It Takes a Village: A Letter From a Newly Home Family

October 13, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Dearest Family and Friends,

As you may know, we are about to deplane. Yes, we have returned with our precious cargo. We cannot wait to take a shower see you. You may not recognize our tribe at this point, as we have just survived the travel version of the Spartan race. This is what’s left, sweet friends. You should all start practicing your poker faces now. We look bad. We smell bad. We might feel bad. After flying from the other side of the planet, we may even act… bad, especially the under-aged and brand new citizen. Please exempt these lovies from social courtesies. The new citizen may need a 12 month extension to this expectation all together. In Jesus name, Amen.


As we approach, please be advised. Any or all of us may be emotionally volatile. If so, welcome to our current crazy. We will do our best to prevent any splattering. Tra la la… nothing to see here, just innocent civilians trying to find our bags.

We will probably pull it together long enough to tell you how amazing our God is. Because He is. We are amazed at how His hand was and still is in every single detail of this story. You will walk away thinking we are totally championing this, and the me walking away with the anxious little bundle may tell you we are fine. But the sometimes silent me needs you more than ever. I’m really going to NEED you…. and here’s the short list, so brace yourselves.

1. We need for you to check on us. Maybe a text or an email. We will probably feel isolated and exhausted. We may need help with little things like….what day it is. Texting encouraging words, scripture or prayers for our family can bring light and truth into some difficult moments. It can be life giving and will push us forward.

2. Please do not give up on us. If we do not respond right away to your texts, emails or phone calls, it is most likely not because we want to be unsocial, but because attachment and bonding is hard work y’all. We are pouring into these little ones and some days seem to never end. There is a good chance we cannot remember the last time we went to the bathroom alone. We may read the text and literally seconds later spend thirty minutes working our little one out of an emotional spiral, and then forget what it was we were doing {and what day it is… and how old we are….}.


3. Circus Cocoon… We may turn into trolls. I mean, we may stay home…..a lot. For a long time. Truth is, this show is not ready to go on the road. If you, poor soul, find yourself inside the cocoon, {GASP!} or even spot our troll family out {which will be at church because….for real} here are some thoughts to consider. You could drop off a can of coffee and make a quick escape through a fake text if the underage trolls are at a heightened emotional state. If they are calm, then the stars have aligned. Make some of that coffee and sit a spell. However do not expect complete sentences or coherent conversation, as the adult trolls will be in shock. If our baby troll solicits love and affection… or a cracker from you, please defer them to us exhausted adult trolls. This is completely normal and will encourage sweetness to attach to her family. This will also protect the very fragile and hard fought bond that is still forming in our little troll family. If we occasionally pull back, it’s not because we don’t want community. We just need to nourish the fragile grafting of our family.

4. We are probably vitamin deficient. I will most likely tell you that I ate a Reese’s peanut butter cup for dinner. I will probably not tell you that my children had the same thing, or that a real vegetable hasn’t crossed our lips in days. I’m really uncomfortable being the recipient of a meal. My mind just goes crazy imagining all of the people in my community that have a greater need for this than my jet lag and marathon attachment and bonding exhaustion. But you will see that we all look anemic, and I will cry after you leave because you just blessed my family with 45 minutes to be, not just in the same room, but together.


5. Pray. As you may know, we have legally abducted this child. Although my paperwork clearly states that I am the parent, it will take some time to establish this with my bundle. This is Holy Work. Only the Spirit of The Living God can know and discern our innermost thoughts and intentions. He made her. He knows her and it is He who will bind us. Please pray for Him to guide us in these moments. Pray for our awareness of her unspoken needs and for her spirit to be receptive to us meeting those needs. This all sounds good on paper but I can assure you that it will look like a total train wreck. Meaning sometimes we will think she needs a cuddle when she really wants grilled seaweed.

So there you have it, in a nutshell. Give or take-ish. I know…. you need a moment. It’s a lot. We are now those people. I totally get it. We even make me nervous. I can’t promise that everything will go back to “normal”. I can’t promise that I will even be the same person. You may not have signed up for this.

What I can do, is tell you I love you, and this is hard, possibly one of the hardest things my little family has done. We are fragile and needy, maybe even a little scary. But in all of this hard, we know adoption is a miracle. We have seen God work in ways we could not have imagined and cannot wait to share this crazy, messy, beautiful miracle with each and every one of you.


– guest post by Amy

Stitched Hearts

October 12, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I have a rather comical relationship with one of the nannies at the orphanage. I’ve been back in the USA for about five months now (getting a 2nd degree in nursing, in case you were wondering) and this nanny (I’ll call her M Ayi) and I have had many a chat on weixin, a Chinese texting app.

“You there?” she’ll ask. Sometimes she has questions about children who were transferred to other NGOs for care… sometimes she wants to ask about how much it costs to purchase an iPhone 7 in the USA (which, I discovered, isn’t even possible yet. Hehe, sorry Ayi.) and sometimes she sweetly gives me updates on the kiddos I miss so much.

“Little B is going to get his passport tomorrow. He’ll be adopted next week.”

“Too wonderful! He will have a family soon!” I replied. (and I threw in some dancing penguin emojis because they’re cute.)

She replied, “We all wish him well.” And then, a few days later, “B went to America. I was working the night before. He cried when I left. He was amiable and polite… I loved him. Next week little Q goes.”

When an older child joined her family, M Ayi commented, “I’m not okay. She was so precious to me. I keep crying.”

