Embracing Their Story: Going Back

November 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Their story with us didn’t start at the beginning. I think we jumped in around chapter 3 or 4. Much like opening a book midstream and trying to piece together a plot, our adoptions began with many unanswered questions and many holes that I knew we could never fill.

Yet at some point, I knew my girls would yearn for more. Questions like “Where did I live?”, “Who cared for me?”, “Where was I abandoned?”, were all things they wondered about. Even if they couldn’t share a lot of the details about their earlier life, I knew those memories were imprinted on their hearts. So my goal in taking them back to China was to help fill in pieces of those missing chapters.

A few years ago, I was able to make that trip with my 3 biological kids, our 4 adopted girls and a couple of extra friends.

We had three weeks.


We began in Beijing with a few days of adjusting our time clocks and just being tourists. We walked through The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, rickshawed our way through the historic HuTong and stood on the Great Wall soaking up the vastness of beautiful China. What a fabulous way to begin our journey.

Within a few days though, we were headed off to Hefei, where my daughter Jadyn was born. She was nine on our trip and wanted to see her orphanage, where she spent the first two years of her life, find her place of abandonment, and walk through the city. So we did.


She was stoic. There was no emotion that day, absolutely none. No tears and no smiles, just a quiet little girl taking it all in and asking lots of questions. She’s my cerebral one, processing life internally all the time, and holding her emotions close. We never met her nanny who cared for her, and no one seemed to really remember her. It was a stark reminder how difficult it is to stand out among the vast number of kids who have traveled this same journey. But by the end of the day, she was back to smiling again and said, “I’m glad I saw it all but I’m happy I live in the US”. And that was it. She had seen enough and was happily ready to move on.

Our next hometown stop was to Changshu, my daughter Malea’s hometown. A very excited director, met us at the gates and proceeded to shower us with gifts and then more gifts. Malea was thrilled with all the attention, and I wondered how much she remembered of her. The director shared stories of our little girl with clubfeet, about her failed foot surgery and 3 month hospital stay, showed us her crib and told us how much she had loved her. As the day progressed, the bond these two had shared became apparent.

But, when it came time to say goodbye the floodgates opened and out came the tears. We watched the director and Malea struggle to say goodbye to each other yet once again. It was hard to watch her grieve so deeply and try to process what she had heard and what she was feeling. So, for the next 6 hours, as we made our way to Shanghai, all I could do was hold her, allow her to feel it all and wipe her tears.


After a very long emotional day, and a longer travel day we landed in Guilin, where my oldest daughter Allie was from. Allie had met her foster family and visited her orphanage on a prior trip to China, so for our time in her hometown we planned it to be a bit different. We wanted to spend one full day at my non-profit An Orphan’s Wish “giving back”.

In the extreme heat and humidity, that southern China is known for, we spent that day cleaning, unpacking, assembling, rearranging, and organizing. And then we got to play with some very special kids. Seeing them smile and hearing their laughter was music to our ears. We gave what we had that day, in hopes of making things just a little brighter for the kids still waiting for families.


Guilin is one of the most picturesque places in the world, so we decided to spend a few days sightseeing. It was spectacular! One day, in a very spontaneous moment, we changed our plans, jumped on scooters and toured the Chinese countryside. What a blast! Eight hours later, we’d shared one of the best days as a family, which we all still talk about today.


With only a week left, we still had one more orphanage to visit. Wanting to travel like the locals do, we booked ourselves on the 15-hour overnight train to Jiangxi, where my youngest daughter was born. Averi‘s biggest wish was to see her foster grandma again. And to our surprise when we walked into her orphanage there she was… waiting for us.

What a priceless moment! There were tears from a foster mama who thought she would never see this child again, laughter and joy at how much Averi had grown and just quiet moments where the only thing they could do was hold each other. “I told you she was old,” Averi beamed, “I’m so glad I got to see her again.” When it was time to say goodbye her foster grandma pressed a tiny note with her address into my hand with a plea in her eyes to keep in touch.


