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it’s my birthday and I want to do something wonderful. join me.

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

This is a post from my personal blog. But I’m sharing here because it’s my birthday, and you’re my friends, too. And I think you have as much of a heart for the fatherless as I do. So welcome to a little birthday party, friend.


I love it when it’s my birthday, because I get to do special stuff. Ask for special stuff. And usually, because I’m the birthday girl, I get what I ask for.

Last year I asked y’all to join us in celebrating a new little one who would be joining our family. (Can you believe it’s just been a year?) And before that I asked y’all to join me in supporting a sweet friend in bringing her daughter home.

And you’ve never disappointed. You love others in a big, beautiful way.

So here I am again, on my birthday, asking for something. But this year, I’m giving something, too.

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So what am I giving?

Six So Loved shirts. (Already have one? Give one – I’ll send one to whoever you choose with a US address.)

What am I asking for?

Help spreading the word about So Loved.

Help raising funds for broken-hearted babies.

Help raising awareness about orphans and orphan-prevention.

Help shining a light on the amazing work Meredith and her team are doing at Morning Star Foster Home.

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The fundraising cycle for Morning Star Foster Home and So Loved is coming to a close. July 31st is the date we have set to end the So Loved fundraising year.

It’s also the date we’ll tally up the totals and grin from ear to ear thinking about the little one at Morning Star Foster Home that will be blessed by the funds that have been generated by the sales of So Loved. And the date we thank God for the big-hearted people who have come alongside us in this adventure to love the broken-hearted in a big way, even halfway around the world.

It is also the date we would have celebrated my beautiful girl’s 6th birthday, if her heart had not been broken.

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So we’ve got 4 weeks to kick this thing into gear. The store is stocked up in girls’ sizes 4, 6, 8 and 10. And women’s sizes fitted S, M, L and XL as well as classic sizes S, L, XL and 2XL.

Clementine is wearing a 4 in these pictures and at all of 31″ and 21 pounds, I think she’s pretty much killin’ it, so even if you have a little one, they can probably still rock the So Loved for Morning Star.

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So what do I want for my birthday? Join me.

1. Take a picture of yourself or your kiddos in their So Loved tee, or, if you’re shy or don’t have a So Loved yourself (yet!) you can download and use one of the images here.

2. Share it on FB or Instagram and tag it with BOTH #solovedtee and #msfh (for Morning Star Foster Home) along with a bit about So Loved (why you bought yours or what it means to you or what each purchase goes towards etc).

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The fun will run for one week – now through July 10th at midnight EST. At that time I’ll randomly select three winners who have shared on FB and three winners who have shared on IG. Entries must be of the So Loved design, include a comment about So Loved and have both hashtags – so be sure to tag your posts properly. I can only ship to US addresses.

If your Instagram account is private, be sure to let me know you’ve shared by commenting on one of the So Loved posts on my IG account.

You can share as many So Loved images as you’d like, for as many entries as you’d like. And if you post to both FB and IG, you’ll have twice the chance at winning and, even better, you’ll have shared with twice as many people who might have their eyes and hearts opened to the orphan. And who knows what the Lord might do with that.

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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Psalm 147:3-5

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 9)

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Today we’re back with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with the ninth in a 10 post mini-series by Kelly – who blogs at Mine In China – on How To Choose An Agency. You can find links to the previous posts here.


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Grants, Fundraising, and Understanding the Business Side of Agencies

 

Finances are an important consideration for many parents. Few have all of the costs needed when starting the process and fundraising is increasingly becoming an accepted part of the process. First, if you do not have all of the funds starting off, be sure to ask potential agencies for a payment schedule. Some agencies require that you have at least half of the funds upfront. Most agencies will have points where you cannot progress further if you are not paid up, often at either dossier submission (DTC) or travel. 

Be sure to budget carefully knowing what you need to pay when. My agency had us pay the orphanage donation at LOA, although you could make payments on it until travel. Most other agencies don’t have you pay that until you travel, but it can often be difficult for people to come up with the orphanage donation funds plus travel costs all at the same time. If you add in an agency that requires you to pay several thousand for post placement visits at the same time, that is a big chunk of money to come up with at one time and it comes up must faster than you think it will when you first begin the process.


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If you are beginning an adoption without the full amount of funds available you should give serious consideration to how you expect to make up those funds. Ideally you would have a large portion of it when you start and a plan for how you are going to bring in the rest. Tax refund, selling stocks, home equity loan, fundraisers, whatever. Make sure you consider carefully how and when you think the money will be coming in, and remember that you can choose to delay several months or a year before starting the process if you need to be more financially secure.

If you are feeling daunted at the thought of the cost of international adoption, No Hands But Ours has two excellent articles on raising funds which you will find helpful. 22 ways to raise funds for adoption and 4 more ways to raise funds for your adoption.

