Waiting Twins: Chad and Tad

November 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Chad and Tad are twin brothers who are 3.5 years old. They were found as infants and determined to be premature and of low birthweight. After a few months of careful care provided by their orphanage, they grew and matured enough to be sent to foster care. The two brothers have lived in separate foster homes since this time. Both boys are now considered healthy and similar to their peers of the same as far as their health and physical development.


Chad answers questions about his name, age, and asking where people such as his foster father are. He can count from 1-20. He is able to follow instructions, recite poems, sing, dance. He has friends he likes to play with and knows their names. He is affectionate with foster mom and makes good eye contact. Chad’s foster mom has cared for 10 children and thinks he is almost on par with peers. Chad is described as a “naughty” child, doing things such as stealing the tv remote to watch his favorite cartoons. Chad has no special needs listed.


Tad’s special need is suspected autism. He was moved to an experienced foster family about a year ago and during that time his foster mother feels he has made good progress. However she reports that Tad does not feed himself or follow directions to carry out simple tasks. He exhibits repetitive behaviors and is nonverbal. Recent video shows Tad exhibiting behaviors which suggest that his autism might be more mild to moderate. On video you can see him interacting with individuals, giving social smiles, exhibiting fine motor skills, and crossing his midline during play all while in a noisy environment. Tad shows great potential improvement for a family who can provide him with the many resources and therapies available for children with autism.


Chad and Tad are currently designated to Lifeline Children’s Services, please contact them for more information.

Looking Beyond the Label

November 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Gastrointestinal Issues.

These two words changed our world and lives forever on December 2, 2012. My husband and I had poured over the list of special needs provided by the Waiting Child Program at our adoption agency and chosen those we felt we could handle emotionally, physically, and financially. Gastrointestinal issues was a special need we added late in the home study process. It seemed like a vague addition but one we were willing to research on a case by case basis.

On November 30, 2012 we received a phone call from our family coordinator letting us know that our home study was approved and they would begin looking for a referral match. She asked us to clarify which gastrointestinal issues we would be willing to accept and let her know in the next few days. We didn’t get a chance to have that conversation – six hours after our conference call was complete the phone rang. There was a file available for a two year old boy with gastrointestinal issues. Would we be interested in reviewing the file? We said yes.

Since the file was shared between agencies we had 72 hours to read the file, find an adoption specialist willing to review it and let our agency know our decision. It was late Thursday night when the call came in so the countdown was on. We had to have the acceptance or denial paperwork emailed by Sunday morning. Yikes!

We found an adoption specialist in another state willing to do a review between Friday afternoon and Saturday and then Skype with us on Saturday night. The gastrointestinal issue? Repaired anal atresia, also called imperforate anus.

We knew nothing about this condition or what “repaired” meant. Thankfully the specialist reviewing our file was very thorough and during our two-hour conversation she walked us through the continuum of what repaired anal atresia could look like. We were surprised at the vast differences between children with this diagnosis (no issues to multiple surgeries and daily interventions). After our conversation with her we felt informed enough to make a decision. With what we had learned and our strong belief that this child was meant to be our son, we responded with a resounding YES!

Fast forward 7 months later and we were handed a beautiful little boy who is full of energy, life, laughter and . . . poop!


There weren’t any “surprises” regarding our little boy’s condition while we were in China (everything seemed correct anatomically) except the lack of poop. There was nothing for two days and we were growing concerned. Our first thought was there had been a mistake in the file and that he didn’t poop regularly. We soon found out we had nothing to worry about . . . the kid was a pooping machine! Nonstop. Really. Nonstop the entire time we were in China and right on through the first months of being home. Every diaper. Every day. Lord help us!

Our pediatrician (an adoption specialist at the University of Washington) referred us to the Bowel Management division of Pelvic Medicine at Seattle Children’s for further review and testing. It turns out that our little boy’s corrective surgery wasn’t the worst they had seen but it wasn’t the best either. Our first hurdle (after an MRI, echocardiogram, and x-rays to rule out other potentially related issues) was to go through Bowel Management week. It was determined that a daily enema program would be necessary to facilitate cleanliness for our little munchkin (then 3). This became part of our nightly schedule and routine. Our second hurdle was several months later when he had surgery to remove a stricture (basically scar tissue) that was hindering larger pieces of excrement from being passed. Once his incisions healed we were back to our nightly enema routine.

For two years our son has been “clean” because of his enema program. Enemas are not fun for any of us and they can create scheduling issues but making adjustments where necessary is a small price to pay to help our child live life to the fullest.

