The Ayers Family Writes Their Own Story

October 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 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 a birth, “Do you think you’ll have more?”

I’ve almost always observed these questions tossed to and answered by others. I don’t necessarily wish to be the recipient. I’ve known for as long as I can remember that there lies a complexity in these questions-and their answers-that doesn’t fit with the short, certain replies people seem to expect. Most people haven’t asked me or my husband these questions because it lingered into that awkward realm of the unknown. We are two people with a genetic disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). OI is a type of dwarfism that causes brittle bones (mostly in childhood in our cases). We use wheelchairs for mobility and drive with adapted vehicles.


Individually – and especially together – most people just didn’t expect we’d have children. A few years ago, I might have felt angry at that assumption. How could the same people who parenthood as the best part of their lives, assume that I would have no interest?My husband and I have mobilized creativity, determination, and hard work to achieve so many of our goals. Why would parenthood be the one path we accepted as beyond our abilities? Today, I realize a beautiful path of possibilities emerges when people absolutely no expectations for you. I’m thankful for the gift to write our own story, think outside the box and set our own expectations and vision for our family.

In 2010, we welcomed our biological daughter Hannah into the world.

I enjoyed a healthy and happy pregnancy punctuated by a planned c-section due to my short stature. We embarked on pregnancy with the knowledge that there was a 75% chance that Hannah would inherit one or both of our OI genes. We were fully confident in our ability to carry over our knowledge about living with OI to parenting a child with OI. We did fear the 25% chance within those odds that our baby would inherit both OI genes. This is called double dominance and doesn’t result in survival. At around 16 weeks, we learned that Hannah was not double dominant. Shortly after birth, we were also confident she did not have OI. We are a proud mixed-ability household that views disability as just a part of our family’s culture.


We knew we wanted more children and my husband and I had both grown up with thoughts of adoption. Perhaps it was related to our own questions about whether biological parenthood was possible or the lack of examples of other parents like us. Yet again, I’m appreciative that we’ve never been bound by expectations assigned to those without disabilities. When you don’t know what a family like ours should look like or should do, you make up your own rules!

We connected to other parents with disabilities who had adopted and learned about programs that had welcomed this aspect of diversity. We asked about travel. While many people are wary of squatty potties, adding a wheelchair to the terrain in other countries is another dimension of challenging! We learned that it was difficult but possible. With what I imagine is the same pounding heart and lump in the throat shared by other adoptive parents, we took the plunge and locked our son’s file. Eli is 7-years-old and has a different type of dwarfism from our OI. He has achondroplasia. I was initially fearful to add adopting out of age order to our long list of relatively unique circumstances, but I’m so thankful we trusted that little voice saying, “You can do this!”

He needed us and we now know, we needed him.

We brought Eli home just two and a half short months ago! This is our first picture:

2014-07-21 17.57.14

And here here’s Eli meeting his sister:


Throughout the entirety of the process, China was an exceptionally welcoming country to our family. Our documentation clarified that our disability doesn’t negate our overall excellent general health. In fact, our disability makes us even more equipped to parent our son. From the start, we’ve celebrated his membership to local support groups and made connections to medical experts familiar with his dwarfism. Our years of advocacy experience combined with the knowledge of living as people with disabilities continue to be an asset to the adjustment process.

Adoption is far from easy for any family. “When will you start your home study?” will probably never be one of the first questions asked at a wedding shower. It’s not the typical path and that’s OK. For those that have shared this journey, we know the unending beauty in building a family through adoption. We aren’t the typical family. Our differences have opened our hearts and our worlds to experiences we never dreamed possible. I’m thankful we took the leaps no one expected and wrote our own story.

Kara blogged about her family’s adoption journey at Ayers Adoption: Roll You Home.

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 be the one chosen. Please share this sweet boy’s picture and lets make his biggest dream come true! Sam walks with a slight limp which does not slow him down one bit.


Read much more about Sam here. He is such a special boy, let’s help him find a family!

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, etc. What makes Sam’s second party noteworthy is that his first one was 18 months ago.

That’s right. We celebrated Sam’s fourth birthday party with his “twin” sister Ellie in April of 2013… and then we celebrated it again in October of 2014.


Even though they no longer share a birthday, note that Ellie is still trying to blow out Sam’s candles


If you spend any time with kids, you know that their birthdays are precious to them. Beyond the obvious appeal of superhero cakes and Lego sets, they also love that birthdays are proof that they are getting older. Every kid wants to grow up… to be big. As evidence of this, I will cite that most kids will begin claiming within days after their 3rd birthday that they are now 3½.

Now picture Sam. Rather than the traditional (albeit excruciatingly long) wait of 12 months between parties, Sam has had to wait 18. And instead of the satisfaction of celebrating the graduation from 4 year old to 5 year old, he has made NO progress. By some measures, Sam may actually be getting younger over time.

Before this starts to sound like an advertisement for a breakthrough Skin Crème, I should probably provide some background.

When we were called in late 2012 by our adoption agency about Sam and Ellie, they were presented to us as twins. It was not until we started seeing pictures of them that we began to question this assumption. While this may seem ridiculous when describing a 3 year old, it somehow felt like Ellie was more mature.

When we met them, we started seeing many of the same things in person that we had noticed in the photos. Ellie felt like more of a “big sister” in how she cared for Sam and protected him during the transition. It increasingly felt like their status as twins might not be accurate.

