what we’re reading: 7.2.15

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

It is our pleasure to bring you another episode of What We’re Reading. We have a long list of traveling family blogs to share with you. These people are becoming lovingly acquainted with the heat of summer in Guangzhou and other regions of China, Lord bless them all!

Thank you to everyone who shared their links and blogs with us!

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling family, go here.


Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore has teamed up with the Morning Star Foundation for an amazing outpouring of love and support called “The Love Project.” The purpose of the project is to raise funds for surgeries for children in China. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well that’s not all. The funds will also assist in family preservation and abandonment prevention efforts, so amazing! Go read more about it and treat yourself to one of the beautiful prints which support the project.

A few weeks ago Jean debated whether she shares too much about her family and children on her blog. She courageously concludes that, “If even just one child comes home to their forever family because of our sharing, it was worth it.”

A Berry from China ponders what life is like for the child they are awaiting. What is life like for this child they do not yet know? Life in an Orphanage is a short and sweet essay as this family waits for their son.

In A Perfect World for Special Needs Moms, Katie dreams of how life could be better for those of us who are mothering children with special needs. Can you relate to any of the scenarios she mentions? Can you relate to the fatigue she mentions at the end of the post? And most importantly of all, do you acknowledge Him and give each day to Him?


Have you ever wondered how many children are on the CCCWA shared list? How many are waiting on the list to be chosen? The Red Thread Advocates do a great job of explaining the numbers, the ages, genders, and so forth. Go over and become better acquainted with the make-up of the list.

Show Hope shares with us 9 Powerful Stats About the Orphan Crisis. These statistics are eye opening and highlight the importance of continued awareness and involvement for each of us.

Do you like learning about the different ethnic groups in China? If you do, then you must check out this compilation of Family Portraits which represent all the different ethnicities found in China. These pictures are so beautiful!

The 2015-2016 U.S. News Best Children’s Hospital rankings have been announced. We all aim to obtain the best possible care for our children. Taking into account these rankings and talking to parents who have walked a similar road can be very helpful as we advocate for our children with special needs. Connecting with a Mentor Mom can also an invaluable step to take.


Krissi with her precious son Bear who was adopted in June

Krissi with her precious son Bear who was adopted in June

In China now (or super soon)…
Crazy Blessed
One Love, One Family
A Miracle for Meg
From Great Wall to Great Lakes
Bringing Home Holland
Joy In the Waiting
Strengthen My Hands
Bringing Charlie Home
White House Adventures

And just home from China…
His Grand Design
Blessings Beyond
This Little Sparrow
A Sister for Mia
Love Hope Adopt
Trusty Party of Six
Beautiful Chaos
Tea in Fairyland
Growing Beards
Mama of a Big Bunch of Kids

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

Thank you for joining us for another What We’re Reading, see you again in August!


The China Trip: a Tip a Day

July 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

As much as I hate to see the end of our June feature, I can’t wait to begin our July/August Feature: Going to China! We will cover all things China-trip related: packing, traveling, gotcha day, orphanage care vs. foster care and setting realistic expectations. We’ll even have some fun Q and A posts from the NHBO contributor team. It’s going to be so fun!

Our very own Amy recently traveled to China for her newest little one, Tyson. Before she left we asked her if she’d be willing to take a few moments, every day, to jot down a tip or a thought that might help future traveling families. She graciously agreed, and here are her 14 tips.



Day 1: Our family flew United Airlines and was very pleased with the experience. Ryan, Noah, and I were not seated together for the long 16-hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong. The gate attendant and flight attendants all helped move people around so that we could sit together. The food was fine, nothing too special, but I felt satisfied after eating. The first meal (chicken with noodles, carrots, and green beans, a roll, a brownie bar, and a house salad) was served a couple hours into our flight. Then, midway into the flight we were given a snack of a deli sandwich on a small roll, chips, and a cookie. Last, about an hour before we landed, we got a last meal of either chicken and noodles or an egg dish. I chose the eggs and liked them just fine! There was some type of potato au gratin served in the shape of a triangle, and the flavor was ok. I skipped the meat patty; honestly, I’m not sure if it was beef or sausage or somewhere in between. They also provided another roll and cookie. The drinks came throughout the course of our flight, and if you needed additional water, coffee, or tea, you could walk to the galley at the back of the plane to serve yourself. The bathrooms were kept clean throughout the flight. Consider bringing a bottle of water or a reusable water bottle on the plane with you in order to refill it versus being given those small plastic cups during your flight. I also grabbed a sandwich at the airport before we took off, and I ate at the beginning of the flight and the other half during the flight. Ryan filled out our immigration forms (one for each person in our traveling party) on the plane, so they were all ready to go once we reached the airport.

