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it was a good year: a look back at 2014

January 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

2014 was quite a year for No Hands But Ours.

The Mentoring Mom program launched in June to an amazing response from over 100 mamas.

The No Hands But Ours site was masterfully overhauled by Northstar Marketing over the course of a year, and the beautiful, super-functional site went live in September. Each of the Special Needs pages was carefully reconstructed by our Mentoring Mom team; and new pictures were added and resources and blog links were painstakingly edited and updated.

Several No Hands But Ours Mentoring Mamas saw a need and created the China Adoption Special Needs Information Facebook group in late December. Now, just a month later, over 1000 mamas are using the group to support, encourage and share information about their experiences with China special needs adoption.

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No Hands But Ours on Facebook:

Our “likes” grew from 884 to 2579. As of today, we have 2717.

(If you haven’t liked us yet, please do. It’s an incredibly easy way to keep up with the NHBO content as well as help get the word out about orphan care, adoption, special needs and children who wait.)

Our 2014 post with the largest FB reach (tie): 

Everyone Stared by Amy S. with over 22,000 people reached via Facebook
Loaves, Fishes and Bedrooms by Mike with over 22,000 people reached via Facebook

From January 2014 to December 2014, our post reach went from 405 to 12,614.
From January 2014 to December 2014, our total reach went from 46 to 12,152.

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No Hands But Ours Blog:

A total 322 posts were published in 2014.

The average number of page views in early 2014 was 1865 per day. The average number of page views in late 2014 was up 455 per day to 2320.

Our most commented on post of 2014 was Sometimes Love is War by Carrie with 45 comments.

The top 10 countries who visited No Hands But Ours (stats from November and December 2014):

1. United States with 64,326 sessions
2. Canada with 3,007 sessions
3. United Kingdom with 967 sessions
4. Australia with 721 sessions
5. Netherlands with 433 sessions
6. Germany with 305 sessions
7. Italy with 214 sessions
8. Singapore with 196 sessions
9. Sweden with 173 sessions
10. Finland with 160 sessions

The top 5 referring sites to No Hands But Ours in 2014 were:

1. Facebook
2. Ni Hao Y’all
3. There’s No Place Like Home
4. No Greater Joy Mom
5. Blog Lovin’

And a flashback to a favorite post from each of our contributors in 2014:


amyNHBOsidebar
22 Ways to Raise Funds for Your Adoption by Amy A.



amy
The Greatest Special Need of All by Amy S.



AndreaNHBO
Fish Out of Water: Adoption Mamas We Need Each Other by Andrea



Carrie
A Birth Story by Carrie



desiree
Eleven Simple Steps to Successful Single Adoption by Desiree



hannah
I Know That She Was Loved by Hannah



jean
Cold Feet by Jean



jennifer
The Party Blower by Jennifer



Kam
The Looking Glass by Kam



Kelly
The Adoption Process Isn’t Really the Hard Part by Kelly



kristi
Sleep by Kristi



mike
Day 366: Trading “Likes” for Love by Mike



rebecca
Saying Yes to Complex Conditions by Rebecca



Tara
To the Traumatized Family by Tara



Sheryl
Advocacy and Social Media: What’s Not to “Like”? by Sheryl



StefanieNHBOnew
40 Fundraising Families. And A Challenge for You. by Stefanie


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No Hands But Ours Advocacy:

134 of the 322 posts published on NHBO in 2014 were advocacy related, with more than 200 children featured. All were published by our amazing Advocacy Team, headed up by the tireless Liberty Joy, in an effort to find forever families for the thousands and thousands of children in China who wait.

Of those children, 42 (that we know of) have found their forever families.

And of those 42, 6 were found directly due to a post on No Hands But Ours.

The best part of the year, knowing six little ones will now have a family to call their very own. Forever.

nhbokids

Click the name to see the original post about each of these kiddos:

Micah
Becca
Kacey
Emma
True
Grace

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2014 was a spectacular year here at No Hands But Ours. Heartfelt blog posts were published. Special needs were discussed. Waiting children were spotlighted. And little ones found forever families.

I’m hopeful that, by God’s grace, 2015 will be filled with all those things and more.

 

not disabled. differently abled.

January 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

When I was fourteen I taught Sunday School for a year. One of the kids in my class of four year olds had a short left arm. The first day of class I found myself thinking “that poor little guy was born with only one arm.” It took next to no time at all for Tony to show me that he was anything but a child to be pitied. In fact, he wasn’t born without an arm – he was born WITH a short arm, one that ended just below the elbow, and he could do ANYTHING. I watched at church as Tony grew up, learned to play the trumpet and the guitar and developed a beautiful singing voice. He was an inspiration to me and provided me my first chance to discover that people who are physically different aren’t disabled – they’re just differently abled.

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sarah2

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Twenty(ish) years later I was married with two children, but my heart still longed for one more little someone to make our family complete. We adopted our daughter, Kailin, in China in 2006 and our son, Colby, in Taiwan in 2008. We did some research and felt very led to the China Special Needs Program.

In fall of 2010 we found an agency we wanted to work with and set to work completing our checklist in hopes we would soon be matched with our child. In large part because of my experience with Tony, “limb differences” was at the top of our list. We had quite a few other needs checked off the list as well, but we let our agency know that a child with limb differences was really where we felt called.

Just a few short months after we submitted our checklist, I awoke to find an email asking if we’d like to consider a little boy who was born with a short left arm who had just turned two that very day. He had the tiniest lips and the biggest cheeks and my heart was lost forever when I opened that first picture.

