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365 Days “Upon the Waters”

November 24, 2014 by Rebecca 0 Comments

One year ago, we were somewhere over the ocean between East and West, with our two newly eli collage
adopted, Mandarin speaking children. We were a muddled mix of joy, weariness, readiness to be home, heaviness from leaving our children’s birth country, and profound gratitude for our intensely beautiful time in China. Feeling the joy of long awaited little people in our arms, but surrounded by ocean and fear, my husband and I were deeply aware that we’d surrendered our former lives and were hurdling at high speed toward all things new.  

Our son and I were wet and stinky from a double diaper blowout, and my husband dispensed antibiotics covered in Mandarin script to a feverish daughter while simultaneously attempting to catheterize her in the airplane lavatory at 10,000 feet.   Much like the next 365 days would turn out to be, that flight was an exhausting, yet sacred adventure. Our goals were to care for medical needs and to minimize mid-flight chaos by dispensing Chinese rice crackers and walking the aisles. Survival. We trusted the pilot was guiding us to where we needed to be.

Feeling like we’d been “called upon the waters”, Hillsong’s “Oceans” had been our adoption anthem.  Our former, safer life with two daughters had ended, as we adopted two children at once, one with complex medical needs. We’d adopted before, but this was deeper water to step into.  

We touched down on Thanksgiving day, but it felt like we’d landed on water. In a jetlag stupor, we spent the next days searching for solid ground. With a hundred needs coming at us like waves, we began our year of triage sorting them by urgency.

Septic child? Top of the list. Hospital admission, MRIs, antibiotics, and ultrasounds. Clearly it was to be a bumpy ride.

Next on the list were pediatrician appointments, blood tests, stool samples, and shots. Then a mix of sleep issues, feeding issues, anxious attachment, indiscriminate attachment, coping skills, and language learning. Specialist referrals from neurology to nephrology and plastic surgery to audiology, then clinic visits, evaluations, and assessments. Our safety belts stayed buckled.  9

Have you been there, adoption friends? Each story is unique, but year one is a strenuous and sweet triage for most.

Medical needs? Our full attention.

Sleep issues? High on the list.

Sensory needs? One day at a time.

Potty training? Can wait.

Orphanage behaviors? Consistent training.

Emotional needs? Hugs and prayers.

Speech therapy? Not yet.

Dental work? No time.

Attachment (theirs and mine)? Takes time.

Academic needs? Sigh.

Oh yes, and we have other kids with needs and emotions, each treading water themselves.

And then there is this marriage rocked by the waves.

And me. Tired, feet failing, weight gaining, and limits stretched.  

Seeing over the waves becomes challenging. There are more needs than we can meet. More hurts than we can heal. More trauma than we can fathom. More burden than we can carry. The triage list is overwhelming. And when we reach the end of ourselves? We cry weakly out to the Lord, the surrendered prayer of an adoptive parent. We call for Him as we hold our sleepless little boy in the middle of the night, when a sibling regresses emotionally, in doctors’ offices as we hear test results, when a son sits unafraid in a stranger’s lap, when a daughter only eats soft food, and in hospital waiting rooms as we wait for surgeons to emerge.

Triage burned through our family with a refining fire. How money was spent, what we said yes to, and what we spent time thinking about all changed. The first year brought lots of treading water, but it had its sweetnesses too. It cultivated faith and polished attitudes, purified hearts and clarified focus. When our days involved therapies and hospital stays, family nights became more special. When we sat beside a two year old on a hospital bed bravely raising her arm for vitals checks and IVs, our perspective changed. Gratitude enlarged.   Former worries seemed less like worries.35

It turns out deep water is cleansing. Our feet didn’t fail and our family didn’t sink. God is bigger than I thought He was.

Our mourned former life now seems less alluring, and the new life has a fullness to it. Our bedrooms are full and so are our arms. Our new children experienced their sweet year of firsts, developed trust and took tentative steps into family life. They blossomed before our eyes, and we watched with awe and wonder, celebrating the ordinary extraordinary. Hearts expanded in siblings too as they grew to love new family members and sacrificed their toys, space, and mommy and daddy time. We discovered the courage to walk into hospitals and specialist appointments, and the strength to handle emotional needs. Faith, family and life-giving friendships were all we had time for. We missed meetings, skipped parties, and rethought commitments. There is more to celebrate now and less that distracts us. Walking through turbulence has its beauty.  

We still found ourselves gliding toward our 12 month post placement visit hoping the social worker wouldn’t realize we were a hot mess, but we kept uttering prayers, because we’d learned “His grace abounds in deepest waters”. Our faith has an assurance brought by experience. Amidst the sea of pre-ops and post-ops, tears and giggles, chaos and catheterizations, we sensed His embrace as we glanced around our full table.  

This first year has felt like that long west bound flight. We’ve been hurdling through the air at high speed, far out over the ocean. It’s been messy and tiring, but there have been giggles, crayon drawings, and puppet shows for in-flight entertainment.

Though far deeper than our feet preferred to wander, we discovered that, like our pilot, God knew exactly where He was taking us.

evie collage 2In His grace, He met us out on the water, replaced our weaknesses with His strength, crosschecked our hearts, lavished us with care and community and gifted us with two little souls to love. Our son and daughter have been home for 365 days. It’s been a wild ride, but we’re thankful for the grand adventure.

