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Life on Pause: Thoughts on Orphan Hosting

August 31, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Pause.

The best way I can describe the way my life feels right now is that it is on pause.

On pause because I met my daughter, spent five beautiful weeks with her, and then promptly returned her to the airport just like I had guaranteed I would do.

For me, the whole idea of orphan hosting is a double edge sword. On the one side, I found my daughter and without her little face displayed on that hosting site I would have never discovered her. After all, she had waited six years in an orphanage hoping for a family. Six years. Without one single person willing to love and care for her as if she were their own. I myself probably would have passed right over her file to pick a child who was younger.

And that in itself is what makes the orphan hosting program an amazing opportunity. Children who have been passed over day after day, year after year have a fighting chance at getting a family. Because the minimum age requirement for hosting is six years, some of the children’s only “special need” is that they are an older child. My daughter happened to be one of the younger ones. And her special need is Down syndrome.


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In the six months leading up to that emotional first meeting at the airport, we had prayed for, dreamed of and planned for the month we would spend together as a family. We decided early on (early as in the day we were locked in as her host family) that we wanted to start our daughter’s adoption right away. The thought of loving her and then sending her back to China seemed daunting enough, but add to that a year of wait time before we would see her again and we just couldn’t imagine the thought. At least by starting our paperwork and homestudy months before we met Lucy insured that our time apart would be shortened. And that should make this separation time easy, right?

Wrong. No matter how you look at it, having to say goodbye to your child, even a child you have only known five weeks, is gut-wrenching. Standing at the airport the night Lucy left us, I felt like screaming, “My daughter has just been taking from me! And I have no idea when I will see her again!”

Maybe another reason this time apart has been so difficult is because we attached to our daughter so quickly. Because sweet Lucy was born with an extra chromosome she had more than enough love overflowing from her little heart. It only took one hug and she knew I was her mama, making us pretty much inseparable from that moment on. She slept between my husband and I (thanks to some great advice on NHBO). She only walked when absolutely necessary and usually was carried around propped on my hip. She loved it when I would feed her and in exchange let her feed me. Her favorite game to play was for me to lay on the floor and let her ‘doctor’ me with toy shots and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. Our bond was strong and it was clear our daughter was finally where she belonged.

So how do you let go and return to a normal life when your child is half a world away? How do you fold that last load of tiny clothes that were left in the washer the day she left? How do you eat her favorite meal of fried rice without wishing she was there to savor it with you? How do you lay your head on your pillow at night and imagine that sweet little face, a face that had pressed against yours for five weeks and now she is gone?

You focus on getting her home.

You turn that energy that could be spent on grieving what was lost and focus on your future. Together.


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Being stuck in the middle between knowing my daughter and now not having her for a period of time has taught me a lot of unexpected things. I now know I can do this. I can bond, I can parent and I can be good enough for my daughter. Maybe the most important thing is she now knows love. When we come busting through the doors in China to greet Lucy (and we will) she will know we came for her. She will know that her life matters and she is important to somebody. She will know the home and the family that she returning to. Forever.

I could keep my life on pause until the day we finally fly to China and reunite with our little girl, but I am choosing to use my time to prepare for the life she will get to experience. God has beautiful plans for my little one, even if it took six years for us to get there.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

— guest post by Audrey

Belinda Waits for Her Family

August 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Belinda is a BEAUTIFUL little girl (Born January 2008) with pink rosebud lips and wispy hair. She gets along well with other children and has a quiet, gentle personality. She especially enjoys playing with other children her age.

Her caregivers report that she is very sharp! She is able to count, name colors and shapes, and she has a keen sense of right and wrong. Belinda is diagnosed with malformations of her spine. Her legs are paralyzed and have no sensation. She also has kidney problems. She is not able to attend school due to her physical condition. She is able to crawl using her arms and she can dress herself although she is somewhat slower than other children when it comes to this task. Her upper body has normal function. 11915446_1004666522906922_7739257446645186708_n She has been living in a family-style environment at her orphanage. When WACAP staff met her in November 2014, her caregivers reported that she was very sad because another child from her home had recently left to be adopted. We hope that we can find Belinda a family too and give her something to smile about and who can help her obtain appropriate medical care!

