Do They Look Like Siblings?

May 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


Lots of people are curious about Lydia and Barrett’s relationship—a brother and sister relationship formed through adoption.

“Do they look like siblings?” I never know if this means whether they resemble each other or what.


“Are they real brother and sister?”

Well, here is big sister Lydia encouraging little brother Barrett that he can climb the tall and scary ladder with two lucky fins (Barett has bilateral limb differences and Lydia has unilateral limb differences).


The sister who knows what it is like to navigate the world with limb differences and knows just how to encourage her little brother.

The sister who begged me earlier today to please help Barrett pull up his shorts because it was so hard for her to see him struggle.

The sister who danced with her mama when Barrett finally pulled up his pants all by himself. She was so proud of her little brother.

They look like brother and sister in the way Lydia makes sure to save the last cookie for her brother, even though I know she would love another cookie for herself.

And Barrett looks like a baby brother in the way he yells, “Lyyyyyyyyddddia!” every day at preschool pick-up and in the way he copies her every move.

They also look like siblings in the way they fight over toys and over mama’s lap and bicker over everything.


So do they look like siblings? Absolutely, yes. They are.

So do we look like a family? Absolutely, yes. We are.


Find My Family: Sofia

May 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Adorable 11-year-old Sofia is listed with Madison Adoption Associates. Sofia is diagnosed with post-op cleft lip and palate. From an update in April: Sofia’s mental development is normal or the same as peers the same age. Her special need no longer affects her life. Sofia is extroverted and active. She is very well behaved and obedient. Her gross and fine motor skills are normal and she is attending a public school. Sofia wants to be adopted. In her file, she said: I still hope to have my own father and mother who will love me, care for me, and accompany me, so that I can enjoy the warmth of family like other children. Sofia’s Chinese name means ‘bright future.’ We know there is a family out there for this beautiful girl and that her future will be beyond bright once she’s home and with them!


Updated measurements for Sofia: Height- 153.5 cm, Weight- 39.42 kg, Head- 53 cm, Chest- 72 cm, Foot- 24 com, Teeth- 23

There is a $2,000 agency grant for Sofia’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. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year and to families that already have their letter of approval from China.

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


A Message to the New Momma by Adoption

May 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

Hey fellow adoptive mama! I’m Erin. I’m writing this post today because I was asked to share what it’s like to have a large family by adoption. In the world of adoption, my family is considered fairly mid-sized: six kids and two parents. In March 2015, I jumped from mama of four to six when my husband and I adopted for the first time. Our kids are now ages 12, 9, 8, 6, 6, and 3, the youngest basically being developmental triplets.


We adopted our two six-year-old daughters from China, and they both have Down syndrome. People often comment about the size of our family and ask me how I do it. If you were sitting in front of me and asking me the same questions, I would first tell you that this has been a year of survival for me. Let’s say it together, “SUR-VI-VAL.” Then, I might tell you about a few practical ways we manage our home, and while I have implemented some time saving tips into my life – mostly like buying cereal and lowering my general standards – I am not convinced that any actually are legit or “pinworthy.” I decided to write you a letter instead. Here’s to you, new mama by adoption, who suddenly has what feels like a large family, whether you have two kids or twelve.

My Beautiful, Broken Friend:

Sweet friend, you are exhausted. I want to wrap you up in my arms and hug you. It is okay that you are not enough. Listen. Pretend that you are looking in my eyes, I am earnestly pleading with you right now; remember who you are and take a breath. You are daughter of the our Lord and Savior, King and Creator of the universe, Most High and Holy Father God. He is holding you now as He held you from the very beginning. Remember back when you first had this idea in your heart for adoption? That was Him. Remember the late nights while you filled out paperwork and waited for LOA and LID and DTC? Remember the times you didn’t know if you would have the money to pay for the next fees and yet you accomplished every step and goal? It was through His strength and by His grace and by His provision. Now, take a drink of coffee and sit down because this is not going to be easy. There are four things you need to remember as you manage this new family of yours:

1. This adventure surprised you. I want to remind you, God set this in motion; therefore, please remember that He has a plan. It may not seem like there is coherence or rationale behind anything that is happening in your life, but He is always prepared. You are on an adventure for which you were chosen. So, when you wonder what the heck is happening and why your plans keep failing, don’t be surprised because this wasn’t your idea in the first place. The fact that He has a plan gives you the freedom to accept this moment in all its messy glory, stop trying to fix it, and just breathe in God’s grace and love for you right where you are, right now, in the mess.


