Meet the Contributors: Kelly

October 20, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a way a traditional post might not allow.


Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I get the feeling that a lot of people think we’re kinda crazy. Adopting our fourth child in 2010 started a series of events in our lives that led to starting The Sparrow Fund to serve adoptive families, my husband quitting his finance career to live on support so that we could do nonprofit work in China while living stateside, and me putting my MA degree in counseling to professional use, becoming part of a team of therapists at the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA serving children and families in the foster and adoption communities exclusively and leading teams to Chinese orphanages to host staff trainings. It may sound crazy; but, it’s our family’s normal now.

Q: What led you to adopt from China?

A: We had talked about adoption from Day 1. When faced with infertility and four miscarriages, those early conversations became a bit less idealistic dreams and more realistic for how we were being called to grow our family.

Q: Which province is your child from?

A: Our daughter Lydia (now age 7 ½) came home at 13 months old from Baoji, Shaanxi province.

Q: What special needs are represented in your family?

A: Lydia had a small VSD that we thought would require open heart surgery due to its placement. But, a follow-up appointment revealed complete closure without any intervention. She was also diagnosed stateside as failure to thrive because of 4 documented months in her infancy of no growth at all. As she grew and thrived here, we (and everyone within 50 ft. of our daughter at any given time) became acutely aware of sensory related challenges she has as well. She’s sensory aversive to smells and sounds and pretty much seriously sensory seeking with everything else. One teacher once told me she needed Dramamine to teach her. Yup, that’s our girl.

We have additional special needs represented in our family including a child with a myriad of learning disabilities and anxiety and a daughter with scoliosis requiring a back brace for the next year or two. We are convinced that each Raudenbush would qualify as having “special needs” in one way or another.


Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?

A: My favorite aspect of adoption is getting to experience God’s redemptive work so clearly, so tangibly that His hand is undeniable. Obviously, our most life-transforming experience was within our own family. But, we have had the joy of experiencing that work again and again as we have served and advocated for waiting children and have been able to see them placed in families and then again as we have walked alongside families to help them experience healing in broken places.

Perhaps one of my most remarkable experiences of redemptive work outside our own family was in leading an orphanage staff training and being able to use an ayi as a positive example of connection between a caregiver and a child in front of all her peers and superiors, knowing that she herself had grown up as an orphan there. I will never forget the expression on her face in that moment. My response to what I think is the hardest part could read similarly. The experience of redemptive work is necessitated by brokenness. The healing is sweet but the broken parts I am privy to personally and professionally often weigh on my heart.

Q: In one or two sentences, what are two tips applying to any part of the adoption process?

A: Tip #1: Read, research, respect “experts’ rules.” There’s a lot of great stuff out there. But, use wisdom with when to close the manuals and trust yourself. If what you are doing or want to do for your child makes you feel like a good mom and communicate that feeling to your child, it’s a good thing even if it doesn’t match “best practices” perfectly.

Tip #2: Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out if whatever challenging behavior you’re seeing in your child is adoption related, individual personality, or a result of simply a heart that wants to choose self over anything else. We are all so complex; all of that is intricately woven together making it incredibly difficult to untangle. And, there’s really no need to get distracted by the question. Our parenting strategies should be consistent regardless — compassionately nurturing while safely and strongly structuring.

Q: How has adoption grown, stretched, or changed you?

A: Becoming a wife revealed my own gaps like nothing had before. Becoming a mother revealed more gaps and that the gaps I knew about were deeper than I thought. Becoming a mother to a child with a hard start opened my eyes even further to my own weaknesses. But, those seasons of increased awareness have also brought the richest seasons of growth, the kind of growth that requires painful pruning but lots of fruit.


Q: Can you share a few of your favorite blog posts by others on NHBO? Some personal blog posts?

A: This letter to a struggling mom is one that continues to mean a lot to me.

This one from 2014 about the impact of Chinese ayis marks a significant moment for me when I became passionate about supporting these women.

Clicking through my own blog to find favorite posts is quite a journey, like I’m flipping through old photo albums I rediscovered after my mom put them in the corner of the attic.

This pretty recent post about my own process in hosting a child from China who needed a family and how God answered prayers is one I think I’ll go back to and reread when I need to preach to myself.

And, this letter to my daughter’s birthmother on the occasion of her 7th birthday was significant to me and continues to be. I process a lot of things through letter writing to both specific people and people I have never met.

Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?

A: Current favorite books: Gary Thomas’ Lifelong Love is so great. While it’s a marriage book, the messages are broad and widely applicable. Another resource that impacted me deeply as well as the way I come alongside others is Curt Thompson’s The Soul of Shame.

