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Finding Me

January 19, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I started out this new year of 2017 by sitting down with my kids and filling out a form for goals and ideas for goals. A small part was, “What Makes You Happy.” I watched my kids fly through and write down at least twenty things. I struggled to write down more than five. Like really struggled. I used their examples to get that far.

And I realized a lot about me in that time frame. It has been years since I did anything just because it made me feel alive or happy. Happiness was not even on the radar.

It’s not that I have been sitting here hating on life or in deep depression. I just was surviving each and every day, putting one foot in front of the other, heading to doctor’s appointments and IEPs. I was holding screaming, traumatized children and in the process enduring my own new trauma. I didn’t think of happiness. I just wanted to control the situations and keep on keeping on.

I had doctors watch me holding writhing children and ask if I was okay and the question always stopped me. Of course I’m okay. This is normal. At least, this is my normal. One doctor even patted my arm and told me I needed to invest in earplugs to protect my hearing. He was dead serious. I showed him my stash in my purse. See? So normal to me.

This may or may not resonate with a lot of you. I’m really not sure. But as I evaluated whether or not to keep blogging I had to consider what I could even write about now. I’m not adopting. We’ve been home long enough for this to become our normal. It’s still hard but it’s normal to us. No new revelations to share.

But then I thought, just maybe a few readers are in my position. Done but trying to figure this out now.

Normalized life but trying to find me again.

I knew I would lose myself in this journey. But I don’t think I foresaw the day when I couldn’t even tell you what I enjoy doing. But when you pour yourself out day in and day out and your entire focus is on another human being for years and years you find yourself different than before and unsure of yourself. And I felt selfish for stopping to consider myself. Right? Doesn’t that sound selfish?

But I stopped and prayed and you know what realization I came to? God sees me. I am one of those children that He desperately cares for and He has been carrying me for years. He wants me to be okay too. He wants me to move beyond the trauma and remember who I am.



He is proud of the creation that I am, the quirks He gave me, the passions He breathed into my soul. And He isn’t done with me yet. He still has plans for me. He needs me to exit survival mode right now.

Who knows what tomorrow is going to bring? Trials don’t give us warnings. In the back of my mind I wonder if this is the calm before the next storm. I’m so used to storms that I think I am just waiting for the next one to begin but I have decided to stop waiting. I’m going to rest, really, truly and deeply rest my soul. I’m going to let my soul be happy and find joy.



So, I’m not adopting. I’ve spent my entire life waiting to adopt and at 35 I have accomplished my life goal. Now what? I don’t know. But I’m going to have fun figuring it out.

This year I have a goal of finding me. Find out who I am after the fire, after the trauma has become normal.

Who am I? I love:
Sparkles
Laughter
Running
People’s stories
Flowers
Colorful hair
Warm but not hot days and being outside to soak it in
Worms (truly!)
Dirt in my fingernails
Traveling
Asia, Asia, Asia – my heart still beats for Asia

What do you love? Who are you when you aren’t head down in survival mode? Can you list five things?

Waiting to be Chosen: Robert

January 18, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

In September of 2015, I met the most special baby boy in an orphanage in China. He was to be advocated for as ‘Robert.’ Robert was 14 months old at the time and he didn’t have a file even started.

This precious baby boy was found abandoned in a toilet. Unfathomable to me, but I knew God had a very important reason for keeping this baby alive. He is special – beyond special really. Back on that September day in 2015, I walked into a room full of kids of all ages. Most lay still in their cribs, not very interactive. They had grown accustomed to their solitary life.

Not Robert. Robert was moving around, made awesome eye contact, and had the best smile. His eyes were piercing. As he looked into my eyes, I knew he was special and that I had to find this boy a family.

Later on, I went into a room to meet all of the children with Down syndrome who didn’t have files yet. In came this boy with a nanny who clearly adored him. I could tell he was her favorite by the way she cared for him, how well he appeared, and because I saw he was wearing these beautiful little bracelets, one on each hand. I knew it was that boy… the same one I had saw hours earlier in his crib. Then I saw him interact with his nanny. His smile and his laugh… it stole my heart. I found myself wishing I could somehow sneak him out and take him home because he was adorable!



The sad reality was that it would be at least six months before his file was even available. And, unfortunately for Robert, it took much longer than that. It took over a year for his file to be made ready and to arrive to the agency… 15 months from the first time I met him to be exact. But it’s here and it’s time to find this precious little boy a forever family.