2. God is your stability. Forget your count down to normal. Forget what your family was or what you hoped it would be. Forget the impressions you had from your update letters, photos, and imaginings. Take one moment at a time and allow yourself to get to know your children – the real children – and allow them to know the real you. They are hurting. It is normal and good that you are hurting too. We hurt when our children hurt, don’t we? So stop worrying about when you are going to feel bonded or if/when you will ever want to serve your family in the ways that are demanded of you in this season. Stop dreaming about that day when you will feel like you have things under control; stop straining to fix things and just live today. Don’t worry, it never depended on you. It was never about your sacrifices, your attitude, or the way you can scrub poop off your floor in a housedress and pearls with a smile. This is not even about perfecting your Karyn Purvis impressions. No, friend, this process is not about you and what a good adoptive mama you are. This process is about love, and love is not a feeling. God is love. Since love is not a feeling, then you don’t need to worry about the fact that your feelings are all screwed up and hormonal and jet-lagged. You can just be you. Allow your children to be themselves, and allow God to be God, your Rock. So please, before you start reading that next book or blog post on how to be a better mom, get a friend to come over so you can take a nap, for goodness sake, and let your kids have a little break from you as well!


3. Jesus runs to you in your mess. Bask in and soak up the mercies of our LORD every single day. He doesn’t enjoy seeing you in your suffering, but He adores your humility and your brokenness. He desperately wants for you to see that you are not enough so that you will see that only He is enough. He wants you to experience your weakness in a new way because He wants you to experience Him in a new way. So do it. Embrace this time when you see clearly that you are not enough and experience Him in ways that would have never been possible if you had everything under control. This is not a disaster. This is an opportunity to know your LORD more deeply in His sufferings for you (Philippians 3).

4. God longs to give you mercy. Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Memorize this. I think it is clear. God yearns to lavish kindness upon us in our desperation so that we will turn and acknowledge Him in all His goodness and compassion.

As a community of adoptive mamas, we have held dying babies in our arms; we have seen horrific scars from abuse and neglect; we have sent our children into surgeries knowing we may never see them again; we have embraced PTSD, RAD, ODD, anxiety, trauma, and so much more. And maybe there were some of us who thought we might fix our children, but now we realize that pain is a part of our child, a part of us, and a part of our homes forever, as well. It is not comfortable, friend. There are no Pinterest tips, tricks, or time saving techniques I can spell out that will fix this. You can plan and try your hardest, but you will still fall short in meeting the needs of your home. So, go back to the verse I asked you to memorize and dwell there. God desires mercy and acknowledgement of Him. Acknowledge Him today, bow low before your God, and worship Him in your broken spirit. It is beautiful to Him, and He loves you.

I’m in the trenches beside you. It’s not easy to stare suffering, weakness, brokenness, and injustice in the face or to acknowledge its presence in the world and in our homes. It is difficult to accept that we cannot control it, resolve it, or change it, but we must learn to embrace the discomfort, patiently allowing pain to do its work while also holding firmly and steadily to grace and hope.

Please, if you need a friend, call me. I also have a blog and a public Facebook page. I will connect with you, and I will help you connect with others. I can’t fix the mess, but I can tell you that you are not alone.

guest post by Erin

Find My Family: Gary

May 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We have a treat for you today, a precious and sweet little boy. Two year old Gary is a handsome little boy born in September 2013! He was a tiny little guy when he was found and so assumed to be premature (3 lb). He has a sensitive special need for which he has had …Read More

In the Quiet Moment

May 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


On March 20, 2009 I spent the quiet moments of nap-time looking at waiting child programs with various adoption agencies. Home from China just four months with our second child, we weren’t ready to expand our family just yet, but as a planner I wanted to have ‘all my ducks in a row’ for when …Read More

He Knows

May 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


Who knew ​this momma – who had once upon a time envisioned life with my husband to include ​a couple of ​children, a spacious home, and (of course!) many family vacations to tropical destinations​ – would instead​ learn (​and ​daily​ re-learn)​ that the path to the​ purest​ peace and the greatest joy​ is to​ yield …Read More

Large Families: the Good, the Bad, the Blessing (part two)

May 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Today we continue with the second post of our two-part series featuring Large Families. This mom of six shares some fun, creative, and pragmatic ideas that will help us all (whatever the size of our family) to keep things running smoothly. You can find part-one here. I’d like to share some of the things we’ve …Read More

Aging Out Waiting Child: Wren

May 18, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Wren is described as active and smart. He likes outdoor activities and gets along with others well. He has lots of friends. Wren is also described as sensible, obedient, and innocent. He greet whoever he meets politely. He can usually answer questions others cannot. Wren is a bit shorter than his peers, but he is …Read More

Find My Family: Henry

May 16, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Henry RK

Meet Henry, age 4.5. He was abandoned on the day of his birth. Henry underwent a successful surgery last summer for hypospadias and is also diagnosed with cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), but he does have normal bowel and bladder control. He was initially labeled with disorder of sexual development, but the orphanage says they are certain …Read More


May 15, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

HoldingHands_FatherChild 2

I love Jesus. I love His simplicity. I love how easily He puts things into perspective. I love how when all the religious leaders wanted to prove Him wrong, false, and even sinful that His answers were never hour long oratories. Simple, concise. Believe and follow or don’t. Often I find myself in the midst …Read More

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