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The Hands of a Faithful God

May 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Before this year, I really thought I was the one writing my story.  I knew that God was leading, but I was really the one planning where I wanted to go. In the course of ten years I had graduated college, married, quit my job teaching, and was a busy home-school mom of three little ones, all under four years old. When our youngest turned one we knew we weren’t finished having children. God directed our hearts toward adoption and we began the process. Fifteen months later we were on a plane to China! It was March of 2015.

The waiting process is full of the unexpected. There are no certain time frames. Paperwork gets lost.  The process stalls then charges ahead. Funds are raised (or not raised). The time-frame doesn’t seem clear, but at least it is a story I felt a little bit in control of. There were steps to follow. Goals. And we made it! We were at the end… or so I thought.


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All the unknowns would end as soon as I held her, right? The adoption chapter in my life would come to a neat, tidy end. Of course we would be parenting… but we had three other children. I honestly didn’t even think about that next chapter. I focused on holding her and having this horrible waiting come to an end.

The day she was placed in our arms was one of the most difficult days of my life. Joy was mixed with sadness. I cried tears of joy and relief as they handed over this little girl, all bundled up. After giving birth to three babies, I knew the feelings of relief and joy that you feel when you hold your child for the first time. Once again, I was able to experience that relief and joy!

We sat down in the corner of the civil affairs office in Zhengzhou, China to look at her. She was huge, with her four layers on! She was so heavy. Her limp body was like a rock in my arms I resisted the urge to take off her jacket. Her head bobbed and her eyes were glazed as I tried to look into her face. I handed her to my husband, Jason, and we studied her. We smiled a smile of relief between us.

We didn’t say much. We continued to look at her. We tried to get her to sit in our laps, but her body was limp. She had no strength. Her head was not straight. Her eyes would not focus on our faces. She fussed and whined. We fed her a snack. She continued to lay in our arms. And her eyes. Her eyes were the reason my heart started pounding. She would not look at us. At all. After she ate, she began to cry and my heart just sank.   We knew that children could withdraw in shock and grief during those first few days. We weren’t sure whether the lack of eye contact, drool, and inability to sit or hold her head up were signs of withdrawal or a sign of something wrong medically.

That first night, we laid her in the crib and the only one to cry was me. She slept in her crib without a peep. And I cried. I was so scared. This was not what I had signed up for. Some parents are prepared for certain medical conditions. I was not. A few things just plain scared me. Here we were, in the middle of China, being given a child with two of those conditions we had said “no” to. What was God doing with my story, and my heart?

The thoughts came tumbling in out of me…

I wasn’t ready for this.  
They tricked us.
I can’t handle this.
They have pushed us in a corner.  
What choice do we really have? Leave her here? Take her home?


sarah1

 


Disruption became a word I never thought I would utter. As the days moved forward in China, we realized her original referral was completely wrong and her condition was worse then we had thought. My life and my heart were in a million pieces on the ground. We weren’t one of those families. You know, the families that get their children and realize medically, the child is completely healthy. No, she was not better then we had hoped.

The questions came flooding over me….

Where had we gone wrong? 
What did we miss?  
Was this call to adopt really from God?
Did we rush into accepting her referral? 
Did we miss something with her paperwork?
How did we not know this about her?
Would she ever live on her own?
How much therapy would she need?
What would this mean for our family?

Would I be able to continue to homeschool?

The questions and the lack of answers threatened to drown me. I struggled to find air. Each day I somehow found the strength to wake up and face that day’s duties. Friends and family texted. I shared our fears with a few people. Prayers were whispered for us. We know that prayer was the grace getting us through.

My story was still broken. Where was God in all of this? I struggled in connecting to her. My heart was torn. And broken and struggling. I told God: “I can’t do this. This is NOT my story! Change it!”

One day towards the end of our trip, a fellow adoptive momma, whom I had been texting, sent me an article from No Hands But Ours. It was a blog post from Katie, who had just traveled to China to bring home two girls. One child was much worse than what they were expecting. Katie shared how her heart broke and she had to make those hard decisions. I wept. I began to read the article to Jason and he began to weep. We weren’t alone in this hard place. Others have walked this road. We were reassured that God gives grace. He was faithful with her story. And if He could make her story beautiful, He could make mine as well. All the truth from His Word flooded back into my heart. I began hearing the Spirit whisper truth into my heart again.

God whispered to me: “You don’t have to do this. You want me to change it, but I’m not going to change it. But I will equip you. You are not alone. You have your friends, family, and especially Me.”