When I saw that — when I read what she wrote – I really had no idea what to think, or what to say. Because for me, in my mind, adoption is 100% a good thing (also 100% a hard thing). But for some of the nannies who only know the sanctified daily grind of caring for children – sometimes 10 little ones all on their own for a 24 hour shift, adoption is an acute loss, a painful goodbye, and the sudden ending of what may have been an earnest attempt to fill up the love tank of a child, a tank pierced with holes of trauma.

It was less than a year ago when the first child ever to be internationally adopted from a particular orphanage left to join their forever family. The director of the orphanage commented on that day, “When a child leaves our side to be adopted, we feel very sad. But because we know that they will have a happier life and a beautiful future, we feel a sense of accomplishment. We have no regrets, we are proud of the investment we have made.”

No orphanage – no NGO or foster care center or even foster family, is going to be all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows. With orphan care we’re dealing with orphans. We’re trying to care for children who are often physically broken, and always, to some extent, emotionally broken.

I remember one day in November, years and years ago, when I got to help take a little girl to meet her forever family in a province far away. We gave her a bath that last night, the day before she met her mama and baba and joined their care forever, and her socks got wet. I set them in the window sill to dry in the sunshine, and couldn’t help but notice the tiny stitching, done by hand, on the toes of the socks. Her foster mama had done that.


Those tiny stitches, an attempt to mend a hole in a sock, were a perfect metaphor for the tiny stitches that this foster mama had stitched into the broken heart of the little one she loved on and cared for those months and months. The hole was gone, but the seams were not. Adoption mends hearts, but there will still be seams.

Thinking back to M Ayi… and the orphanage director… and all of the nannies and foster mamas and baby-lovin’, risk-taking souls who have traveled across the ocean to hold an orphan and tell them, “you are precious.” Each one of them is a seamstress, a stitch-maker in the heart of a child. Some sew tiny seams that stay tightly held together for years and years – the seam is visible, but only just visible. Some sew bigger, messier seams that need to be re-done, or are maybe really obvious.

“We all wish him well,” she said. I can’t get that out of my head. Two little ones will be adopted today, and three more next week. I’m thankful and thrilled that this orphanage has done the brave thing and leapt into the adoption world, but I’m also reminded of how hard it is.

I’m reminded that as adoptive parents, you get the privilege of holding these stitched-over little hearts in your hands. Some of the hearts nearly fall apart and maybe they’re still just hanging together by threads – the work of mending is going to be intense and exhausting. Sometimes the seams are hard to see at first, but when you get walking – moving forward with life, suddenly a thread snaps and the work of re-mending must begin. And sometimes the stitches hold together. Sometimes they all fall out.

Sometimes it’s really hard, but we’re all seamstresses. The needle is love and the pattern is the Gospel and these little sock-like broken hearts are going to be worn by some precious, beautiful feet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” – Isaiah 52:7

Daniel Waits for his Family

October 12, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Daniel is the sweetest 18 month old who is listed as having multiple melanin nevus (birth marks). His file is listed as special focus with Small World Adoptions.


Daniel is described as an active boy that likes playing games and with toys that make sound. He is very close to his nanny. He has a beautiful smile and likes to communicate with is adults and his caretakers. Besides the multiple melanin nevus on his body no other special need is noted in his file.

The agency has just received new photos and videos of this little boy, please contact them to view them! If your family would be interested in viewing his file, please email Small World Adoptions.

Adopting a Child with Cancer: Easton’s Story

October 11, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Cancer. I went over and over it in my mind when I felt that familiar tug on my heart. Dear Lord you cannot be serious. You’re kidding right?!? I watched my dad die from cancer and now I’m going to adopt a child that could be dying too? Yes. And not only yes, but urgently. …Read More

Not Okay

October 11, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


I think a good lot of us have a little habit of telling un-truths. Specifically, when asked a common question such as, “how are you?”, we respond with “I’m ok” or “I’m good” or “I’m fine” – when in fact, we are not. Sometimes we are not ok. It might be a day, a week, …Read More

It Takes a Village: “Dear Church…”

October 10, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Dear Church, From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you! Thank you for praying for us during our adoption wait. Thank you for buying our fundraiser t-shirts. Thank you for donating some of your bazaar earnings to our family. Thank you for allowing us to use your fellowship hall to host our …Read More

Find My Family: Hansel

October 10, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Hansel is a cheerful little boy whose special need is abnormal liver function (elevated ALT and AST) and minor delays. He was born September of 2013 and admitted to the Institute November of 2013. His motor skills improved greatly when he was placed with a foster family in November. He can walk with assistance, speak …Read More

A Family for Sterling

October 9, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Sterling, who will be 4 years old this month, is beyond precious and may have one of the sweetest personalities ever known to man. His special need is Down syndrome and a minor heart defect. He lives in a group foster home and attends kindergarten for special needs children. He knows his numbers, can climb …Read More

It Takes a Village: A Letter to My Husband

October 9, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


Dear Ryan, When we began dating in college, I was barely 19 years old, and you were nearly 21. While dating, we spent a lot of time holding hands and dreaming about what our life might look like together. We talked about where we would live, what our careers might be, how many children to …Read More

It Takes a Village: The Grandparents’ Perspective

October 8, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


The announcement that you are going to be a grandparent again… this time through adoption. Being a grandparent is one of the most amazing experiences we could imagine. When our daughter and son-in-law announced the pregnancy of their first two children, we were so excited. When they announced their plan to adopt a child, we …Read More

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