His file didn’t contain anything we felt was alarming and within the day we sent our Letter of Intent.

It was clear to us when we met Carter in China, just a few weeks before his third birthday, that even though his foster mom loved him very much, his short arm was a point of shame for him. He didn’t want it uncovered and did whatever he could to hide it as soon as he could. I waited patiently for the right moment and then I gently took Carter’s short arm in my hand and kissed it. He never hid his arm again.

We did have a bit of a surprise when we got Carter home. We took him to see an orthopedic surgeon to get a baseline x-ray of his short arm. It ends just above the elbow and we knew that bone overgrowth could be an issue. While there, I casually mentioned that we’d noticed that he was unable to rotate his right wrist and I wasn’t sure if it would be an orthopedic or a muscular issue. Several x-rays later, we learned that Carter has radial-ulnar synostosis in his right arm. It’s a fancy way of saying that the two bones of his lower arm are fused together near his elbow.

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sarah3

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Separating the bones was too risky given that he doesn’t have a backup plan if nerve damage cost him the use of his hand, so we went a more conservative route. The bones were cut and rotated to alter his “resting position” so that he can simulate rotating his wrist by rotating his whole arm in or out at his shoulder. It’s pretty much another non-issue because it’s all he’s ever known and he just figures out a way to do something when he needs to.

If I’m being totally honest, if his right arm condition had been listed in his file we likely would have said no. Now, having parented a child with limb differences, we wouldn’t hesitate to say yes to that or a whole host of other more significant limb differences.

Carter really is just like any other kid. He uses his short arm for all kinds of things. He’ll pull it out through the neck hole of his shirt and use it to steady a tower he’s building and he can also use it to control a Nintendo DS. He’ll also pull it out and wave it around if someone asks him about it. If he can’t get his little arm to do what he needs, he usually whips off a shoe and sock and uses a foot to get the job done. There are a few things we need to watch out for like bone overgrowth and injury to the end of his little arm. Other than that, he’s just like any of our other kids. He runs and jumps and climbs and pretty much inspires anyone he meets with his joyful smile, his “never say can’t” attitude, and his tenacity.

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sarah

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The hardest part about parenting him is letting go and letting him try. He usually succeeds. I know this, but my mama heart is in my throat every time I have to watch him struggle to figure something out. It about killed me this summer when he wanted to swing higher than he ever had before. I took a deep breath and let him. He did great! He’s not afraid to ask for help when he needs it, but he usually doesn’t need any help. He’s going to go far in life. There is no question about that!

– guest post by Sarah G.

find my family: Lacy

January 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Lacy is a beautiful 9 year old girl, who has recently had surgery to correct her club feet. She is new the agency list at Hawaii International Child!

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Lacy was born with a meningocele, and club feet. She was found when she was an infant, and stayed with that family until 2013, at which time she entered the orphanage. Her overall development has been on target. She is unable to climb (before surgery), but could walk, even with her feet so badly turned. Lacy’s speech is excellent, and she knows a few words in English! As a result of her meningocele, she is not continent (a good evaluation here in the States would be helpful). Lacy is smart, very sweet, and a loving girl. She is very eager to have a family of her own!

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Go here for more information on Lacy.

find my family: Kyle

January 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Wonderful Kyle! Please read about this precious boy who participated in Lifeline’s Hosting program and very much wants a forever family. Precious Kyle is 10 years old and is designated to Lifeline’s special focus list. This sweet child is stated to have an eye condition called cryptophthalmus (missing eyelid) and caligo cornea (speck on the …Read More

Chronic: The Race Set Before Us

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

run

I am coming to terms with it.  This is not passing.  It’s not over after a surgery, or two.  Or after a therapy session, or three.  The first year is behind us, but there are more miles in this marathon.  I’m discovering what chronic means.  I’m learning that adopting a child labeled medically complex truly …Read More

HIV: Stigma and Disclosure

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

boots

Two of the biggest topics in the HIV adoption world are disclosure and stigma. They are very closely related. So let’s talk about them. Stigma can be defined as a stain on one’s reputation, or a mark of disgrace. HIV sure does have a blemish on its reputation. So much fear of how it is …Read More

find my family: Kevin

January 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Precious Kevin. Please read about this adorable little boy who participated in Lifeline’s 2014 Hosting Camp and is currently waiting on our designated list. Kevin just turned 7 years old and is listed as having mild CHD, finger abnormalities/syndactyly and unsteady but independent gait. Kevin is an absolute sweetheart who loves to be cuddled and …Read More

Adoption Allergies

January 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

WhiteFall2014-12

“He’s been home for over two years. Isn’t it time you stop thinking about attachment?“   I stared dumbfounded at the face in front of me that had just uttered those hurtful words. I knew in my heart, they were said both in overly-asserted kindness and in ignorance, but I kinda wanted to scream back …Read More

being refined

January 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 13 Comments

love

i’ve been mulling over this post for a month. it’s not for lack of content, but an inability to process and actually edit and write it down. so forgive me if this is wordy. i hope you can hear my heart. we are nearly 4 years home with my daughter. she is our 3rd of …Read More

find my family: Jolie

January 20, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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This beautiful little girl is six years old and said to be extroverted, active and restless. Jolie is stated to have good communication skills, can express herself well and gets along well with other children. Her file states that she has, “Good physical and mental development, similar with other children of her age.” Precious Jolie …Read More