Prayer Mama

July 5, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

There are adoptive families of all sorts. Families who adopt and have biological children. Families who have only adopted children. Families who adopt more than one over several years. Families who adopt two at the same time. Families who adopt only one.

Families who knew from the start that they would adopt one day, and families who were surprised by the call to adopt. Families that adopt internationally, families that pursue open adoptions, families that adopt children through foster care.

Our family? We are in the “we had biological children and then were surprised by the call to adopt” boat. I was actually involved with loving orphans through prayer long before we knew that we were meant to adopt ourselves. I prayed for friends who were adopting. I prayed for waiting children I saw that tugged at my heart.


One day, though, I clearly knew that adoption was for us; that our family of five was going to be a family of six. I prayed for confirmation and clarification for several months before even letting my husband know that I felt the Lord was calling US to adopt!

And then after that first conversation, spent a lot of time praying for unity (which the Lord granted) and peace (which He poured out on us) and patience (we are still learning the joy of His perfect timing!)

Earlier this year our “pre” adoption journey ended. In that moment of our airport arrival, when our new life officially began in my mind, I remember clearly thinking, “I don’t know how people do this more than once!” I may have even verbalized that thought to a fellow adoptive friend. It’s hard, right? The process, the waiting, the agonizing knowing that your child is YOURS, and yet you cannot see them face-to-face until the paperwork chase is over. And then when you finally see them, there is the new hardship and challenge of forming attachments and bonds to a child who doesn’t know you, and a mama and daddy who don’t know the child beyond a few pictures and videos, either!

The days pass, the newness and jetlag wear off, the daily settling into life happens.

However, the knowledge that there are MORE little ones out there, that there are thousands more without a home, without a mama to kiss boo-boos or snuggle them never wears off, does it? I know it hasn’t for me. I’m often crushed by the sheer need for families to step up and say, “HERE WE ARE! SEND US!” I am grieved by the pictures that show sad eyes and I am broken by the knowledge that right now, just in the orphanage our daughter was, there are hundreds more that wait; most who will probably never know what “mama” or “baba” actually means during their own childhoods. I look at the pictures and I ache. I ache because there are so many. I ache because I want all of them to find love in a family.

I’ve thought to myself on occasion, “will we go back?” There are parts of me that want to, the parts that see the widespread injustice and sheer magnitude of need and feel it would be wrong not to. There are parts of me that don’t want to because the whole experience is still just too fresh, and our daily life is often feels like we are just one train stop away from Crazy Town!

After much prayer asking for more unity, and more peace, and more clarity, the answer to the question, “will we go back” for OUR family is this: right now, no. Not because that’s what we declare to be truth. It’s a “no” because every time I pray about a face that grabs my heart in a particularly strong way, I hear, “no”. Not for now. Not for us. I look at our daughter and see that while she has come so far in five very short months, she has much farther to go in learning what family looks like.

WE have much farther to go in learning what family, with her, looks like! For OUR family, she is the one that still needs our “yes” every day. Julianne and her sister and her two brothers need to be our focus right now: teaching, learning, modeling, and growing together.

I still have the burden. I still feel an ache. Now what?

I pray.

There is a Facebook page on which Waiting Children in China are advocated for. I hop on to that page and pray for those faces. Sometimes I will scroll through the pictures of children waiting in foster care centers like New Day or Little Flower. I following the Morning Star Project and rejoice when families are able to stay together. When a little one grabs my heart in a different and special way, I pray harder. I look for them, I seek out information, I bump them up to the top of the lists, and I pray. I read files, I find out about needs, I share their pictures, and I pray.

Another mama called herself a “Prayer Mama” once in an online thread I was reading, and that title is one I can hold on to. I may not be the Mama that God calls for that particular child, but I can be their Prayer Mama! I can grieve as they wait, and rejoice as they are found. Somewhere, God is calling their family to them, and I plead on their behalf that the family would see that face, feel the prompting of the Lord, and declare, “HERE WE ARE! SEND US!”

I join in challenges like this one, and dedicate myself to prayer without ceasing for a little face in need of a family. Prayer moves mountains, and some of these little ones need mountains moved to find families. Want to be a mountain mover? Join this challenge, or create your own!

It is easy for those of us who have experienced the joys of adopting a son or daughter into our families to get hooked on that joy. We want more of it because we see the beauty of it. We look back at Day One and see how much has changed, and it causes rejoicing in our hearts. Who wouldn’t want more of that?!?

