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 care for the orphan (James 1:27). I am daily over whelmed at the beauty of  God’s heart through adoption. He adopted me and I was chosen to adopt my son–it STILL boggles my mind. But adoption wasn’t God’s first plan. It’s an unbelievably perfect back-up but it is only in response to our screw up in the Garden (way to go us). Still, if our Heavenly Father is going to mention caring for ‘orphans’ and ‘the fatherless’ forty-one times in the Old Testament alone, I have to believe it is a subject very dear to the Lord’s heart. Which means caring for His children, even beyond adoption, should be very dear to mine.  (If you want to read a book that will rock your world on this concept, check out Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr.
The 30DayAdoptionChallenge (posted HERE) got me thinking about the creative ways my circle of friends and friends once & twice removed are caring for the orphan. It’s varied and awe inspiring and creative and personally challenging. And they all answer the question: “What would happen if I could use the talent God gave me and the time I have available?”
  • A photographer friend of mine donates her time & passion to photograph the foster children during their week at Royal Family Kids Camp. Each child is provided personal 5x7s, wallet sized and 4x6s of their precious faces, each lovingly framed, wrapped, prayed over and presented with hands of love. For many this is the first and only photograph they’ve ever had of themselves. It is a tangible representation of their Heavenly Father’s love for them–I created you; I see you; you are beautiful; you are loved. One woman who loves to photograph gives her skill and offers her heart to care for these beauties when no one else can or will. (Col 2:23-24)
  • Another dear friend has a passionate calling for a very specific genetic special need. Only 1 in 15,000 births results in this specific condition, and my friend heard about one boy in an orphanage in China that has it and needs specialized formula to survive. She has rearranged her family budget to purchase the (very expensive) formula then coordinates with adoption agencies across the nation sending families to that orphanage to pick up their own children. Would you be willing to bring the formula to this sweet boy? I’ll send you the cans. This is who you contact. Send the empty cans back to me and I’ll find more families who are going. This boy can’t live without it.  Can you imagine the amount of coordination this takes? Hundreds of cans of formula have arrived for this ONE sweet boy, each declaring: you are SO very loved and wanted that scores of people you have never met are willing to go to the ends of the earth to make sure you are safe until your forever family finds you. Jesus loves you EVEN MORE than that! THAT is the gospel in action. One homeschooling mom of six caring for the orphan. (Matthew 18:12)
  • A group of grandmas at my church get together every year and make fleece blankets for foster kids in the county. As they adjust their glasses and warm up their hands, they pray over each child that will be wrapped in God’s arms through that blanket. And as they embroider scripture into the corners they are offering Truth—you are worthy of Love, sweet heart; I have a plan and purpose for you; run to Me and I’ll hold you and give you a future. Grandmas loving on God’s kids like they were their own. (Is 61:3)
  • A friend’s church distributes empty baby bottles to their congregation and asks them to fill it with change from their pockets to support the local crisis pregnancy center. Seems simple enough right? Yes! And with each baby bottle full of pennies they are proclaiming: You and your child are valued; your past does not matter because ours doesn’t either; God’s future is full of hope; He is our husband and we’ll be that for you and your precious baby. You will not be a widow, your child will not be an orphan. What do you need? We are here.  One Midwest church and bottles full of change. (Psalm 68:5)
  • A local couple passionate about domestic foster adoption arranges Adoption Info Nights at area churches. They bring their story, the resources they are aware of and a plate of cookies then ask the Holy Spirit to move. They don’t claim to be adoption experts, but they can share the need and how they didn’t think God could use them and then He did and it was hard, but it is awesome and you should step out in faith too. I love it! You don’t have to be a preacher to testify. I betchya the Holy Spirit’s favorite movement is through a story and a plate of cookies. (2 Tim 4:2)
  • A stay-at-home mom friend got her real estate license to make some occasional extra cash for her family. She also wanted a way to give towards adoption & foster care so she writes into her contracts that a portion of her commission is dedicated to orphan care. Each family that buys/sells a house with her is automatically giving to an agency that cares for foster & orphaned children. Complete strangers are going to care for God’s children whether they want to or not. It’s kinda brilliant!  (Deut 24:19)
These are just a few creative cares that are happening in my little neck of the woods. I’m sure there are a gazillion different & unique ways to care for God’s most vulnerable. It’s fun to think about when the excuses are taken away…money, time, location, support are all non issues. The possibilities are endless!  How creative can you get?  What can you do? What would happen if you used the talent God gave you and the time available to you?? (Phil 2:13).  Miracles! 

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, a little protein and a lot of love will do for a child.

