Re-Aging and Un-Twinning: Sam and the Time Machine

October 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Or, how my son got younger since we adopted him.

We recently celebrated Round 2 of my son Sam’s fourth birthday party. On the surface, this may not seem unusual. A lot of people might have two different birthday parties – one at school and one at home, one with family and one with friends, etc. What makes Sam’s second party noteworthy is that his first one was 18 months ago.

That’s right. We celebrated Sam’s fourth birthday party with his “twin” sister Ellie in April of 2013… and then we celebrated it again in October of 2014.


Even though they no longer share a birthday, note that Ellie is still trying to blow out Sam’s candles


If you spend any time with kids, you know that their birthdays are precious to them. Beyond the obvious appeal of superhero cakes and Lego sets, they also love that birthdays are proof that they are getting older. Every kid wants to grow up… to be big. As evidence of this, I will cite that most kids will begin claiming within days after their 3rd birthday that they are now 3½.

Now picture Sam. Rather than the traditional (albeit excruciatingly long) wait of 12 months between parties, Sam has had to wait 18. And instead of the satisfaction of celebrating the graduation from 4 year old to 5 year old, he has made NO progress. By some measures, Sam may actually be getting younger over time.

Before this starts to sound like an advertisement for a breakthrough Skin Crème, I should probably provide some background.

When we were called in late 2012 by our adoption agency about Sam and Ellie, they were presented to us as twins. It was not until we started seeing pictures of them that we began to question this assumption. While this may seem ridiculous when describing a 3 year old, it somehow felt like Ellie was more mature.

When we met them, we started seeing many of the same things in person that we had noticed in the photos. Ellie felt like more of a “big sister” in how she cared for Sam and protected him during the transition. It increasingly felt like their status as twins might not be accurate.

I am embarrassed to say how long it took us to realize that we should just ask them. I will never forget when the interpreter told Ellie that her new Mom and Dad wondered if she and Sam were twins. Ellie just laughed and laughed. She was then quick to point out that she was the “Jie Jie” (Big Sister) and Sam was the “Di Di” (Little Brother.) Sammy agreed… but then again, Sam loved Ellie so much that he pretty much agreed with whatever she said. She could have suggested that he was a dog, and we would have probably started barking.

Recognizing that nothing was going to change in the short-term (and that a change in birth date could hinder the adoption and immigration paperwork), we left it alone for several months. This included the celebration of their aforementioned 4th Birthday Party in April 2013.

After they had been home for about a year, we began the Legal process of having Sam re-aged.

It is fairly common for the listed age of an internationally adopted child to be inaccurate. In some cases, officials may change the birth date to make the child seem younger and more adoptable. I have read several stories of people whose “officially” 8 or 9 year old child came home with early signs of facial hair or having started their period. (Fortunately, I haven’t read any where both of these were true for the same child.)

In China where it is common for children to be abandoned without any documentation, officials choose a birth date for the child when they put him or her into the system. This may or may not have any connection to their actual date of birth or age.

In the case of Sam and Ellie, we believe that the “error” was an act of grace. Since they were abandoned together, the decision to make them “twins” helped to insure that they would stay together in the system and ultimately to their forever family if adopted. Had they simply been characterized as siblings, there is a good chance that they would have been separated. Like so many other aspects of their amazing story, we believe this is yet another example of God’s favor on the two of them.

Re-aging is a process that apparently used to be fairly straight-forward in international adoptions but it has become somewhat more complex in recent years. (Our attorney suggested that this was a desire to better control identity tracking of immigrants in a post-9/11 world. I personally think it was precipitated by that Cuban pitcher in the Little League World Series a few years ago who appeared to be 27 years old.)

While every situation is unique, here are the key elements of our experience with re-aging:

  • Legal Guidance – We engaged an attorney to help us navigate the process. We also chose to use this opportunity to have US birth certificates created for our other adopted children as we have been told it can be an issue later in life to rely on adoption paperwork for age verification.
  • Medical Assessment – Working with our International Adoption Clinic at the local Children’s Hospital, we scheduled a series of diagnostic tests that were designed to provide some estimated age ranges. These tests ranged from developmental tests to growth plate scans to dental evaluations. In Sam’s case, the analysis yielded a fairly consistent projected age… (which wasn’t even close to the “official” birth date that he shared with Ellie.)
  • Birth Date Selection – Using the ranges from the above tests, we were then given the incredibly unique opportunity to PICK Sam’s birthday. Given the baseline challenge of remembering 5 other kids’ birthdays, we targeted something memorable… 10/10/10. I think he will like what we picked, but I do expect some questions from him when he realizes what happened… like the day that his “twin sister” gets her driver’s license, and Sam realizes that he won’t be behind the wheel for another year and a half. I also can picture him at a Club on his sister’s 21st birthday with a 17 year old Chinese passport trying to convince the bouncer that he is the toddler in the picture and that the Chinese characters are evidence that he should be welcome at the bar.
  • Court Filings – With a letter from the International Adoption Clinic (but other medical recommendations would likely work), we worked with an attorney to file a petition with the State for a new birth date. Our file is currently being reviewed, and we expect to have confirmation and a new birth certificate in the next few months.