He’s going to be such a blessing to his forever family!

New videos of Robert from November 2016 (note that he had just woken up from a nap) can be found here, here, here and here. Password for all is Adoptmaa.

Older videos from September 2015 can be found here and here. Password for all is Adoptmaa.

Robert is two years old and has Down syndrome. He is listed with Madison Adoption Associates via an orphanage partnership. Robert has been met by multiple MAA staff members on multiple occasions.



There is a $5,000 agency grant with Madison Adoption Associates for Robert’s adoption. 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 (January and July) and to families that are matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Robert’s file or in adopting Robert, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

– guest advocacy post by Brooke

No Hands But Ours: Looking Back at 2016…

January 17, 2017 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

2016 was an amazing year for No Hands But Ours. Hundreds of posts shared. Twelve special topics featured. Guest series. Family stories. Book reviews. Recipes. And advocacy posts written that turned faces across the sea into treasured sons and daughters.

Here is just a glimpse of all we shared…


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A Look Back by the Numbers

No Hands But Ours on Instagram

We finally got on Instagram and now have over 1500 followers.


No Hands But Ours on Facebook

Our likes grew from 4980 to 8758. Yay! Thank you to everyone in our NHBO FB community! (If you haven’t liked us yet, please do. It’s an incredibly easy way to keep up with the NHBO content as well as help get the word out about orphan care, adoption, special needs and children who wait.)

Our 2016 post with the largest Facebook reach (at 88,715) was Urgent Aging Out Child: Lily. Lily found her family! If you are Lily’s family please contact us, we’d love to celebrate with you!


No Hands But Ours Blog

466 total posts were published in 2016.

No Hands But Ours was viewed 998,387 times and had 398,948 visitors.

The top three posts of 2016 were:

1. Urgent Aging Out Child: Lily

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

3. Not the Same

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A Look Back at a Few of Our Favorite Guest Posts

January: Worth It

February: On Siblings and Adoption: From the Oldest of 14

March: The Beginning of Surrender

April: I Never Felt Called to Adopt

May: The Blessing of an Unknown Road

June: Different Than What We Asked for, Better Than We Imagined

July: Her First Smile

August: When God Honors Our Yes: Our Sign Language Journey

September: Journey to Gabriel: Adopting a Child with Ichthyosis

October: Every Life Has Value: Adopting a Child with Lifelong Needs

November: Saying Yes to a Child with a Terminal Diagnosis

December: It’s a boy! And yes, he’s from China.

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A Look Back at Our Favorite Contributor Posts

Amy A. – This is Real Life

Amy S. – Knit Together

Andrea O. – Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart be Broken

Andrea Y. – China Trip: When Brother and Sister Travel, Too

Bryson – I am Not a Babysitter, I am a Dad

Carrie – Dear Younger Me, You’re Braver Than You Know

Chris – When {Older} Siblings Aren’t Supportive

Courtney – Weaving

Faith – Learning Curve: Adopting a Child with Hemophilia

Jean – The Best Decision We’ve Ever Made

Jennifer – Hope for Connection

Jennifer – International Adoption Clinics: Services and Locations

Katie – Beauty from Ashes

Kelley – We Could Have Missed This

Kelly – Dear Driver…

Mandy – Tackling Food Issues: My Family’s Experience with “Love Me, Feed Me”

Nicole – 15 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Randall – What Will This Do To Your Kids

Rebecca – Adopted

Stefanie – RainbowKids, Martha Osborne and the Shared List

Whitney – Not the Same

……..

A Look Back to our Special Features

In 2016 we’ve had shared multi-post series spanning several months and written by one author:

A Beginner’s Guide to Special Needs Adoption

My 2¢ on Adoption Fundraising

We’ve also had monthly special features.

Each month focusing on a specific topic and containing numerous guest and contributor posts – full of insight and information.

January: Celebrating China

February: Siblings

March: Special Circumstances

April: Sensory Processing

May: Large Families

June: Books

July: Dear Younger Me

August: Sign Language and Adoption

September: Back to School

October: When Mom Works

November: Then and Now

December: Adopting Boys

……..

A Look Back to Advocacy

105 of our 466 posts were advocacy posts. In those 105 posts our advocacy team, headed by Liberty Joy, highlighted over 200 children.