Favorite quote: Cheryl Nitz, the director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA, often shares with parents, “You are what your child needs.” When I felt the most unequipped and unable, those words assured me of my calling not to be the “ideal mom” but to be their mom. And, that made all the difference.

Favorite verse: I chose Isaiah 42:16 as a theme verse when we started our adoption process back in 2007. Now, nearly 10 years later, it remains my favorite.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

A: Maybe that I’m writing this as I sit in the Guangzhou airport waiting for a delayed flight?

Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?

A: Avoiding Pinterest and embracing imperfect (and surrounding myself with friends who remind my perfectionist, overthinking self of that).


Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?

A: Spend time wrestling with who God is and who you are. He may use compassion to stir your heart initially to adopt. But, ask Him for discernment between compassion and calling. If you sense that He’s given you a heart of compassion but has not called you to adopt, fight hard to advocate for those who need you. And, if you are called to adopt, then run the race hard, knowing that it will be hard but it will be good.

The Lucky Few: 31 Days of Advocacy, Day 19

October 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

October 1st marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And we are spending the entire month celebrating.

In so doing, we are using this dedicated month to feature as many of these very special children as we can. There are so many who wait – it has been estimated that 30% of waiting children in China have Down syndrome.

So be sure to come visit us every day this month and, after you read about each these cuties with a little something extra, please help us spread the word. Like and share these posts on FB – you never know whose heart just might be pricked.


Day 19 belongs to four more sweethearts from the same group foster home as the kiddos we featured yesterday. (If you didn’t see Cody, Lyla and Peter, you must.)

Meet Ben, almost two, David, not even a year old yet, Emma, just turned one and sweet Naomi who is four…

Ben was born in November 2014. Ben can sit unassisted and is able to scoot across the floor. He loves to eat and has an incredible laugh.



Ben came home to his Grace Village family in July, 2016.


David was born in March 2016. This sweet little boy loves to roll around and look at books with his ayi. David has a great personality and such a sweet laugh.



David came to our Grace Village family at the tender age of just two months.


Emma was born in August 2015. She is able to sit well unassisted and is working toward leaning to crawl.

Emma has a fun and happy personality. She loves to eat and enjoys rolling the ball with her ayi and other friends.



Emma came home to her Grace Village family in July, 2016.


Naomi Grace just celebrated her fourth birthday. She was born in August, 2012.

She attends the Grace Village preschool five days a week and is learning so much, including ASL. Naomi loves to pretend play, dance and has a great imagination.



Naomi came home to her Grace Village family in July, 2016.


Zhanjiang Kids Organization founded a group foster home project, Grace Village in the spring of 2015, located in southern China.

Ava’s House is Grace Village’s second home, opening in July 2016. It is uniquely designated for children with Down syndrome and provides them with a 1:2 ratio of specialized care from staff who have been trained in the care and development of children born with Down syndrome.

To learn more about Grace Village’s homes, please click here or you can contact Vickie Bennett, Grace Village Director by email here.

Many of the children at Ava’s House have recently had their files prepared and are waiting for their families. All of these children have a $3,000 orphanage grant available and are currently listed with Wasatch Int’l. For additional information on any of these children, you should contact Kathy Junk.


For those considering adopting a child with Down syndrome, here are some great resources:

General overview of Down syndrome with additional resources
An excellent Q and A post on Down syndrome adoption
A dad’s perspective on Down syndrome adoption
More posts on NHBO about Down syndrome
National Down Syndrome Adoption Network Facebook Page
China Adoption Special Needs Information Facebook Group
The National Down Syndrome Society website

Trusting God to Guide You

October 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

I was running late – how I do most things – when I remembered I needed to stay hydrated because I’m nursing a new baby. (A new one after two adoptions has brought all kinds of perspective on not only things I missed—but also just how precious each day and little one is… a post for another day for sure!)

I ran in the house – car already loaded and running – and grabbed my water. I closed the door and heard a tweet. Tweet as in a bird tweet. And yes – I was still inside my house. I closed the refrigerator door and just beside me was a little sparrow – in my kitchen.

He didn’t fly away. He was just standing there. Or would you say perching or resting? Anyway—he was still. I’m not sleeping at night y’all (blame it on the baby) – so I almost wanted to pinch myself to be sure I was seeing clearly. I went back to the car to tell the kids there was a BIRD in the kitchen and… ”What should we do?”

My 2nd grader looked at me like I’d lost it and said, “Mom. We all go in—and we get him out. We’ll just have to be late.”

So in we went and we carefully, calmly and quickly guided the little sparrow out of the house. Locked up. Reloaded the van and drove away.

Now this might sound sensible – only have you ever had to get a bird out of your house? This wasn’t my first rodeo with birds because, oddly enough, this always seems to happen when the Lord is in the midst of teaching me or guiding me in something. Crazy right? Not really when you know that the Lord speaks to each of us in different ways. He always speaks to me through prayer and His Word. But when it comes to matters of my heart – God has always used birds.

