It Takes a Village: The Grandparents’ Perspective

October 8, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The announcement that you are going to be a grandparent again… this time through adoption.

Being a grandparent is one of the most amazing experiences we could imagine. When our daughter and son-in-law announced the pregnancy of their first two children, we were so excited. When they announced their plan to adopt a child, we found as grandparents we each responded slightly differently, at least at first. Much of my life’s work had been in foster care and adoption. I had hoped in my own life to be able to foster or adopt, so when we learned of our adult children’s plan to adopt my heart was flooded with joy. So many children need a home and I felt so proud that a member of our family had decided to take action to make a difference.

Because my work had been in Indiana and I knew the needs of children in our home state, I initially struggled to some degree with adopting from anywhere but here. What I easily transitioned to is the realization that all children need the love of a family and that is not limited by boundaries of a state or a country; children need families.

For my husband, he was excited because he loves children, but was initially challenged intellectually because he could not understand the choice of adoption; if they wanted more children, why not have more biological children? What he easily transformed to was that he did not need to understand the choice of adoption, what he needed and wanted to do was to support his daughter and her husband. Doing that came easily to him because he focused on his love for them. After going through the first adoption and experiencing his heart explode with a love never expected, my husband (Grandpa) easily hopped on the road of support when the announcement of the plan to adopt a second child came along.


Preparation as a grandparent.

Because there are differences with bringing home a 2 year old child through adoption than from bringing home a biological child from the hospital, our daughter and son-in-law wanted all of their close friends and loved ones to be educated about how best to welcome the new grandchild into our family. We were invited to participate in a webinar from their adoption agency that explained the needs of an adopted child so that he/she can develop a healthy attachment to their parents and family. This education, coupled by education from our daughter and son-in-law, was extremely helpful.

When you hear that you will not be hugging on your grandchild for 3 months or more it is difficult because as a grandparent you, too, have longed for this little one who is joining your family. When he is finally home you want to love him, as you typically know how to love. But that is where we had to remind ourselves that to love our newly adopted grandson, we needed to follow our training and allow his parents and siblings to love and cuddle him until he had the opportunity to begin to bond with his family and understand that his parents will be meeting his needs.

The goal is that he will learn to rely on them and trust them as his providers. When a child has had multiple caregivers and possibly had needs not met, trust and attachment are not automatic for a child. Healthy attachment allows for trust and when it is learned, it can be transferred to other trusted loved ones, but first we knew our grandchild needed to learn to rely upon and trust his immediate family.

It was interesting to witness the response of friends and extended family when we tried to explain this. Without information and training, which we were fortunate to receive, people want to follow what they intuitively know. My husband (Grandpa) handled this best by just saying, “This is what the experts have explained is necessary to help our grandchild, and it works!” Because we saw that it did work, it was easier to handle for the second adoption. Like anything, knowledge and experience help.

Finding ways to help.

1. Caring for the other children while parents travel for the adoption

With the adoption of a child, and in our case a trip by their parents to China for 2+ weeks, there was going to be a need for the care of the 2 children they already had. For me, I saw this as an opportunity of a lifetime – 2 weeks with my grandchildren. We were blessed to care for our grandkids while our adult children traveled to bring home our adopted grandson, but soon after it was decided that we would be the caregivers during this time, I was flooded with questions. I knew it would be important to follow the routine that their 2 boys were used to following and to handle things as closely to how their parents would handle them as we could. I wanted their parents to trust us fully in the care of their sons so they could be totally available to participate in the experiences they were going to have in China with their new son.


Regular communication began between our daughter and us with questions about everything possible: how to work their three TV remotes, what to do if something goes wrong with their house, but most importantly, what to do if one of the boys got sick, what types of things are comforting when the boys are scared, and what works best to support the boys in their daily routine. To capture all the information, our daughter typed her responses to all the questions we had, along with additional things she thought of, and it was nicely organized under headers. I then created a manual so I had everything I could possibly need from teacher’s names, insurance cards, local friends/resources, fun things to do in the community, etc. The manual was a sense of security to me because I knew what an honor and privilege it was to care for their sons in their absence and I wanted our daughter and son-in-law to feel confident in how their children would be cared for in their absence. We also created a calendar of what would happen each day so we had a schedule/structure and our adult children knew what was happening with their kids each day.

