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find my family: Kyle

January 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Wonderful Kyle! Please read about this precious boy who participated in Lifeline’s Hosting program and very much wants a forever family. Precious Kyle is 10 years old and is designated to Lifeline’s special focus list. This sweet child is stated to have an eye condition called cryptophthalmus (missing eyelid) and caligo cornea (speck on the cornea that causes dimness or obscurity of sight), with “normal mental function”.

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Kyle is an active and sweet little boy, who enjoys watching cartoons. He is said to love new things and meeting new people. Kyle’s file states that he has good language expression, is able to greet guests well and is very polite. This sweet child is also said to be a helpful and obedient child who cares about others, often giving his seat up for an adult! What manners!

Please read these comments from some of the families and team members who got to spend time with Kyle at Lifeline’s 2 week Camp: “Kyle is very sweet spirited. Even though we could not speak the same language, he was very proactive about using hand motions, etc. to help me understand and was always so patient. He can also play the piano- how special! He loved getting his face painted during the Fall Festival and loved spending time at Camp Shelby. He was so curious to play on the tanks and to explore.”

“Right after he landed in the U.S., he was social enough to have made friends with two other American kids quickly in the airport. He felt these two boys were so nice and friendly, so he wanted to me translate ‘If I could be adopted, I would want to be adopted into one of their families’ to them.”

“Our family had the privilege of spending one day with some of the kids at the hosting program. We were able to have a great conversation with Kyle through a translator. He is a sweet and curious child, and also a bit reserved and serious. He told us that he wants very much to be adopted. He loves animals! He wanted to know where animals came from and we were able to talk briefly about God’s creation. Kyle is a beautiful child and desires a family. We are praying that his family finds him soon! ”

“When I was translating questions during medical eval, the teacher asked him what his favorite subjects were, he said law and science. I remembered that so during the vision evaluations while we were waiting, I asked him ‘Last time, you said you love the subject of law, how come? Have you started to study some laws already?’ Then, he said ‘I just want to study the law of adoption so that I would know how I could be adopted.'”

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Please email Annie for more information about Kyle.

His file will go back to the shared list very soon, so please pray and help us to spread the word about this awesome little boy who so desires his own forever family.

Chronic: The Race Set Before Us

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

I am coming to terms with it.  This is not passing.  It’s not over after a surgery, or two.  Or after a therapy session, or three.  The first year is behind us, but there are more miles in this marathon.  I’m discovering what chronic means.  I’m learning that adopting a child labeled medically complex truly does mean “continuous care” and it will “require services from different practitioners in multiple settings over time“.   

We knew it would be a stretch, but we didn’t expect to unravel completely.   We cherished our comfy, together feeling, unaware we were wound around the wrong things. 

Life is now a marathon of appointments,  surgeries, X-rays, nurse calls, research, MRIs, infection, complications, testing, PICC lines, anesthesia, ultrasounds, therapy, and care taking.  And our emotions dart between fear, hope, tears, weakness, hero mode determination, numbness, faith,  exhaustion, new joy, and gratitude.   Human feelings and supernatural strength step simultaneously together.

So we must face what chronic and complex mean.

The antibiotics will continue. 
The appointments will continue.
The care taking will continue.
The “catastrophic” insurance medical cap will be met. 
More procedures. More medical supplies.  More hurt.  More miles to go.

We wonder if our prayer team will start dwindling.
We wonder if people are weary of medical talk and prayer requests. 
We wonder if we’ll figure out how to truthfully yet concisely answer, “How is she?”
We wonder if telling the truth is whining, because we should be running the race better. 
We wonder if doctors are making the best decisions.
We wonder if God wants us to hope for miracles or accept realities.

Well intentioned people in our lives regularly encourage us with, “It will be fine.”  “She’ll be fine.”  “You’ll be fine.”  But what do you do when your heavy heart simply doesn’t feel “fine” watching your child endure continual procedures, tests and hurts?   Should we try harder to be fine? 

We wonder how parents of more complex children do it.  We think, “Well that family adopted a child with the much harder XYZ disease and they seem together.”  Or, “That family has adopted four kids with complex needs, and are adopting three more, what’s my problem?” 

But our child’s pain messes with us.  When discomfort comes daily, tears flow regularly, painful tests are ongoing, and caretaking that hurts is required, there is trauma to process.    Is my faith growing?  Yes.  Am I feeling blessed and refined?  Yes.  But there is still trauma to process. 