There is a $4000 Promise Child Grant available to families who qualify to assist with the cost of this adoption. In addition, the application fee and Pre-approval deposit have been waived. Email WACAP for more information!

The Back to School Post

August 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I don’t think our school district fully grasps the whole paperless concept. I’m staring at a stack of forms they’ve called “children’s homework” that I must complete. Somehow, the paperwork required to send our children to public school each year feels like we’re assembling an entire dossier. There’s even a fingerprinting form somewhere in this pile, and I can’t volunteer to lead a single game of 7-up until it’s complete (don’t even think about birthday cupcakes).

I know it’s all important; of course, it is. But, as our daughter starts 1st grade at a new school this year, there are other things taking priority in the limited space I have in my head, trumping volunteer sign-ups and shopping for Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.


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Our daughter joined our family via adoption. She is fully ours, but I’m also fully aware that her history is an ongoing experience for her and us. As her mother, it’s my job to navigate that along with her as best as I know how in each season of her life. As she and we have anticipated her first year of elementary school, we’ve wrestled with a few issues.


How much and what to share.

With a child who is the same skin shade as you, you have the option of sharing nothing at all adoption related with teachers. There are plenty of blonde mamas with brunette children thanks to genetics and Clairol. But, when your child is clearly of a different race, you have a choice to make. How much do you want to share about your child’s adoption? How much should you share about her adoption? We’ve come up with our own answers, for now at least. But, every family’s answers to those questions are going to be a little different. While we arrived at little disclosure, other parents may feel like more is needed for their child to be set up for success in the classroom.

Regardless of where each of us arrives in the end, the key is this: it’s better to ask ourselves these questions before we go to back to school night or to our first teacher conference. If we ask ourselves these questions ahead of time, we can enter these situations with intention and be less likely to stumble into a conversation and say things off the cuff that we regret later.

Answering the questions of what we want to share and what we should share is not an easy task because not only are we motivated to do right by our child but our hearts can be muddied with other motivations that aren’t so pretty. Maybe sharing about our child’s adoption history makes us feel like the teacher will think we’re “good parents” because we know something about trauma or attachment. It could be that we kind of like the pat on the back it gives us to know something about trauma and attachment that we believe that teacher doesn’t know. When I feel like I’m failing in a lot of areas, a pat on the back sounds pretty good. And, if we find ourselves in a spirit of parenting defeat, our efforts to protect our child by making sure his teacher knows all the hard stuff may make us feel like we’re at least doing something right for him.

Maybe we are worried that our child’s failure to comply in the classroom will reflect poorly on us, so sharing about his adoption will get us off the hook a bit (i.e., “it’s not because of our parenting that he does these things.”). Any of that resonate with you? I’ve been there, maybe all over there before. Hey, our hearts aren’t pretty places. There’s always layers of stuff going on in there, layers that keep us humble when we get glimpses of them. And, it’s not easy to get those glimpses. But, when we do, we can better understand ourselves and then separate our own “stuff” from what is true and matters when it comes to these kinds of decisions for our kids.

It’s not easy to figure out what to share and how to share it. As much as we wish a very specific manual existed for that, it doesn’t. But, if there were a manual, I think it might simply say this: be intentional. Being proactive with wrestling through this before you’re presented with the open door to share and being proactive with considering the fullness of your motivation in sharing makes all the difference.


It’s not you against them.

So far in our school careers with four kids, we’ve had a combined total of 19 teachers. This year will raise that number to 23, not counting the myriad of middle school teachers working with my kiddos who now change classrooms for every class. Of those teachers, we’ve only had one who didn’t seem to so much love children. Teachers who aren’t all for kids do exist, but they are few and far between. Yet, it’s so tempting for us as parents to start off the school year with an us–them mentality as if our child’s new teacher has no awareness of family differences and/or no sensitivity to whatever awareness may be there and that he or she inevitably will injure our child with a family tree assignment or something worse.

As you start off this school year, give your teacher the benefit of the doubt. He or she may say something or give assignments at some point that you or your child feel are insensitive; if that happens, make a phone call and have a conversation. But, fight the urge to start off the year on the defense and assume that your child’s teacher doesn’t have a clue.


