Get Involved

May 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

So excited to announce our new Get Involved page here on No Hands But Ours. As we continue to grow, we are recognizing more ways for additional mama and babas to get involved in what we do here at NHBO.


Our Get Involved page is a starting place for just about anything you’d like to do to get involved. Below you’ll find some buttons – just taken directly from that page – and, when clicked, each will take you to appropriate next steps. If you are looking for the Get Involved page again in the future, you can find it in the navigation bar under “About”.

Here is a quick overview of each…

Ready to Travel: In our What We’re Reading posts (back by popular demand, thanks to Liberty) we share links to traveling families. If you’ll be going to China soon to bring your little one home, please share your information with us so we can share your joy in a future WWR post.

Become a Volunteer: We have lots of ways you can help out here at NHBO. We wouldn’t exist without all the time and energy volunteered by special needs parents, and if you’ve got a passion for the fatherless, have some time to spare and are gifted in one of the areas listed below, please consider how you might join the NHBO team!

We are looking for some special people who would like to:

– gather content for NHBO (SN and resource pages)
– format content for NHBO (blog posts, etc)
– edit photos for NHBO
– offer my photos to be used on NHBO
– be a Mentoring Mom
– use my knowledge/experience of Special Needs somehow, but not as a Mentoring Mom
– be a regular contributor
– be a guest poster
– help manage social media for NHBO
– share my family bloglink to be used as an NHBO resource

Recommended Reading: There is a plethora of great reading around the blog-o-sphere. If you’re a regular reader of things that pertain to special needs, adoption, and/or China, please consider sharing the good stuff with us so we can share it here with everyone else in our WWR posts! We have a short form (you really just need to input the url of the article) to complete, and leave the rest up to us!

Connect with a Mentoring Mom: Have a question about a specific special need? Want some real-life advice from a mom who has been parenting a special need for awhile? We have set up the Mentoring Mom program to be a way to connect experienced moms with new moms and/or moms considering adopting a child with a specific special need. This program in no way substitutes for professional medical advice, but it can be a great support and encouragement to connect someone who has walked the road before.

Fundraising Family: We have a heart for fundraising families around here. Probably because many of us have been there. So we are going to feature one family per month here on NHBO. We will share a post about that family, some bits of their story as well as how the NHBO community can come alongside to help bring their child home. Families must be adopting from China and have a completed homestudy.

Submit your Family Story: Family stories are the heart of NHBO. We have been sharing family stories since NHBO began, almost 8 years ago, with 148 published stories. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from readers who were blessed, encouraged and oh-so-thankful for another mom or dad who sat down and took the time to write their story. And, based on our recent Reader Survey, Family Stories are an absolute favorite. No length limit and anonymous posts for more private special needs are a-okay.




So grateful to each and every person who has given of their time, energy and wisdom to make No Hands But Ours the resource it is today. If you would like to join our efforts on behalf of the fatherless, we would be so happy to have you.

Secure Attachment: If We Have It, We Can Give It

May 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The most baffling event occurred today. A client who has lived in several foster homes and a group home, was asked by the court to return to counseling. I received a call from her foster parent saying that she needed to start family counseling and resume trauma counseling. I was puzzled. This child and her foster family were thriving. The child’s negative behaviors were at an all-time low, the child was able to clearly express her life history complete with a realistic expectation and belief that she would indeed, be ok.

“Bring her in,” I stated. After an assessment of her behavioral and emotional status, as well as an intimate conversation with the foster parents, I concluded that not only was this child safe, this child was thriving. Mystified, I called her worker. This is what I was told, “Due to the fact that the foster parents stated they were not ready to adopt AND the court’s opinion that the trauma healing occurred too fast, more counseling is needed.” I gave a respectful reply but all the while ALL I could think was, “So you are telling me, we did our job so well so fast that something MUST be wrong??” Hard to believe isn’t it. It is important that you know, the reason we had so much success with this family is because we followed an intervention designed to strengthen trust and attachment. We followed Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross.

