Going to China: Preparing a Heart

July 7, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I see you adoptive momma, readying yourself for a trip to the other side. You’re standing there in the travel size isle in Target. Lists falling from your handbag. You are sweating and it’s 68 degrees in here. I want to run over and hug you (actually I may). I want to bring some calm into your chaos.

I also want to tell you that you are going to China… not the moon. It will be okay to forego the portable water purification system annnnnnd the Cheerios.

Take a deep breath, take a walk. Go for a jog, ride a bike. The payoff will be huge for you and your family. Read blogs with ideas for the big family day. These are precious moments that you will never get back. They can be stressful but they are golden down the road. We have been home from our second trip for less than four months and I have to say I do not regret for one second not packing that toothbrush and toothpaste. (That’s a fact and another post all together.)


In all of your preparation I pray that you allow God to ready your heart for what can sometimes be rugged emotional terrain.

I had no idea when we started on this journey, that we would make more than one trip. I’m also not sure that we have made our last. Truth is, I’m just not the same. For some of my people, it’s been just too much, and I totally get it. Sometimes I myself am overwhelmed by the much-ness of it.

I felt a strong burden, early in our adoption journey, to pray for our little one’s first momma. We were not yet matched with a child, and this burden left me almost in a panic. Things swam around in my brain, and for days I struggled with knowing how to pray. I worried over needs not being met, or lack of resources. I was sure I wasn’t going to bring something to His attention, as if He were unaware. This was about something else.

Not long after I began praying for this momma, we received a referral for a little girl two weeks shy of three years old, weighing 19 pounds with a CHD, TOF repair and a laundry list of delays. We were terrified and overwhelmed with the ultrasound images and tests and chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. What scared me the most was I knew I was going to be her momma, as I had trouble executing a proper bandage. What I didn’t realize at the time was this little love’s heart wasn’t the issue, it was mine.

Shall not God search this out? For He knoweth the secrets of the heart. – Psalms 44:21

I went after adoption with a ton of fight. My prayers had been hard and fast for a defenseless, abandoned child, someone who had no one to speak up for them, nowhere to belong. I’m not suggesting that this is not what we are called to. The Bible is clear about orphan care and the responsibility we have to the fatherless. The thing that I didn’t expect was how He would, and still is, use adoption to change me. There are heinous acts committed against children all over the world. It is evil. I see it on the news, I hear it from organizations I serve with. I have knowledge of things in my brain that sometimes I just want to un-know. But as image bearers we are called into the darkness… and my spirit went “search and rescue” before the ink dried on our adoption application.

As I continued to pour over this file and stare at pictures of my girl, I started to try to reconcile the tragedy of this eleven day old infant, blue from a broken heart. How do you walk away? How do you surrender, not knowing?

She had a piece of paper pinned to her clothes that gave a birthday and a name. A few days later, over conversation about the paper, a friend who lives in China asked if she could find out the meaning of the name from a local friend of hers. I agreed. She explained that names are rarely trendy in China. They most often hold significant meaning. 

That next email wrecked me in every. single. way. She had been given the name, “Little Work of Art.” These four little words brought forth prayers for this broken momma. And in my brokenness for her, God whispered that sometimes love, at its greatest, looks like surrender.

It tore down my white picket fence. It exposed a fissure in my heart that had formed the day we buried my dearest aunt. It was the lie that was buried so deep, and covered with so much white church paint, I hardly remembered the moment it entered my thoughts.

…..He doesn’t care.

My aunt only ever wanted to be a momma, and tirelessly practiced her craft on me, until her miracle child came when I was 11. The majority of memories now held by this miracle boy are mostly of a sick momma, because who remembers anything before the age of three?

The enemy had kept this lie safe beneath the surface with my desire for justice and fairness. God was using, once again, the loss of a mother to expose it.

It took 108 days to receive our LOA. Do I think He was unaware that my child needed a mother? No, He knew. He also knew that I needed to know He is broken over every fatherless and motherless child. As much as His heart ached for me to trust Him with the one I couldn’t yet wrap my arms around, I had to give her to Him, as well as the two already in my care. I wanted to control and to monitor and expedite.