You don’t need to be all rah-rah adoption.

A recent article posted on Adoptive Families advocated: “Raising adoption awareness at school helps create the open, accepting environment that lets our children flourish” and that a few great ways to create that ideal environment are to “read an adoption storybook to the class during story time,” “give an adoption presentation in the first or second grade,” or “suggest a community service project around National Adoption Day.” If you haven’t been given the volunteer sign-up form already, you will be. Before you write your name on that form, take these words to heart: You do not have to be the poster family for adoption. It is not your job to create whatever you may be picturing as an ideal adoption-friendly environment in the classroom. Put A Mother for Choco and all the other kids’ books you’ve collected over the years back on the shelf for now and simply follow your child’s readiness and lead.

Ask your child. If he wants you to come in and read a book about China, great. If she loves the idea of you helping with a Chinese New Year party, run with it. If not, don’t. Our children are singled out enough; don’t put being an adoption cheerleader above your child’s desire to sometimes just be who he is without extra attention focused on what makes him “special.”


If you haven’t figured it out already, we’re going to screw up…like over and over again. Entering the season of school gives us even more opportunities as parents to make mistakes. But, you know what? It’s okay. We can do this; I know we can. Leading up to that first day and all through that rough transition of starting out, verbalize to your kiddo that you’re for him, that some kids may feel scared about a new school year but excited at the same time and that you as his mommy or daddy kinda feel the same way. You are scared because you can’t go with her into that classroom everyday, and you wish you could because you love her so much and want to make sure she’s always okay. But, you are also excited because you know that she’s going to learn a lot this year and grow and do great things. Then, take a few deep breaths and write those words down somewhere so you can read them over and over to yourself after you wave goodbye each morning.

Your child’s teacher can do this. They want to do this. Your child can do this even if they do life outside the box. They will be okay. You can do this. It might be hard and you’ll likely mess up a few times, but you can do hard and you’ll learn stuff too and won’t keep messing up in the same ways. Be intentional, and invite others to share their own journey along the way to enlighten you in yours. You’ve got this.

Now, go finish your homework.

– image by Tish Goff

Going to China: Feeding Concerns

August 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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When we were adopting our two new daughters we were not really well prepared for what they could or could not eat. We knew one of the girls was severely malnourished, but we did not understand that it was entirely possible that nobody taught them how to eat or drink. Neither of our new daughters …Read More

Find My Family: Aspen

August 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Aspen is an adorable one year old who has deformity of both legs. He is part of our orphanage partnership program. His left leg seems to more affected than his right leg. His file also reports some mild heart conditions. Aspen can stand holding onto something (as you can see in his recent video) and …Read More

A Back-to-School Letter

August 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

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Dear Teachers, Here we go! The start of a new year! First of all, you both have my great admiration. I do not know how you do it. The energy, patience, and creativity it takes to shape, mold, and sometimes just wrangle a whole crew of almost-three-year-olds is something I do not possess. I’m so …Read More

Aging Out: Sophie

August 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Beautiful Sophie was born in February 2002 according to parts of her file. This makes her 13 years old already and she will age out next February. Other parts of her file indicate a date that is two years younger. She needs a family who is willing to rush to her before she ages out, …Read More

Comfortable

August 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 9 Comments

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From the time I was a young girl, I always felt the Lord’s presence and His pursuit of my heart. However, I did not begin regularly attending church or consistently studying God’s word until a while after my husband and I got married. In the spring of 2007, we joined a “small group,” and every …Read More

How Going to China Changed My Life

August 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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We have been home for six months and this is the first time that I’m actually sitting down and processing our trip to China. For a while, it was just too fresh, you know? The thought of any attempt in organizing my thoughts made my brain hurt, and so I just didn’t. But now, I …Read More

Find My Family: Sebastian

August 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Who wants to meet little Sebastian? He is as sweet as can be. Sebastian is an outgoing 3 year old boy who can be shy around strangers. He likes to play with his caregivers and loves to be held. His favorite activities are playing outdoors, listening to music, and watching cartoons. A bright boy, he …Read More

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