Disruption: the facts

March 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The beginning of March marks the start of a series where we will be discussing disruption and dissolution in adoption. We are treading prayerfully and lightly into this realm of the adoption world that is so often avoided. It is hard to talk about. It is complicated. And it is most definitely life altering to both the adoptive family and to the child needing a family.

We are also treading purposefully. Our hope is to present a series of informative posts that represent a multi-faceted look at an extremely complex subject. We also hope to create a place for dialogue to take place – that must take place – as families contemplate adoption, and prepare to adopt their children. As responsible adoptive parents, we must dialogue with our spouses, social workers, and families and friends about this reality, so that when difficulties arise we are better prepared, more informed and have access to a network of support.

In this series we will feature posts from a mother who disrupted, a mother who adopted from a disruption and an orphan advocate who shares her thoughts on the realities of disruption. We hope that over the course of this series the comment section here or on our Facebook page will be used for comments and questions as well, but we ask that all comments refrain from unkindness and/or judgment.

Disruption and dissolution are a heartbreaking reality, but by bringing this tough subject into the light our aim is to better prepare families for the sometimes difficult journey of adoption.


To open this series, we will start with the definitions of key terms as well as some basic facts on disruption and dissolution.

Guardianship and Harmonious Period:

Upon meeting and receiving their child in China, the Adoptive Parents (AP) sign temporary guardianship papers for that child. These papers allow AP to have what is referred to as the harmonious period (also termed the integration period). During this time the AP have not yet signed the legal adoption papers but rather have some time to spend with that child before making the binding commitment. The harmonious period graciously allows the family a brief view into the child and what bringing them into their family might look like. This is also a time of discovery for many families, there may be issues that are quickly apparent that where not listed in the file. These issues may be medical, emotional, institutional delays, or institutional behaviors. If a family is concerned that there is a medical issue which was not known previously, the in country guide can arrange for a medical exam to be performed during this time.


If the AP decide not to complete the adoption when the harmonious period is up, this is called a disruption. The child is returned to the civil affairs office. No legal papers are signed and the guardianship period expires. The child returns to their orphanage and the parents return to the US without a child. The US immigration paperwork which a family completes before traveling to China (I-800) is specific to that one child, so another child cannot be immediately matched during the same trip. The family would need to return to the US and their agency would walk them through their options.

Involuntary Disruption:

If a child is over the age of nine they are required to give a written statement agreeing to be adopted. It is possible that older children are not fully prepared for an upcoming adoption and struggle with the transition. If they refuse to sign the document agreeing to be adopted they will return to the orphanage. This decision and disruption is out of the control of the AP. The same would hold true in this case, the AP would need to return to the US to be rematched.

It is important to note that although this type of disruption does occur, it is not very common. The vast majority of disruptions are parent-led.


If the AP sign the adoption papers after the harmonious period, but later decide that they no longer wish to parent the child who has been legally adopted it is called a dissolution. This is quite different from a disruption and carries more legal ramifications. At this point, the AP will have promised to never abuse or abandon the child in two different instances, once when submitting the initial intent to adopt the child and then again during the official adoption proceedings. A dissolution is going back on that pledge and is seen in a very negative light by the CCCWA and Provincial officials.

If the dissolution occurs while still in China, paperwork must be completed with the Provincial Civil Affairs. A written statement must be provided in person explaining why the dissolution is occurring. The AP are required to appear before the Civil Affairs officials to legally terminate the adoption registration. If the family has already left the province and traveled to Guangzhou for the visa process they must return to the provincial city to terminate their parental rights. The child’s orphanage may or may not return any donation fees to the parents. The AP may or may not be permitted to be matched with another child after they return home. Additionally, the AP face a strong likelihood of not being permitted to adopt from China again in the future.

If the dissolution occurs once the child is in the US, the AP must immediately contact their adoption agency and submit in writing to the CCCWA the reason behind the dissolution. The agency would assist in the legal aspect of finding a new home for the child. The AP will be added to a list by the CCCWA and will likely not be allowed to adopt from China in the future.


The CCCWA published new rules in January of 2015 which included stricter rematching guidelines. These rules are twofold and greatly impact whether a family can be referred a new child: If there is a true discrepancy between the status of the child and what the file presented, and if the provincial office confirms these issues and approves it, the family may be rematched one they are back in the US. However, if the family “are being too choosy or behave improperly” during their time in China, or discover personal reasons leading to their inability to complete the adoption, the CCCWA will not rematch them and will not allow them to adopt from their country in the future.

It is also important to note that agencies may choose not to rematch a family depending on the circumstances surrounding the disruption or dissolution.