You call me out upon the waters.
The great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the myster,y
In oceans deep,
my faith will stand.
~”Oceans”, Hillsong United

find my family: Elijah

November 24, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Elijah turned eleven years old this past June. He was found abandoned at the orphanage gate at five years old. On admission to the institute it was found that he suffered from cerebral palsy, was tested to have normal intelligence and was found to have weakened lower limbs. Although he tried, he could not walk, and he was given a wheelchair. He could speak both Mandarin and Cantonese fluently upon arriving to the institute. He showed his strong will, and integrated into the group life in the institute. At the age of 7 years, he liked to play games with peers and share the toys with other children. He is polite to others, and always smiles at strangers who visit the orphanage.

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He has received physical therapy at the institute, and after great diligence and perseverance on Elijah’s part, he can now walk slowly while holding onto handrails (look at how proud he is of himself in the picture above!). In the institute, he is an obedient and sensible boy, and he is adored by the caretakers and medical staffs. The nannies and orphanage directors hope a family will chose him as he will make a wonderful addition to any family.

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Elijah is on the shared list and can be adopted by a family or single woman working with any agency. Dillon International has a $1,000 grant toward his adoption should a family chose to adopt him through their program. For more information on Elijah please contact the Advocacy Team.

find my family: Archie

November 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Archie, born in January of 2006, is almost 9 years old. And if you have ever been around a 9 year-old boy, you know that means lots of energy, action and FUN! Archie is ready to find his forever family…“with many other brothers and sisters,” he says. He is quite social, if couldn’t guess!

At approximately 2 months old, Archie was found at the gate of a local hospital. Wrapped in a quilt, he was taken to the police department while a search for his birth family was conducted. The search was unsuccessful, so Archie was placed in his orphanage where he currently resides. His initial physical exam noted that he was in a good general state, had poor development and nutrition, as well as a yellowish face and skin.

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Since his finding, Archie has spent his entire life in the orphanage and is closest to his caretakers. Reading through his file, it is quite obvious that this little boy holds the hearts of several members of the orphanage staff. He is a clever young man who attends school, although more often than not, he would rather be playing with his friends than working on his studies! Despite his active nature, he does well in school and is in the second grade. Archie likes to sing songs and can recite several poems. Not surprisingly, his favorite subject is PE! His caretakers feel his development and abilities are both age-appropriate and that he would thrive in the right family.

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Archie had a minor sensitive special need that was corrected with surgery when he was very young. Although the surgery was reported a success, his caretakers indicated that it was not 100% effective. Archie’s forever family would benefit from having a urologist review his file to discuss what procedure, if any, may be necessary when he comes home. In addition to his sensitive need, Archie has also had his appendix removed in 2009 due to acute appendicitis. There are surgical reports and lab results available for potential families to review.

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Archie’s file is currently designated to WACAP. On a recent visit to China, WACAP staff was able to meet Archie. When asked if he wanted to be adopted, he said that he did. He also mentioned that he would like his adoptive family to have many other brothers and sisters that he can play with! There are additional pictures and video available from WACAP’s summer trip for Archie’s family to view. For qualified families, there is a $4000 Promise Child grant to help with this adoption. Please contact our Advocacy Team or WACAP for more information on starting the journey to Archie.

Caring Creatively

November 21, 2014 by Desiree 0 Comments

November is National Adoption Month. Pretty cool, huh? You would think that this is primarily a “Christian holiday” but I’ve been thrilled to see the secular media highlighting adoption & foster care and even adoption ministries throughout the month. (See Huffington Post article HERE) But adoption is just one, albeit amazing, facet of God’s call to …Read More

find my family: Simeon

November 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We are so very happy to report that 13 of the original 15 Bamboo children have found their forever families. Nearly all are in their new homes and adjusting to the overwhelming love available to them by their parents & siblings…ADORE is not a strong enough word! And they are thriving; what some medical care, …Read More

It turns out that chicken fried rice does not count as culture

November 19, 2014 by Mike 9 Comments

I am the textbook definition of a white guy. Beyond simply a scarcity of melanin, I have almost every other stereotypical characteristic that one might associate with my race – a general lack of rhythm, limited vertical leap, a “John Cougar Mellencamp” playlist on my iPod, an unhealthy relationship with ketchup, and a generalized ignorance …Read More

Adopting a Child with Albinism

November 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Our daughter Phoebe was almost nine years old when we adopted her. She is our sixth adoptive child from China, our fifth adoption of an older child, and our first with albinism and with severe visual impairment. The only previous experience my husband and I had with visual impairments is one of our teenage daughters …Read More

find my family: Emma

November 18, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Emma was born November of 2005 and is listed as having Cerebral Palsy and a history of Hepatitis B. She is turning nine years old this year and continues to wait for a family of her own. She was born November of 2005. Emma’s file is a single page with very little information and some …Read More

Advocacy and Social Media: What’s not to “like”?

November 17, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Ah, social media. Sometimes I don’t know whether to love it or loath it. But it’s here, and most of use it.  Think about it: how many times have you “liked” a post? How many times have you made a comment? Or even “shared” something you saw that struck you as funny, important or thought-provoking? …Read More

find my family: Becca

November 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Is anyone looking for a precious seven year old girl to join their family? We have a treat for you today. This precious girl is Becca. She was born December of 2007 and abandoned at two years of age. She lives in an orphanage in Southern China and gets along well with other children in …Read More