Then there is little boy number two. Our second adoption came as a surprise to us; we had not planned on adopting again. My husband was checking his email last December (2014) and saw a message from our former agency advocating for several children who had not been matched. These emails come through all the time and have never caused a stir in our hearts. This email was different. He saw the picture of an adorable little boy and knew he belonged in our family.

When I got home from work he asked me to sit down and he showed me the picture. I had the exact same feeling . . . this is our son. His special need? Repaired anal atresia (and other related issues). Really? Oh my. At the time I remember thinking, Wait, we only have one bathroom in our house! How is this going to work? It seems like a ridiculous thought when I think back but it was where I was at mentally.

We traveled to get our second son early October 2015 and while there weren’t any real surprises with our first son’s condition, we were heartbroken when we saw the result of our second son’s surgery. When it comes to the diagnosis of repaired anal atresia, you are basically in the dark about where your child is at on the anal atresia continuum.


The files are not always accurate, the spectrum of this condition and the broad use of the word “repaired” leave much to the imagination. That said, things did not look good for the newest member of our family. We took one look at our son’s repair and knew we were moving to a completely new level of care once we got home. Interestingly enough, that is what got us past our Lord, help him! and tear filled moments while in China. He is our son and we will do everything necessary and utilize the medical resources at our disposal to improve his quality of life. We cannot wait until he knows what it feels like to have a normal size abdomen and to be able to poop without extreme pain!

I am writing this one week after returning from China. He has had his initial appointment with the pediatrician (the same one our oldest sees) and she has put in referrals for four different departments at Seattle Children’s Hospital. We know this journey will have larger mountains to climb than we have dealt with before but we have experience to draw from and the knowledge that our little on is in good hands.

The label gastrointestinal issues played a large part in how our boys came to be a part of our family. We would love it if they did not have to deal with poop issues on a daily basis (honestly, it would be great if we didn’t have deal with their issues either) but it is a part of their reality that cannot be changed. Instead of the label, we look at our boys and see all of the possibilities the future holds for them now that they have access to the care they need. They are our sons (poop and all) and we love them to forever and back!

guest post by Robyn

My Wounding

November 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 13 Comments

“I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human.” – Frederick Buechner

Be gentle with me, dear reader. Please be tender and generous and kind with me. This is my heart, spilled out in letters and words, and it’s more than a little vulnerable and afraid. But I come to you, sharing my story and telling my secrets because I firmly believe that by so doing, perhaps someone else can begin to find freedom.


I found an old newspaper article the other day. A story from my childhood that you would hardly believe could be true. I never dreamed I could so easily find the details – maybe because the actual event feels so surreal that on some level it seems it couldn’t possibly be real – but there it is in black and white print. A miracle of Google. I was 8 years old. My father suffered a psychotic break and in his attempts to protect his family from the people he thought were chasing us, he took off with all of us in his private plane. Flying cross-country with his wife and two small children in a harrowing journey that would seem more appropriate to come out of Hollywood than my past, he ended up making an emergency landing in a nuclear power facility in Idaho. We were immediately surrounded by security officers and interrogated for several hours, something that I’m quite sure only fueled my father’s delusions. “Engine trouble,” the article called it. That’s why they say he landed the plane where he did. And maybe there was engine trouble. But my memory says that engine trouble is code for what happens when you’re being flown across the country by a man who had quite literally lost his mind.


If you would have asked me a couple of years ago if this event still impacted me today, I’d have laughed off your question with a lighthearted “Of course not!” I would have talked about how it was something that had happened to me but that it didn’t define me; that it didn’t impact the way I walked through the world today or interacted with those I love. I’d tell you that I was only made stronger from the experience and that nothing inside of me was wounded or frail or broken or hurting. I would have confidently said that I’d dealt with it and moved on. I’d have said with deep conviction that one traumatic event like that didn’t have much of an impact on me.

And maybe it didn’t… maybe if taken in isolation, that one harrowing plane landing and terrifying journey didn’t have much impact on me. But I understand something now that I didn’t understand a few years ago. That plane landing represents so much more – years of an unpredictable and chaotic family rollercoaster with long stretches of relative stability and short bursts of unbelievable turmoil; years tainted by an always-present undercurrent of mental illness, alcohol abuse, and emotional turbulence. What I now understand is that those years left a mark on my heart and soul that is undeniably profound— but that I also undeniably denied.