China has continued the release of children with Down syndrome to multiple international adoption agencies. This sweet boy is still waiting and he NEEDS a new forever. Simeon, now age 2, with Down syndrome


Simeon enjoys listening to music & playing with toys. He kicks his cushion when there is music playing and laughs when teased. Simeon enjoys sitting and watching the other children play. He also enjoys being cuddled. Isn’t he precious?? I know he would absolutely thrive with a loving home and a little bit of therapy. If you or someone you know (please forward this anyone you think may be interested!) would like more information regarding this cutie patootie, please call 1-877-64-ADOPT or visit Bethany. This little guy is on the Shared List making him available to any agency should you be established somewhere other than Bethany Christian Services.

Simeon’s family likely already has a heart for their child they’ve never met. Please join us in praying that they are able to step out in faith to bring their son HOME soon.

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

November 19, 2014 by Mike 5 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 of what it means to be in the majority… because I have never known anything else.

To paraphrase John Mellencamp’s famous ballad to another Indiana village, I grew up in a “white town.” My graduating class in High School had almost 700 people, and I would guess that 680 of them were white. (Even my ignorance of this number speaks volumes. I suspect that my classmates in the minority could tell me exactly how many people from their race were in our class… with the answer sometimes being “one.”)

With this as background, it may be surprising to learn that I ended up in a family that is 50% non-white. With the adoption of 4 Chinese children, I now have more Chinese people in my house than I used to have in my entire neighborhood. (It is a strange irony that I also have more Chinese kids in my house than 99.9% of the families in China.)

In the course of the international adoption process, my wife and I were required to take several hours of adoption preparation classes. One of the most common topics in those classes was on how to celebrate and preserve my adopted child’s native culture.

During one class, we were required to watch a series of videos. One of the videos featured adults who had been adopted transracially. When asked about his experience, one young man explained how important it was that his family lived in a diverse community where he could meet and interact with people who looked like him.

To be transparent (a reference to authentic communication, not the almost see-through nature of my pale skin), I was not open to this message.


A picture of our four Chinese kids on the first day of school.

I was not an opponent of having a diverse community or celebrating their cultural heritage, but I could hardly argue that I was a passionate advocate for it. Having grown up blind to the hidden privilege and omnipresence of my own majority status, I had no appreciation of the value of cultural identity. I would probably have argued that it was “good,” but I would not have called it a “critical” or “urgent” need for our family or my youngest four kids.

I mistakenly assumed that their cultural identity would shift when their last name and citizenship did. I thought I was being egalitarian in my assumption that their needs would be no different than those of my bio kids. From a cultural identity perspective, I mistakenly assumed that their membership in our family was “enough.”

I was wrong.

There have been a lot of examples over the last few years where my cultural competence and sensitivity has grown. I now feel out-of-place in restaurants populated only with white people, in contrast to an entire youth spent in precisely those same places.

But nothing has driven this reality home more than our recent school change.

Late last year, we felt led to look at some different school options. During our search, we came across a very small school just about a mile from our house. (That tells you how small it is… since it was a mile away and we didn’t even consider it before now. 

This school is special in many ways, but any visit would highlight one of its most noteworthy aspects – only 30% of the students are white. Almost 50% of the kids are Asian. (For perspective, a professional photographer who visited recently described it as one of the first times he could photograph a “diverse” mix of kids without needing to stage the shot.)

Mom and the Four Littles

A picture from Grandparent’s Day at the school. It may be hard to believe that the woman in the middle is the aforementioned grandmother (my mom)… not because she is a different race than the kids but because she could not possibly be old enough to have grandchildren.

While the diversity numbers were impressive to my wife and me, they were downright shocking to our kids.

For the first time in their life in America (outside of our local Chinese restaurant), there were more people that looked like them than there were that looked like us.


To be clear, both our church and our first school have Chinese kids… but almost all of them were adopted internationally. Their parents look like me. This is what led to the fascinating observation by one of my kids – “Did you notice that the moms and dads of the Chinese kids at my new school are Chinese?” (in a tone conveying far more shock than that seemingly obvious statement would normally merit.)