If you are flying into Hong Kong, the airport is very easy to navigate. Just follow the immigration signs until you reach the line. We made it through immigration very quickly – maybe 10 minutes total with many people ahead of us. We found a kiosk to figure out where to pick up our luggage, as I was not a good listener on our flight. Our luggage came out quickly and without incident. When you exit the airport, there is a train ticket counter in the very next room. Although it was our original plan to take the train all the way to our hotel (which would mean switching trains twice at different stations), the gentleman at the counter showed us how we could take the Airport Express Train to the Kowloon Station and then take a free airport shuttle bus to our hotel. It was all very easy to navigate and did not cause any stress! So, when you arrive in Hong Kong, breathe easy and trust that you will be at your hotel before you know it.


Day 2: Ideas if visiting Hong Kong – Go to the Star Ferry station if staying in Kowloon. Feel free to visit the Hong Kong Tourism Board storefront to learn about various activities to do in Hong Kong. The the Star Ferry across the Harbour and be sure to ride on the upper deck for the better view. Buying tokens is very easy. Find the machine to purchase tokens. It looks like this (attached). Push the adult button for each adult token needed. Then push concessionary for each child ticket needed. Insert Hong Kong Dollars as directed, and then just take your change and tokens. Because it was rainy, we chose the Big Bus Tour, which is a hop on-hop off audio tour. You have three different daytime routes from which to choose: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, or Aberdeen and Stanley. We chose Hong Kong Island and loved it. We took the tram up to Victoria’s Peak, which was an incredible experience. It was a perfect adventure even in the rain! Visit the Kam Wah Cafe in Kowloon for the very best don tots and pineapple bread! Be sure to order the milk tea, as well.

Day 3: If you have the opportunity to visit a prayer room at the airport, definitely take advantage! There is something so sweet about meeting the Lord in a land so far from home.

Day 4: Before meeting your new child, consider writing him/her a letter. Pour out those raw emotions to help your child know someday what was on your heart. You will be so glad that you did! Focusing your thoughts and prayer on your child will help you be in the right frame of mind on Family Day.

Day 5: Do not stress out about the gifts you buy for people in China. They will not open them in front of you. Consider buying gifts that help an organization. For example, we purchased two purses from By Tavi, which is operated by women in Cambodia, striving to make a better life for their families. We bought the dozens of small $1 hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works to give to many people. Our guide said, “Let everyone know not to get the men a green hat!” He said this is very bad in China, as it means that you have had an affair on your wife or girlfriend. Beware of green hats, adoptive momma friends!!


Day 6: Even when you are not feeling 100%, and you are considering skipping that tour of the local park, please go anyway! You will be so glad that you did. Your time in China is so short, and you will want to take in as much of your child’s country as possible. This is your chance to fall in love with China and learn about its rich history. Sweating buckets of sweat in 110 degree heat with a baby strapped to your chest in an Ergo is totally worth it!

Day 7: Really, really consider visiting your child’s orphanage and finding spot. This is such an important part of your child’s history, and one day, he or she will have a lot of questions about his/her past. Having pictures and video of your visit to both places will be so valuable. Consider having the nanny sing a song that will be familiar to your child. If your child was in good care, be sure to thank the people who filled in the gap until you could arrive. Some may not want their child to experience these two trips, so maybe your spouse or another adult traveling with you can document those parts for you. Remember, the short term situation may be difficult, but in the long term, the benefits often outweigh the costs. Many children experience their goodbye at the orphanage as a positive one.

Day 8: When leaving your province, consider letting your children, who are traveling with you, watch Chinese cartoons. Our son loved them! Also, if your in province guide left an impression on your heart, writing a letter to thank them and including it with your gift might be a great idea! Pack plenty of snacks for the airplane ride to Guangzhou. Remember, in country China flights are often delayed.

Day 9: During your child’s medical appointment, consider taking the usual snacks and drinks, as well as something that will entertain your child and the other waiting children like bubbles. Take the time to smile as you see so many families with other agencies and from other countries working to bring these children home. Do not give your child a blue sucker before the exam, as one parent learned that blue suckers equals blue lips and tongue, which is concerning to doctors who then might think your child has a heart condition!

Day 10: When shopping in Guangzhou, think about buying your daughter or your son’s future wife a pearl necklace to give before her wedding. If you want to buy good chops, I highly recommend Peter’s Place on Shamian Island. He will sell them for 55 Yuan, which includes the ink. His craftsmanship when carving the chops is beautiful!


Day 11: If your family is Christian, consider buying a English/Chinese Bible from Jenny’s on Shamian Island. I have purchased one for both of our sons from China. Each page has one column in English and one column in Mandarin. I’m sure you can purchase these in the US, but having one from China during the trip when they were adopted is so special.

Day 12: When you go for your consulate appointment, ask your guide to take a picture with your cell phone outside of the consulate and then hold your phone for you while you go inside for your appointment. You will treasure that picture! Do not go to the Aeon grocery store on Tuesdays because that is double point day. Every housewife in China will be shopping there, and you will wait forever to check out.

