Then and Now: Selah

December 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

One year ago we were sitting in a hotel conference room waiting to meet our daughter for the first time.
One year ago the minute hands on our watches seem to stand still.
One year ago we watched families meet their children for the first time.
One year ago our daughter was finally brought into the room and our lives have been forever changed.


During our adoption process I found myself constantly counting down the days until the next step in our adoption. Whether it was the final home study, LID, the unknown wait for a match, LOA, TA, family day, attachment, jet lag and every other step in between and after.

During our adoption journey Galatians 4:4-5 was our family verse: But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. The verse was a constant reminder of God’s promise to us. Everything was always at just the right time, His time.

All of the dates I was counting down to came and this past month we celebrated one year with our little girl.

Of course with the celebrating also comes the looking back.

It seems like just yesterday we were in China waiting at the edge of our seats feeling like our hearts were going to explode. Our little girl has changed so much in the past year and what a joy it has been to watch her grow. But sometimes I just forget how far she has come, yet she is still the same sweet girl in so many ways. I forget the hard weeks that turned into hard days to now a handful of hard moments. At the beginning we faced many unknowns and challenges that we were expecting to be difficult but ended up being insignificant.

To some the changes may seem small, but for our girl they are all huge and we are rejoicing with her for each one.

A year ago she was so small:


Today she is quite a big little girl:


A year ago she wasn’t sure how to play with toys:


Today some of her favorite things to do are playing with her babies, play kitchen and pretend baby lion:


A year ago her main way to get around was crawling or asking us to carry her around:


Today she is cruising around with or without her walker. Depending on her current preference:


A year ago she did not want to be taken care of by mama:


Today we are thankful that the uncertainty only lasted for a few weeks:


A year ago there were a lot of unknowns about her health:


Today we are thankful for answered prayers. We have some amazing doctors, therapist and teachers that have taught us so much about our girl:


A year ago it broke our hearts that she would self-sooth herself to sleep by rocking her head back and forth. But praise God one day she just stopped doing it:


A year ago Selah knew six signs and a few English words:


Today she can say more words than we can count and 6-7 word sentences: The difference in a year is crazy to hear.


A year ago we missed her 2nd birthday by days:


This past month we also got to celebrate our sweet girl turning three:


A year ago she was an orphan:


Today she is a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend to so many:


Thankfully some things have not changed over the past year and we are so glad she is still the sweet, joyful and strong willed Guo Guo we met in China.

We know that all of these changes did not happen overnight, and it is not always easy. But they all happen at just the right time….

And we choose to celebrate the joy.

– guest post by Brianna

Beautiful Unknowns

December 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Medical needs adoption is one you have to walk into with your eyes wide open. Though prospective parents may have a medical history presented to them before saying the biggest “yes” of their lives, you have to know this: there are unknowns.

There will always be unknowns.

We knew about the unknowns before saying our “yes”. We knew that the words we read about our daughter could never hope to encompass her history. We looked at charts and pictures and test results. We read updates and saw videos. We were prepared for the knowns. We knew that words on a paper were not who our daughter was; hard as they might try to describe her, our hearts were settled. Even the words that might give cause for fear were words we felt in the deepest part of us were not words we should fear. The unknowns? Yeah, we knew there would be some. We also knew we’d face them head-on, doing whatever it was we needed to do to help our daughter thrive.


Fast forward.

The knowns were predictable. Our daughter has a genetic skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Her care has been all that we thought it might be. Daily wound care, bandaging, dermatology. We even see the occasional specialist as needed for EB-related complications.

These things? All known. Though the type and severity of her condition was fairly unknown before travel, we knew that all of these things were possible, so we haven’t been fazed by them.

The unknowns? Always unpredictable, and unpredictable isn’t really my favorite. I’ve also found they can be quite a sucker punch to the gut when they happen. EB? No worries. We’ve got that covered. When new things present themselves, things that weren’t in the file my heart sinks. When there are things that could be related to prenatal events, or birth trauma, or early infancy infections… these things… they have the power to crush me if I let them. In a desperate need to understand, Dr. Google becomes my evil friend, warning me of all of the potential problems we could be facing, reminding me of the pain and loss involved in adoption, letting me know I will never know enough, and even if I did know it all, it wouldn’t be enough.

Words on a screen. They used to have no power over me, and yet now they seem to be hypnotic – I’m unable to stop processing the “what-ifs”. It was almost as if I were seeing the unknown parts of our daughter’s history like they were flaws; a coat of tarnish on an otherwise shiny and bright attachment and bonding process.

Unknowns make me want to back away, build walls, self-protect.


A while back, a friend painted a piece of original art for me. She did this as a part of a prayer ministry – while I was praying and hearing from the Lord, she was in another room painting what the Lord put on her heart. And wow. It was perfect. As He had been speaking to me about who He made me to be, she painted a picture of the words He spoke. I am perfectly perfect the way I am, though I struggled with it for a long time. My quirks, my need for order, the way I process the world around me… they are all reflections of Him.

To love God means to love the way He created me; I’m a woman, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend… all the way He intended for me to be. Are there “flaws”? Yeah, maybe my strong dislike of the unknown? He knows everything about me. Even the things I wish weren’t a part of who I am, He uses them all for His glory when I allow Him to work through me despite my apparent flaws. He sees my flaws as opportunities. My instincts to back away, build walls and self-protect are all things that can bring Him glory when I choose to let Him draw me closer, allow Him to break down walls I’m not able to face, allow Him to be my Shield when I need protection.