I wanted Him to move the mountains. And He was. Only they were located in my heart.

I still want justice and fairness, but Jesus called for none of those things from the cross. In fact, He went before the Father asking His forgiveness for us and surrendering His spirit. 

On my second trip to China, we set aside a day to do something we missed on our first trip, a visit to our heart girl’s finding place. Sure we could have made it happen the first trip, our girl was sick, but one of us could have gone. This wasn’t His plan. I think He knew that Dad would be the one to catalog the experience on the first trip, and He wanted me there. He wanted me on that sidewalk grasping my little one, trying to protect her from traffic. He wanted to bring me to the place where He was, and I wasn’t. It was my first time on that sidewalk, but it was not His. He was there and He is where we cannot be.

The best realization I have had is that I am not enough. I cannot undo the hurt, or restart the beginnings, all I can do is lead them to the one who can. They belong to Him. They are His, and we are the privileged stewards.


Surrender is not the word I was looking for when I started this journey. It’s all upside down, this economy of heaven. The best way to prepare a heart for adoption, for Kingdom work… because that’s what this is, this otherworldly, “not of my own” love, is a yielded and deeply surrendered heart.

— guest post by Amy

Her Journey.

July 7, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I recently looked back at my blog archives and noticed that I hadn’t blogged about Sunshine’s cleft journey in over a year! Although that is representative of surgeries, it surely isn’t representative of all the work she’s been doing. My sweet girl has been putting forth so much effort in speech therapy. So although the surgeries have taken a long term (but temporary) back seat, she is still doing some big time work on making her communication intelligible.


She has been meeting with her Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at the local elementary school twice a week, for 30 minutes each, over the past year. While she’s in her classroom, I wait with the other children outside in the school lobby. They bring electronic devices and I read a book. We tried bringing school work but there are too many distractions, especially when the bell rings and all the school children come into the building. The time is very productive for Sunshine though – she works on articulation and proper pronunciation of her more difficult sounds, like blends, final f’s, and initial and final s’s. Her therapist then debriefs me afterward, giving me insight on what to work on throughout the week.

I admit I was not excited when she aged out of Infants and Toddlers and moved to an IEP last year. I was concerned about her missing the one-on-one time with her therapist who had lots of experience with cleft children. But Sunshine’s time with her IEP-appointed SLP at the school has been fantastic. She has made a ton of progress this past year and I’m thrilled with the results of her hard work. All of our family and close friends are mostly able to understand her, asking her to repeat herself only sometimes. New acquaintances are able to get the gist of what she is saying too, which is so cool to see! I love watching her interact with other children, knowing that they can understand her.

Today, I silently observed as Sunshine made a new friend with another five year old at the pool. They told each other their names and chattered back and forth as they jumped into the pool over and over. I heard lots of laughter as they splashed around and genuinely enjoyed themselves. As I watched, I sat back and smiled. There were many times in the early years when I wondered how long it would take for Sunshine to be able to play with peers like that. Today, she wasn’t held back by her speech delays. The girls were equals, just two children playing together without concern. I had no worries about her being understood and it was beautiful.

It makes me so proud, especially thinking about the long journey she has already traveled. Her lip adhesion, lip repair, palate repair, and recoveries seem like distant memories, but they are a big part of her story. She still has years of speech therapy in her future, as well as more surgeries, at least including a cosmetic lip repair, a gum line repair, and a rhinoplasty. She’ll also likely require many dental procedures. She still has quite a road ahead of her, but I’m confident she’ll travel it with grace and bravery.

Nowadays, her diagnosed special need of cleft lip & palate is not an everyday part of our lives. There are no intense surgeries, long recoveries, special diets, no-no’s, or unwanted lip massaging. She’s simply our precious five-year-old who’s going to be a Kindergartener in the fall. She also happens to attend speech therapy sessions, and she works really hard to make her words understandable. Yes, she will need to endure more surgeries in the future. They will be difficult and I am not looking forward to them. But they are in the future. For now, we focus on enjoying the beautiful young lady our girl is becoming.

