Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Literally One More Stepadoptive momma (Russia, Ukraine and Siberia) Christine at Smiles & Trials… photos and a description of her son’s recent casting for his ankle foot orthotics (AFOs)

Shriners and So Much Moreadoptive momma (China) Tami at Sea Glass & Jade… a recent visit to Shriners Hospital fosters a special connection between two girls

Response to Yesterday’s Commentsadoptive momma (China) Rumor Queen at China Adopt Talk… navigating the world of speech therapy

A Young Man’s Testimony to Suffering and the Sovereignty of GodJoe Eaton, an adult who copes daily with disability, at the volunteer disability ministry blog The Works of God… Eaton explores Scripturally why God allows disability and suffering

She’s Very Albino, Isn’t She?

Why, yes. Yes, she is.

Or should I have said, “What would make you say that?”

Or maybe, “And you’re very rude, aren’t you?”

Only the person who asked the question isn’t rude. She’s Sassy’s jazz teacher, and she’s a very nice person. So, imagine my surprise when I walked into the dance studio last weekend, and she looked at Cheeky (who she has seen many, many times in the past three months) and said, “She’s very albino, isn’t she?”

Three-hundred responses jumbled around in my head. The first….No, she’s not. She was born with albinism, and she’s very human and very beautiful. The last something along the lines of…..What would make you say such a rude and thoughtless thing?

Both girls were standing beside me, waiting for my response. Sassy looked like a deer in the headlights, her big blue eyes wide with surprise, and Cheeky was burrowing closer to my side (as she always does when people comment on her looks). So, I had to say something.

And what I really wanted to do was correct the terminology, remind the teacher that Cheeky was no different than anyone else, explain that it just isn’t PC to use “albino” to describe a person and, above all, tell her that Cheeky understood every word she was saying and that it really wasn’t very nice to point out other people’s differences.

But I held back because the girls were watching and because the world won’t always be kind. We all have to face thoughtless comments and rudeness at times, and it is our reactions and responses that make us strong. Being upset and unhappy and rude wouldn’t have accomplished anything, and (as I’ve said before) why should I be defensive about my sweet girl?

Finally, I smiled and put my hand on Cheeky’s white hair and said, “She’s very beautiful and very unique.”

And Sheri (who works in the office and has heard me field many questions about adoption and Cheeky) called out from her place at the desk, “She really is. All that gorgeous white hair and those beautiful blue eyes. Both your girls are gorgeous.”

And both my girls preened as the jazz teacher agreed that they were, indeed, stunning.

They are beautiful, my girls, but there is no denying Cheeky’s uniqueness. She is a white rose in a field of sunflowers. She is a single white cloud in an azure blue sky. She is the brightest of stars in the pitch-black night. People cannot help that their eyes are drawn to her.

She will learn how to respond to that by watching me. I am the mirror in which my daughter sees herself, and I am the person she looks to for reassurance when others try to define who she is by the way she looks. It is my privelege and my joy to guide her as she learns to embrace her God-given uniquness, and I pray each day for the ability to be as gracious as I want my Cheeky to be.

Some days, I think I am getting it just right.

Some days, I think I am failing abysmally.

Mostly, though, I simply acknowledge that I can only do my best.

That, I think, is all God asks of me.

Wild Olive winner week #3!

It’s Saturday.

You know what that means…

a new Wild Olive winner!

Congratulations to Sara at Football and Fried Rice!

Email me at stefanie@wildolivetees.com and let me know what Wild Olive Tee you’d like!

We will be giving away two more tees over the next two weeks, so there is still plenty of time to win!

Wild Olive Tees

Visit the Wild Olive blog for some new holiday buttons, too :)

Kids need to find families now

Please visit our Children Who Wait page, there are several little ones who must find homes quickly.

$2500 grants are available to qualified families.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

not so well-roundedadoptive (foster care; waiting to adopt from Haiti) and bio momma Kristen at rage against the minivan… about her daughter’s plagiocephaly

Laser Treatmentadoptive momma (China) Monica at Journey With Reese… detailing her daughter’s eleventh laser treatment on her face and third laser treatment on her leg for birthmarks (port-wine stains)

Birthday Realitiesadoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker Sweets… looking back at the time of adoption and first few months home, a momma realizes her son’s dire need for more support than the orphanage could provide

The Spina Bifida Clinic adoptive momma (Russia, Siberia and Ukraine) Christine at Smiles & Trials… a synopsis of their recent visit to the spina bifida clinic

what it isn’t
adoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao Y’all… celebrating the results of some tests, even though they still don’t know the cause of their son’s failure to thrive diagnosis

