Going to China: Feeding Concerns

August 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

When we were adopting our two new daughters we were not really well prepared for what they could or could not eat. We knew one of the girls was severely malnourished, but we did not understand that it was entirely possible that nobody taught them how to eat or drink. Neither of our new daughters knew how to drink from a bottle or a cup and one daughter could not chew anything. I was left with trying to come up with some really creative ideas on how to help nourish their bodies while in country.

I don’t know how often it happens that a child does not know how to drink from anything, but it happened to us twice so it can’t be unheard of either. Our daughters are completely blind so that also played a role in their skill level. Each child will be different in their needs and abilities, but here are some things that worked for us.


• Medicine droppers are great ways of getting in fluid if your child has no ability to suck. You can slowly provide more tension on the dropper so that they begin to suck on it and this serves to teach them the skill to use on a bottle. Another similar idea is a straw. You simply hold your finger over one end to keep the liquid from spilling out and then release your finger once the straw is in their mouth. To teach them to suck, keep your finger covering the end of the straw and they will begin to suck on it.

• If they are a little older, cut a bottle nipple with scissors to make it easier when they do suck on it. The bottles require quite a bit of strength to get fluid out of them and we found it necessary to make them very easy because of the lack of strength in our daughter’s tongue and jaw.

• In our case our daughters also had little exposure to milk and neither one of them could stomach or handle it. We used apple juice because it was readily available in hotels. One of our daughters was extremely picky in what she would drink, but soup broth was our best bet with her and it was readily available in the grocery stores in country.

• Once home we discovered our miracle drink for her. As it turns out the girl loves water with a little essential oil of lime. Who knew? It was a jet lagged and frazzled mom who tried that trick one morning and it just happened to work. Lemon? No! Lime? Absolutely. Maybe it will work for you, who knows.

• Our Ellie also could not chew, anything at all. Obviously, that presented quite a few issues. On gotcha day we were given a can of baby rice cereal and a bowl with a spoon. Ellie was four and a half and I just sort of stared at it and thought they surely were kidding. No, they weren’t and it took me a few meals to realize it needed to be nearly water consistency to work for her. They also weren’t kidding when they said it took an hour to feed her a bowl of food. Sweet Mercy, that was an exercise of patience!

• Evie was fairly malnourished herself, although not to the extent of her sister, and I was really concerned that she was losing weight. I scoured the grocery stores for anything that was fat and could be added to her rice cereal. Butter was my best friend. It is hard to find, but in Guangzhou at Aeon you can find some in the refrigerated section. I was also not above taking a few from the breakfast table each morning, survival and all, you understand. Eventually she was able to take congee and I also took a sealed Rubbermaid bowl to breakfast each day and grabbed some for the road.

• Once we were home we slowly worked both girls up to sippy cups.

• We were able to grind food for Ellie in a food processor once we came home and we slowly graduated her to chunkier foods and then soft foods like noodles.


We have been home nearly six months now and they have progressed so well! Ellie still prefers the bottle as a sippy requires more strength and wears her out quickly, but we are still working on that transition. She has almost a normal diet at this point. The only foods we still stay away from are very crunchy foods such as carrots. She just doesn’t have that strength in her jaw yet. Evie eats anything and drinks from cups with straws now. She still refuses anything but apple juice and Ellie still clings to her lime water like candy!

One universal rule of thumb is to take six months and feed what comforts them. Who knows, maybe you will end up loving chicken feet! Then again, maybe not. Don’t assume anything and go with the flow of their preferences. Our son rejected all Asian food for close to six months and we just left it in the cupboard for whenever he was ready. Our daughters on the other hand preferred congee and rice and seaweed for months on end. You’ll figure this out and your family will be better for broadening their eating habits!

At the end of the day the most important thing is attachment and bonding. Nutrition can come in its own time. You need to do what works best for your own family and creates the least amount of stress for everyone. Those first few months home tend to leave us with enough stress from other things.