All of this has taken time, and in the interim… Sam has not aged and has not had a birthday for 18 months. I recall when my kids started asking about their next birthday within weeks after their previous one, so you can only imagine the anguish as Sam watched some of his siblings have TWO birthdays since his last one.

He always had a good attitude, but you could tell that he was getting anxious about when there would finally be a cake with his name on it. He might have started to think I was punishing him or didn’t like him as much as his siblings… rather than the truth that I love him more than my own life. Sam-and-Ellie

To whoever listened to God’s prompting and made them twins on paper to keep them together, I will always be immeasurably grateful. They may no longer be twins, but I cannot imagine either one without the other.


And so last week, Sam finally got his wish… and a few bonus presents for the extra months of waiting (and the aforementioned love.) And he is now on the same 12 month cycle as every other human on the planet.

And in case you are wondering, he does already think he is 4 ½. 



waiting child highlight: boys with hemophilia

October 18, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

If you know someone considering a boy, share with them these precious faces. Each of these boys has hemophilia, which is so manageable in the United States. Right now, these boys’ access to treatment varies, depending on their location. But, once they age out, they will have little to no access to treatment at all. And, without treatment, they are looking at serious joint damage, pain, immobility, and much shorter lives. The average lifespan for someone with severe hemophilia without treatment is only 24 years. But, with the care these boys would receive in the US, they would live long, full, happy, active lives. Please consider adding one of these precious faces to your family. If you have questions about parenting a child with hemophilia, I would be happy to talk with you and connect you with other moms of boys with hemophilia.

Visit this page for more information on hemophilia, and adopting children with hemophilia.

URGENT: Kendall is on the Shared List. He will age out in January 2015 and desperately needs a family soon! His name means bright, and he is, indeed, a bright student. He is described as clever, with bright eyes. Kendall is also helpful with younger children, musically talented, and is learning some English. Please consider making Kendall part of your family.

Photo 3 - Kendall

URGENT: Jackson will age out in July 2015. He is listed with Holt and is described as shy and easy going. He is helpful with his foster family, studies diligently in school, and likes to play basketball and soccer. Because he knows he can get hurt easily due to his condition, he also busies himself with chess and reading. Please consider adding sweet Jackson to your family!


Landon is on the Shared List and is 12 years old, so he doesn’t have much time left to find a family. Landon has been with a foster family. He is helpful at home with household chores, makes his bed, and helps with younger siblings. He is polite, is bright in school, respects his teachers, and enjoys playing games with other children, singing, and playing ball. He cannot engage in rough activities or sports because of his condition.

Updated Photo Landon

Will is on the Shared List and is 9 years old. He was with a foster family but returned to the SWI in 2010 so that he could attend school, where he excels. Will receives infusions of clotting factor twice per week, and he is doing well. He also has a grant on Reece’s Rainbow.


Zack is on the Shared List and is 9 years old. He has been with a foster family and is described as shy with strangers, but he will warm up to you if teased. He loves to listen to music and read books; he is energetic, and clever.

Updated Photos - Zack

Ryan is on the Shared List and is 9 years old. He is active and open, fond of playing interactive games with other kids. He is very clever, can respond quickly to teachers’ questions and is obedient in class. He likes doing some handcrafts, and teachers all like him. In his foster family Ryan looks after 2 sisters and helps his foster granny. He has good self care abilities and would be a wonderful son.


Quincy is 7 years old and is listed with Great Wall. He is a happy boy, talkative and social, who likes to play with his friends. Quincy enjoys music, singing, and playing outside.

For more information on any of these boys or about adopting a child with hemophilia, contact Kelly, a hemophilia mentor mom.

what we’re reading links : 10.17.2014

October 17, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks (okay, it might be more like months… but it was summer, y’all), some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it:

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling family, go here.