Sometimes when you get off a rollercoaster, you don’t quite know which way is up. It takes a while to get your bearings. And maybe if you ride the rollercoaster long enough, your whole system is recalibrated. Abnormal becomes normal. Roles get reversed. Trust is exchanged for control. I exited the rollercoaster of my upbringing with a great head on my shoulders (something that seems a bit surprising to me), a need to be perfect and please, and a deep conviction that I was responsible for the well-being of those around me. I was accustomed to being emotionally responsible for those who were supposed to take care of me, and I was only too ready to step into that role for anyone I thought needed it. Looking back I think it was this brokenness that fueled my heart for orphans in many ways… and perhaps even served as part of my personal drive to live four years in China, working on their behalf. I was a wounded healer. A year before we adopted, I heard Karyn Purvis say at an Empowered to Connect conference that lots of us wounded healers find our way into fostering and adoption. I knew in that moment that she was talking about me, but I didn’t yet know what that meant.


This is where the story gets blurry and messy. I’m starting to know more deeply my own brokenness, but it’s hard to find the edges; to define it and categorize it and break it down so I can explain it. It’s still hard for me to understand the full implications of my childhood trauma in my life today. Sometimes I feel as if, for most of my adult life, I’ve been sitting on the banks of a cold, dark pond, tucked away in some hidden mountain valley. The pond has a chipped little sign next to a creaky dock that tells me it’s called My Wounding, and I’ve stood at the edges and admired how the surface is so calm. In fact, when the light hits it just right and the air around is still, it’s beautiful. Its dark and murky waters don’t seem terrifying to me, but rather peaceful, and I feel comfortable on the shores. I’ve been content sitting there on the banks, looking out at the water but feeling none of its effects. I hardly notice when the wind blows and causes a few ripples, even when it gets my feet a little wet, because I’m still comfortably in control… sitting there on the edge, staring out at the surface I know will soon be still again.


But then Alea came home. And I found myself all alone, standing in my kitchen with a broken-hearted child wailing in my arms. I could plainly see – perhaps more than anyone else around – that this little one, newly not-an-orphan, needed far more healing than I could possibly provide in my own strength. And just like that, My Wounding was struck by a gale-force storm. Clinging to my newly-adopted daughter, it seemed the stormy waters overtook us both; as if the pond had suddenly and unexpectedly tripled in size and there wasn’t time to clamber to higher ground. I was fighting to keep both of our heads above water, and I couldn’t hear His voice whispering peace and calm into the storm above the angry and loud din of my own fears and brokenness. The storm raged, and My Wounding consumed me.


And there it was. I was a caregiver who couldn’t be all that her child needed. A wounded healer who couldn’t heal another. I was a woman who had learned to the very core of her being that the easiest way to cope with unpredictable and fearful people was to build strong and secure emotional walls (I think the experts call it avoidant attachment), and I found myself fighting to attach to my daughter when everything in me was screaming to detach, check out, build walls, and emotionally walk away. I was living with the weight of these impossible contradictions and saw no end in sight. I gulped and gasped and all I seemed to get was mouthfuls of murky water. The storm didn’t pass, and it felt as if I were drowning as waves of her grief and loss crashed into my own. As the waves crashed, the waters grew more turbulent and murky, stirring up My Wounding until the calm and peaceful (albeit dark) pond was a distant memory and I was left frantically sand-bagging; fighting back the dangerous waters of my own inadequacies and brokenness as I tried to claim safe, secure, and stable ground for myself and my family.


The sandbags didn’t hold.

How could they? We were never meant to stand our own ground, to be our own healers, to save ourselves. And while the storm didn’t lessen in intensity, miraculously something began to shift and I started to hear His voice in the middle of it all. He’s always been good about speaking to storms. He used friends and family, pastors, dreams, and sometimes a nearly audible voice speaking to the deepest places in my heart to help me ride the waves – one-by-one, moment-by-moment. He was always my daily bread. I started letting Him fill the sandbags.

I wouldn’t say that the waves have all calmed yet. Daily I find myself sometimes still gasping for air as I struggle to get my head above the neediness, brokenness, and loss that continues to shape such a large part of my beautiful child’s personality. Or more honestly, I struggle to get my head above the way her loss crashes into my own need to make her world whole and perfect and right, a task I can never accomplish. But in my deepest places, I know My Wounding will never be the same. He’s spoken freedom straight to the deepest parts of my heart, and now that those waters have been stirred, I’m no longer content to sit on the shore of that dark and quiet pond. Its peacefulness is deceptive, and it no longer feels like a comfortable part of my story.

A few months ago, I began going to counseling. It isn’t easy. It means looking at hard things from childhood I’ve never really considered and have even worked hard to hide; not from others so much, but mostly from myself. It feels like I’m wading out into the middle of My Wounding, and it takes everything I have to trust that God will keep my head above the water. As I wade out, I hear His whisper calling me to go out further and in deeper. I hear Him asking me to trust Him as He holds my hand and helps me look straight and deep into the waters of My Wounding. I hear Him promising me that as I do that, His redemptive and healing hand will touch those waters and make them clean, clear and life-giving. Waters to sustain me and nurture my children.