Without secure attachment, individuals will have challenges engaging in meaningful connections with others throughout their entire lives. In her article, “Truth Lies and Intimacy: An Attachment Perspective,” Jude Cassidy outlines four traits associated with the capacity to participate in intimate relationships. These include the ability to give care, to receive care, to negotiate personal needs and to have a sense of an autonomous self. These four traits are beautiful and success in them is something we all strive to achieve and teach to our precious children.

Most experts in the area of attachment agree it is necessary for parents to have a healthy attachment style in order to mentor healthy attachment in a child. After all, good parenting starts with the parent despite how much we despise looking inward!

Let’s start with an inventory of how comfortable you as a parent are with the four traits. Ask yourself, on a 1-10 scale, 10 being the most comfortable, how comfortable are you…

Accepting help from others?
Giving help to others?
In your own skin?
Negotiating your own needs?

If you scored a low number on any of the four traits, you may have some reflective work of your own to do before you can properly model these core beliefs for your child. Often, adults who have difficulty trusting others will score lower on the 1-10 scale than adults comfortable with trust. This mistrust generally comes from early life experiences. Making sense of your own experiences and beliefs will help you model these traits for your children as well as provide you with a general sense of peace and understanding.


Accepting Help from Others:

Many of our foster and adopted children have had to meet their own needs as a way to survive. Some even cared for their younger siblings and assumed a parenting role. Children without a parent able to care for them likely did not learn to trust. Without trust, accepting help from others feels very uncomfortable and scary. A language of playfulness and safety is recommended when teaching your child to accept help. Statements such as these send a message of love and trust: “I love you very much. May I show you by tying your shoes for you?” or “While you go play and have fun, I will make the macaroni and cheese for you and your sister.”

Giving Help to Others:
One way to show respect is to care for others when they have a need. Imagine your child offering a hand to the opposing teammate knocked down during a basketball game or holding the door open for another person. You would beam with pride! Helping others in need validates our belief that humans (and animals) are worthy of love and care. When you find yourself helping another person, point this to your child and when you witness your children helping another, praise them.

Negotiating Needs:
Children from hard places were often on their own or were mistreated by adults who assumed power and control over them in hurtful ways. As a result, the idea of shared power, choices and compromises is likely new to them. The first step in teaching this skill to our children is by negotiating with them ourselves. We give them a voice by offering compromises and sharing power. You can say something similar to, “It is time for snack, would you like apples or bananas or another healthy snack as a compromise?” In this example both you and the child have their needs met. You ensure the child has a healthy snack and you shared power by allowing the child to choose the snack. In addition, playfully teaching them how to share with siblings and peers reinforces their ability to negotiate their own needs and the needs of others.

Being Your Authentic Self:
To be authentic we have to feel safe. To feel safe we have to be validated and given the opportunity to show our identity and creativity. Psychologists and therapists accomplish this with children by allowing opportunities for connecting through child-led play. As parents, our interactions with our children usually revolve around teaching, correcting, and questioning 24-7. Children explore being their authentic selves through play. Playing with them, without leading, allows for the opportunity to get to know them and validate their unique ideas and creativity.

Wanna know how the foster child that “healed too fast” scored on the above categories? This was her reply:
Giving help to others? 9
Accepting help from others? 7
Negotiating needs? 10
Comfortable in her own skin?

I think she is well on her way to a healthy and happy future despite the obstacles placed in front of her.




Cindy R. Lee is the Executive Director of HALO Project, an intensive therapeutic intervention program for foster and adopted children. HALO Project relies on the strategies developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross. Cindy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and recently published several children’s books specifically for foster and adopted children.




— photo by Tish Goff

aging out child: Anna

May 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Anna, born August 1, 2001, is now 13 and will age-out of the CCCWA system on her next birthday. As of this writing, that is less than 3 months. She is a thoughtful and kind young lady with a good friend already here in the U.S.