No matter the internal or external pressures we feel, we must  give ourselves the freedom and time  to feel what is to be felt.  To look at the dark parts of the trail and not look away.  God is allowing us to walk through something chronically hard.  From the world’s perspective our child might end the race “fine”, but a parent’s heart still has steps to take.   

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God has intentionally entered us into a marathon. And if I believe He’s always good, precise and intentional, I must consider that He’d prefer I not shut my eyes while running.  Not cope, buck up, chin up, cover up, pretend or try harder to be fine.  Hurts are part of the race, and I am being asked to face it.     

There are silver linings, lessons learned, endurance gained and joyful moments.  There is always redemption.  The glass is half full.  Seasons change and mile markers will be crossed over.  I’m finding beauty everywhere and holding hard to hope, but in this less than fine race with a complex child, I’m still rubbed raw. 

I used to be coordinated and prepared, but this is not the same race. I’m finding myself often grumpy and sore, though somehow lighter.  I’m circling between clarity and disorientation .  I’m exploring how to handle chronic hurts. I’m slowing to feel the physical, emotional and spiritual.  I’m releasing myself to walk in the dark for a time. 

I won’t be getting my finisher’s medal for emotion processing anytime soon, but I can say that my frazzled smallness is illuminating God’s bigness. 

Sometimes we have to take a good hard look at darkness to enlarge our reverence for light.

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Are you running your own race, adoptive friend?

Adoption long past, but attachment still illusive?
Feelings not yet where you want them to be?
Your child’s medical needs forcing you to learn underwater breathing techniques?
Trauma raging through your home? 

Please don’t diminish your challenges because someone faces something bigger.  Don’t expect yourself to be together.  Keep your shoes laced, but don’t be afraid to see it as hard.

Maybe feeling “fine” is not what God wants for us.  Maybe He sets a marathon before us that requires so much stretching, loving and serving that we’re left aching and sore.  He has lovingly used adoption to permeate our lives, so let’s not cover ourselves with so many Band-Aids we can’t feel either its pain or its beauty.

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…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2

Special thanks to my talented friend, Tish Goff, for the beautiful photos. 

HIV: Stigma and Disclosure

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Two of the biggest topics in the HIV adoption world are disclosure and stigma. They are very closely related. So let’s talk about them.

Stigma can be defined as a stain on one’s reputation, or a mark of disgrace. HIV sure does have a blemish on its reputation. So much fear of how it is spread. Fear of catching it, of it taking lives.

Orphans who are HIV positive are in a dire situation. It is widely believed that HIV can be spread by shaking hands, sharing utensils, or hugging – none of which spread HIV. People with HIV are evicted from housing, fired from jobs, and regularly denied medical care. HIV positive orphans are isolated, and often left to die. Orphans in China who are HIV positive have a bleak future.

While in China, the stigma was a big concern of mine. There were people who needed to know: our guides, the medical clinic, and all the officials, since the special need is on all of the official paperwork. I was a bit scared that my child would be ignored or feared. Thankfully, I had no issues. Our guide in province was very up front and told us when he picked us up from the airport that he was not scared, and had worked with HIV positive kiddos before. Our guide in Guangzhou seemed a bit nervous at first, but quickly warmed up and asked good questions. This was her first time working with a child with HIV. Our agency did a great job educating her ahead of time. She never had an issue with hugging or touching my kiddo. I was actually most concerned about the medical clinic. I know first hand that healthcare workers in China fear HIV. Would they treat my kid differently? Three days of sputum testing is required so we would see them a lot. I was pleasantly surprised. The nurses and physicians were very professional and it did not seem to even be a blip on their radar. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that my kid was treated just like any other kid.

That is what he is. A normal, healthy kid.

The reason many families choose not to disclose is because of the stigma. Who do I have to tell that my kiddo has HIV? Short answer is no one. HIV status is protected at the federal level. Which means if Aunt Susie tells her Sunday School class that your Sally has HIV without your permission, then she has committed a crime and can be prosecuted. You do not have to tell the school, the sports coach, the pastor, the neighbor, or anyone. Of course it is wise to tell those who may have penetrating blood contact such as the dentist and doctor. And of course sexual partners should be informed.

