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What We Know…

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We know that adoption is beautiful, don’t we? We know that it is a wonderful way to build a family. We also know that it can be painful, and scary, and even though it can most definitely be a dream come true, it can also hold many frightening unknowns…

We have three dreams come true, Three precious ones, ages 6, 4, and 2, who came to our family through the beauty and pain of adoption, and whom we cannot imagine our lives without. They are beautiful and even though they each came to us with their own set of unique medical needs, they have all three been perfect for our family.


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Our oldest came to us at almost two and a half with a complex heart defect called Tetrology of Fallot (ToF), and double outlet right ventricle, with pulmonary atresia. What that means is that she had several holes in her heart, and because she didn’t get the surgery early in life her heart had grown to compensate. She was also missing her entire right ear (called microtia) and had profound hearing loss in both ears, for which she now wears a hearing aid in her left ear. She had surgery to repair her ToF four weeks after we got home, and she will have a second surgery in the next few years to replace her pulmonary valve. She has done amazingly well, and has come SO incredibly far in the four years she has been home.


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Our son came to us at almost three years old, with unrepaired unilateral club foot, and was otherwise healthy.

And our baby came to us just four months ago… we were planning to “go easy” this time around, and “just take our time.” I know many of you can relate, ha!

But then we asked God to lead, to show us if we were meant to move out of our comfort zone. And it seemed we were… Every little one we came across, and every file we were drawn to had very complex CHD’s. When our agency sent us the file for this precious eighteen month old little girl, we were not surprised that she had complex CHD. We talked about it and made our decision in two hours… we had been doing our homework, talking to our oldest daughter’s cardiologist about different complex heart defects, and we knew what every scary diagnosis in her file meant…

So we went for it! We saw her file in April, and we travelled for her in September. She has single ventricle, single atrium, with a common valve. She has transposition of the great vessels, and pulmonary stenosis. She also has heterotaxy syndrome with asplenia, and a possible ciliary disfunction. She had a Glenn placed in China at five months old. We were hoping that she would have a Fontan, but upon coming home it was found that she was not a candidate because of high Glenn pressures.

She has been in the hospital four times since we brought her home, and she had her first surgery with us in January to repair a leaky valve and disconnect a pulmonary artery.

We don’t know what the future holds for our precious one…


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But there are many things we do know.

We know we are in good company. The adoption community excels at supporting and coming alongside one another. We have been prayed for, and encouraged, and even brought to tears by the thoughtful emails and outpouring of love from this community.

We know that we are blessed… so blessed, and so honored to be chosen to be parents to these little ones, and to be their family.

We know that we will be pushed and pulled in new directions, and we know we will need to be strong, maybe stronger than we have ever needed to be, but we just might find that we are stronger than we even thought we were.


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We know that we will need to be brave, and we know that we can do hard things.

We know these days will be hard, but they could just be the best days of our life, because they will be days filled with hope.

We know that this is what faith is about, this stepping out into an unknown that is out of our control.

We know that sometimes loving someone who will not outlive you can seem impossible, but we also know the God that makes all things possible, even this.

We know that adopting a child with complex, serious needs can and will stretch your family and your marriage and your peaceful calm, life…

But we also know that this, and these babies, will be totally worth it. And we would do this again in a heartbeat.

guest post by Joanna who blogs at The Crafty Nester

find my family: larry

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Larry was born in September 2012 and diagnosed with congenital heart disease.

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Sweet Larry was found in a hotel dustbin as a newborn and taken to the hospital. At that time he had a hematoma on his scalp and began treatment for jaundice after entering an orphanage. His hematoma resolved on its own but it was discovered that he did have a congenital heart defect, ASD. There is no mention of heart surgery in his report. He also has several birth marks, possibly Cafe au Lait spots.

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Larry’s report was done when he was just 8 months old but at that time they said he enjoyed playing with toys and would shake them with strength and laugh happily. He enjoyed watching other children. Larry is said to be close to his nannies and a 2015 update shows him crawling, walking, babbling and identifying body parts when asked by a nanny.

