two boys in China

October 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Two boys in China right now. Separated by many miles and many years. Both of their stories are only known to me in pieces, in a few words shared by the oldest’s teacher and in a few smiles with the sweetest little chicklet teeth from the other.

As I lay awake, trying to convince my body that it’s 2am instead of 2pm, I am left to wonder what other pieces of their stories may be.


One blue carry-on bag with wheels was all he brought with him when he left home and boarded a slow train that would take him hours from home to the front door of his university education. He had studied hard, harder than his peers, all through middle school. Play is a distant memory from his youth as if this young adult is already well into adulthood and only able to remember images of yesteryear. It was all for this moment — the head nod of goodbye from his stoic father and the quick glances from his mother as she hid moisture in her eyes and squinted in the brightness of the day. He was a university student now, and one committed to do well, to prove himself, to be successful though he wasn’t sure what that even meant yet. Whatever it was, he was determined to understand it and bring honor to his family.

You may not notice at first that Xiao Cheng is different in any way. He hides it well, holding his hand behind his back while in conversation and never resting it on his desk. With fingers missing above his knuckles on one hand, even if you saw it, you would just think his fingers were folded under in a somewhat odd but acceptable position. While others are not always aware of his shameful disfigurement, Xiao Cheng never forgets it.


“My hand is a scar on my parents’ hearts,” a scar he carries with him like a scarlet letter on his chest that has shaped his quiet spirit over his life. He is overwhelmed by worry, not sadness, just worry. He’s made it this far, but can he do enough to prove to his parents that he was worth the sacrifice they made to keep him, worth the shame he brought on their family. He wants to be a full son and wonders if good test scores will overcome his handicap. The pressure is intense, but he is fully present in it.


Somewhere in central China, there were parents who couldn’t bear the scar on their hearts, parents who desired the child they created together but whose families looked on him in disgust when they unwrapped him and saw his hand. They didn’t have to tell them it was bad luck to have a son with two thumbs; they knew it was.


And, though his sweet smelling skin and tiny-pursed lips spoke otherwise, they knew they would have to try again for a full son. He couldn’t be the one the family needed. The baby’s father knew one of his cousins had had to do something similar; no one had asked her and her husband any questions about it. She had been pregnant one day and empty armed another.

Now, it was his turn to bundle his child in a fuzzy blanket with bears that would have kept him warm between them at night and do the right thing, keep his family from disgrace, and give them another chance.

While her breasts burned with milk filling them that had nowhere to go, he took their child and came home alone with a stoicism she had never seen before. No questions were asked; and life went on.


Two boys in China. One striving to make himself into something, to make his parents proud, and to create a future, and one who doesn’t know a family beyond the coos and cuddles of doting ayis who are preparing him for his future, knowing it will be somewhere faraway from here.

photos by Tish Goff

Unity: Compelled to Orphan Prevention

October 23, 2014 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments

There is unity among adoptive families, a connection of experience, passion and heart. Becoming a card carrying member of this big, powerhouse club takes tears, bravery, faith, paperwork and prayer. We’ve paid our dues and call ourselves blessed to stand shoulder to shoulder, unified in many ways.

Unified in celebrating adoption.

Unified in raising funds to bring babies home.

Unified in advocating for children who wait.

Unified in cheering on travelling families and holding signs at airports.

Unified in praying for newly home little people facing surgery, therapy and emotional challenges.

Unified in our deep appreciation for the Peoples Republic of China.

Unified in our heartbreak for, and desire to serve, the waiting children we left behind.

Together, we’ve shed tears, encouraged, penned blog posts, donated and prayed.

And when our time came to walk into orphanages, we all realized that adoption falls on the redeeming side of loss and trauma. We stood close to the fire, and felt the heat of searing hurt. The sparks lit fires in our hearts, burdening us to consider how we might extinguish some of the flames for the fatherless.

We had to leave China though, and got to start moving toward the happy redemption side of our children’s adoption stories. But, if you are like me, you still feel the heat.

For us, the fiery trauma started with three sets of parents somewhere in China who carried the weight of our children before we did. We try not to conjure romanticized versions of stories that we’ll never know, but we do know that children are abandoned daily due to the cost of medical care. Three of our children have special needs that might have resulted in their abandonment, and this grieves me. Two of them were with their first parents for several months. They were fed, bathed, dressed, held and nursed
by them until they no longer could, until the smoldering fire of loss was lit.

The ugly truth is that we might possibly get to parent these three precious souls because our fallen world is turned upside down, and we’re blessed with really good medical insurance. We are deeply grateful that part of God’s redemption plan included them forever calling us mommy and daddy, but we can’t ignore the story’s beginning.

Though I’d like to, I can’t believe that our adopted children were “meant for us”. God placed our babies in the wombs of other women, and I don’t believe He makes mistakes. I presume that when those families deemed it necessary to abandon their babies, it crushed God’s heart. As those mothers wept, I trust He grieved alongside them.

Parents having to give up a lifetime with their child is unjust. I can no longer walk humbly with my God on the adoption journey, and not be burdened by what He has opened my eyes to. I can’t do orphan care well without pondering why orphans enter orphanages.