Great News for Families Adopting HIV+ Childrenadoptive momma (Ethiopia) Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck… President Obama just announced the end of the 22 year ban on travel for HIV+ people wanting to enter the United States

Healing a Tiny Broken Heart
adoptive momma (China) Karin at Our Treasures from Afar… the story of their daughter’s heart surgery, in Singapore, before they adopted her

Say Ahhhhhmomma to a child with special needs Deborah at the group blog 5 Minutes for Special Needs… rules to live by when dealing with medical treatments for a child with special needs

1 out of 1361

One thousand three hundred and sixty-one days ago, we saw our our daughter, Madeline, for the very first time. She was a grainy image on a fax we’d received from our agency and we were only seeing her photo this early because she was “special need”. Five months earlier, we’d adopted a NSN baby girl from China and learned through our travel mates about China’s SN program. At that moment, two things happened:

  1. We realized that everything we assumed we knew about SN kids was wrong.
  2. We knew our next child would come from our agency’s SN list.

I know that sounds painfully simple and it really was. When I called our agency five months after bringing our first daughter home, they told me about the child who would be our 2nd daughter. The rest, as they say, is history.

I realize procedures and time lines are different today but I’m pretty sure one thing isn’t: The kids.

Our daughter is a normal child. She not physically or emotionally perfect but neither are we (or any of our other so-called “non special needs” kids). In the last 1361 days, there has only been one day that her special needs were the dominant driving force in our life and that was the day we had her cleft palate repaired.

Here’s a synopsis of that day:


I’ve had lots of trouble coming up with my first post here because I just don’t think about my kids in terms in their SN’s.

Only one of our kids is “technically” SN but all of our kids could be. Our bio son had a undescended testicle until age 5 and that’s a common SN in China. He also had febrile seizures until age 3 and that’s another SN. But he’s 21 and totally healthy now.

I was a 3 pound preemie and I had (and still have) a small red birthmark (an hemangioma) on my head under all my hair. Either of those issues would have landed me on a SN list.

Gwen, our technically NSN child, has severe food aversions and still won’t eat anything that doesn’t completely dissolve in her mouth. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to make a special accommodation for her or worry about her food “issues”.

In contrast, we don’t even think about Maddy’s SN it at all. I’m not even sure if it’s okay to say that because there are some SN’s that are much more serious or difficult to casually overlook and I’d never want to say anything that minimizes the significance of what day-to-day life is like in any of those richly blessed families. Our situation is merely different in that it’s not really different at all. We just don’t notice that we have a SN child until it’s time to write a story for this site or until we realize that our LID for Maddy was 5/25/06 and we’d still be YEARS away from her referral were it not for the fact that she had that totally insignificant little fissure in the roof of her mouth. Something we weren’t even sure we needed to fix but easily fixed in just one day.

One day out of 1361.

(The rest of our story is unfolding, day by day, on our family blog: Double Happiness)



Some of you might know me from my personal blog, Ni Hao Y’all. But I am sure many more of you do not. So a quick run down is in order, lest there be some confusion as I share my story.

Our story.

My husband and I met in 1997, each having endured a failed first marriage. I had two children, Victoria and Zach, from my previous marriage, and when Chris and I married in 1998, he became a husband and a father to two in one fell swoop. We spoke in the months that followed about how we might grow our family. Interestingly, not one of these conversations included the word “adoption”. And most certainly not the word “China”. Oh, how God must have been smiling on us as we wrangled with the questions, “Should we have any more kids? Or are we all set with two?” We vacillated between the two scenarios for months, one of us having the opposite opinion from the other every time we sat down to discuss it. God ended the decision making process when I found out I was pregnant… needless to say we were both overjoyed. Fast forward several years and we were again having this same discussion. Around we went and we decided, yes, we wanted just one more child. A pregnancy followed. Which was followed very shortly by a vasectomy.

Whew. Life of toting little ones around, getting up to cries in the night, hauling diaper bags and wrastling humongous car seats is almost in our rear view mirror… we’ve got an open road of freedom just around the bend.

Or so we thought.

Somewhere around the time that our youngest child was born, I was saved. I found the answers I sought to life’s most haunting questions in the form of my Savior. Jesus. As my relationship with Him grew, I prayed a simple prayer. It took me months to garner the strength to not only pray the prayer, but to truly mean the words contained in the prayer. I prayed that God would have His way in my life. That I would surrender my dreams, my hopes, my desires and lay those aside for His dreams, His desires and His hopes for my life. That He would use me as His instrument to fulfill His will in this world.

I had absolutely no idea how that prayer would affect my life, and how it continues to affect my life: the life He has for me.