The Child:

A child returned to their Social Welfare Institution after a disruption or dissolution while still in China may or may not be registered again for adoption. They may declare that the child is unadoptable and will age out of the system on their fourteenth birthday. Preparing a child for adoption comes at a monetary expense and time commitment to the SWI, they tend to only prepare files for children who they think families would chose.

This is a very simple summary of some very complicated issues and situations. Please discuss any of these scenarios with your social worker. Education and preparation are key during the entire adoption process. This is especially true in regard to what to expect during the first few hours in China and the months which follow.

LWB: Thoughts on Re-Homing from an Adoption Professional
LWB: Realistic Expectations about Adoption Struggles
Rainbow Kids: When Families Fail

find my family: Rion

March 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Adorable and handsome Rion recently turned 8. He is waiting for a family on the shared list and he is diagnosed as having postoperative cleft lip and palate and epilepsy. As of Dec. 2011 he has stopped the medication he was taking for his epilepsy and it sounds as if he has not had any seizures since.


Rion is very active and personable boy. He is in first grade now. At first he struggled with sitting still and with his homework, but with patient guidance he has been improving in those areas. His favorite subjects are physical education, music, and art. Rion is described as an active and restless boy. He is extroverted and mild tempered. His speech is not clear because of his cleft lip and palate, but has no problem in daily communication. He is polite and mature. He gets along well with other kids and he is willing to help other kids too. When learning new concepts, his teachers need to explain slowly and repeat several times.


Rion adapts quickly to the outside environment and would not be nervous in a strange environment. He likes to run and jump and likes toys like Ultraman. Rion is attached to his ‘mother.’ He proudly says “this is my mother” when introducing her to others. He likes his aunts, uncles and other kids in the institute. He likes when the aunts and uncles take him and the other kids out to play. He is willing to be adopted and hopes he will have a forever family.


Since Rion is on the shared list he can be adopted by a family working with any agency. Contact the Advocacy Team for more information.

How Children’s Books Helped My Family

March 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Dr. Karyn Purvis said, “If you didn’t teach your child something then don’t assume he knows or understands it.” We have found this to be very true in our family.

When my daughter joined our family last year, people were often curious about how her English language was progressing. Some assumed this would be the challenging aspect of our adoption. For us, teaching her English was the easy part. What was not so easy was teaching her that the skills she needed to survive in an orphanage were really different than the skills she needed to thrive outside of an orphanage setting. We also struggled teaching her concepts like what it meant to have a mommy and daddy and what a family was. Instead of really focusing on acquiring the English language (which happened quickly), our focus was on teaching our daughter the language and ways of family (which takes more time). That’s where we had to be intentional. Over the past year, I have come to appreciate the power of children’s books and play to help our family as we attach and bond. Lots of us talk and write about our favorite attachment and bonding books for an adult audience, however today’s post is about my daughter’s favorite children’s books that helped our family bond and attach.


Before my daughter understood or spoke much English, we made a picture book of my husband and I doing nurturing and fun activities with our daughter (recommended in the book, Attaching in Adoption by Gray). Every photo was of us together. Our daughter was resistant to nurture for many months, so we had to get creative with the photos we included. One page in the book was a photo of me putting a bandaid on her “owie”, one page was of my daughter asleep in my husband’s arms, another was a photo of me pushing her in a swing, and another was of me feeding her gummy bears (her personal favorite). Many times throughout the day and during high anxiety moments, my daughter would reach for this book. This simple book was a reminder to her that we are fun and we take care of her. We made several copies of this book for just a couple of dollars at our local drugstore’s photo development center.

One of my daughter’s favorite books is My Mommy from the Disney Baby Animals Stories 12 Book Block. Although the book is very simple and small, it was a helpful tool to help her understand that I will take care of her. The words in the book have become a powerful script my daughter recites daily. “My mommy feeds me,” “My mommy keeps me safe and warm,” and “My mommy loves to cuddle” are the phrases I will hear her recite several times per day. When my daughter was resistant to nurture, we turned this into a time to play what we saw in the book, making sure to only do what my daughter was comfortable with. But, this was a great opportunity to demonstrate nurture with play.

Mommy Hugs by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben is another favorite. We read this book each night at bedtime, and my daughter loves to act it out with me. The book shows different mommy animals hugging their baby animal and ends with a human mother and child hugging. Each time I hug her the way the mommy animal does, my daughter responds affectionately and says, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” The author also wrote Daddy Cuddles and Daddy Kisses.


My daughter Lydia and I are extremely excited about a new series of books by licensed clinical social worker and author Cindy R. Lee. I first learned about Cindy from hearing great things about The Halo Project she helps lead in Oklahoma. Cindy’s children’s books teach important concepts developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. Richard Cross’ Trust-Based Relation Intervention (for more on TBRI, see the book The Connected Child and these NHBO posts: TBRI part 1, TBRI part 2 and TBRI part 3. TBRI is often recommended as a helpful tool for adoptive and foster families.