So we have her. Have all my fears disappeared? No. Not all. I stare at my fears when I stare into her wandering eyes that cannot focus on my face. Fear threatens everyday. This is not where my story was going to go. Honestly, some days I don’t know this life that I am living. My story still doesn’t make sense, but slowly God is changing the story. Slowly He is changing me.


sarah

 


A broken story can be made beautiful in the hands of a faithful God.

God is making it all beautiful. Not because all of the pieces fit together. No, the pieces of my heart are still very much broken. They are scattered all over the floor and I can’t make sense of this story anymore. No, God is making it beautiful because after I read that blog post, I began to look up. I looked into His face and realized that all of those truths I’ve been speaking for 20+ years to heart, they are true. Truth floods into my broken heart and fills it. Truth. His truth. The truth of His Word. Truth is the only thing filling me up and making me whole again.  

I cannot look at my story as a whole book or even a chapter. My story is made up of moments. In those moments are tiny pieces of grace. His faithfulness is new everyday. Each day I’ve been home He has given me a mercy for that day. A song. A verse. A devotional reading. A sweet card. A blog post. Every day God encourages my heart with something. Something to fight the fear, sadness, anger, and selfishness.

Lamentations 3:22-26

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.


sarah2

 


The song, He’s Always Been Faithful, by Sara Groves has been one of my favorites for years. But I can’t sit at the piano and play this song without weeping now. It truly has become the anthem of my life. It is my song and my story:

“He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful,
He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me

…..

God is faithful, dear momma, no matter how God is writing your story. No matter the past. No matter the future. Today the promises of scripture tell us that our God is faithful.

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

– guest post by Sarah Frazer: blog | facebook | twitter | instagram

find my family: Timmy

May 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Timmy is a precious little guy who needs a family so badly! He was born March of 2011 and admitted into the orphanage in August of 2011. He has cerebral palsy with high muscular tension.

In May 2012 he was sent to Rehabilitation Hospital for treatment. At the beginning he could not raise his head, was delayed development, average nutrition, could raise his head at 45 degrees when lying on the abdomen, could not turn over and sit, language and intelligence was delayed. His condition was better under the common efforts of nurturers and rehabilitation staff. Now he is 1 year 9 months old, can control his head, can turn over under the help, his muscular tension is improved. He also can recognize surroundings and likes watching other children playing.

2011,+Mar,+Tim

He is four years old now, and at some point was sent back to the orphanage from the Rehabilitation Hospital. At four years old he weighs 10 kg and reportedly only eats from bottles. He cannot walk, he can however sit alone and roll over on the ground. The staff have said he does not grab things consciously with his hands, but he sometimes makes a fist unconsciously. This little guy really needs some love and a family, he doesn’t have much of a chance if he remains where he is. He babbles some and cries when he is hungry.

Tim

Timmy’s video. He is receiving PT and OT. He is weak and needs a family to come for him sooner rather than later. He needs to get the attention and nutrition he needs and access to appropriate medical care.

Tim2

Timmy has a Reece’s Rainbow account in his name and a FB page dedicated to help him find the family he so desperately needs. For more information please contact the Advocacy Team.

The Unexpected Testimony

May 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

One of the “perks” (not so much if you are an introvert) of walking the Adoption Road is the availability to share your testimony. I think it might actually be one of the questions on the Home Study Report: Are you ready and willing to share all that the Lord has done (and will continue to do) in your family with complete strangers for the rest of your days, so help you God?

I marked YES, really having no clue what that meant.

Apostle Paul tells us to be ready “in season and out to preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). For many of us on the adoption journey we are prepared, chomping at the bit even, to share our testimonies. The amazing miracles that brought our families together; the heartbreak and healing; God’s faithful hand tenderly nurturing each of our adoption roads. When we are with adoption friendly families we can nearly finish each other sentences with God’s great works. There is a secret wink and a smile for families in the adoption world. We get it. We’ve been there and want to be encouraged and challenged by how you’ve been there too.

And for those that aren’t on the adoption road yet, but have any flake of skin on their body that has even given a nano-second of thought towards adoption… we’ll sniff you out! It’s like a weird adoption pheromone. Did you accidentally glance towards an special needs adoption brochure?? Did your stride shorten as you walked by the Adoption Info Night desk in the foyer?? Seriously, we are coming for you. You are going to hear our amazing story and you’re about to have one of your own!