In the summer of 2004, my youngest was 2, my oldest was 14, with a 9 and 4 year old in between. One ordinary day, my husband came to me with hands trembling. He was afraid to tell me what he had to tell me, he said. But he’d already waited three difficult weeks and he couldn’t wait any longer. He wanted me to sit down.

A million thoughts went through my head. But nothing could have prepared for me for his words: “God told me we have a daughter waiting for us in China.” I was stunned, shocked and completely without words. My first thoughts focused on my kids, their future, their needs. How could we add to our brood and protect them from this… this outsider? I didn’t see how it was possible, it was certainly not in their best interest to have to share their parents, their home, their lives with a complete and total stranger.

Less than 24 hours later, following some serious internet research, my heart had turned 180 degrees. The need was suddenly so real. The reality that we could make all the difference for one child was so hauntingly clear. My eyes had been shut tight and were now wide open. The cloud of selfishness surrounding my initial reaction was blown away by the almost tangible reminder of God’s goodness and love to me, in my time of sorrow and loneliness.

The journey that began that day still continues. We took a different path than we had anticipated and we continue to be amazed, blessed and surprised by the beauty of this not-so-typical journey. We have brought home four children from China, all labeled “special needs”. And one more little one with special needs waits for us in China, hopefully coming home before the end of the year. Our hearts have gone from wanting to make a difference for one to being passionately driven to make a difference for many. We sponsor children in foster care, we give to charities that work with special needs children, we pray nightly for orphans in China. But in our hearts, that’s just not enough. It’s not all we can do.

To be sure, we didn’t set out on a rescue mission to ‘save’ an orphan in China. We set out to bring home our children. Who just happened to be halfway around the world. God, in His infinite wisdom, buried a deep and abiding love in our heart for these children, our children, and it was and is that love that motivates us to keep on when the world would have us stop. And when life gets crazy. And when we get weary.

During each adoption, we have assumed that this would, indeed, be the final addition to our family. But then God gently reminds us, this is not about us. It’s about Him. And what is near and dear to His heart. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that God hears the cries of the fatherless, that He knows every tear that is shed by a child who longs for a family. And to Him, each one matters. Every single one. So, while the fact that we have adopted (almost) five children from China might be a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of orphans worldwide, in God’s economy, it’s five children who won’t ever go to bed frightened, or cry alone over heartbreak, or endure a life without the hope of Christ, again.

So when people ask me, “why?” in response to the fact that our family is adopting again, I wish I could take them by the hand, and spend just one day in China. In an orphanage, where the sound of a baby crying goes completely unnoticed. Where children have flattened, hairless patches on their heads from laying in the same position in their metal cribs day after day, week after week. Where children get sick and die routinely, without anyone shedding a tear, without anyone to hold them as they draw their final breath.

Then I would take them to our home, which is nothing spectacular, but is indeed filled with love, and ask them to look into the faces of our children. The one who came to us with a hole in her heart and sensory issues so severe should could barely tolerate touch on her hands. And the one whose feet were so twisted, his ankles were bruised from trying to stand. And the one who came to us so delayed, it took him months to even begin to come out of his thick, fear-filled shell.

And then, I doubt an answer to “why?” would be necessary.

Wild Olive Giveaway Week #2

Congrats to Kelly, from Growing Girly Girls! You are our Second Winner in our Wild Olive tee giveaway!!

Head on over to Wild Olive and pick out your favorite tee! E-mail me at Amie@wildolivetees.com and let me know what you have chosen!!

If you want a chance at winning a Wild Olive tee, all you have to do is become a follower of No Hands But Ours and you are automatically entered to win. We will be giving away 3 more tees over the next three weeks, so there is still plenty of time to win! And feel free to spread the word to friends! And if you didn’t win this week, no worries, as your name goes back into the hat for the next drawing!

Congrats again Kelly!


How do we choose?

One of my biggest concerns in adoption was choosing our child. I worried that allowing us to be involved in picking a child would bring my fears and anxieties into the mix and somehow mess things up. When we adopted our oldest daughter through the non-special needs (NSN) program in 2005, China did the matching. I never even considered saying no to her referral. In my eyes, the process seemed like a very “divine” way to choose a child since it was out of our hands.

When we switched to the special needs (SN) program for our second adoption, we knew the referral process was going to differ greatly from our first adoption. Although we had a more proactive role in our second adoption, we discovered that our daughter Lydia had also been chosen for us by God’s providence.

Although the special needs checklist had initially seemed daunting, we found we were open to quite a few conditions. However a medical definition takes on a whole new meaning when it is connected to a specific child with a unique history. But I still wondered how we would be able to choose when the very nature of the shared list required speed and certainty.