Prayer Mama

July 5, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

There are adoptive families of all sorts. Families who adopt and have biological children. Families who have only adopted children. Families who adopt more than one over several years. Families who adopt two at the same time. Families who adopt only one.

Families who knew from the start that they would adopt one day, and families who were surprised by the call to adopt. Families that adopt internationally, families that pursue open adoptions, families that adopt children through foster care.

Our family? We are in the “we had biological children and then were surprised by the call to adopt” boat. I was actually involved with loving orphans through prayer long before we knew that we were meant to adopt ourselves. I prayed for friends who were adopting. I prayed for waiting children I saw that tugged at my heart.


One day, though, I clearly knew that adoption was for us; that our family of five was going to be a family of six. I prayed for confirmation and clarification for several months before even letting my husband know that I felt the Lord was calling US to adopt!

And then after that first conversation, spent a lot of time praying for unity (which the Lord granted) and peace (which He poured out on us) and patience (we are still learning the joy of His perfect timing!)

Earlier this year our “pre” adoption journey ended. In that moment of our airport arrival, when our new life officially began in my mind, I remember clearly thinking, “I don’t know how people do this more than once!” I may have even verbalized that thought to a fellow adoptive friend. It’s hard, right? The process, the waiting, the agonizing knowing that your child is YOURS, and yet you cannot see them face-to-face until the paperwork chase is over. And then when you finally see them, there is the new hardship and challenge of forming attachments and bonds to a child who doesn’t know you, and a mama and daddy who don’t know the child beyond a few pictures and videos, either!

The days pass, the newness and jetlag wear off, the daily settling into life happens.

However, the knowledge that there are MORE little ones out there, that there are thousands more without a home, without a mama to kiss boo-boos or snuggle them never wears off, does it? I know it hasn’t for me. I’m often crushed by the sheer need for families to step up and say, “HERE WE ARE! SEND US!” I am grieved by the pictures that show sad eyes and I am broken by the knowledge that right now, just in the orphanage our daughter was, there are hundreds more that wait; most who will probably never know what “mama” or “baba” actually means during their own childhoods. I look at the pictures and I ache. I ache because there are so many. I ache because I want all of them to find love in a family.

I’ve thought to myself on occasion, “will we go back?” There are parts of me that want to, the parts that see the widespread injustice and sheer magnitude of need and feel it would be wrong not to. There are parts of me that don’t want to because the whole experience is still just too fresh, and our daily life is often feels like we are just one train stop away from Crazy Town!

After much prayer asking for more unity, and more peace, and more clarity, the answer to the question, “will we go back” for OUR family is this: right now, no. Not because that’s what we declare to be truth. It’s a “no” because every time I pray about a face that grabs my heart in a particularly strong way, I hear, “no”. Not for now. Not for us. I look at our daughter and see that while she has come so far in five very short months, she has much farther to go in learning what family looks like.

WE have much farther to go in learning what family, with her, looks like! For OUR family, she is the one that still needs our “yes” every day. Julianne and her sister and her two brothers need to be our focus right now: teaching, learning, modeling, and growing together.

I still have the burden. I still feel an ache. Now what?

I pray.

There is a Facebook page on which Waiting Children in China are advocated for. I hop on to that page and pray for those faces. Sometimes I will scroll through the pictures of children waiting in foster care centers like New Day or Little Flower. I following the Morning Star Project and rejoice when families are able to stay together. When a little one grabs my heart in a different and special way, I pray harder. I look for them, I seek out information, I bump them up to the top of the lists, and I pray. I read files, I find out about needs, I share their pictures, and I pray.

Another mama called herself a “Prayer Mama” once in an online thread I was reading, and that title is one I can hold on to. I may not be the Mama that God calls for that particular child, but I can be their Prayer Mama! I can grieve as they wait, and rejoice as they are found. Somewhere, God is calling their family to them, and I plead on their behalf that the family would see that face, feel the prompting of the Lord, and declare, “HERE WE ARE! SEND US!”