Many of those children are now forever treasured sons and daughters. Here are some of their stories…

Aspen.


Then and Now

The adoption of our son was a whirlwind. We had just switched countries and were trying to catch up on what special needs were typical for China, so we started reading NHBO’s blog every day. Opened up their blog on a Friday night and there staring back at me was this tiny, 2×2, blurry photo of the sweetest little boy. I clicked on his post and just knew… this was our son!

We switched agencies and never looked back! We brought our son home months later and he has been one of the biggest blessing to our family. Our best Yes!

By Stephanie

……..

Lulu.


Then and Now

After completing four adoptions over an eight year span, I continued to hear whispers from the Holy Spirit that we’d go back to China. In fact, I thought we’d probably reuse our dossier, and felt like the time was ticking away. During that season of my life, I felt completely drawn to Facebook advocacy sites, and then one day I saw her — the beautiful face that stopped me in my tracks. Lulu. My heart was pounding, and I quickly sent a message to the advocate who was working with her file.

I begged my husband to open his heart and promised I’d fundraise to get her home. Together we prayed for discernment, and God made a great, big way. Lulu marched onto U.S. soil last Mother’s Day, and the rest is history.

Leaping in faith for Lulu introduced us to a new and unfamiliar special need. As the result of a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered as a baby, Lulu has hemiplegia on her left side, but her special need in no way defines her. What does define her is that she is a confident and spunky little girl who sees zero limitations within herself. She is joyfully determined, and we are convinced she will do whatever she sets her mind to in life.

Lulu is a true champion, and we are incredibly blessed to call her our daughter. Thank you, NHBO, for your tireless advocacy efforts!

By Lisa, founder of Open Hearts for Orphans and author of With an Open Heart

……..

Renae.


Then and Now

I was reading NHBO, as I often do, without any real intentions in January, 2016. We already had seven preteen to teen children in our home, five who were adopted from China; we were done. Then I saw her description: 13 year old girl, aging out, shy, quiet, loves to read – and I instantly felt a connection. I called the agency; her paperwork wasn’t ready as her orphanage was new to international adoption. No background was available other than a verbal report of repaired CL/CP.

After my husband got over the incredulity of my request, he too agreed she would fit into our family. We were unconcerned about the lack of paperwork; we would deal with whatever needed dealing with when she got here.

We sent in our matching request to the agency on February 2 and got very busy on the paper chase. On Sept 12, three days before her 14th birthday, we adopted Serena in Fujian. She joined the eight other children in our home – because God worked another miracle (besides a start to finish adoption of 7.5 months) and opened our hearts to another 13 year – a boy in a wheelchair who joined our family two days after Serena, and who we would have never seen except for our pursuit of our daughter.

By Valetta

……..

Neil.


Then and Now

We weren’t looking to begin the adoption process for many more months, but one late night in February, I logged into Facebook and saw “Neil’s” sweet face staring back at me from the top of my newsfeed (via his advocacy post), and I knew immediately he was our son.

We started the process to bring him home but were met with a few challenges due to the fact that I wouldn’t turn thirty years old for five and half more months. We were finally able to lock his file a few days later and went on to complete our dossier in record time; we actually had our dossier to China and our log in date before I even turned thirty! We finalized his adoption on Halloween, less than nine months after seeing his picture for the first time.

We are so blessed to call this precious boy our son; we could not possibly love him more!

By Ashley

……..

Oscar.


Then and Now

Though we had been a foster and adoptive family for years, we weren’t looking to adopt again at this time… that is, until we saw his face and heard his story. A NHBO post had been shared by a friend on FB and we were captured – for this 10 year old boy in China, adoption was his chance at life. He had waited for years for a family to come to him, all the while receiving nominal medical care for his thalassemia.

The conviction was clear in both my husband’s and my heart – this child needed a family, we needed to go to him and bring him home as our son. He deserved a long and fulfilling life… snd that was it. We started the process right then and there, and were able to travel to China 7 1/2 months later to adopt our beloved little boy on November 1, 2016 – his 11th birthday.

By Terra

*watch Oscar’s story here.

……..

Gemma.