You’ll get through this, I promise, one day at a time, one meal at a time.

Find My Family: Aspen

August 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Aspen is an adorable one year old who has deformity of both legs. He is part of our orphanage partnership program. His left leg seems to more affected than his right leg. His file also reports some mild heart conditions. Aspen can stand holding onto something (as you can see in his recent video) and moves around by crawling and scooting (as seen in his video).


He likes to be near his caretakers and gets sad when left on his own. When being fed, Aspen likes to have one hand on his bottle and his other hand on his caretaker’s shoulder. He loves to play with toys the make noise and listening to music. He will often shake his head while listening to music. This smart, sweet little boy needs a loving family.


Please reach out to Heartsent to learn more about adopting Aspen.

A Back-to-School Letter

August 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Dear Teachers,

Here we go! The start of a new year! First of all, you both have my great admiration. I do not know how you do it. The energy, patience, and creativity it takes to shape, mold, and sometimes just wrangle a whole crew of almost-three-year-olds is something I do not possess. I’m so thankful you are investing in the lives of the children in your class, including my little girl.  


I can hardly believe it’s time for my chickadee to go to pre-school. There’s so much I want you to know about my little one. She’s funny, spirited, mischievous, determined and a charmer. She has some hearing loss and her speech is delayed — mostly due to articulation troubles — but we know she understands just about everything we say to her. (Primarily evidenced by the fact that she does the exact opposite of much of what we suggest with a particularly ornery gleam in her eyes.)  

This is part of why we think pre-school will be so helpful for her; her speech therapist believes being around her peers and being in a classroom setting will help her self-correct her articulation problems. She’s incredibly bright, inquisitive, and curious. And did I mention she’s a charmer and mischievous?! Just wait until the first time she gives you her infamous stink-eye look; it’s adorable and exasperating all at the same time. She’s been in our family for 17 months after spending the previous 17 months in an orphanage.  And she’s doing so, so incredibly well.  

But sometimes her incredible progress is deceptive…  I know she seems so perfectly “normal.” And while on the surface she does appear to be adjusting beautifully, she has only recently been in our family for longer than she was in an orphanage, and that transition alone makes her special.

To be honest, more than her hearing loss and language delays, it is those 17 months of orphanage life that created her greatest special needs. When the other little ones in your class were being cooed to and cuddled by attentive mothers, she was staring at the ceiling above her crib. When the other little ones in your class were being rocked in the middle of the night, she was learning to soothe herself to sleep. While most babies quickly learn the unique cadence of their mama’s heartbeats from snuggling close, she was handed from caregiver to caregiver in a rotating shift of overwhelmed nannies doing the best they could just to keep 30-40 diapers mostly changed and bellies mostly full. As a baby, she never learned that grown-ups come when you cry or can be trusted to comfort you when you’re scared or can be depended on to meet your needs when you are cold or hungry or wet or just need to cuddle.  

And all those times she cried and no one came? Well, she learned her lesson from that. And by the time we got her at 17 months old, she wasn’t crying much. Instead, in the middle of the night I’d find her wide-eyed, heart-pounding, rapid-breathing, cold-sweating… and utterly silent.  

Because she spent so much time alone in a crib and didn’t get much appropriate sensory input, she’s a sensory seeker — flinging herself into swimming pools and smearing paint or food over herself even when you’ve just told her it’s time to clean up. In those early months when she was sick or scared or just needing some comfort, she wouldn’t fold into my arms like my other daughter does. Instead, she’d stiffly arch her back away from me, stare up at the ceiling, and assume her unique personal comfort routine… sucking on two of her fingers while stroking her chin with her thumb and massaging the palm of her sucking hand with her other hand. I realized as I watched her that she never got to hold onto her mama’s hand in that tight grip of infants; she’d only ever held her own hand.  

