A Child of God: Adopting a Child with Arthrogryposis

June 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I knew the second I saw his picture that he was my son. I still remember scrolling through my facebook feed when my heart drew me into the boy on the screen and with only seeing his hands I knew…

He was mine.

We were not looking to adopt and years before we would have been too scared to pursue the adoption of a special needs child; especially one with so many unknowns. But our journey had brought us to a place where we were no longer scared, in fact we rejoiced at the idea that this little boy could one day be a part of our family.


My husband and I had met in high school and although we were friends we were far from high school sweethearts. Our story was little more like, boy meets girl, boy likes girl and girl is mean to boy. But several years into college we reconnected and all the things that were important in high school didn’t seem so important any more. After eight months of long distance dating I moved hundreds of miles to marry that boy I once ignored in high school. We simply decided that we glorified God more together than we did apart.

Just over seven years later we found ourselves the proud parents of six beautiful children (three biological children and triplets born at 25 weeks, who we adopted domestically). We were also pursuing the adoption of four-year-old twins from Uganda. A couple months into that adoption we found out we were pregnant.

We were in complete shock but continued on our course trusting the Lord’s plans.

It was just a couple weeks before were scheduled to leave for Uganda that at a routine doctor’s appointment we were told our son had clubbed feet. Even saying the words clubbed feet was hard. Our triplets had introduced us to the medical world so we were all too familiar with the specialists, the waiting rooms and what it meant to be on a first name basis with our doctors.

We trusted in the Lord and stepped forward even in the moments when it seemed impossible.

I traveled to Uganda for a week and came home to care for the kids while my husband stayed for almost six weeks. It was while my husband was in Uganda that I headed back into that same doctor’s office only to overhear the word arthrogryposis. “It looks like he has arthrogryposis”, the doctor nonchalantly said the nurse in room.

The next several months were filled with doctor’s appointments, googling, support groups, tears, and finally a hospital stay. In June of 2012 our sweet boy was born. He was no longer a diagnosis, he was our son. Over the next year we would watch him blossom and fight and bring more joy to our family than we thought possible. We found ourselves traveling all over the US to see the best doctors in world. And the more we fought for him the more he surprised us. And the more he taught us.

Arthrogryposis was no longer something that was scary or limiting, but rather something the Lord had used to make His name great. It was a way for us to see and recognize grace in every second of our lives. We didn’t wait to rejoice until our son took his first steps, we had the privilege of rejoicing with tears running down our face when he wiggled his fingers for the first time. We knew what it felt like to be prayed for by people all around the world while we sat in room waiting for the next surgery to be completed.

We knew God’s grace.

So, really it seemed almost natural when I scrolled through facebook that day…..that I would fall in love. The sweet boy in photo has perfectly curved wrists just like the little boy lying in my room sleeping. And if I looked closely enough I was sure I could see the tops of little casts that would correct clubbed feet. We were already in the trenches of doctor’s appointments, specialists, and daily therapy. I knew that if the Lord saw fit this boy would be a sweet completion to our already-full family.


His file was not ready and so the agency asked us to wait. So we did. We waited and we waited for almost two years before we got the call that his file was ready. In November of 2015 we began the process to adopt a sweet boy we had once only known as Desmond. As with most adoptions the process was long and hard but we knew the boy at the end of all the paperwork was worth every sacrifice. In October of 2015, I boarded a plane to meet the boy who stole my heart two years earlier.


Once we got home we started with all the typical doctors appointments that come along with a child with special needs. And really we are still in the trenches of figuring everything out. He went through one set of serial casting to correct his clubbed feet, a small surgery… and we have a summer scheduled full of doctors appointments. But every day this little boy brings so much joy and life to our family. He is not defined by his condition or by his accomplishments.

We rejoice in the great gift given to us and know he is beloved simply because he is a child of God.

– guest post by Sherry: instagram || email

Urgent Medical Need: Gil

June 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Gil was born in January 2009 and found abandoned in a hospital when he was 18 months old. He has been diagnosed with severe Thalassemia. He is receiving regular blood transfusions, however, agency reps who have met him and followed his care say his treatment is not sufficient and the ramifications of his disease are progressing. He needs a committed family urgently.