Our daughter and son-in-law provided wrapped gifts for their boys to open each day while they were away. They were not high dollar gifts, but simply little things that helped the boys feel special and thought of while their parents were away. They also made a video for each day that we played and they video -taped themselves reading the kids’ favorite stories. These were a fun part of our routine and helped our grandsons stay connected to their parents. We also arranged a FaceTime call each day so our grandsons could see their parents daily and talk with them, and their new brother. It was a joy to share in that communication, but as grandparents we were conscientious to make sure we allowed this to be time between our grandsons and their parents. We, of course, loved hearing from them too, but our role was to listen and support! We would have plenty of time to catch up when they got home!

For the second adoption we again cared for our grandchildren while their parents and their oldest son traveled with them to China. Although we had been through the process before, I still pulled out the manual, updated it with our new questions and answers, created a new calendar for the days the boys would be in our care, and created some additional sticker charts to help the boys have clear expectations and rewards for behavior. The goal remained the same, to be as consistent as possible to the expectations their parents have for them, so the transition home would be as smooth as possible.

This time we had our 4 year old grandson who had stayed with us before when his parents went to China to bring home his brother, but instead of his older brother with us, his 4 year old brother who was adopted from China just a little over a year ago was with us. This was his first extended stay away from his parents. Although we had had several weekend stays with us in preparation, it was still different for him to be away from his parents for 2 weeks. It was also very hard for his parents, especially his Mother, to leave him when she had worked so hard to assure him she would always be there for him. She had prepared him well though, including teaching him the song from Daniel the Tiger which says “Mommy comes back”. Our evidence that he fully understood that was when his cousin came to play with him and as her Mom left, our grandson sang “Mommy comes back” to his cousin.

2. Supporting adoption through love and prayer

As a grandmother I have crocheted a baby blanket for each of the grandchildren prior to their birth. I wanted to provide the same to our adopted grandchildren, but since they were not infants, I instead made them a larger blanket to coordinate with their rooms. When I am crocheting a blanket, this is a wonderful time to lift up prayers for my grandchild. For me, I feel my relationship really grows during the time of making the blanket because while I am making the blanket, my thoughts are on the new child coming into our family and the hopes and dreams I have for him.

3. Helping with fundraising

My husband (Grandpa) had the opportunity to tour MudLOVE, a local organization which makes bracelets. MudLOVE has a unique business model; they not only sell their bracelets to fundraising efforts at a discount, they also donate 20% of their gross sales to Water for Good, a group that drills wells to bring clean water to villages in the Central African Republic. Each product sold delivers 1 week of clean water to someone in need. When he met them he knew this would be a great fundraiser to assist in bringing home our second adopted grandson!


He told our daughter that we would buy 100 bracelets if she would organize selling them. She chose five different inspirational words bracelets (inspire, adopted, hope, redeemed, be the change) and placed the order. Once they arrived, she wrote the fundraising announcement in her blog offering the bracelets for sale. She closed her eyes and prayed as she hit ‘enter’ to post the fundraiser, hoping they would sell. Within five minutes the first bracelet sold. An hour went by, and 50 had sold. Within 3 hours, 97 had sold and people requested that she order more!

A second, and then a third bracelet order was placed, and MudLOVE provided these with an additional discount as they were ordered within 90 days. In total, 460 MudLOVE bracelets were sold, $5,106 was raised to bring our newest grandson home and 460 weeks of clean drinking water was provided. Our daughter went on to raise additional money through various fundraisers, but we were so happy to have helped by funding the MudLOVE fundraiser.

4. Displaying family photos

We are a family that loves to display photos of our family in our home! As soon as possible, we incorporated photos of our adopted grandchildren into the displays. Unbeknownst to me, this is possibly more important than I had realized. Our first adopted grandchild while eating a meal with us in our dining room one day shared with me the number of photos he had found of him on the walls of our home. He had also counted those of his two brothers and with a smile shared the number was the same.


How our hearts have grown.

Each of our grandchildren are so precious to us. We feel blessed by how they are each so unique. We feel thankful that our daughter and son-in-law expanded our family and our hearts through our grandsons who are adopted. We are excited by the learning that has happened in our family as a result of adoption and we are reminded that it will not stop. We feel thankful, lucky, proud, and blessed that adoption is a part of our family story. These boys have changed our lives and we are so fortunate to share in their life journey with them. God has filled our hearts with a love that we are so grateful to share. “We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19

One thing to remember… it’s time to revise the will (again).

guest post by Tom and Danette Till – parents to Amy

Waiting Child Highlight: AWAA

October 8, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The following children are all designated to AWAA via an orphanage partnership, if you would like to know more about how to make any of them a part of your family, please email AWAA directly. Also, please be aware that these three children require a dossier to be logged in with China and AWAA only has them on their list for a few more days.