I am embarrassed to say how long it took us to realize that we should just ask them. I will never forget when the interpreter told Ellie that her new Mom and Dad wondered if she and Sam were twins. Ellie just laughed and laughed. She was then quick to point out that she was the “Jie Jie” (Big Sister) and Sam was the “Di Di” (Little Brother.) Sammy agreed… but then again, Sam loved Ellie so much that he pretty much agreed with whatever she said. She could have suggested that he was a dog, and we would have probably started barking.

Recognizing that nothing was going to change in the short-term (and that a change in birth date could hinder the adoption and immigration paperwork), we left it alone for several months. This included the celebration of their aforementioned 4th Birthday Party in April 2013.

After they had been home for about a year, we began the Legal process of having Sam re-aged.

It is fairly common for the listed age of an internationally adopted child to be inaccurate. In some cases, officials may change the birth date to make the child seem younger and more adoptable. I have read several stories of people whose “officially” 8 or 9 year old child came home with early signs of facial hair or having started their period. (Fortunately, I haven’t read any where both of these were true for the same child.)

In China where it is common for children to be abandoned without any documentation, officials choose a birth date for the child when they put him or her into the system. This may or may not have any connection to their actual date of birth or age.

In the case of Sam and Ellie, we believe that the “error” was an act of grace. Since they were abandoned together, the decision to make them “twins” helped to insure that they would stay together in the system and ultimately to their forever family if adopted. Had they simply been characterized as siblings, there is a good chance that they would have been separated. Like so many other aspects of their amazing story, we believe this is yet another example of God’s favor on the two of them.

Re-aging is a process that apparently used to be fairly straight-forward in international adoptions but it has become somewhat more complex in recent years. (Our attorney suggested that this was a desire to better control identity tracking of immigrants in a post-9/11 world. I personally think it was precipitated by that Cuban pitcher in the Little League World Series a few years ago who appeared to be 27 years old.)

While every situation is unique, here are the key elements of our experience with re-aging:

  • Legal Guidance – We engaged an attorney to help us navigate the process. We also chose to use this opportunity to have US birth certificates created for our other adopted children as we have been told it can be an issue later in life to rely on adoption paperwork for age verification.
  • Medical Assessment – Working with our International Adoption Clinic at the local Children’s Hospital, we scheduled a series of diagnostic tests that were designed to provide some estimated age ranges. These tests ranged from developmental tests to growth plate scans to dental evaluations. In Sam’s case, the analysis yielded a fairly consistent projected age… (which wasn’t even close to the “official” birth date that he shared with Ellie.)
  • Birth Date Selection – Using the ranges from the above tests, we were then given the incredibly unique opportunity to PICK Sam’s birthday. Given the baseline challenge of remembering 5 other kids’ birthdays, we targeted something memorable… 10/10/10. I think he will like what we picked, but I do expect some questions from him when he realizes what happened… like the day that his “twin sister” gets her driver’s license, and Sam realizes that he won’t be behind the wheel for another year and a half. I also can picture him at a Club on his sister’s 21st birthday with a 17 year old Chinese passport trying to convince the bouncer that he is the toddler in the picture and that the Chinese characters are evidence that he should be welcome at the bar.
  • Court Filings – With a letter from the International Adoption Clinic (but other medical recommendations would likely work), we worked with an attorney to file a petition with the State for a new birth date. Our file is currently being reviewed, and we expect to have confirmation and a new birth certificate in the next few months.

All of this has taken time, and in the interim… Sam has not aged and has not had a birthday for 18 months. I recall when my kids started asking about their next birthday within weeks after their previous one, so you can only imagine the anguish as Sam watched some of his siblings have TWO birthdays since his last one.

He always had a good attitude, but you could tell that he was getting anxious about when there would finally be a cake with his name on it. He might have started to think I was punishing him or didn’t like him as much as his siblings… rather than the truth that I love him more than my own life. Sam-and-Ellie

To whoever listened to God’s prompting and made them twins on paper to keep them together, I will always be immeasurably grateful. They may no longer be twins, but I cannot imagine either one without the other.


And so last week, Sam finally got his wish… and a few bonus presents for the extra months of waiting (and the aforementioned love.) And he is now on the same 12 month cycle as every other human on the planet.

And in case you are wondering, he does already think he is 4 ½. 



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

Taking Care of Business – part 2

October 17, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

In my previous poop and potty post I shared with you about our son who was born with spina bifida and as a result he is incontinent. After watching him sit on the waiting child list the Lord made it clear that he was our son and that we could do this special need. And …Read More

find my family: Channing

October 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Channing is now over 5 years old. He is extremely cute, and his big eyes are bright and sparkling, as if they could speak. Under his delicate nose, his sweet mouth has grown into quite the talker. Everyone really likes him. However, Channing tends to speak a little childishly when he talks. All of his …Read More

When Labels Don’t Stick

October 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


It’s been a year since I paused while writing a post for this very site and glanced at the photo-listings for children on our agency’s website. And I saw her. It was a morning exactly like this one. I was up early, before the sun came up. The cup of coffee growing cold beside the …Read More

Find My Family: Jack

October 14, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Meet Jack! This handsome little guy will turn 2 in October. He is described as outgoing and active. He loves snuggling and attention, both of which he welcomes with a smile. According to his caregivers, because he is often smiling, he is lovely and adored. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that! His video can …Read More

Find my Family: Yan Bo

October 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Goodness, have we got a special little boy for you to meet today! This is Yan Bo, affectionately called “Bobo” who is listed has having a repaired cleft lip and palate and drooping eyelids by his orphanage. Isn’t he adorable? He is listed with ATWA and all his agency fees are waived. If a family adopts …Read More