I don’t like writing stories when I don’t know how they end. It feels safer to start the journey of sharing when I know the moral of the story; when the lesson can be neatly summarized and tied up with a preferably tidy ending and pretty little bow. Even when the story is filled with many broken roads, I don’t mind sharing when I can see God’s redemptive hand working to bring beauty out of the brokenness.

But this isn’t really one of those times… though I do see signs of His goodness and redemption, I’m still very much in the thick of a journey down a very broken road – or perhaps wading deeper into a very murky pond. And part of me would rather stay silent. Partially because I also don’t like sharing stories that deal with the brokenness of others. Sure part of this is my story, but it is also the story of my family, of my parents. And I can promise you that they don’t see much of it in the same way. Despite our deep differences, my heart’s desire is to honor them, and I understand that telling secrets like this could seem to some as deeply dishonoring. That has been one of the things that has held me back from sharing for so long.

But that isn’t the only reason it is hard to share. I also struggle with wanting to stay silent so that I can preserve the appearance that all is well in the hidden valleys of my heart. That My Wounding doesn’t exist, or if it does, that it has never been anything more than a comfortable place to sit and remember the past.

But that isn’t the truth. It isn’t safe and it isn’t free to pretend that My Wounding is benign or beautiful. And I feel called to testify. To speak of His goodness even when I don’t know how this story will end.

Because I know I’m not the only one with My Wounding tucked neatly and quietly away. I’m not the only one who has sat on its eerily quiet shores and appreciated the fact that all appears so calm and still; who tells herself there’s nothing too dangerous in those waters. I’m not the only one who has found herself so comfortable there on the banks that it even starts to feel like home.

And I’m not the only one who has gone through the very unnatural-but-sacred act of making an orphan her son or daughter, and in so doing, find that when I think I’m only standing on the shores of someone else’s wounding, I’m actually knee deep in my own – frightened by how fast the water is rising and the way it threatens all I know to be true about myself. I’m not the only one who has discovered that her trauma triggers my trauma; her grief triggers my grief; and her loss triggers my loss. And as I watch my precious daughter struggle along her own journey to wholeness, doing my best to help her find her way, I know I’m not the only one to suddenly realize with shocking clarity just how far I personally am from the place I want to take her.

So this isn’t a happily ever after story – yet. This is me, writing a dispatch from the front lines, neck deep in My Wounding and clinging to the hand of a safe God who I’m only just now starting to be able to call Father with any degree of trust and surrender and tenderness in my voice. And I’m calling out to you… you sitting there on the shores of Your Wounding. I want to tell you that when you’re holding His hand, it’s OK to jump in.

It’s hard work, but when we understand what’s in those waters and let Him make them clear, we will be able to better lead our children through theirs.

Telling the Story: Theirs, Mine and His

November 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Templeton 2

I realize now that when we first brought our children home, I had an undefined, but deeply felt and well-meant desire. However, I have also realized that my desire was not exactly what God had in mind. Let me explain. I wanted our adopted children to be so loved, so secure, so encompassed in the …Read More

find my family: Jude

November 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Jude turned four years old in October and is diagnosed as having lower limb weakness. He came into care at the approximate age of two. His nannies report that he has big beautiful eyes and is very handsome. When his file was prepared in October of 2014, he could stand up and walk while holding …Read More

Meet the Contributors: Nicole

November 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a …Read More

find my family: Naomi

November 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Naomi is a precious two year old little girl who is listed with Lifeline. Her special need is cerebral palsy. Naomi is a beautiful little girl! She responds to others asking for her belongings and waves goodbye to others. She is a good sleeper and likes playing with toys. Naomi’s file reports that she is …Read More

Nothing Else Mattered: FAQs About Anal Atresia

November 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

We saw her face. We fell in love. Nothing else mattered. My husband and I simply wanted to be parents and we knew in our hearts that our children were in China; we just had to go get them. Like most parents to be, we hoped and prayed that our children would be healthy. Our …Read More

Embracing Their Story: Going Back

November 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Their story with us didn’t start at the beginning. I think we jumped in around chapter 3 or 4. Much like opening a book midstream and trying to piece together a plot, our adoptions began with many unanswered questions and many holes that I knew we could never fill. Yet at some point, I knew …Read More

Embracing Her Story: Gracie

November 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


We know that God is the only one who can heal hearts and redeem stories. But what of our role as shepherds of their hearts? One powerful, guiding gift we can dig into is the experience of others, young and old, who are willing to share their stories. As part of our Embracing Their Story …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.