Today my joy is to love the daughter God gave us this year. I answer her hundreds of, “Mommy, can I?” questions, all designed to reassure herself that she is a part of the activities she sees happening around her. I watch her play with her siblings and don my hypothetical referee jersey to teach all of them what sharing looks like with four kids in the mix. I brush her hair off into pigtails and agree with her when she says, “I like dat hair!” I pick her up and kiss her when she falls down and gets hurt. I sing Jesus Loves Me to her before she drifts into peaceful. I learn by resting under the wings of the Father what it looks like to protect her heart. I pray for a slumbering world to wake up so that other families will know the joy we know. I’m a Mama, and I’m a Prayer Mama.

Here are two of the worthy ones, just TWO of the children that are so well known by the Father that have captured my heart. They have the same medical need as our daughter, and I am happy to answer any and all questions I am able to. I pray for them constantly. Would you join me, or will you find a face of one who needs a family that pulls at your heart? Will you commit to praying every day for 14 days for them? Would you share them with those who cross paths with you in your life?

Would you make known and plead the case of the orphan? Would you even ask if YOU are the one meant to say, “here am I, SEND ME!”


Curtis is a precious 3-year-old boy with Epidermolysis Bullosa. As of September he could walk while holding onto something, and occasionally without help, but he is very cautious. Every few steps he’ll stop, and look back at caregivers, who will clap to tell him “Good job!”


Curtis’s file is currently with WACAP, but is due to be returned to the shared list very soon! They are offering a waiver in the pre-approval fee, a waiver in the application fee, and a $4000 grant for eligible families. WACAP is willing to transfer his file, but the grant is only for eligible WACAP families.

Email for more information!



Case is a precious 7-year-old boy, also with Epidermolysis Bullosa. “My caretakers say despite some painful days, I am a very strong and courageous little boy! I love to sing children’s songs and be creative by making woven bracelets out of beads. I am also very fond of drawing! My caretakers say I have excellent language competence and that I am a polite and kind boy.”


Case’s file is currently with Great Wall. Email for more information.

— photo by Tish Goff

Urgent Medical Need: Kenneth

July 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Kenneth is such a sweet and responsible 8-year-old boy!


WACAP staff met him at a recent Journey of Hope Camp and were so impressed by him even though he was nervous meeting a foreigner for the first time. Kenneth was found when he was 6 months old, and he currently lives with a foster family where he seems very attached. Kenneth’s foster family reports that he attends the local public school near his orphanage. He is an excellent student, and has a 98/99 score in his language class! His classmates and teacher all like him and support him in class. He is also reported to be very good at math. He enjoys playing chess, as well as video games, but he always finishes his homework before he plays!


Kenneth’s foster mother is very protective of him due to his serious heart condition. He is unable to receive surgery for his heart in China. He did not appear cyanotic or have clubbed fingers when our staff saw him, but we were told he has a hard time when he has a cold or illness, due to his heart. Kenneth desperately needs a family to help him get the heart care he needs to live a long and healthy life.

Kenneth has a grant available! WACAP is offering a $7,500 grant for qualifying families, in addition to waiving their application fee and pre-approval deposit fee. You can contact WACAP directly here.

The Long Journey Home

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Or Why My Family Is Banned From the Hong Kong Airport Hotel Indefinitely.

I can remember spending so much time and thought in anticipation of the journey to China. I imagined every possible scenario and packed accordingly. Checked with those who had gone before. Prepared my heart for any response or encounter I could imagine. Double checked and packed again. There are so many details and so many papers and deep down, although people keep telling you that it will all work out, you half wonder if somehow the system will break down and you will end up without a child. 

Or worse, in jail.

Note: Adoption from China is perfectly legal and jail time is not a rational outcome of the process, but something about the journey can mess with your head and two logical and educated parents can look at each other in a dusty government office on the sixth floor and whisper close to the other’s ear under their nervous breath, “This is legal right?”  This rational couple can go from steady to “crazy town” in mere seconds on this journey to China and IN China. Or so I’ve heard.

After the months of preparation for the journey and the moments of what I will refer to as “crazy town” in country, the journey home can be an after thought. You are just hoping to get there and hoping to make it. And “crazy town” thoughts pop in as you envision someone jumping out and taking your baby back, right before you board the plane. “Just kidding!” they would laugh and disappear into the night with your sweet child, mocking you as you are carted off to jail.

Note: Again, jail time is not a likely outcome of the adoption process but by the time you are headed home, “crazy town” thoughts are getting more and more common. From what I’ve heard. 

We started our last leg of our journey home, in a mini van headed to Hong Kong from Guangzhou. That journey, projected to take under three hours, ended up lasting more than six hours. Traffic was halted, and at best, jarringly stop and go, and our newest addition screamed at the top of her lungs for five of the six hours. Imagine a car alarm that won’t stop blaring for five hours. Now escalate that by about 150 decibels. And now envision being chained to that car. For five hours.   