He has told you, O man, what is good;

    and what does the LORD require of you

but to do justice, and to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8


It’s evident that God’s heart burns for orphans, but wouldn’t that pain begin at the source?

Several months ago, images of China’s “baby hatches” (locations were parents can legally leave babies), appeared as evidence to one of this world’s harshest truths. Children are abandoned by parents who can’t pay hospital bills.

The pictures we’d conjured in our minds of relinquishment became real images on our computer screens. We as an adoption community were unified in our heartbreak.

Might I suggest that our powerhouse, passionate club act on our heartache?

Can we add orphan prevention to our list of ways we are unified?

Might we consider how God would have us show mercy to parents surrendering their child so they’ll receive medical care?

Let’s “do justice” by supporting organizations working to preserve families. Let’s make some noise for orphan prevention in China. We can raise awareness, pray, and send some donations their way.

Love Without Boundaries is an organization close to our family’s heart. They describe their Unity Initiative as an effort to “provide surgeries and medical care for children from impoverished families who would otherwise face the extremely difficult decision of how to get the medical care needed by their children. It is our goal to help keep families together, and it is our desire to help many more rural families with medical care in the future.”

Tara Peltier, Unity Initiative Director, shared that (in addition to surgeries done through their cleft initiative) so far in 2013-14, they have helped 40 families. 40 families, friends. 40 children spared the title orphan. Imagine how that number would change if our passionate adoption community showed some solidarity for orphan prevention.

The number 40 seems small until you consider a few of the lives impacted and read their stories, written in desperation by their parents.


DaLang LWB


angie LWB


Yuqing LWB letter


Thanks to donations, DaLang, Angie, and Yuqing received their surgeries, and families were preserved.

Love Without Boundaries is not alone in orphan prevention efforts. Find one that fits your family, and consider how you might “show mercy” through them.

Evergreen China: Serves the people of Shanxi through education, medicine and community centers.

ELIM Kids: Helps families affected by HIV stay together.

Chinese Orphans Assistance Team: Offers education for local children in Jiaozuo.

Bethel China: Provides educational materials and schooling for families with blind children.

Holt International Family Preservation Program: Provides funds for vulnerable families for basic living expenses, school fees and supplies, as well as nutritional supplements for HIV-positive children.

China Heart: Serves families in Shanxi province through special needs schools, school scholarships and teen camps.

International China Concern: Serves in Changsha through their Community Outreach Project, which provides resources for special needs families.

Morning Star Foundation: Supports families with children with congenital heart disease.

Our family faces all the surgeries, infections, therapies, prescriptions, medical supplies, fears and emotions that come with special needs children. Fat medical invoices arrive in our mailbox weekly, but our location and insurance provide a giant safety net. We make financial sacrifices, but never have to consider walking away so that our children might live. To realize that your child faces medical challenges, to intentionally release them for their sake, and then never know how and where they are, is a pain greater than I’ll ever know.

It would be much easier on my heart to not think about how the orphans of China ended up in orphanages. My comfort zone loving self would prefer it all be anonymous and tidied up at adoption.

Sticking to orphan care and adoption advocacy is my preference. But, I can’t. God calls me to do justice and love mercy. He compels me to look deeper. Join me?

Southern Hospitality 2014 is underway

October 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


From Lifeline’s website:

Our goal in this endeavor is to shower these children with love, introduce them to the culture of the southern United States, and provide them with some unique experiences. This event is also an important element in our on-going development of our orphanage partnerships in China.


Through our partnership orphanages we are able to serve the children of China, both adoptable and unadoptable, orphanage staff, directors, and government officials. We are grateful to be able to participate in an opportunity such as this one. Check in on this unforgettable and life-changing experience for these precious children! Get to know the children of Kunming City!

For more information, visit Lifeline’s blog here.

a family for Jude

October 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


A while back we shared about a little girl named Lee Lee who needed a forever family. And today we have another little one who needs a forever family of his own. This is Jude. We met him this summer when we visited the orphanage where he lives. He is almost 8 years old. It …Read More

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October 21, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


October is Down syndrome Awareness Month. An entire month to celebrate those who were gifted with an extra gene. Which is kinda cool, if you think about it…like a national birthday party for your DNA. It’s hard to get better than that! I frequently describe Down syndrome as an ‘extra chromosome of love’. It is …Read More

The Ayers Family Writes Their Own Story

October 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


As people grow up, get married, and launch into a life together, there’s a funny series of conversations that often encircles these rights of passage. Even as a teenager, I remember the chatter. “How many kids do you think you’ll have?” And after weddings, I’ve heard, “When do you think you’ll starting trying?” Right after …Read More

Find my Family: Sam

October 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Sam is fun, engaging, and is now eleven years old. His age and the fact that he is a boy are likely his biggest special needs. He has seen many friends be adopted, yet he still waits. How hard that must be for this sweet eleven year old, to dream of a family yet never …Read More

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

October 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 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, …Read More

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. …Read More

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 …Read More