Upon admission into the institute it was noted that his development at that time was poor and he was very weak. He couldn’t sit, crawl or stand. This little guy has come a very long way since his initial examination! At the time of his report he was 6 years old and was able to drink from a glass, feed himself, dress and undress himself and was fully potty trained. He was said to be very smart, active, cheerful and polite. He enjoyed playing games with adults, listened well during stories and helped his caretaker when able. He can walk, run and go up and down stairs by himself. He holds a pen to draw and can write numbers, read a watch, knows his colors, right and left, and puts puzzles together without help.


Gil has clear pronunciation when he speaks and communicates freely. He shares toys with peers and attends school within his institute to learn math, music, art and common sense. He is said to be a smart and sensible boy and his caretakers hope he will be adopted by a loving family.


Agency reps who have met and advocated for Gil have said, “Gil may be a little guy, at 7 years old he stands about 3 ½ feet tall, but his personality is mighty. Somehow he manages to simultaneously be calm and rowdy, silly and serious, shy and outgoing. One minute he is fully engrossed in the picture he is coloring, the next he is flopping around in the ball pit. One minute he is hamming it up for pictures—tilting his head to the side, flashing the peace sign, and grinning ear to ear—the next he is on the floor intently doing a puzzle. And during it all, he just has this endearing nature. His sweetness draws you in.”


Gil’s blood is occasionally checked and he receives transfusions to help manage his Thalassemia. In August 2015 he was diagnosed with Severe Thalassemia, Iron Deposition Disease and Splenomegaly. He is in urgent need of a forever family to give him the adequate medical care he needs to survive! Gil is now listed with WACAP and has a $4,000 grant.

Books as Tools for Adoptive Families: My Family’s Favorites

June 29, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

My colleague Maxie once told me that carpenters carry hammers, doctors carry medical tools to bring healing, but the tools of professors are books. As I have morphed from professor to “mommy professor” as Lydia calls me, this statement has stuck with me, and I have found that books are important tools to help our family.

I have written about books frequently for No Hands But Ours, and those articles are referenced at the end of this post.


Chinese Culture

Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites from Dim Sum to Kung Pao – Lydia and I love to cook together. Our favorite Chinese cooking recipe book offers excellent advice and tips to cook authentic tasting Chinese food. We love to go to our local Asian food market, buy ingredients, and make a meal together. The book is not intimidating at all.

Moonbeams, Dumplings, & Dragon Boats – this book is an excellent resource for Chinese holidays, crafts, and recipes.

The Empty Pot – A kind reader of No Hands But Ours sent my family this beautifully illustrated children’s book with a great moral. It has quite simply become my favorite children’s story I have read, and I love that it takes place in China.

The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters – This children’s book tells a fun tale of Lin and her pet dragon. The illustrations use Chinese characters in fun and creative ways, much like Chineasy.

Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories – Recommended for children in kindergarten to eighth grade, this book contains many stories of Chinese folklore.

Teaching About Differences

Both of my children have differences that are visible to others. Parents have often asked which books I recommend to teach other children about differences.

Different is Awesome – This is my children’s favorite book about differences. When my daughter was on the receiving end of some teasing at preschool, we used this book to educate others. The book is written by Ryan Haack, an adult who was born with a limb difference. The book teaches about a variety of differences in a positive, and kind-friendly way. I highly recommend this book to all parents, teachers, and librarians.

It’s Okay to be Different – The book has the reassuring message that it is okay to be different. I love that this book includes disabilities as well as a whole host of differences (adoption, divorce, feelings, etc.). The message is very inclusive, and is suitable for young toddlers and elementary ages. It is a great book about self esteem whether or not your child has special needs. However, this book is a great introduction to talking with your child about disability and special needs.

Lydia and I spend a lot of time at different clinics because of her therapies, and because of this, we meet lots of children with a variety of special needs. I often use this book as a script with Lydia when she asks a question or makes a statement.

We’re Different, We’re the Same – This book pertains to all kinds of differences with the Sesame Street characters we know and love.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon – Although this book is not about disabilities, it is a book about differences. Molly Lou Melon is a short little girl who has the voice of a bull frog and huge buckteeth. When she goes to a new school, she meets a boy who is a bit of a bully. This is a precious story about differences and treating people with kindness.

Adoption Books for Children

Let’s Talk About It: Adoption – Our favorite book about adoption is currently out of print, but is easily found online. It often bothers me that many of the children’s adoption books are written from the parents’ perspective, however, Fred Rogers does such a great job discussing adoption and the emotions involved. The book is very positive, and has helped my daughter begin to understand what adoption is. It is a great book and needs to be reprinted.