I think it’s fun to share our testimonies with those that have Been There and those that are Getting There. (Not entirely easy though. I still get nervous when I’ve been asked to share at a formal-ish event). The excitement comes in knowing who you are speaking to and who is listening; it’s a harvest ripe for the picking. You get to be a witness to the Holy Spirit moving deeply in people’s hearts. It is really very cool. But I think there is a third and fourth group that ‘hear’ our adoption testimony I hadn’t really given thought to until recently:

A few weeks ago, a sweet Korean mother signaled us across the foyer at church giving me the “we are a Down syndrome family too!” double chin bob-eyebrow rise. I was thrilled to meet another family like us, especially with a 4 year old boy (it was a serious kiss-fest with those boys outside the welcome desk!). We exchanged notes and when I asked if they were new to our church (it’s a big church…easy to miss people), she shared this in her broken English:

“For a long time after our son was born, we didn’t know how to live a normal life. We didn’t know anyone who was like us, but two and a half years ago some friends invited us to this church. We sat in the back and then we saw you and your son dancing during worship. When he fell asleep in your arms and you kept worshiping, I knew we would be OK.”

She smiled sheepishly. I cried and our boys kept making out. I had no idea we were being watched. I wasn’t sharing our story, I wasn’t testifying, we were just being a family in God’s presence (a brand new family at that time, who, frankly, takes up a lot of space during worship). We have plenty of formal opportunities to share our story, to be on display and Praise the Lord for His goodness in our unique family, but for the Holy Spirit to use us to speak to a struggling biological family when we didn’t even know it kinda melted me: an Asian momma with a beautiful baby boy with Down syndrome, overwhelmed with what the future would hold for her family saw hope through my adoption family. Four and a half years ago, half way across the world another Asian momma was in the same place…was there anyone to ‘speak’ to her then? Is anyone speaking to her now?


candle


Friends, our adoption testimonies are awesome. They speak life and faith and encouragement to each other and to those not yet on our journey. We should be excited and prepared to share ALL that the Lord has done to redeem. Stand up and share your story to small groups or large; write your testimony down (perhaps via an encouragement ministry like No Hands But Ours), show your witness through visual media. Be actively prepared to preach God’s love through your adoption story in every ripe season.

But also, be prepared out of season… to be watched in the quiet moments by the listeners that hear and see the hope that saturates our walks through special needs adoption. Maybe that is the most precious of testimonies… the ones we don’t know we are giving to those who need to hear it most: to the biological family new to special needs who needs to know there can be success.

And to the sweet birth mothers who unknowingly surround us, maybe whose heart is desperate to know her birth child is loved and thriving, somewhere; that her decision at the time was a good one for her and her child. Oh, that we can be a living word of encouragement to them: the unexpected testimony of hope for those we don’t know are listening.

– photo by Tish Goff

Adopting a Child with Kassanbach Merritt Syndrome

May 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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When I first read Abby’s file and read the diagnosis Hemangioma and Kassanbach Merritt Syndrome (or Phenomenon), I thought to myself, “How bad could it be?” She has a birthmark or as her file called it ‘a large hemangioma’ on her neck and chest, surely once we get her home we can ‘fix’ it! Then I did …Read More

May Fundraising Family: Meet the Berrys

May 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

No Hands But Ours is committed to encouraging, informing and supporting families as they pursue adoption through the special needs program in China. In an effort to be more purposeful in supporting in-process families as they stretch financially to adopt, we are now featuring one fundraising family per month. If you would like your family …Read More

find my family: Samantha

May 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

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Samantha is listed with WASATCH and is diagnosed with scoliosis. Samantha was 5 years old on admission, cautious to new environment, observed her surroundings with curiosity. Under the excellent care of caregivers and patient guide of teachers, she gradually adjusted to the environment and she has become outgoing and has had good living habits. At …Read More

One Wild and Precious Life: Adopting a Child with Albinism

May 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

albinism1

Our adoption story began about four years prior to our actual adoption. I was sitting at work one regular day and just had a random thought to research international adoption. This was not something we had previously discussed and wasn’t something at all on our radar screen. We had – at that time – two …Read More

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 3)

May 18, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Today we’re back with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with the third in a mini-series by Kelly – who blogs at Mine In China – on How To Choose An Agency. You can read the first two posts here and here.   Understanding LID and Partnership Files In this post, we are going to focus on another file designation used by China, known …Read More

Urgent Medical Need: Regis

May 18, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Regis, born December 2009, is a sweet boy, who was a little overwhelmed by the attention when agency staff saw him on a trip, and seemed relieved when he could go play again. Caregivers say sometimes he is quiet, and sometimes he is more talkative. He is diagnosed with thalassemia, and receives monthly transfusions. They …Read More

Post-Mother’s Day Blessings: Trusting Him in Adoption Details

May 17, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

andrea

Two years ago this week, I was a basket case. We were anxiously awaiting for our travel approval for China — and unfortunately… we would miss it. He would have another birthday in his orphanage — apart from us. That was this week two years ago. I did what any reasonable waiting mom would do …Read More