There are reasons in favor of disclosure. The biggest for us is that general medical knowledge about kiddos is known. I know which of my friends kiddos have diabetes, heart conditions, Hepatitis C, cleft lip and palate, missing limbs, hearing loss, Down syndrome, hemophilia, and orthopedic conditions. My friends post when their kiddo breaks their arm or gets stitches. So why should HIV be different? Keeping the details of the medical condition private is not hard to do. I do not know the dose of insulin my friend’s child with diabetes takes. I do not know the dates of the medical check ups. I have no idea what the details of treatment are. They do not post on facebook recent lab results, or what new medication was given. I do know that if I have a question about arthrogyposis I can ask Brandi or Katie. Questions about heart conditions, I ask Sarah, Christa, or Rene. Cleft questions I ask Dawn, Angela, or Gwen. You get the idea.

Disclosure can happen without invading privacy.

Another reason we disclose is that normalizing HIV is one of the best ways to fight the stigma. We act like it is no big deal because it is no big deal. We also do not want secrecy and fear to be a part of this. There is no worry they may accidentally tell someone. We have had some great questions from friends and family, and honest questions are always welcome. We do not expect everyone to be a HIV expert. We obviously disclose, but we really do not tell everyone. It is not something we bring up all the time. Because, honestly, we don’t think about it all the time.

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The decision to disclosure or not is such a hard thing to decide. I have friends who do disclose, those who don’t, and those who fall in the middle. I have friends who have lost family and friends after telling them they were adopting a HIV positive kiddo. I respect the decision of all of my friends, and I think it is an individual family decision. I will and do support the families who do disclose, and those who do not. We all agree that the stigma needs to end, and that there is no reason to fear HIV.

There is a huge need for families to be willing to adopt kiddos who are HIV positive. If you are in the adoption process and are willing to adopt a kiddo with HIV, tell your agency. Right now very few files of HIV positive children are prepared in China. This is because China does not believe families can be found for these children. Prove them wrong. Ask your agency to request files of HIV positive kiddos to be completed.

There is even a bigger need to help end the stigma and support families who deal with HIV. Asking questions to become educated, spreading truth about HIV, and not fearing HIV are huge helps to families. If everyone was educated about HIV and the fear eliminated, disclosure would not be a discussion topic.

Let’s end the stigma.

guest post by Kathy who blogs at Miracles and Mudpies; photo by Tish Goff

find my family: Kevin

January 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Precious Kevin. Please read about this adorable little boy who participated in Lifeline’s 2014 Hosting Camp and is currently waiting on our designated list. Kevin just turned 7 years old and is listed as having mild CHD, finger abnormalities/syndactyly and unsteady but independent gait. Kevin is an absolute sweetheart who loves to be cuddled and …Read More

Adoption Allergies

January 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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“He’s been home for over two years. Isn’t it time you stop thinking about attachment?“   I stared dumbfounded at the face in front of me that had just uttered those hurtful words. I knew in my heart, they were said both in overly-asserted kindness and in ignorance, but I kinda wanted to scream back …Read More

being refined

January 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 13 Comments

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i’ve been mulling over this post for a month. it’s not for lack of content, but an inability to process and actually edit and write it down. so forgive me if this is wordy. i hope you can hear my heart. we are nearly 4 years home with my daughter. she is our 3rd of …Read More

find my family: Jolie

January 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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This beautiful little girl is six years old and said to be extroverted, active and restless. Jolie is stated to have good communication skills, can express herself well and gets along well with other children. Her file states that she has, “Good physical and mental development, similar with other children of her age.” Precious Jolie …Read More

The Lost Boys of China

January 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments

In case you have any question about it, boys need moms, too.

It started with Adam It was at McDonalds on a crisp December morning in 2002, and we had just completed an ultrasound appointment for our second child. During the appointment, we learned that our first child, Abby, was going to have a baby brother. Over her tray of hash browns and an Egg McMuffin, Anne …Read More

Aging Out Child: Cody

January 18, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

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Update: My Family Found Me! Cody ages out this July, he needs a family to adopt him before his fourteenth birthday. He has mild hemophilia, his future and health depend on being adopted. His future, should he remain an orphan in China, is bleak. Cody was found abandoned at a bus station when he was …Read More

Looking back on adopting my child with HBV

January 17, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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When my husband and I decided in 2008 to adopt from China’s Special Needs Program, we knew we would have to fill out a medical check list. One of the needs we readily checked was Hepatitis B. I had contacted HepB as an adult and had cleared the virus without really getting sick. Of course, …Read More