A month after switching to the SN program, we got our first referral call. It went NOTHING like I expected. There was no warning of being “on deck” for referral. Instead I was caught completely off guard. After three long years of waiting, I was surprised to find little impulse in accepting this referral, and we declined. Our agency completely understood and set to work matching the child with another family on the list.

We were content to wait until the next month when more children would be released to the list, which explains why I was again caught off guard when the second referral call came the very next day! But before our agency could even send us the email, the file disappeared off the list to another agency.

I could now see how different this process was going to be from our first adoption. But despite how unpredictable it seemed, God was using these circumstances to guide our decision.

Just when I thought I was prepared for everything, we got a third call. Unfortunately the call came as I was driving my husband home from the hospital. He was sick as a dog and completely unable to talk with me about this very important decision. The little girl was older than we’d expected and had multiple needs… some being very unclear in her paperwork. We asked for 24 hours to review her file even though we knew that her file could disappear at any moment.

By the next day, after my husband’s fever broke and we could talk and pray, we had resolved to say yes. We called our agency to accept her file, however just 5 minutes prior to that, she was locked in by another agency. Instead of disappointment, I was so thankful for every second of that day we had spent reviewing her file and praying over her. Instead of seeing it as a loss, we rejoiced that she was going to be adopted! But we did begin wondering if we would EVER find OUR child on that list!

The day after our 14th wedding anniversary, our agency called again. I guessed who was calling at 6:30am, but was hesitant to answer the phone. This time together for the call, my husband and I poured over the file of an 8 month old girl in Jiangxi province. I didn’t allow myself to even look at her pictures until we thoroughly read her bio. Her special need was unilateral microtia and aural atresia. She also had a diagnosis of possible Hepatitis B. After a quick call to a doctor friend, we made a decision to accept her file within 15 minutes. There was not the same doubt and hesitation we felt with the first three referrals. We knew this was our daughter. Although the path to finding Lydia had been a very new and different experience, we had as much confidence in accepting her referral as we had with our first adoption.

In a few weeks, we will celebrate one year with Lydia! We rejoice daily for this wonderful child growing in our home and in our hearts. We see more and more how she was designed for our family… and we for her!

I wish there was some formula I could give you to explain how to confidently choose a child from the special needs list, but there is no formula. It’s such a varied and complex process because each child and each family going through this process are unique. Some may not feel an affirmation in their decision until after the child is home. Others will “just know” the moment they lay eyes on a picture (perhaps the story we hear most often).

My conclusion is that deciding on a child is a very personal and unique process that combines both practical and emotional considerations, assessing one’s motives and most of all trust.

All I can offer is our unique story of how we trusted God to guide our decision. Regardless of how our children come home… on the special needs list or NSN list… domestic or international… birth or adoption… we have been chosen to be their parents.

Whether they are healthy or in need of care… whether they love us readily or struggle with attachment… God has chosen us to be a family. We can find confidence in knowing that he has been purposeful in bringing us together.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Failure to Thriveadoptive momma (China) Sally at Bryson Makes 8!… a recent visit with the doctor rules out Celiacs, Cystic Fibrosis and Thalassemia, but WHAT is it?

You Have Probably Already Read This Storyadoptive momma (domestic, open, transracial) Dawn at this woman’s work… spreading the word about a child in need of a very specific family

W Sitting Revisited adoptive momma (Taiwan) Sarah at Journey to Taiwan for Hannah Claire… exercises suggested by the pediatric physical therapist that can help build core strength

First of Many to Comeadoptive momma (Siberia, Russia and Ukraine) Christine at Smiles and Trials… x-rays and MRIs, with more to come

The Gastro Experienceadoptive momma (China) LMGNYC at La Bicicleta… an appointment with the Gastro Enterologist leads to more questions

Reading Up adoptive parents (China) the Straights at Straight Talk… reading up about another’s experience with p-flap surgery has this momma understandably nervous

update adoptive momma (China) Simply T at Just Add One Chinese Sister… huge progress after just four months of therapy and love

Sunday snapshot: Isabelleadoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao Y’all… an update on her daughter’s progress after a recent IEP meeting

B Here for Ur PeepsAsian-American Diana at Disgrasian… stats about Hepatitis B among the Asian-American community and ways to help

SPD and Meadoptive momma (China) Tonggu Momma at Our Little Tongginator… describing the major sensory issues faced during their first year together

Fun with Prostheticsadoptive momma (domestic, transracial) Mary Dell at Torrefaction… one moment in time leaves her knowing they need to schedule another appointment with their prostheticist