Then and Now

As the beginning of 2016 rolled around, my husband and I were discussing adoption once again. We thought we’d take it slowly – sign on with our agency, begin our home study, and wait to be matched – but God had other plans! Since we were taking it slowly, we weren’t looking at advocacy sites, but I was of course subscribed to the NHBO blog, and one day a little face popped up on my screen. Something about her made me pause.

In our marriage, I’m the one whose heart falls for a hundred kiddos and wants to bring them all home, and my husband is the brakes, making sure we think through our family dynamic and ability to parent any given child… but in this case, he felt drawn to her, too. We requested her file and sent it off to doctors, and I began making connections with mamas who had adopted children with her special need, osteogenesis imperfecta.

We prayed that God would bring her a family and prayed for wisdom about whether that was us and prayed that He would provide the best care possible for her in China in the meantime. He was literally, at that very same time, putting the wheels in motion answering that last prayer, and as we gathered information and continued to pray, we believe he was leading us to adopt her, thereby answering our first two prayers for her. We received PA on February 16, and just under 10 months later, on December 12, I met her in an office building in Nanning, China!

As I write these sentences, she is sleeping peacefully in a pack ‘n’ play a few feet away from me in our Nanning hotel room, and while she has been grieving heavily the wonderful nannies at the foster home that has cared for her for the past 9 months, she is also beginning to trust me, and her true personality is emerging. She is beautiful and funny and expressive and delightful, and we are so thankful to have her as part of our family!

By Alison

……..

Katelyn.


Coming Home Soon

I just think of the verse about how God cares for all the wildflowers… there is a sea of orphans, but he took the time to pick just one fragile flower and one unlikely family to show His might works through. Poppy, our precious flower​.

Our family is adopting this precious little one from China! Poppy Mae has been diagnosed with MPS VII, or Sly Syndrome, and has had a rough three year start. Since one of our sons has MPS II, we believe God has uniquely qualified us to be her family. And now we are on this beautiful, crazy adventure!

By Becky

……..

So much to celebrate as we look back at all the ways God used No Hands But Ours made an impact in 2016.

Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, liked, commented and tweeted, we are so grateful for you as we joyfully continue on this mission – His mission – of loving and advocating for the most vulnerable, and supporting and encouraging those families who have been called to love them forever.

May 2017 be a year filled with good things for those who wait!

Child Who Waits: Whittingham

January 16, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

“Yi, er, san, qiezi!” (One, two, three, eggplant!) I can still hear these words in my head and remember exactly how he says them. Every time I took my camera out, he would yell this phrase loudly and throw his two fingers up in the air in “V” and put them right in front of …Read More

Reluctant Spouses: Of One Mind….

January 15, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Choosing to grow your family is a monumental, life-altering decision. And choosing to grow your family through special-needs adoption? Even more so. Which makes this decision an understandably difficult one to make – one that is typically easier (or harder) for one spouse than the other. This month we’re focusing on Reluctant Spouses. Or, when …Read More

Homemade Jiǎozi: Making Chinese New Year a Family Affair

January 14, 2017 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I learned to make dumplings a few years ago when we hosted an exchange student from China. Everyone in the family enjoys eating them, and the process is so fun! Making dumplings, or jiǎozi, is definitely a social affair – it’s meant to be shared as a group. We enjoy making and eating them to …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Gia and Gage

January 13, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet Gia. Gia is 5 years old. She is a special focus child, on Lifeline’s individual list, and has a left finger deformity, G-6-PD deficiency, and Down syndrome. Gia gets along well with children in her class and uses gestures to express her own needs. It is reported that she is fairly attached to her …Read More

In the Meantime

January 13, 2017 by nohandsbutours 6 Comments

Right now I am in a place I like to call the sweet spot. The paper chase is finished. There are no more adoption documents to sign or forms to fill out or fingerprints appointments to attend. All of our paperwork is submitted and everything on our end is done and out of our hands. …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Danielle

January 12, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Introducing precious Danielle! Danielle was born in November of 2012 was admitted into the CWI in January of 2013. Her special needs are macroglossia, heart disease, and hypertrophy of limbs on the right. Danielle was found abandoned at the park in January of 2013. When she was first admitted to the CWI, her height was …Read More

My Plan vs. His Plan

January 11, 2017 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

You know how you make plans for your life and then God has something completely different in mind (and probably laughs at you for thinking your plan would measure up)? That was me. In fact, I had my whole life figured out. I was going to go to college, fall in love, get married, and …Read More

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