Anna was found when she was 5 ½ months old. She had been placed next to a local gate with a small note containing her actual birthdate. What a gift to her that was! Although her file is outdated, it seems as though she has resided in the orphanage her whole life as opposed to being in foster care.


Ayis at the orphanage are always telling her how smart she is. Anna is not a picky eater, but sweet cakes and biscuits are her favorite! Her file reads as if she is very popular with both the caregivers and the children.


Anna’s official file notes that she is blind and is post-op for CHD. In 2005, she had surgery for her heart condition and recovered well. In 2009, an ultrasound of her heart was done that indicated her heart was functioning normally. An update for Anna has been requested, and any new information received will be added to this profile. Families considering a child who is blind can find resources in several places. A couple of great places to start are the National Federation for the Blind  and the American Foundation for the Blind. Also, Perkins School for the Blind and Wonder Baby  could also be of benefit.

An adoptive mama whose son is friends with Anna wrote this: “Anna is a sweet 13-year-old girl who will age out in August 2015. She attends a prestigious School for the Blind where she is an excellent student in the 5th grade with high grades. She is skilled in Chinese braille. She can speak some English and braille English as well (literary uncontracted braille). She enjoys reading – History is her favorite subject. She also plays the Liu Qin – which is a 4 stringed Chinese mandolin. She is in chorus and LOVES to sing – with the voice of an angel! Active on the playground – she loves to play with other children. She is independent and able to take care of her self in regards to hygiene, meals, dressing, etc. She has excellent O&M skills – uses a white cane to get around independently. She is kind and thinks of her friends – remembering birthdays and doing sweet things for them. She is blind and has post operative CHD. She is a dear friend and former classmate of my sweet son who has been home almost a year.”

Anna’s file is currently on the shared list and a family may chose any agency to complete her adoption. Should a family choose to use WACAP as their placing agency, there may be a $4,000 grant available to help with the cost of Anna’s adoption.

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 1)

May 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Today we pick back up with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with a mini-series by Kelly, who blogs at Mine In China, on How To Choose An Agency. Because this very complex subject deserves a mini-series of it’s own. Kelly has published a series of posts on her own blog and has graciously reformatted them into …Read More

what we’re reading: 5.2.15

May 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


So….is it possible it has been six months since our last “What We’re Reading links” post? Sorry about that. We’ve been hopping in these parts with some amazing series and posts, but regardless we have some articles and traveling families to share with you today. As always, if you’ve read or written something you think …Read More

Corina’s Story: Adopting a Child with Sturge-Weber Syndrome

May 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


“You can’t direct the wind but you can adjust your sails.” – Unknown No truer words have I ever read that bring home the reality of our daughter’s diagnosis. Our adoption journey is a story in itself, and best for another time. We have had several wise friends point out that the complications of even …Read More

Attachment: Parenting Through the Hard Stuff

April 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


A few weeks ago we read a post on Lauren’s blog and thought it would be an excellent resource to share here. Lauren was gracious enough to allow us to use it. There is so much good stuff, we broke it down into two posts, this is post two, post one is here. Thank you, Lauren, …Read More

Urgent Medical Need: Justus

April 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 3.30.19 PM

Adorable Justus is 2 years old (born December 2012). Justus is a very smart little boy that already knows how to sort shapes and colors, point out and say objects in a book, and say several words! He gets along well with other kids and loves to ride on the rocking horse and play catch …Read More

Making The Decision to See an Attachment Therapist: How Theraplay is Helping My Family

April 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


My phone rang and it was a call from my adoption agency’s post-adoption team.  “So Mandy, how is it going?” the post-adoption social worker asked.  We had been home just a couple of months from China, but it felt like so much longer.  Everything was hard in those early days.   “We need help,” I …Read More

Attachment: Room By Room

April 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


A few weeks ago we read this post on Lauren’s blog and thought it would be an excellent resource to share here. Lauren was gracious enough to allow us to use it. There is so much good stuff, we broke it down into two posts, this being post one, with post two to follow shortly. Thank …Read More