Larry is designated to Small World Adoptions. Please go here to view his video and request more information.

out of the darkness

February 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

I don’t think I will ever be the mom who believes God’s original and best plan for my daughter was for her to be in my home.

I realize that’s a controversial statement, and perhaps many of the people reading this will feel something bristle inside of them as they think about their own precious children who came into their families through similar roads. But I can’t believe that a loving God who designed all of creation to be whole and in harmony and in relationship with Him would carefully knit my daughter together in her mother’s womb with the intention that she be wrenched away from the very spot He placed her in the earliest days of her life. That was a tragedy. She was collateral damage in this war-torn and fallen world. I do, however, believe that a loving God redeems and restores all broken things, and I have no doubt that He orchestrated untold miracles to ensure that our paths would cross at just the right time and give me the unspeakable honor and joy of walking out life as her mama. But there is a tension there, and in recent weeks, I’ve come to realize that this tension between His original plan and His redemptive plan has wrongly settled in my heart as often feeling that I’m really not the woman He meant for this job.

She came out of anesthesia kicking and screaming… holding her breath without ever opening her eyes, she stiffened and clawed and then gasped and screamed. Then she’d hold her breath all over again and do the whole cycle once more. She was clearly fighting to wake up. “It’s normal,” the nurse kept saying to me over and over… looking at me with the unblinking calm of a woman who has seen far too many wide-eyed mamas panic as their children writhed and kicked and battled their way back to reality. “Just keep holding her,” she said. “You’re doing great, mama.”

I sat silently, holding her tight through the cries, wondering what I should do next and if I really was doing great. I immediately found myself slipping back into that place of thinking, “She doesn’t want you, Carrie. You aren’t going to be able to comfort her.” My sweet girl and I have had quite a journey this last year, and this feeling isn’t based only on deep theological questions about whether or not I was meant to be her mother. (Though it isn’t helped by those, either.) We have spent most of the last year fighting to come closer to each other; fighting for the type of deep bond I know is possible and that she’s probably never experienced. And so often I let myself wallow in the muck pond of How Far We Have Left To Go, rather than look back down the mountain and celebrate How Far We Have Come. And in my wallowing, I grow despondent and assume I simply don’t measure up for the task at hand.

As these thoughts ran through my head, she was still writhing and crying in my arms, eyes still clenched shut as if she couldn’t get her body to open them even though it was what she wanted most. I’ve had nightmares like that before, where I felt like I was fighting to wake up and unseen forces were holding me back. The nurse was talking to Alea, but Alea seemed very far away. I felt sad and helpless watching her… But all of a sudden it occurred to me to just start talking, too.

“Alea, can you open your eyes for mama? Open your eyes, baby. Mama is here.” I just kept talking, gently pushing her thick black hair out of her face, wondering if she could hear me. And in a moment the screams stopped. She took a deep breath and her eyes cracked open. I kept talking, “Good girl! Hi there! Open your eyes, sweetheart. Do you want to go home and see LeLe and Sissy and Daddy?“ Her eyes opened a little wider and she looked directly at me and nodded.

And I sat there stunned.

It was my voice that helped her find her way out of the darkness. I am her mama and she heard me calling to her and she came back to me. She wants me and she wanted to go home with me. And in that moment, something inside me shifted. Just because I’m unwilling to say that God originally designed for her to be in my family doesn’t mean that this isn’t where she is meant to be now. Just because she grew under another mama’s heart doesn’t mean she doesn’t belong in mine now. And just because the road is hard and I know we still have a long way to go doesn’t mean we are on the wrong path or haven’t made enough progress yet.