In short, in 17 months she learned lots of things from trauma, loss, and the repetitive and brutal cycles of never-enough… never-enough food, never-enough care, never-enough interaction, never-enough love and tenderness.  She learned that the only hand she could trust to be there for her to hold was her own. And for the last 17 months, we’ve been on a long and hard road to help her unlearn all those things… to learn that she can trust us to meet her needs, that her wounds can heal, and that we are her family forever.  

Slowly, she’s finding some degree of healing, and now when she falls and skins her knee, she runs to me for comfort. And at night when she’s all warm and relaxed with her belly full of milk, sometimes she’ll reach out to hold her daddy’s hand and hold his gaze in that intimate connection I used to take for granted when my other daughter did it.

She’s incredibly resilient and a fighter, and I’m sure she’s going to do beautifully in your class. But I’m going to ask you to keep your eye extra-close on her. When you see her, I’m pretty sure you’re going to see the same amazing little girl that most of the world sees; the tender-yet-tough, pint-sized fireball of typical-two-year-old energy.


But I’m asking you to look closer. Please remember that she’s only been with her parents for half as long as all the other kids. Please remember that if she seems scared or overwhelmed or tired or angry, she doesn’t have the typical emotional-regulation abilities of her peers because she never had the chance to learn those as a baby. (And I know no two- or three-year-old has much yet!)

Please remember that she might need to be tucked a little closer under your wing in order to adapt to this new season of life. So often she responds to new routines and transitions with a high degree of anxiety, sometimes even getting sick because her body can’t cope with the stress.

I know no mother likes to see her child upset, and so when I ask you to let me know if she cries or has a hard time adjusting or just seems a bit “off,” you might think it best to mostly reassure me and let her press through the challenging days. Please don’t. Please keep me in the loop so that together we can help make her feel safe and secure and confident in her classroom as soon as possible.

I promise I’m not the kind of mom who wants to hover and meddle in the classroom too much. I trust your wisdom, insight, and professional training, and I know you are going to change her world in a thousand amazing ways. I can’t wait to see how she transforms and blossoms under your care. So as we start this year, I anticipate she will shine. And I can’t wait to hear about all the good, but given her history, please do not ever spare me the bad or the ugly.


– images by Tish Goff

Aging Out: Sophie

August 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Beautiful Sophie was born in February 2002 according to parts of her file. This makes her 13 years old already and she will age out next February. Other parts of her file indicate a date that is two years younger. She needs a family who is willing to rush to her before she ages out, …Read More


August 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments


From the time I was a young girl, I always felt the Lord’s presence and His pursuit of my heart. However, I did not begin regularly attending church or consistently studying God’s word until a while after my husband and I got married. In the spring of 2007, we joined a “small group,” and every …Read More

How Going to China Changed My Life

August 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We have been home for six months and this is the first time that I’m actually sitting down and processing our trip to China. For a while, it was just too fresh, you know? The thought of any attempt in organizing my thoughts made my brain hurt, and so I just didn’t. But now, I …Read More

Find My Family: Sebastian

August 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Who wants to meet little Sebastian? He is as sweet as can be. Sebastian is an outgoing 3 year old boy who can be shy around strangers. He likes to play with his caregivers and loves to be held. His favorite activities are playing outdoors, listening to music, and watching cartoons. A bright boy, he …Read More

He Calls Me Mama

August 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

It’s been 9 months since Dumpling has been in our arms. It also marks about 6 months of him seeking me out as “mama” and “mom” and “mommy.” I had to work hard for those titles though, they didn’t come easily. For the first couple months, he didn’t refer to me or DH as anything. He simply walked over …Read More

find my family: Paxton

August 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Photo 4-2

I’m so lucky to get to introduce you to Paxton! He was born August of 2012. Paxton has been diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. Paxton was abandoned outside of a local police station. He was estimated to be six months old. He was taken to the local Social Welfare Institute …Read More

Let Us Not Hinder

August 21, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to …Read More

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