Day 13: On your final day(s) in China, make sure you go out to eat with families you’ve grown close to during your time in China. These are special friendships that will last a lifetime! You will miss them when you go home, and you will be glad to have one last meal together.

Day 14: When you travel home, don’t bother worrying about how the trip will go or how you will keep your child entertained. Take things one step at a time and don’t look too far ahead. Focus on each small segment individually, and once you complete it, think about the next part. It is a long trip home regardless of your worry, and remember, the flights will end. You will eventually be home, hugging your children, family, and friends, and you will sleep in your bed soon enough.

— photos by K&R Photography

The Simplicity of Prosthesis

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

That would probably not have been our reaction if you would have told us seven years ago that we would have multiple pairs of prosthetic legs in our house.

In early 2009, we were researching China’s special needs adoptions after adopting twice through the non-special needs program. Some of the special needs just looked too scary and seemed way beyond our family’s abilities. There is something about raising your hand and saying “we can handle that” versus a child being born into your family with special needs. It just seemed presumptuous somehow. Then as we looked over an agency’s special focus group of children and watched the accompanying videos, we saw him. He was “eight years old and he can walk”. When the narrator of the video said that, we automatically glanced at his feet, well that was unusual, he didn’t seem to have any! Instead, it seemed that his legs were wrapped in ace-type bandages with no feet or shoes. 

The interviewer talked with him and he seemed engaged and confident, a bit different from the other young boys that were also interviewed. After the interview, he stood up on those wrapped limbs and walked across the room. We were intrigued and felt the urge to test the waters and see if China would allow us to adopt “one more time”. When we received his file, we found out that what had seemed to be foot-less legs were actually feet that had at one point been burned and the resulting contracture scars had distorted his feet allowing him to only walk on his heels. His right hand had also been burned and he had similar distorting scars on his right hand.

Fast forward to September 2010, we took four of our children and went to adopt Joseph. A friend had advised us to talk with the doctors at Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia. I emailed the pictures to one of the doctors and he said, “Yes we can help, set up an appointment when you get home.” (They now do in-take a bit differently) We had seen from his updated photos that China had crafted prosthesis for him, but we were curious as to how they would fit because we had the photos of his legs. 

We soon realized that his prosthesis were not made for walking or climbing. Every evening he had new blisters or raw spots to show us, we really were clueless how to make him more comfortable. I even had to try to buy bandaids and gauze in China. That was an interesting pantomime! Let’s just say the quality of their gauze wasn’t what I was used to.


We were home a few months when we made our first trip to Shriner’s, and the doctors there convened and discussed treatment options. They and we finally came to a tough decision. We would wait awhile (no rush) and then amputate. Meanwhile they would build prosthesis that would fit around his legs. The new prosthesis extended up to his knees, his old ones only came mid-calf.    

The prosthesis leg is made of carbon fiber and very hard. The new legs were lined with a foam cushion; a removable plastic plate covered the front of his leg, allowing his real feet to fit inside his leg. The great thing from this mama’s point of view was his new posture. His injuries had left his one leg longer than the other, I could see all sorts of future hip and back trouble. The new legs leveled him up and gave him new stability. The frustrating thing about these legs was that we needed to keep a 4 mm allen wrench at school and in my wallet because the screws on his feet keep coming loose and he would lose a foot at the most inconvenient times! They told us that these feet were a temporary measure until he was ready to have the amputation surgery.


We bonded, learned English, went to school, worked on bonding (yeah said that twice) and then reluctantly made the date for surgery for July 2011. We also had surgery for an external fixator on his hand in June in an attempt to give him some flexibility to his wrist.

A small piece of wisdom to help prepare you and your child for surgery, especially if they only have a small amount of English: teach them multiple words for the degrees of “hurt”. Pain management was a challenge in those days after surgery.

After about 10 weeks, he was fitted for new legs! It was really going to happen! He would really walk again! There was a time that he did not believe it would ever happen. During that time, he wore pressure socks to help shrink his leg as much as possible before the pattern was drafted. The new legs consisted of long stockings, sort of like tube socks, but more fitted. Then a foam liner is pulled into place over the socks, then that is pushed into the prosthetic. The fit is important because the “tightness” is really all that is holding the prosthesis in place. The socks come in various thicknesses but the goal is to be in the thinnest socks first and then have the option to add a sock to perfect the fit. 


The first set of “real” prosthesis after surgery were expected to only fit him for about six months because his calf muscle was no longer used and would shrink over time. I think he wore up to four socks on each leg by the time the next set of legs was ready for him that summer. There were issues of skin breaking down, sore spots and bone overgrowth. The hardest thing was to make him understand that frequent washing (yes, everyday) was necessary for the health of his legs. His burn-scarred skin is supposedly more prone to blistering and other injuries and, a few times, he needed to bandage certain spots, but never needed to completely stop wearing the prosthesis.