We left through the cold metal gates of the orphanage and came across one of the caretakers. After a brief exchange, we realized on a cold February morning three years earlier, she was the one who had found Averi. Wrapped in layers, nestled in a cardboard box, left with a tiny, penciled note, she was that same little dark-haired girl with only one eye. Only God could have arranged that meeting.

Our trip was coming to a close, and like all our adoption trips, we ended it with a few days in Guangzhou and a stay at the White Swan.


We shared so many incredible experiences in those three weeks and saw so much of China. To say it was spectacular, is an understatement. As a family, we laughed together and we cried together. Visiting their abandonment places, meeting the people who cared for them, and seeing the reality of orphanage life, my girls came face to face with the harsh reality of their first few years of life.

But through it all, there is now a new sense of peace and lightness for them. They have a deeper understanding of how their story began and a renewed love for the country they first called home.

– guest post by LeeAnn

Embracing Her Story: Gracie

November 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We know that God is the only one who can heal hearts and redeem stories. But what of our role as shepherds of their hearts? One powerful, guiding gift we can dig into is the experience of others, young and old, who are willing to share their stories.

As part of our Embracing Their Story theme for November, we offer you some insightful, funny, sweet and vulnerable interviews with children and teens that joined their families through adoption. We hope you’ll find hope from their words and insight from the glimpses into their stories.


.An interview with Gracie Kelley, age 18 and adopted from China at 11 months.

Q: Where were you born?

A: Wuhan, China

Q: How old were you when you were adopted?

A: I was only eleven months when I was adopted. I was supposed to get adopted when I was ten months old. However, a flood hit Wuhan badly and my parents were postponed a month. One day, I hope to go back because I do not remember anything about China.


Q: Where did you live before your parents came to adopt you?

A: Before my parents adopted me, I lived in an orphanage.<

Q: What is adoption?

A: Adoption is an act of grace. It is taking a child into your home and caring for him/her.

Q: How did your parents find you?

A: My parents found me through an adoption agency in Georgia.

Q: Why do you think your parents adopted you?

A: I think my parents adopted me because God was calling them to adopt. My mom and dad have always told me there was a piece missing to our family and that piece was me.


Q: How do you feel about being adopted? Why?

A: I feel very blessed and special to be adopted. Every day I am amazed that I have such an amazing family. Little did I know that God had a plan for me as a baby. For my parents to travel 10,000 miles across the globe is incredible!

Q: Do you friends ask you about being adopted?

A: Occasionally, I sometimes get asked about being adopted. It does not bother me at all.

Q: Do you like to talk about your adoption? Why or why not?

A: Yes, I do like to talk about my adoption. It is a part of my testimony, I love to share that I am adopted.

Q: How do you feel when you see little kids being adopted? Why?

A: When I see little kids getting adopted it brings so much joy to my heart. I hope to be a light to them when they grow up. When I am older, I would love to adopt from China.

It is so encouraging to see families adopt. When families adopt, it is one less child in an orphanage or even on the streets.


Q: Do you have questions about your adoption?

A: I love asking my parents what it was like for them emotionally when they adopted me. They are always able to give me details and memories of what my adoption was like.

Appointed One

November 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
Isaiah 45:3

In a crib, in an orphanage, halfway around the world, sits a boy. He’s easy to miss, as he sits there quietly with his head bowed. You might even pass him by, unless you took the time to look into his face, pick him up, hold him in your arms.
At that moment, he becomes unforgettable.


This is what happened to me on Monday, October 19, 2015. I walked into his room, going from crib to crib to speak to each child, to touch each child, to tell them that I saw them, that they mattered. His was the last crib on the back row. He sat so still, not making a sound. All I could see was the back of his head, as he had it bowed down. I reached out to stoke his head, never dreaming that I was about to lose my heart. When I touched him, he raised his head up, and I saw his face for the first time, a face that radiated with joy and light. I felt the presence of the Lord.

I was the only one on our team in this room. The nannies spoke no English. I spoke no Chinese. There was no way for me to find out anything about him, not even whether he was a boy or a girl. All I knew was that I had never been affected by anyone like I was at that moment by him.