Austin is a cute little 2-year-old boy with a big smile who needs a forever family. His file notes that he especially loves playing outside with his nanny. Austin’s very favorite activity is splashing in the bathtub. Austin’s file also notes some developmental delays but later reports indicate that he is developing normally both physically and mentally.

Austin 2

Steven is a sweet little 2 year old boy in need of a forever family. His caretakers describe him as very active and outgoing. He loves being cuddled by his nannies and he loves to play games with other children. Steven enjoys listening to music and playing with toy cars. He’s very fond of playing outside. Steven has been diagnosed with genu varum, or bowlegs.

Photo 1_Qin Qiu Feng

Willow is a sweet 4 year old girl in need of a family. She has been diagnosed with lymphangioma on her right hip joint and inner thigh. She needs a surgery for her thigh. Her medical file notes good physical development and normal intelligence development for her age. She communicates well, likes to learn and is currently in Kindergarten. Willow is described as active, likes to play with other children, and enjoys listening to music.

Willow 2

Please contact AWAA for more information on any of these children.

Saying Yes Was Scary, Being Her Mother Is Not

October 7, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

When my husband and I began our adoption journey in January of 2013 we, like most pre-adoptive parents, had a profile of sorts for the child we were hoping to adopt. We knew we wanted to adopt from China. We were hoping to adopt a girl and we knew we wanted to adopt a child somewhere between ages 3 and 6. Then came the medical checklist. What were we willing to take on? What did we feel like we could handle?

We agonized over that list and eventually we marked the things we felt comfortable with. Cognitive delay was not something we were considering at that point. I’m not even sure it was on the list.

And then one night I happened upon this face while looking at our agency’s waiting children list and something about her face just took hold of me.


She was 4 years old and her listed need was something we felt comfortable with. We asked for her file and put her on hold. We prayed over a weekend and then called the IAC to talk with them. We were fortunate that the IAC doctor had actually met her on a trip with our agency and we were able to get first hand information. My husband talked with the doctor first and called me with sadness in his voice. She can’t talk. At all.

Completely nonverbal with no known reason other than severe neglect. That was not something we had considered. It seemed to be a deal breaker. I was heartbroken. I talked with the doctor a few days later. Her listed need was mild cerebral palsy and she did seem to have some gait and balance issues but, and I still remember her words, we needed to be prepared for a child with cognitive issues. That was not even on our radar. We were sad and fearful and praying.

We also began to learn more about the conditions at her SWI. We were concerned for her. We had been told there was a video and updated pictures and when we received the pictures it showed us a child in decline. The original picture was taken just after she arrived at the SWI. A year later she was very much worse off.


We were struggling. We did not want to let this file go but could we handle this? We were granted extra time while we waited on the video to come. It would take another week and in that time of intense prayer we came to a pretty obvious conclusion. It isn’t about us. Did we feel that this was the child we were meant to parent? If the answer to that question is yes then we make the choice to parent her. We make the choice to put aside our own expectation of what this is going to look like and we say yes.

We had to recognize that this meant we would likely never have an empty nest. We had to put other people’s ideas and expectations out of our line of sight and put the Lord’s expectations for us in front of us. I kept going back to Luke 12:48. To whom much is given, much will be required. We usually think of that in material terms and certainly we are comfortable, but we have been given so much in terms of family and support and love. Much was now, it seemed, being required of us.

And then the video we were waiting on finally came. Thirty seconds of a terribly skinny 4 year old walking away from the camera and then turning around and walking back.

We were hooked. We submitted LOI and then in November of 2013 we traveled to get our sweet Sarah.


Although she was 5 years old she was an absolute baby in every way. She was clearly very delayed and completely nonverbal. She was also hungry to be touched and loved.

And she was just plain hungry!! Once home we had her evaluated and she was on the level of about a one year old. While some of her delays and behavior were typical institutional delays some were clearly lifelong cognitive delays.

So what does real life look like with a now almost 7 year old with cognitive and developmental delays? It is joyful and challenging. She is now on about a 2.5-3 year old level. She does wear bilateral hearing aids but speech progress has been painstakingly slow. She knows about 25 signs and has recently begun picking them up very quickly. She can say about 5 words and makes an awesome monkey sound.

Her receptive language is increasing every day. She is repeating kindergarten this year in a self-contained special needs class. She has become more and more certain of her place in our family and loves each of us with her whole self. We often laugh because based on pictures we thought she would be very timid and mild and shut down. Sister is LOUD and has a serious fight response when she feels threatened in any way. This is one of our biggest struggles.