I join in challenges like this one, and dedicate myself to prayer without ceasing for a little face in need of a family. Prayer moves mountains, and some of these little ones need mountains moved to find families. Want to be a mountain mover? Join this challenge, or create your own!

It is easy for those of us who have experienced the joys of adopting a son or daughter into our families to get hooked on that joy. We want more of it because we see the beauty of it. We look back at Day One and see how much has changed, and it causes rejoicing in our hearts. Who wouldn’t want more of that?!?

Today my joy is to love the daughter God gave us this year. I answer her hundreds of, “Mommy, can I?” questions, all designed to reassure herself that she is a part of the activities she sees happening around her. I watch her play with her siblings and don my hypothetical referee jersey to teach all of them what sharing looks like with four kids in the mix. I brush her hair off into pigtails and agree with her when she says, “I like dat hair!” I pick her up and kiss her when she falls down and gets hurt. I sing Jesus Loves Me to her before she drifts into peaceful. I learn by resting under the wings of the Father what it looks like to protect her heart. I pray for a slumbering world to wake up so that other families will know the joy we know. I’m a Mama, and I’m a Prayer Mama.

Here are two of the worthy ones, just TWO of the children that are so well known by the Father that have captured my heart. They have the same medical need as our daughter, and I am happy to answer any and all questions I am able to. I pray for them constantly. Would you join me, or will you find a face of one who needs a family that pulls at your heart? Will you commit to praying every day for 14 days for them? Would you share them with those who cross paths with you in your life?

Would you make known and plead the case of the orphan? Would you even ask if YOU are the one meant to say, “here am I, SEND ME!”


Curtis is a precious 3-year-old boy with Epidermolysis Bullosa. As of September he could walk while holding onto something, and occasionally without help, but he is very cautious. Every few steps he’ll stop, and look back at caregivers, who will clap to tell him “Good job!”


Curtis’s file is currently with WACAP, but is due to be returned to the shared list very soon! They are offering a waiver in the pre-approval fee, a waiver in the application fee, and a $4000 grant for eligible families. WACAP is willing to transfer his file, but the grant is only for eligible WACAP families.

Email for more information!



Case is a precious 7-year-old boy, also with Epidermolysis Bullosa. “My caretakers say despite some painful days, I am a very strong and courageous little boy! I love to sing children’s songs and be creative by making woven bracelets out of beads. I am also very fond of drawing! My caretakers say I have excellent language competence and that I am a polite and kind boy.”


Case’s file is currently with Great Wall. Email for more information.

— photo by Tish Goff

Urgent Medical Need: Kenneth

July 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Kenneth is such a sweet and responsible 8-year-old boy! WACAP staff met him at a recent Journey of Hope Camp and were so impressed by him even though he was nervous meeting a foreigner for the first time. Kenneth was found when he was 6 months old, and he currently lives with a foster family …Read More

The Long Journey Home

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Or Why My Family Is Banned From the Hong Kong Airport Hotel Indefinitely. I can remember spending so much time and thought in anticipation of the journey to China. I imagined every possible scenario and packed accordingly. Checked with those who had gone before. Prepared my heart for any response or encounter I could imagine. Double checked and packed …Read More

it’s my birthday and I want to do something wonderful. join me.

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


This is a post from my personal blog. But I’m sharing here because it’s my birthday, and you’re my friends, too. And I think you have as much of a heart for the fatherless as I do. So welcome to a little birthday party, friend. I love it when it’s my birthday, because I get …Read More

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 9)

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Today we’re back with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with the ninth in a 10 post mini-series by Kelly – who blogs at Mine In China – on How To Choose An Agency. You can find links to the previous posts here.   Grants, Fundraising, and Understanding the Business Side of Agencies   Finances are an important consideration for many parents. Few …Read More

what we’re reading: 7.2.15

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 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 …Read More

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. …Read More

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 …Read More

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