As the week went on, I spent every second I could with him. He could not walk or talk or see, but to be with him was enough. To hear the precious laughter flow from his beautiful lips when I tickled him. To see his pure joy the first time I put his hand to my face, his delicately little fingers gently touching my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my hair, the fuzzy softness of my shirt. It was like I was watching him “see” for the first time. To let him run his hand down the wall as I carried him around the orphanage with me. To experience his wonder as I carried him outside and he felt the crisp air on his cheeks.

These were holy moments.


I was continually crying out to the Lord for this precious baby boy. My heart was torn to shreds, knowing that I would leave in a few short days.

“Lord, who will touch him? Who will hold him? Who will sing to him and tell him that he is loved?”

“God, You have to give me some hope. Show me, Lord, that You have a plan for him beyond his life in that small, dark crib.”

And He did.

Up to this point, I had held little hope that the orphanage would allow him to be registered for adoption, because of his age and special needs. But God had a plan for this precious one long before I arrived. Through a set of circumstances, I discovered, much to my surprise, that he was actually already registered and available for adoption and had been for some time. The orphanage told me that they were going to pull his adoption paperwork because he had been available for so long and no one had chosen him.

Qing Bai Ping Photo 2

As I held him on my lap one morning, I prayed that that the Lord would give me an English name for him to use when I shared his story. In that very moment, the Lord whisper, “Seth.” but I wasn’t sure it was from Him. Not until I looked up the meaning of this name. Seth means “appointed one.”

This whole time I had been asking God, “Why him? Why this little boy out of so many beautiful precious children in this place?”

Now I knew. He was the appointed one for me.
I was supposed to tell Seth’s story.

So, I am telling it.

This video of Seth on one of our last days together is such a treasure for me. Words cannot adequately describe this amazing boy, but this video catches a glimpse of what I experienced with him.

This beautiful six-year-old boy needs a family. This boy who has waited 5 years for someone to chose him needs to be chosen. Seth, so full of life and light, whose laugh lights up the room, is the “treasure hidden in the darkness,” and he is waiting to be a son.

Seth is currently on the shared list, however, the staff at AWAA is familiar with him and his file. Please contact them for more information.

“O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted;
You will strengthen their heart;
You will incline Your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

Psalm 10:17-18

~Guest Post by Ashley

Tears In Your Bottle

November 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


I caught myself staring at my little Chinese boy tonight as he fell asleep in my arms. So much has changed in our three plus years together. He is a whopping five years old now, has gained 15 pounds and grown 10 inches among other things. Our life together is so normal now, it’s almost …Read More

Embracing Her Story: Sarah

November 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We know that God is the only one who can heal hearts and redeem stories. But what of our role as shepherds of their hearts? One powerful, guiding gift we can dig into is the experience of others, young and old, who are willing to share their stories. As part of our Embracing Their Story …Read More

She is our JOY: Adopting a Child with CAH

November 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

When we began our adoption journey we had no idea where it would eventually lead. We were entirely new to the international adoption process yet seasoned parents of four children. Our placing agency encouraged us to begin our home study and fill out some essential paperwork. One form had us place a checkmark beside the …Read More

When Tragic Pasts Meet Hopeful Futures

November 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Our children have stories that are a paradox of tragedy and beauty, of despair and hope. There is no easy answer to their stories. It’s complicated and so the way we handle it is complicated, and ever evolving. Children are beautiful. They are full of hope and they believe in miracles. They believe in unicorns, …Read More

It Is What It Is, Not What it Should Be

November 18, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 That’s been my view on most things in life: it is what it is, not what it should be. Our daughter came to us on September 1, 2013, at 8.5 years old. She’d been adopted from China at age 4.5 by another family, …Read More

find my family: Evan

November 18, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Evan will be 4 years old in December. He was found abandoned when he was just 3 days old. Evan was born with a meningocele (a form of spina bifida) which was surgically corrected when he was one month old. He also had a hernia which was repaired at the same time. Evan’s left foot …Read More

Just One Thing

November 17, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


It was a rainy Sunday. A day of rest. I told the children to go grab books and have “reading and rest time” after church. All was quiet — and then our littlest who is now four and a half came quietly in my room. He came home when he was just over 2 years …Read More

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