Horace – Horace is the sweet story about a little boy who is struggling because he looks different than his adoptive parents. The children’s book is a great read from transracial adoptive families. Though it is also out of print, it can be found used online.


Preparing Your Child for Surgery

The Surgery Book: For Kids – When the child life specialist met with our daughter to help prepare her for surgery, she was so impressed by how much Lydia already knew. The specialist asked us to please send them the list of books we read to our daughter to prepare her. Our daughter loves detail, and The Surgery Book delivers just that in a way that calms fears. The kindle version of the book is extremely affordable and was helpful to read from the iPad.

Teaching Social Skills

Social Skills for Kids – Though this book is written for much older kids, it has helped me with ideas to teach my gifted preschooler the social skills she needs. As she gets older, I only see this book becoming even more useful.

My Previous Articles about Books

If you would like to read some of my previous posts about books we love:

Tackling Food Issues: My Family’s Experience with Love Me, Feed Me – It is common for children adopted internationally to have food issues. In this post, I write about how the book Love Me, Feed Me changed mealtimes in our home. Five months later, it is still working and I still believe agencies should require waiting families to read this book.

Recommended Resources for Parents: Books – I am often asked which books adoptive parents should read to prepare for adoption. This is my list of favorite books, though I would also add Love Me, Feed Me to the list.

How Children’s Books Have Helped My Family – I have also found children’s books to be helpful with bonding and attachment. We recently adopted a little boy, and he first let me show him physical affection while reading one of the books in my post and giggled and giggled with delight. Both son and daughter consider these books winners, and I do too.

Creating a Book to Help Children in TransitionsI wrote about the book my friend Kelly wrote to help my daughter with all of the transitions we would encounter during our adoption trip to China to adopt her little brother. Kelly wrote an amazing post about how other families can easily create a similar book. This book could be easily modified for summer travel. Kelly includes the template for readers to download so that they can make their own.

Part of Your World: A Mermaid Tale

June 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


We first saw her profile on our adoption agency’s web page. Her special need was listed as lower leg deformity, a layman’s term for fibular hemimelia, a congenital condition of missing/shortening of fibular bone, curved tibia (shin bone) and underdeveloped foot. I turned to my husband and said: “Hey, she looks kinda cute, but we …Read More

Waiting Children: Holden and Arlo

June 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Holden is almost 3 years old and has a sweet smile. He is described as full of energy & ticklish. He has repaired cleft lip and palate and his file notes that his development is behind other children his age. As of Dec 2015 when his file was prepared he was able to sit up …Read More

What exactly is “smart parenting”?

June 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments


I figured when I shared here on NHBO about our decision to wait to see Finding Dory on DVD that it would be a well read post. The movie had just come out which meant that there were a whole lot of mamas and dads perusing the web for reviews and the like before a …Read More

No Limits: Adopting a Child with Amniotic Band Syndrome

June 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


As mom to four biological boys, I remember the ultrasound appointments where the heart, kidneys, bones and limbs were surveyed and carefully measured. I was blessed with healthy boys and encouraging news from each of those prenatal appointments. Often, I wonder if my girls’ China mommies had ultrasounds, and if they knew prior to birth …Read More

I See Love By Choice

June 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


Sometimes I can’t bear CNN. I can’t stomach Facebook. My heart can’t hold another story of gut-wrenching loss, more video of violence, another photo of a child swollen from hunger, yet more stories of families fleeing from hate in their homelands. I can’t read another word about ugly politics or strands of hateful, intolerant status …Read More

A Few of Our Favorite Books

June 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


We love reading at our house. Love it. As a middle school Language Arts teacher, this love makes my heart soar with delight. So. Yes. We have a ton of books. And yes, we have many, many books about {China} adoption stories. As well as stories set in China, stories about China, toddler/preschool books with …Read More

Why We Won’t Be Seeing Finding Dory on the Big Screen

June 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 38 Comments


*updated to add: due to the wide readership of this post, and the resulting comments, a follow-up post can be found here. Debuting on the 17th, Finding Dory has blown box office records out of the water, making its debut the highest grossing one for animated movies ever. It’s as if the crowds have been …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.