to ask for a review. After reviewing the file, the doctor wrote back “amputation and fitting for a prosthesis.”

We pressed forward with our paperwork, but we were questioned by our social worker, friends and family as to whether or not we really wanted to bring home a child with limb differences. There were times that I was discouraged, but I kept reading blogs and articles about how amazingly resilient these children were. From the information in our daughter’s file and the pediatric orthopedic surgeon’s review, we were hoping for the best outcome.

With a bundle of nerves, we traveled to China. When our daughter first met us, she cried pitifully for the orphanage director. But 24 hours later, she was fine to see her again and returned happily to our arms. Her easy transition was such a blessing.

Throughout the trip she had a few difficult moments but, for the most part, she engaged in playful behavior, tried mimicking our words, and slept peacefully on her daddy’s chest. If her leg was noticed in public, we observed people quietly whispering to each other and pointing. It was obvious that they had not been exposed to many limb differences. We had seen pictures of her standing on her shorter leg, but in China, she would not move unless carried. It wasn’t until we got home that she felt comfortable enough to show us that she could actually walk.

We had our first appointment at Shriners Hospital in Greenville, SC, and the doctor decided upon amputation of her little foot.


The growth of her foot had been restricted by amniotic band syndrome, and she could not be fitted for a prosthetic leg without having the foot removed. The surgery was outpatient, and we were home by late afternoon. She spent three weeks in a spica cast, which came up one leg and wrapped around her waist.

Although it was recommended that she not walk on the cast, it didn’t slow her down, and she wore a hole through the outer layer. Within three months of surgery, she was fitted for her first leg, and it took less than a week for her to take off.

A few months later, she had a follow up outpatient surgery to release a band around what would have been her ankle and spent two more weeks in a cast above the knee. She has tolerated the surgeries and the casts well and has now been fitted for her second leg.


In the mornings, she crawls into my room and asks me to put on her leg. It really isn’t much different than putting on shoes. Because she wears an elastic sleeve to hold on her leg, she can’t wear pants that are too slim through the leg.

She has integrated into our family seamlessly. She has an amazingly resilient personality, just like many of the other children with limb differences whom I have met and cheered for through blogs and Facebook.


We are blessed to call her our daughter and wish that her China mommy could know that she runs and climbs and has no limits.

guest post by Debbie

I See Love By Choice

June 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


Sometimes I can’t bear CNN. I can’t stomach Facebook. My heart can’t hold another story of gut-wrenching loss, more video of violence, another photo of a child swollen from hunger, yet more stories of families fleeing from hate in their homelands. I can’t read another word about ugly politics or strands of hateful, intolerant status …Read More

A Few of Our Favorite Books

June 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


We love reading at our house. Love it. As a middle school Language Arts teacher, this love makes my heart soar with delight. So. Yes. We have a ton of books. And yes, we have many, many books about {China} adoption stories. As well as stories set in China, stories about China, toddler/preschool books with …Read More

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

June 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 34 Comments


*updated to add: due to the wide readership of this post, and the resulting comments, a follow-up post can be found here. Debuting on the 17th, Finding Dory has blown box office records out of the water, making its debut the highest grossing one for animated movies ever. It’s as if the crowds have been …Read More

5 Waiting Children from Bethel China

June 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


During the month of June we are joining Bethel China in highlighting children who are available for adoption. All of these children are blind or have significant vision loss. All of them need a forever family. For more information on any of these children, please email Anna at Bethel China. Josh is five-year-old boy who …Read More

How Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale Found Its Way

June 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We all have a history. Even my picture book, Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale, carries a unique backstory. When I was four years old, I had three goals: a husband, a daughter, and a book. I was sketchy about how to accomplish the first two, so I tackled the book. In purple crayon, I …Read More

Different Than What We Asked for, Better Than We Imagined

June 20, 2016 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments


When considering the orphans of China, many think of the the one child policy and specifically the incredible amount of girls that were abandoned as a result. When my husband and I began our adoption process we too thought that it was the girls most in need of homes and loving families. Like many others, …Read More

You Can Do Hard Things

June 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


About two months ago I stared at the number on the scale beneath my feet. I’d never seen a number that big before. Maybe the scale needed to be calibrated. Surely this wasn’t right. I stepped off. Calibrated it. Set a 10 pound dumbbell on it to confirm it’s accuracy. Then I stepped back on. …Read More

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