In the previous article we discussed how difficult it can be to compare costs between agencies. When you are comparing the “sticker price” of agencies, don’t forget to ask about grants that an agency might offer which could lower their cost. This can sometimes make a substantial difference in the costs between two agencies.

Other related questions to ask potential agencies:

  • Do you offer grants for waiting children?
  • Do you offer a returning client discount?  Military discount?
  • Is there is an agency fee reduction for adopting two children at the same time? (if applicable)  
  • Are the grants automatic or is there an application process?
  • Do you partner with any organizations such as Brittany’s Hope?
  • If I have funds available through an organization such as Reece’s Rainbow or Adopt Together, will you count those towards our bill? Do you charge a processing fee for the transfer of these funds?
  • Do you have a way for people to contribute directly toward our adoption costs? Is there a fee associated with this?
  • If people contribute funds that are more than the amount owed to you, will you keep the extra funds or are those returned to us?
  • If I receive notice of a grant after my child is home which is paid directly to the agency, will that amount be refunded to us (since you’re already paid off the bill) or does the agency keep the grant money?

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When you are comparing agencies it can be helpful to understand why it is that costs vary so much between agencies. While people sometimes assume that “bad” agencies charge high fees and “good” agencies charge low fees because they only care about finding children homes, this view is missing the basics of how businesses are run. Larger agencies often have higher fees because they have higher operating costs. Supporting a dozen orphanages in China rather than only one is just one of many differences that can add to an agency’s operating cost. A larger agency will often spend more than a smaller agency’s entire operating cost on humanitarian aid programs alone!

A larger agency will:

  • Have multiple offices in the United States (multiple buildings, staff, etc.)
  • Operate programs in five or more countries (adds travel to multiple countries)
  • Have in country offices in multiple countries (buildings, staff, taxes to multiple countries)
  • Operate aid programs in the countries where they have adoption programs (again requires more staff and travel)
  • Sometimes will continue to operate aid programs in countries where international adoptions have closed such as Guatemala or Cambodia.

Now maybe you’re thinking “That’s all well and good, but I can’t really afford to pay more in agency fees because they have to pay a lot of staff. I’m all for donating to charity but I can donate money to my own charities after I have this adoption paid off!” Every family will have different priorities when choosing an agency, so it is important to decide what is most important to you and choosing an agency based on that. For some families ethics and humanitarian aid are a priority while for others it is keeping the adoption costs as low as possible, or which agency will match them the fastest. We will discuss priorities more in the next post.

While a smaller agency might have lower fees, smaller agencies can end up with more profit per adoption than a larger agency with higher fees because of the higher operating costs for larger agencies. One large agency told me that they actually lose money per adoption, but they are able to make up the difference because they have other sources of income such as investments, heritage camps, and major fundraiser activities (this information was verified by an independent audit of their finances). However, while smaller agencies might have a greater profit per adoption, they operate on a much smaller profit margin and don’t other sources of revenue to offset their costs.  


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Generally, smaller agencies seem more likely to use the travel costs as a way to generate more income. Since most people focus on whatever is labeled “agency fee” on the cost sheet, and because travel costs vary by time of year so much, it is easier to hide some extra fees in that column. As I wrote in the last post, larger agencies can use their travel groups to obtain group rates at hotels or with guide services. Smaller agencies aren’t able to do this. This is a generalization that doesn’t hold true for all agencies however, so use the questions in the travel section to try and figure out if you will be facing unexpectedly high travel costs with an agency that seems to have lower fees overall. One good question to ask to try and determine if the agency is padding the travel portion is “Will I be able to receive an itemized receipt for the travel costs?”

Why am I giving you this general information about operating costs? Because there is a lot of money involved in international adoption. When you’re running low on funds and feeling stressed it is very easy to feel that the agencies are all about the money. “Someone out there probably is getting rich off of adoption!” But for most agencies, big or small, the decrease in international adoptions paired with rising overseas costs means that they are doing all they can to stay in business. Agencies can and do close and the reality is that they need to bring in some money in order to stay in the black. You need to use your financial resources the best you can so that you can bring home your child, and similarly your agency needs to use their financial resources the best that they can so that they can continue to help children find families.


In the next post, the final in this mini-series, Kelly summarize the main factors to consider when comparing agencies, with some ideas to help you rank the services you consider most important, to help you in making your final agency decision.

– photos by Stefanie

what we’re reading: 7.2.15

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

It is our pleasure to bring you another episode of What We’re Reading. We have a long list of traveling family blogs to share with you. These people are becoming lovingly acquainted with the heat of summer in Guangzhou and other regions of China, Lord bless them all!