I know some adoptive mamas feel like it is hard to “share” their child with the first mom, even if that woman remains a stranger for all of their days. There are adoptive moms who feel threatened and defensive about their place as their child’s mother. I think I understand that a little; I can see how feelings like that might grow when our own fears and inadequacies take root and we begin to wonder, in the deepest parts of our heart, if that sinister and accusatory voice is speaking truth when it says we are the wrong woman for the job. But can we all agree to recognize that voice is not the Father’s? He does not shame, accuse, or condemn us. He does not glory in our shortcomings or laugh at our feelings of inadequacy.

His voice is the one gently calling to us to wake up to the reality of His goodness and mercy. Perhaps we’ve been fighting to open our eyes, but when we are fighting with our strength alone we quickly grow weary and our fears, brokenness and that accusatory voice listing all the ways we don’t measure up conspire to hold us back in the darkness. And so we writhe and we ache and we cry out; we get defensive and angry and scared. But He’s still calling, telling us He will help us find our way out of the darkness. He is our Daddy and when we finally hear Him calling us, our hearts know His voice and we go running, like prodigal daughters who know the safest place we could be is wrapped up in His loving, open arms.


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And right now I hear Him calling me out of the place of wondering if I can ever be enough… the place of doubting that I can ever be what she needs since I wasn’t the one He gave her to in the first place. Just like it was my voice that helped guide her back to me, His voice is bringing me closer to His heart. And when I am near His heart, I trust that I’m enough because His mercies are new every morning and He fills me up. When I’m near His heart, I trust that He is the great weaver, picking up the broken strands – the lives disrupted by tragedy and set off course by this fallen world with its dark laws, cultural biases, and family brokenness — and ties them back together. He’s always moving, always weaving, always creating a beautiful tapestry that is stronger for having been made of so many individual parts. And I know in this beautiful work of art, there is room for both me and my daughter’s first mother… room for both our brokenness and our beauty, and the threads of both of our lives come together to make our daughter who she is. Friends, He is calling each of us out of our darkness. If we listen, we will hear him singing a song of redemption and restoration; whispering healing and wholeness over our lives and the lives of our children… He’s calling, and when we open our eyes we see His face of love.

- photo by Tish Goff

Medical Needs and Marriage: Ten Tips

February 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

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You adopted a child with medical needs and the game changed. The Coach altered the playbook. The new little life in your family has your whole team scrambling to reorient themselves. You survived the stretching adoption process with its paperwork, lack of control, waiting and financial stress. You made it home, and you’d like to …Read More

I don’t get it.

February 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

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I get it. There was a big crisis. In 1979, facing a huge and growing population, Chinese government officials created the “family planning policy” as the solution. Things were turned upside down as families who years before had been encouraged to build China by adding to their family were now told they could have one …Read More

find my family: Samantha

February 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Stunning Samantha is 11 years old. She is diagnosed with cerebral palsy with leg muscles weakness. She has been working hard to build her strength and while she does have difficulty walking, she can now walk up and down stairs while holding on to a railing! While she loves to learn, because of her delays …Read More

“Normal” Ain’t Got Nothin On This

February 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

As we continue through February, the month of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness, we continue to share posts from moms parenting children with heart defects. Our goal is to inform and equip those considering or home with children with this special need by sharing the real-life experiences of those already parenting a child (or children) with …Read More

find my family: Henry from Bethel

February 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Bethel’s adorable Henry is quiet at first but loves nothing more than to be on an adult’s lap for a cuddle. He likes to sing songs about animals and cars. He loves playing with balls and loves running and listening to music. Happy Henry has the most amazing smile. When he smiles, his entire face …Read More

Chinese New Year’s Resolution

February 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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I don’t know that I understood the full ramifications the day I marked the CHINA box on our adoption paperwork. I understood that I would be bringing a piece of China home with me (he was so soft and cute!), but I didn’t realize that I would also be sending a piece of myself there. …Read More

5 Ways To Build Into Your Marriage While Growing Your Family

February 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

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It was almost exactly one year after arriving home with our fifth child, and I felt like our family had finally found our new normal. It took us much longer after bringing home our fourth to get in our groove as his medical needs were more complex, and we had to quickly learn how to …Read More