The cool part of prosthesis is that you can decorate the leg part with fabric of your choosing. So he has had “wooden” legs, legs lined with basketball fabric, and his current legs are undecorated carbon fiber (looks like an expanded rope). 


He pretty much participates in any sports he chooses and with practice and some PT has learned to walk smoothly and most people don’t think about his slightly different gait. Running is still a bit of a challenge and he will never be as fast as he would like. 

We usually try to time the fitting and manufacturing of the new prosthesis over summer vacation because it involves at least two, maybe more trips to Shriner’s for fittings. Occasionally, we ended up making more trips especially the spring that he broke his foot, twice. The prosthesist told us that it is very unusual for a teen of his weight to actually break the metal in the feet. After having him break feet the second spring in a row, they switched suppliers and so far, so good! We have an appointment for re-evaluation the first week of June, and I will have them checked then.

The cost of prosthetics is a consideration. We have not needed to pay for his prosthesis up to this point. Shriner’s has covered the cost, but after he turns 18 we will need to be sure to have insurance that assists in the coverage of prosthesis. After he is no longer growing, he should not need new prosthesis every year. There are grants available to help in the cost of “sports” legs, the famous blades, and different types of attachments for skiing or swim fins. Challenged Athletes Foundation is just one of the organizations that will help you wade through some of your questions.

From what I’ve observed, having only one prosthetic leg is not quite the same challenge as wearing two prosthetic legs. The site of the amputation affects the ease of adapting. The common amputation sites are ankle-level (known as Boyd or Symes amputation), transtibial (mid-calf) through the knee, and trans-femoral (above the knee). If the amputation is through or above the knee and the prosthetic requires a knee joint, it is more difficult for the patient to learn to walk again. Our son has a Symes amputation. Some children find it easier to walk without their prosthesis that has not been our experience.

As a special need, this is not considered a “simple” one. But, today we would consider the “older-child” part of the adoption as the most difficult part of our experience. The prosthesis are just a part of getting dressed though changing pants or shoes can be a slow process. In less than a year, he will be 16 and in PA that means one thing, LICENSE! That is going to present some challenges. So far, in our research it looks like he will need to get hand controls because he has bilateral amputations.

I would say that living with amputations is totally doable and the help of a good prosthesist makes life almost simple.

— guest post by Christine


At NHBO, we love Family Stories. And we know our readers love them, too. Beyond being encouraging and informative, Family Stories shared here have actually resulted in children coming home to a forever family. If you’ve adopted a child through China’s special needs program, we hope you’ll consider sharing your family story. It just may be the reason another family considers that very special need.

Who Would Want a Dad Like Me?

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 9 Comments


Finishing up our June Feature, Let’s Hear it For Dads, with a post by Mike, a former (and much-missed!) regular contributor. We at NHBO enjoyed this series so much that we are working on bringing in more “dad” voices. Because dads are awesome, too. So grateful that Mike agreed to share this wit and wisdom with …Read More

find my family: Lenny

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Precious little Lenny is 1 year old and is listed as a special focus file with Lifeline through an orphanage partnership. his special need is postoperative CHD. Lenny is a handsome little boy! When his caregivers speak to him he will smile and laugh! He can hold his own bottle and feed himself a biscuit …Read More

Let’s Hear it for the Dads

June 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Baba. Daddy. Dad. Your name is worthy of celebration. You are worthy of celebration.   Your name is powerful. For our children, your name means comfort, safety, strength. Perhaps you were the daddy that our child was scared of, and so lovingly and patiently, you pursued our little one. It took time, lots of time …Read More

find my family: Katie

June 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Katie is, and always has been, a favorite at her orphanage! She was born in August of 2013 and found shortly after birth. Her file says, “the child is optimistic, has rich facial expression, the child has a ready smile, although there are so many small dark spots, this does not affect her lovely, she …Read More

God of My Children

June 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Ever learn something, quickly forget it, and need to be reminded again? During our daughter’s extensive surgery last November, God tapped into my medical momma’s fearful heart, comforting me with the revelation that I don’t have to be God of my children. It was a breakthrough parenting moment.  Little by little though, I again started mentally and …Read More

God’s Plans are Always Best

June 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


God’s plans are always best… even when we fight them. After years of dealing with infertility and finally placing our desire for children into the hands of our Father, He revealed that His plan A for us was adoption. When my husband and I first started our adoption process, we told our agency that we …Read More

Night and Day

June 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


In the mid 1980’s our family adopted two biological brothers from the USA’s foster care system. Both were diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Fast forward to 2013 when we first adopted from China, cerebral palsy was a special need that was familiar to us and one we were confident in handling. According to, “Cerebral palsy …Read More

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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.