I’ve been a mother for a while so I knew our daughter’s trauma was temporary. The trauma that I was really worried about was that of our driver. I could watch little beads of sweat pour down his neck as he navigated that van through painfully slow stop and go traffic. His face was tense in the rear view mirror and we knew it wasn’t road rage he was battling. My husband whispered under his breath, “Do whatever you have to do to calm Grace down. I’m worried he is going to drop us off on the side of the road and never look back. “ There was the kind of pleading in his voice that let me know we were in desperate times. So, we ate through an entire bag of lollipops. Grace, me, our two precious biological children in the back seat just coping. Lollipops all around! As we eventually neared the airport, our bio daughter calmly and gracefully puked in a plastic bag. She essentially summed up that drive in one grand expulsive gesture. We stepped out of the van, grateful that we had not been abandoned on the side of the road and that we were alive. 

And not in jail.


Once we checked into the hotel at the Hong Kong airport and finally settled in our room to sleep, it was close to midnight. Our crew of 5 people lined up like sardines in the little Chinese beds and we crammed a crib into a tiny open space for our new little daughter. My husband and I had to walk across the beds to get to the window or bathroom, as the space was crammed with furniture, crib, suitcases and bags. Literally no walking space – like a human game of Frogger where the parents are the frogs trying not to step on small children. So we slept.

We slept until around 2am when we heard the sound of our oldest daughter vomiting in her sleep. She was so tired and she was completely unaware of the projectile vomit going everywhere – bed, pillow, wall, floor – you name it, it was there. We jumped out of bed and sat her upright, then tag team Frogger carried her to the bathroom, stepping across beds and children. Once there, she began to cry, not because she was encased in vomit, but because she just wanted to sleep. And my husband and I just stood there looking at each other. 

That’s when the “crazy town” gets scary. When two people who always know what to do, who are generally not affected and steady – just. stare. In silence. With a vomit dripping child between them. And then my husband said it. 

“I don’t know what to do.” 

There was panic in his eyes – this man is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force; a cancer surgeon who is not phased in high stress moments and there was shear panic in that little hotel bathroom.   Without stopping to acknowledge how his words sent me into a panic, I said resolutely, not breathing through my nose, “We are going to pray, we are going to get back up prayer, we are bathing her and we are getting out of here alive.” A group text was sent that probably read something like, “Daughter covered in vomit, vomit everywhere, scary vomit that needs to stop – please pray.” 

We put our oldest daughter in the bathtub, pajamas and all, and proceeded to clean her up. I remember reaching for the ruined pajamas to discard and crazy eyes husband in a scary whisper voice saying, “DO NOT throw those away. We will place them in a plastic bag (more vomit than pjs by this time) and clean them at home. It will mark that we actually made it. These are her favorite.” I knew better than to argue with irrational crazy eyes and gingerly balled them up into a bag and sealed them shut. 

She was Frogger-carried back in the bed and we proceeded to get two more hours of sleep before our alarm went off around 6:00am. By an act of Providence, our newly adopted daughter slept through the night. 

In the light of day, that hotel room looked like a combination of Bunker Hill and some sort of gross alien attack. Our daughter had been placed at the foot of the bed after her bath and several pillows stacked on top of and in between where she previously was and where her brother lay oblivious to it all, so that he would not roll into the pit of doom. We surveyed our damage and decided it was completely pointless to try and fix it. We instructed our children, you speak of this to no one. And then crazy eyes husband whispered low, “If we all have a stomach virus, your mission is to get on that plane and in the air before throwing up. You hold it in and get airborne and then I don’t care if we all puke the entire way to America. We are going home. We are making it home. Just get on that plane looking normal.”

We got on the plane. We made it home and thankfully by what I’m convinced was some major intercession on our behalf, no one else got sick and our daughter was fine as well. It’s probably a good thing that we feel our family is complete because I am convinced that our mug shots are on display throughout most of Hong Kong. Security footage likely exists of us carefully tip toeing out of that miserable room, over the hazardous waste that was expelled from our child and never looking back. I imagine figures like those in the movie ET were called in to completely strip the area, white suits and all, angry at the Americans who did God knows what in that room. 

God knows what we did. We just made it and made it home. 

And we are indefinitely banned from the Hong Kong airport hotel.   

Note: I write this to offer hope and transparency to anyone traveling currently or preparing to travel. As people we love to hear about beautiful weddings and perfect pregnancies and  baby deliveries, but we so appreciate when someone gives us the gory details of what can really happen. We try not laugh and we feel better in the midst of our own “crazy town” that we too can make it, because others walked it and survived. So, I giggle as I write this, remembering our journey home. I’m laughing now. Because I didn’t go to jail. 

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 …Read More

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.   Grants, Fundraising, and Understanding the Business Side of Agencies   Finances are an important consideration for many parents. Few …Read More

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 …Read More

The China Trip: a Tip a Day

July 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


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 13 Comments


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


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

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