Thank you to everyone who shared their links and blogs with us!

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.


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Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore has teamed up with the Morning Star Foundation for an amazing outpouring of love and support called “The Love Project.” The purpose of the project is to raise funds for surgeries for children in China. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well that’s not all. The funds will also assist in family preservation and abandonment prevention efforts, so amazing! Go read more about it and treat yourself to one of the beautiful prints which support the project.

A few weeks ago Jean debated whether she shares too much about her family and children on her blog. She courageously concludes that, “If even just one child comes home to their forever family because of our sharing, it was worth it.”

A Berry from China ponders what life is like for the child they are awaiting. What is life like for this child they do not yet know? Life in an Orphanage is a short and sweet essay as this family waits for their son.

In A Perfect World for Special Needs Moms, Katie dreams of how life could be better for those of us who are mothering children with special needs. Can you relate to any of the scenarios she mentions? Can you relate to the fatigue she mentions at the end of the post? And most importantly of all, do you acknowledge Him and give each day to Him?


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Have you ever wondered how many children are on the CCCWA shared list? How many are waiting on the list to be chosen? The Red Thread Advocates do a great job of explaining the numbers, the ages, genders, and so forth. Go over and become better acquainted with the make-up of the list.

Show Hope shares with us 9 Powerful Stats About the Orphan Crisis. These statistics are eye opening and highlight the importance of continued awareness and involvement for each of us.

Do you like learning about the different ethnic groups in China? If you do, then you must check out this compilation of Family Portraits which represent all the different ethnicities found in China. These pictures are so beautiful!

The 2015-2016 U.S. News Best Children’s Hospital rankings have been announced. We all aim to obtain the best possible care for our children. Taking into account these rankings and talking to parents who have walked a similar road can be very helpful as we advocate for our children with special needs. Connecting with a Mentor Mom can also an invaluable step to take.


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Krissi with her precious son Bear who was adopted in June


In China now (or super soon)…
God>Impossible
Crazy Blessed
One Love, One Family
A Miracle for Meg
From Great Wall to Great Lakes
Bringing Home Holland
Joy In the Waiting
Strengthen My Hands
Bringing Charlie Home
White House Adventures

And just home from China…
His Grand Design
Quilt-n-Mama
Blessings Beyond
This Little Sparrow
A Sister for Mia
Love Hope Adopt
Trusty Party of Six
Beautiful Chaos
Tea in Fairyland
Growing Beards
Mama of a Big Bunch of Kids

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


Thank you for joining us for another What We’re Reading, see you again in August!

LibertyNHBOSig

The China Trip: a Tip a Day

July 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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As much as I hate to see the end of our June feature, I can’t wait to begin our July/August Feature: Going to China! We will cover all things China-trip related: packing, traveling, gotcha day, orphanage care vs. foster care and setting realistic expectations. We’ll even have some fun Q and A posts from the NHBO contributor team. …Read More

The Simplicity of Prosthesis

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

That would probably not have been our reaction if you would have told us seven years ago that we would have multiple pairs of prosthetic legs in our house. In early 2009, we were researching China’s special needs adoptions after adopting twice through the non-special needs program. Some of the special needs just looked too …Read More

Who Would Want a Dad Like Me?

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 9 Comments

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Finishing up our June Feature, Let’s Hear it For Dads, with a post by Mike, a former (and much-missed!) regular contributor. We at NHBO enjoyed this series so much that we are working on bringing in more “dad” voices. Because dads are awesome, too. So grateful that Mike agreed to share this wit and wisdom with …Read More

find my family: Lenny

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Precious little Lenny is 1 year old and is listed as a special focus file with Lifeline through an orphanage partnership. his special need is postoperative CHD. Lenny is a handsome little boy! When his caregivers speak to him he will smile and laugh! He can hold his own bottle and feed himself a biscuit …Read More

Let’s Hear it for the Dads

June 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Baba. Daddy. Dad. Your name is worthy of celebration. You are worthy of celebration.   Your name is powerful. For our children, your name means comfort, safety, strength. Perhaps you were the daddy that our child was scared of, and so lovingly and patiently, you pursued our little one. It took time, lots of time …Read More

find my family: Katie

June 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Katie is, and always has been, a favorite at her orphanage! She was born in August of 2013 and found shortly after birth. Her file says, “the child is optimistic, has rich facial expression, the child has a ready smile, although there are so many small dark spots, this does not affect her lovely, she …Read More

God of My Children

June 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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Ever learn something, quickly forget it, and need to be reminded again? During our daughter’s extensive surgery last November, God tapped into my medical momma’s fearful heart, comforting me with the revelation that I don’t have to be God of my children. It was a breakthrough parenting moment.  Little by little though, I again started mentally and …Read More

© 2015 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.