However, we rejoice every day over the little things she accomplishes. She can run and climb and hop and jump. She can participate in Sunday school and VBS. She is getting better and better every day at communicating her wants and needs effectively to us and others, which has decreased her frustration level (and ours) significantly. She is still a lot like a baby in many ways but we are beginning to see the pace at which she learns new things quicken. Progress is sometimes slow, but there is progress. She will never be “typical.” And that’s okay.


What is the hardest part of having a child with cognitive delays? Can I be honest here?

It’s other people. Sarah does not look any different right off the bat. So when she makes funny noises or doesn’t respond when asked what her name is or how old she is, it makes people uncomfortable. People who don’t know her very well often don’t know the extent of her challenges and say things like, “Can’t you do more than grunt when I ask you a question?” People often assume she is going to break things or tear things up when she touches anything and rush to take things away from her. This does not go well with her serious fight instinct. People make assumptions about her.

Adults have honestly been more rude than children. I never mind a child asking why she can’t talk and I don’t mind discussing her challenges with adults. Rude, insulting comments in front of others, including other children, are hurtful and reinforce her differences to those listening. Stares don’t bother me anymore. She is thankfully unaware of them.

Our sweet girl has been through a lot of trauma and like all kids from hard places she has had to deal with the fallout of that. It can be hard for her to process and she can’t verbalize any of it and that is challenging, but what a joy it is to watch her shed that fear and anxiety slowly more and more each day. It is amazing to watch her squeal with delight when her big brother gets home from school because she knows that he will wrestle with her. It is amazing to watch her sign the names of every picture in a book.

We delight when she conquers matching pictures or drawing a smiley face. She is the delight of our house and she brings us all so much joy.

There are days that it takes my breath away that we almost said no out of fear. Fear of what adding her to our family meant for our other children, fear of what it meant for our future, fear that it was something we couldn’t handle. Isn’t that when God shows us the end of ourselves and the beginning of him? Less of me, more of Him. Every day I tell myself this. Less of me, Lord. More of you.


We come to the end of what we can handle and we let God show us what is even better. And what was best for our family was this little girl. She has stretched us and grown us. She has made me more patient and more sensitive. She has softened our hearts for special needs children and she has broken them for the fatherless. Every single life has value.

Saying yes was scary, being her mother is not. God has used this once tiny, silent girl to change us completely.

guest post by Stacy who blogs at Huff Adoption

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Adopting a Child With Down Syndrome

October 7, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


October has always been my favorite month of the year. I love everything about the cooler temperatures, family time carving pumpkins and roasting marshmallows over a backyard fire. October is also Down syndrome awareness month, and as a Ds adoption advocate, this is one more reason for me to love October. Since adopting my daughter …Read More

Down Syndrome Awareness Month 2015

October 6, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Every Sunday we go to church and sit in the same general section of the sanctuary — inside middle aisle approximately 5 rows back. It’s not the ‘young families’ section of the church (that’s to the far right), so we are usually surrounded by, ahem… “seasoned” men and women and the occasional family with older …Read More

Waiting Child Highlight: Heartsent Adoptions

October 6, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

image (2)

The following precious children are all designated to Heartsent Adoptions, please contact them if you are interested in requesting more information on any of them. This sweet one year old with multiple medical needs is Hope (please inquire to learn more specifics). She is described as active, sweet, smart and cute. Hope loves being with …Read More

To My Non-Adoptive Mama Friends

October 5, 2015 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


You, dear non-adoptive friend, spent months watching us wait for this child that we desperately wanted to travel for and bring home. You cheered when we got new pictures to proudly display, and you faithfully followed the blog posts that detailed all of my thoughts and emotions leading up to the BIG DAY. You were …Read More

find my family: Wesley

October 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


This precious child is Wesley who was born October of 2014 and has postoperative hydrocephalus. He had surgery in January of 2015 where they put a shunt in his brain to help his hydrocephalus and since then he has been a very active little guy! Wesley loves to laugh, watch the people around him, and …Read More

The One Thing

October 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


“To be alive as a human being with indescribable mysteries at every turn, and to have in front of us an eternal destiny of spectacular glory or inexpressible horror is a weight that can either press you down with fear and trembling or bear you up with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” – John …Read More

It Takes a Village: Showering the Adoptive Mom

October 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Last year, when I was asked to help plan a sprinkle shower for my sweet friend, I was happy for the chance to celebrate another special child coming home from China! I didn’t take many pictures at the event unfortunately, but we had a great time celebrating with my dear mama friend. I pulled out …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.