Dr. Stephanie Galanis explains what the w-sit is, and why it should be corrected immediately, in The Dreaded W-Sit in Toddlers at Yummy Mummy Club.

China-adoptive mom and blogger Leah shares a hard post to write to the adoption community, and to waiting children. In it, she shares her take on a conversation about the future of the program with officials of the CCCWA.

Gillian Marchenko, a mom of four girls – one of whom lives with Down syndrome – shares a heart-felt letter to Special Needs Parents: I Give You Permission at Not Alone.

Pastor Jeremy Dowsett, of A Little More Sauce, tackles the concept of white privilege in a well-written post entitled What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Priviledge. Go read it if you haven’t already done so!

Guest poster Donna Thomson, author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Life of Caregiving, shares 5 secret of special needs parent happiness at the blog Love That Max.

Mary Evelyn of What Do You Do, Dear? describes what spina bifida looks like during its October awareness month.

Just over a month after her son Tommy passed away, blogger Susanna of The Blessings of Verity shares her thoughts and bits of her life in a furnace for gold.

Lisa Qualls of One Thankful Mom ponders the question Have We Made Attachment an Idol?



Carla Meyer at the Sacramento Bee reports on twin sisters, adopted from China into two different families, who will be featured on an upcoming PBS documentary: Twin Sisters | Separated at Birth.

Chris Fuchs of NBC News explores an adoptee’s perspective of international adoption in In Search of Self: Chinese Adoptees Find Shifting Identities.

If you have yet to see Videographer Trey Ratcliff’s video “Beijing from Above,” check it out on Rare in A man took an illegal video of Beijing using a drone and the result is positively stunning.

Nancy L. Wolf shares an op-ed parenting piece in The Washington Post, getting others thinking about that mom who’s not bragging about her kid.

Over at Disability Scoop, Shaun Heasley shares some of the top special needs friendly cities in Ranking Names Best Cities For People With Disabilities – Disability Scoop.

And on CNN Health, mom Allison Gracey recounts the birth of her son, Colson, with Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS) – from her initial devastation to her newfound joy in her beloved son.



In China now…

My China Blessings
Bringing Home Family
Made to Love

wwrJeremiah, just home from China – more on his mom’s blog, Cherishing Memories 

And just home from China…

Full Plate Mom
Crazy Life of the Wilks
The Road Less Travelled
A Beautiful Mess
Cherishing Memories
I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go
Everything Murphy
Sing a Song of Six Kids
Casa De Alegria
Crafty Nester

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

A big thank you to those who help compile these posts. I know you wish to remain anonymous, but I want to thank you anyway.


Taking Care of Business – part 2

October 17, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

In my previous poop and potty post I shared with you about our son who was born with spina bifida and as a result he is incontinent. After watching him sit on the waiting child list the Lord made it clear that he was our son and that we could do this special need. And …Read More

find my family: Channing

October 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Channing is now over 5 years old. He is extremely cute, and his big eyes are bright and sparkling, as if they could speak. Under his delicate nose, his sweet mouth has grown into quite the talker. Everyone really likes him. However, Channing tends to speak a little childishly when he talks. All of his …Read More

When Labels Don’t Stick

October 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


It’s been a year since I paused while writing a post for this very site and glanced at the photo-listings for children on our agency’s website. And I saw her. It was a morning exactly like this one. I was up early, before the sun came up. The cup of coffee growing cold beside the …Read More

Find My Family: Jack

October 14, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet Jack! This handsome little guy will turn 2 in October. He is described as outgoing and active. He loves snuggling and attention, both of which he welcomes with a smile. According to his caregivers, because he is often smiling, he is lovely and adored. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that! His video can …Read More

Find my Family: Yan Bo

October 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Goodness, have we got a special little boy for you to meet today! This is Yan Bo, affectionately called “Bobo” who is listed has having a repaired cleft lip and palate and drooping eyelids by his orphanage. Isn’t he adorable? He is listed with ATWA and all his agency fees are waived. If a family adopts …Read More

Spicing it up

October 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Remember that time you gathered your things and tiptoed out of the back of a classroom hoping no one would notice because you discovered you were in the wrong class? Sit back down. You aren’t in the wrong place. This is not the typical post you find here, but it’s written for you. It was …Read More

find my family: kylee

October 12, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet beautiful Kylee! Born in October 2011, her caregivers describe her as optimistic and smiley. She loves to be around others and is energetic. She enjoys being outdoors and loves toys with sound. It is believed that Kylee was born prematurely and has experienced hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), although a CT scan shows no abnormalities. …Read More