Each book teaches parent and child an important Trust-Based Relation Intervention concept or script. For the parent, the book includes a one page summary of the concept. Although I regularly spend time watching the TBRI DVDs and reading and re-reading The Connected Child, I have found Cindy’s summaries and examples to be helpful. The book also includes one page of teaching tips for parents. She includes a script that parents can use, discussion questions, a game to play with your child, and tips for real life implementation. The summary information and exercises are incredibly helpful, it would be a mistake to turn past these pages thinking it is only a book for children. Although my daughter is too young to understand the discussion questions, she absolutely loves the books and so do I. The illustrations are fun and colorful. The stories are educational, funny, and sweet. Even though the stories are written to teach the child an important concept, they remind me of important things I forget in the day to day. Unlike the other books I mentioned above, I think Cindy’s books are appropriate for a broad range of ages (like I mentioned before, I learn from it too).


To date, three children’s books by Cindy R. Lee have been published –

Baby Owl Lost Her Whoo — This book tells the story of a baby owl who was “left alone” and needs a mommy owl to show the baby owl what is best. The book covers concepts such as sticking together and in a gentle way reminds the child that the mommy owl is the boss. Every time we read this book, my daughter gives me a big hug and kiss and says she loves her mommy owl. This shows me that she really gets it. Also, this book gives me a gentle and playful way to engage and correct my daughter. For example, when my daughter cries and demands that she wants a cookie for breakfast and says, “Gimme a cookie right now!” I might say, “Whoa precious baby owl! Who is the mommy owl?” and I recite the line from the book about the mommy owl making sure the baby owl eats healthy food. Usually, this has helped my daughter even in the moment when it is hard to accept no…because let’s be honest, I also want a cookie for breakfast.

Doggie Doesn’t Know No — This book tells the story of a dog that is available for adoption. The dog used to be on his own, and once he is in a family, he has to learn what “no” means. This book has been so helpful for me and my daughter. Because of it, I have become more intentional about saying “yes” more throughout the day about inconsequential things that way she is more likely to accept no on the bigger things. It helped me realize our days were full of many “no, no, no’s” and that doesn’t help us connect.

It’s Tough to Be Gentle — This book tells the story of Rex, a dragon who is trying to learn how to be gentle and kind.

Another China adoptive mom and I have talked at length about how our daughter’s have positively responded to the books Cindy authored. We also wait with great anticipation for each book to be published. To read about the upcoming five book titles and the concepts they teach visit the author’s website.

So, what are some of your favorite children’s books that help with teaching your children about family and nurture or that help with bonding and attachment?

What We Know…

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We know that adoption is beautiful, don’t we? We know that it is a wonderful way to build a family. We also know that it can be painful, and scary, and even though it can most definitely be a dream come true, it can also hold many frightening unknowns… We have three dreams come true, …Read More

find my family: larry

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Larry was born in September 2012 and diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Sweet Larry was found in a hotel dustbin as a newborn and taken to the hospital. At that time he had a hematoma on his scalp and began treatment for jaundice after entering an orphanage. His hematoma resolved on its own but it …Read More

out of the darkness

February 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


I don’t think I will ever be the mom who believes God’s original and best plan for my daughter was for her to be in my home. I realize that’s a controversial statement, and perhaps many of the people reading this will feel something bristle inside of them as they think about their own precious …Read More

Medical Needs and Marriage: Ten Tips

February 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments


You adopted a child with medical needs and the game changed. The Coach altered the playbook. The new little life in your family has your whole team scrambling to reorient themselves. You survived the stretching adoption process with its paperwork, lack of control, waiting and financial stress. You made it home, and you’d like to …Read More

I don’t get it.

February 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments


I get it. There was a big crisis. In 1979, facing a huge and growing population, Chinese government officials created the “family planning policy” as the solution. Things were turned upside down as families who years before had been encouraged to build China by adding to their family were now told they could have one …Read More

find my family: Samantha

February 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Stunning Samantha is 11 years old. She is diagnosed with cerebral palsy with leg muscles weakness. She has been working hard to build her strength and while she does have difficulty walking, she can now walk up and down stairs while holding on to a railing! While she loves to learn, because of her delays …Read More

“Normal” Ain’t Got Nothin On This

February 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

As we continue through February, the month of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness, we continue to share posts from moms parenting children with heart defects. Our goal is to inform and equip those considering or home with children with this special need by sharing the real-life experiences of those already parenting a child (or children) with …Read More