Here’s the thing. The unknowns are there with our daughter. I knew they were there all along. Words on paper didn’t have the power to scare us away at the start, and I’m sure not going to let them have that power now. In the words of a wise friend… so what? So what if there are potentially more issues involved with our daughter than we first realized? She’s ours.

So what if the painting that represents who SHE is looks nothing like what I had anticipated it looking like? She’s ours. She is a work of art, made by a perfect and loving Artist, and in His infinite wisdom, He designed her picture to have us in it.

I often have to remind myself that there is nothing unknown to the Lord. I throw those words around, but they are only in reference to my own understanding. He knows all! He knows me, you, our children, our families. He knows our histories, every last detail, and more than that, He knows what our future holds. “Unknown medical history”? Not to Him. He knows. He knew. And He still put us together. I wonder… is it possible that the unknowns… the “flaws” we see are what make our picture even more beautiful?


Knowns. Unknowns. We still have a choice to make every day, whether to let them affect us or not. I’m not saying we can’t grieve when something hits, grieving is a part of loving well. It’s right for us to grieve with our children, on behalf of our children, for their losses, for the answers we know we’ll never have. This big fat busted up mess of life that makes us want to throw our hands up in the air and just scream sometimes? That’s your new chance to choose well… to choose being known… to choose knowing the One who knows it all, crazy life and all.

I am fully aware that choosing well isn’t easy, but trust this: You were made for this. You were designed to do this. Choosing well means walking hard, but you are able, because He is able. He knows you and He is using you to bring glory to Himself. Yeah, even those parts of you that are flawed. Those flawed places bring Him the greatest glory when we let Him step into them.

Our unknowns, they are beautiful, and He’s using them to paint a really great picture. Can you see it? Look around you. You’re living it.

Waiting to be Chosen: Jameson

December 4, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

This is Jameson. His file is designated to AAC through an orphanage partnership. Isn’t he just the most precious little guy ever?


Jameson is 22 months old — he was born in January of 2015. He is described as plump, lovely, and very nice. He likes listening to music, and playing with toys — especially brightly colored toys and toys that make noises.


Jameson was abandoned when he was just a few days old. He was born with anal atresia. As soon as he was found, he was taken to a hospital where he received surgical care. About five months after his original surgery, he was taken to Beijing where he received a follow-up surgery. Doctors there report that his surgery was “very successful”.

Here, you can see what a beautiful little baby Jameson was — this was taken during his time in Beijing:


For about a year, Jameson has been in the care of a very experienced foster mother. She currently cares for six foster children, and all of them are thriving in her home. Many children that she has cared for in the past have joined their forever families, and each family has said that they could tell how much their child was loved.

Jameson is very attached to his foster mother, and loves to be cuddled. His foster mother says that he has an outgoing personality, and is not afraid of strangers. She says that he is “all boy” and full of energy. He gets along well with the other children in her care for the most part, aside from typical toddler squabbles.

Jameson’s foster mom also describes him as very smart. His development is right on track. He is walking. He says simple words. He responds appropriately to adults. He follows age-appropriate directions. Jameson eats well, and can feed himself finger foods. His favorite foods at the moment are bananas and cookies.

Here is Jameson just a couple of weeks ago. AAC staff met with him during their November trip to China. He is doing well in the care of his foster mother, but he needs to come home to his forever mama so that he can get the medical care that he needs to thrive, and to help bring that beautiful smile back to his face.


This little boy is a pure delight, and so full of potential. He just needs a family that will love him and care for him forever. Could yours be that family?

If you are interested in learning more about Jameson, please contact Nicole Brown by cell (970) 775-4683, or by email:

Then and Now: Deklan

December 3, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


I find myself consistently caught in the deceptive trap of a compare and contrast representation of the last 345 days. Through the lens of retrospection, milestones can be simple to compartmentalize. I quickly disregard the messy tentacles that stretch from each “attained” behavior and stamp it “victorious”. I am learning that adoption carries an oceanic …Read More

We Thought We Wanted a Girl

December 3, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


When we started our journey to China, we wanted to adopt a little girl. When we filled out our Medical Conditions Checklist, we specified girl only. I had visions of picking out a glorious name for my daughter-to-be, dressing her in the most beautiful clothes, and decorating her room. This baby girl would be my …Read More

Worth It: Adopting a Child with CAH

December 2, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


When my husband and I first reviewed our daughter’s file, our first thoughts were of disbelief. Here was a perfect, healthy, beautiful eight-year-old who had been waiting for several years on the Shared List. It seemed unbelievable that no one had snatched her up. After all, the special needs listed in her file didn’t seem …Read More

Urgent Aging Out Child: Margaret

December 2, 2016 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


Margaret ages out in 61 days, please share this post so her time does not run out! Margaret was born February of 2003 and is described as an outgoing and caring girl, who loves to communicate with others. Her language development is good and she can properly express her ideas. She is diagnosed with nystagmus …Read More

Reach for the Stars: Adopting a Child with Vision Impairment

December 1, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


It was the second time in his life to ride on an airplane. The first time was only ten months ago when he traveled the 16 hour flight from China to America. On that first flight he was a scared, angry little fighter whose only concern was protecting himself. Now he was a happy, calm …Read More

We Could Have Missed This

November 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments


November is National Adoption month and a lot of us adoptive parents have been sharing pictures and a bit more about our adoption journey’s on social media. For a few years now, a friend and I have chatted from time to time how we could have missed this. We could of missed the joy, the …Read More

So Much More than His Diagnosis

November 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


I could write for days about our journey — our growth, the process, the joy, the tears, the worries, the peace. But for today, I’ll focus a little on the medical aspect of our story because there are so many unknowns, so much research, so much hope…..and knowing you’re not alone in it helps, if …Read More

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