This was only one of several sobering and insightful quotes from our early days there:

  • “Do you feel weird?” – One of our boys whispered this question to my wife at a school event where she was one of the only white people in the room.
  • “He’s your kind. What are you called?” – A dinner-table response when asked to describe a new classmate. Based on the description and some follow-ups, we determined that the classmate is white.
  • “Do you think that is what my tummy mom looks like?” – Our daughter’s question, tinged with both hope and sadness, upon first seeing a “Chinese mom” at the new school.
  • “My Chinese words are sleeping.” – Our daughter’s frustrated response when unable to respond in Chinese to a question from one of the moms who, incredibly, comes from her same town in Hunan Province.
  • “Oh, that’s great! We are Chinese, too!” – My Caucasian wife’s enthusiastic response when trying to connect with a “fellow” Chinese mom. It took her a while to explain after the long awkward pause.
  • “Sorry about that. You white people all look the same to me.” – An Asian parent apologizing that he could not remember my name.

While I recognize how stupid I must sound in saying this, I never realized how important it was for my Chinese kids to be around other Chinese people… for my non-white kids (and all of us, really) to be part of a community that looks like them (or at least not 100% like me.) 

Diversity matters to my kids. A lot.

Will and the Hay Ride

A snapshot of diversity from a class “hay ride” at our new school. It is a shame that Will (orange sweatshirt) doesn’t seem to like it there.

It has been such a blessing for them to be around other Chinese kids and families. It has been fun for them to see us making friends with Chinese parents. They are looking forward to next week when we are going over for dinner with one of the Chinese families of a classmate.

My kids are learning a lot about themselves from finally having a place of their own where they are not in the minority, and I am learning a lot about myself from having a place where I am.

Some of the lessons for me are wonderful. It is hard to imagine something more beautiful than worshipping with the kids at the school’s weekly chapel service. Different kids from different families and different nations all united in praising God. I suspect that it may be as close to a picture of heaven as I may ever see here on earth.

It has been wonderful to get to know Chinese Christians. Knowing that the birth families of our younger kids are likely still in China, it is tremendously helpful to learn about what God is doing there and how we might pray more intentionally for their salvation… and for a reunion some day in heaven. In those discussions with Chinese believers from the school, our differences seem insignificant in comparison with what we share in Jesus.

Some aspects of the diversity have been challenging at times. I have had several occasions when I could not understand what a parent was saying because of their accent. I have stumbled more than once in trying to repeat a non-traditional name of a child. (Huge apologies to Ahninuh. After six times, I think he just agreed that I was close enough.) I have heard a student’s name and had no idea what their gender was. I confess some fear that the Chinese food at next week’s dinner will be more authentic than the Americanized versions I have come to appreciate.

But whatever ludicrous inconveniences or moments of discomfort I might face, they pale (no pun intended) in comparison to the benefits we are seeing for our kids. They love it.

I am not Chinese. (And regardless of what she may believe, neither is Anne.) And I am just now recognizing the loss for my Chinese kids that their parents do not look like them or share their cultural heritage, and the value of seeing and being in community – and in fellowship – with other parents who do.

I also do not assume that Chinese faces are the only ones that matter. I think there is as much to learn from a classroom of varied brown and black faces… and even a few kids that “look like me.” This is not about replacing one homogeneous environment with another. This is about REAL diversity… the messiness that comes from living life in community with people that are different than me – for the mutual benefit of all.

So there you have it. I am a reformed advocate of diversity.

What does this mean? It means I will no longer accept the status quo of homogeneity for my family. I will fight… in my choice of schools, neighborhoods, churches, doctors, friends, etc… to insure that my children live in a world with others who look like them and still others that don’t look like either of us.

We are a multi-racial family. It is my responsibility to insure that we are living a multi-racial life in a multi-racial world.

In retrospect, I think the great Hoosier poet Mr. Mellencamp may have understood diversity more than I originally assumed as one of his most famous song includes these lines: 

I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Not bad for a white guy from Indiana…


Adopting a Child with Albinism

November 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


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


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

find my family: Lai

November 14, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Update: My family has found me! On February 27, 2009, Lai was found abandoned. He just turned 8 years old with a birthdate of October 2006. He is a shy, delicate and handsome little boy. His demeanor is really peaceful, and when he sees a stranger, he stands very still and does not talk. If …Read More

5 Things your Kids Will Learn When You Adopt

November 13, 2014 by Hannah 0 Comments

Today is my youngest sister’s second “Adoption Day”! Aren’t anniversaries like this the best? Because it’s National Adoption Month right now, Orphan Sunday was two weeks ago and World Adoption Day was last Sunday, it’s been hard to not think about adoption. Similarly, it’s been hard not to think about my sweet sisters. I still …Read More

find my family: Marilyn

November 12, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

When the first thing someone say to describe you is that your “smile lights up a room” you must just radiate joy and that is how Marilyn is described by her current agency staff who recently met her. This shy and soft-spoken 8 year old has Down Syndrome and CHD (PDA). She does well at …Read More