When we were preparing for our very first adoption, I had three small children who were really too young to understand the reasons things like orphanages and adoptions were needed. As I prayed for the Lord to help me prepare them, I’ll never forget how the Lord used a bird to show them what He was calling our family to.

That very week we were all walking in the grocery when my daughter spotted an abandoned baby bird who couldn’t fly because of hurt wings. God wanted us to do more than just pass by the bird or pray that he would be okay — we brought the bird home with us. We cared for him. We named him. We sang to him.

God used us to bring healing to that bird, and God used that little guy to teach us too. Then one day he was ready and we all went outside and we held back tears as we watched him soar.


That was just one of the many times God used a bird to guide or encourage. After a miscarriage, I will never forget the bird that sat and sang outside my window as I rocked in that nursery chair. Or the time we were praying about adopting again and my precious son, also adopted, gave me a clay gift he had made at school. I opened it to find a mother bird with lots of eggs in her nest — with of course an extra egg waiting to hatch.

So seeing this sparrow in my kitchen this week came as no surprise to me. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do… simply show him the way out and trust the Lord to do the rest. That was it. And that was also the answer to my prayer and current direction for what our family was praying through.


Our world can be so loud — sometimes it’s hard to hear. Goodness knows with the current state of affairs it can give you a headache and make you want to completely tune out. To many things you should tune out — but oh sweet moms… God is still on the move and doing much in the heart of His children.

While our country might look like it’s quite a mess, He is still in control. And while politics might be really loud, there are still precious little children who need us to be in prayer for how God wants to use us to love them.

I want to encourage you to not allow the noise to be louder than His voice; keep listening.

Look for the ways He speaks to you – and be brave to follow.

Don’t take His speaking lightly – reflect on what He is trying to whisper to you over the noise – and trust Him to lead, guide and provide.

Are you praying about adopting? Or going on a mission trip? Or how you can help another family? Are you unsure about His timing? Or maybe it’s just a season for you to focus on the children already in your home and settle in for a bit? Maybe you are unsure how to help a child in already in your home heal or there are decisions ahead you just need His help in.

God is always, always speaking — so ask Him to make you sensitive to see patterns of how He grabs your attention and speaks to you. Maybe it’s words, birds or rainbows. Reflect on what you think He may be saying and stay in His Word as you pray through it. And I promise – in His timing – as you do these things you will know exactly how He wants to move you.

Excited to be on this journey of following Jesus with you and loving big the kids near and far He brings to our hearts and homes.

Much love,

The Lucky Few: 31 Days of Advocacy, Day 18

October 18, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


October 1st marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And we are spending the entire month celebrating. In so doing, we are using this dedicated month to feature as many of these very special children as we can. There are so many who wait – it has been estimated that 30% of waiting children …Read More

Every Life Has Value: Adopting a Child with Lifelong Needs

October 18, 2016 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments


I have to be honest and tell you up front that I am writing this while nursing some sore feelings. One too many times over the last month or so I’ve had to fight for my girl. I have had to hear hurtful words. So my heart is tender and a little broken so be …Read More

The Lucky Few: 31 Days of Advocacy, Day 17

October 17, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


October 1st marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And we are spending the entire month celebrating. In so doing, we are using this dedicated month to feature as many of these very special children as we can. There are so many who wait – it has been estimated that 30% of waiting children …Read More

1 in 1000: Adopting a Child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

October 17, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Like so many of us who are part of the adoption community, we have learned so very much in the time our two youngest kiddos have been part of our family. Our son, Liam, who is now eight years old, joined our family at the age of 28 months. His special need was listed as …Read More

The Lucky Few: 31 Days of Advocacy, Day 16

October 16, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


October 1st marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And we are spending the entire month celebrating. In so doing, we are using this special month to feature as many of these very special children as we can. There are so many who wait – it has been estimated that 30% of waiting children …Read More

When Mom Works: Infinitely Better Off

October 16, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Navigating work and being a mom is tough under the best of circumstances, but it can feel even more daunting when you toss in the complex issues that accompany parenting your newly adopted child. So this month on No Hands But Ours, some been-there-done-that working mamas are here to help, with advice on everything from …Read More

The Lucky Few: 31 Days of Advocacy, Day 15

October 15, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


October 1st marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And we are spending the entire month celebrating. In so doing, we are using this special month to feature as many of these very special children as we can. There are so many who wait – it has been estimated that 30% of waiting children …Read More

© 2016 No Hands But Ours

The content found on the No Hands But Ours website is not approved, endorsed, curated or edited by medical professionals. Consult a doctor with expertise in the special needs of interest to you.