Orphan Sunday: An Answer to Prayer

November 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Thanksgiving was just a few days ago, and I find myself reflecting on all that I am grateful for this year. I filled my belly with turkey, Mama’s dressing, corn pudding, and pies while sitting around a table with some of the people I love most. I celebrated the presence of my new son and his first Thanksgiving home. I was even able to sneak away for some Black Friday shopping without tears from either of us. This year everyone in my family is healthy and home, and for that, I rejoice!

This time two years ago, we were surviving a difficult transition home with our third son, whom we had adopted from China. Regardless of how challenging life was at that time, I still was so grateful that we had been obedient to God’s calling to bring our son home. With so much emotion and passion, I continued urging others to defend the fatherless. I prayed that families would open their homes to the least of these. I held meetings with church leaders to talk about the plight of the orphan and shared ways to get involved in the crisis domestically and internationally. I poured my heart into blog posts in hopes that more people would choose to get involved. Over the past few years, my desire to empower, encourage, and enlist others to serve the least of these has remained a huge desire of my heart.

As Thanksgiving ends and launches us toward the Christmas season, it also signals the end of National Adoption Awareness Month. On November 8, 2015, churches across the world recognized Orphan Sunday to encourage people to step into the lives of vulnerable children everywhere. After 3 years of praying for such an opportunity, the church we recently began attending allowed us to host its first Orphan Sunday event. I cannot express how excited I was to put this event together.

Although I believe adoption gives vulnerable children the most hope for a future in this world, the heartbreaking reality is that the majority of orphans will never be adopted. Additionally, not all people are able to adopt a child, so I wanted to make sure our event provided ways to defend the fatherless in addition to adoption. I made a list of 7 different agencies and organizations and invited them to participate in our event. Each agency would be given booth space to share information before and after the main program, and during the actual program, they would each have 5 minutes to share how their organization works to serve vulnerable children. I was so encouraged by the excitement that each representative shared as we discussed the details of the evening. To speak with like-minded people who share your passion can sometimes feel like a rare treasure!

In addition to inviting the 7 agencies to the event, we chose powerful worship music and videos and strategically placed them throughout the program to keep people engaged. God can present Himself and His Will so beautifully during those moments. Hunger is an unfortunate reality for so many orphans around the world. Both of our children from China have experienced insecurity and fear about food. In order to make the issue of hunger more personal to people attending our event, we decided to incorporate the Orphan’s Table into our program, as well.


While I was coordinating details of the evening, my friend Christy, who is employed at our church, was facilitating everything on the inside. Christy worked hard to make the evening such a success. She used some of the print materials at the Orphan Sunday Website to create an info card, which was available in our church’s lobby area. She also communicated and coordinated the need for church-wide announcements about the program. The Orphan Sunday event was posted in the bulletin for several weeks leading up to our event. We were also so fortunate to have multiple pastors give pulpit announcements the three weekends leading up to the event. To hear our pastors calling our congregation to stand up for vulnerable children brought tears to my eyes.

On the morning of Orphan Sunday, I couldn’t help but smile when the church service begin with the 2015 Orphan Sunday video. The Lord was answering so many of my prayers, and the evening program hadn’t even started yet. It was incredible.

Finally, Sunday evening, the time came to see the fruit of everyone’s efforts. I almost could not believe my eyes that evening as I met representatives from each agency and watched them set up their booths. When I looked to the left, I saw my friend and her uncle preparing all of the food for the Orphan’s Table portion of the program. It was a huge undertaking, and I am still smiling with such gratitude! Our Children’s Pastor, his wife, and their small group offered to provide free childcare that evening, which was extremely generous. We were confident that more families would attend our event if childcare was provided, and there were 60 children registered for childcare. To see people I love come alongside us to support our passion and execute the Orphan Sunday event was such a gift. Before I knew it, people began arriving, taking their children to childcare, and visiting the booths to talk with representatives from the various agencies. Everything was coming together so beautifully!


Just before the event began, my husband, Ryan, started ushering people to the chapel. We provided everyone with a program and paper on which to take notes. I couldn’t believe all of the people who came pouring into the chapel. It was exciting to see many of our closest friends, my dad and step-mom (who surprised us and drove 2 ½ hours to be there), Ryan’s parents, our senior pastor, fellow adoptive moms with whom I had only corresponded online, old coworkers, and several people from our previous church attending the event. Ryan went to his post at soundboard, and he began coordinating all of our audio/visual components for the evening.

Two wonderfully talented people from our church played guitar and sang Holy Spirit to begin the main program, and then Ryan started the 2014 Orphan Sunday video. Next, it was my turn to speak, and although I expected to be super nervous, I found myself more excited than anything. Seeing all of those people gathered together on a Sunday evening – and missing the Colt’s game nonetheless – brought my heart so much joy! After I finished speaking, my friend, Christy, led everyone in a prayer, and we began the Orphan’s Table. While everyone ate their small portion of food, our musicians played and sang Called Me Higher. I loved the way the songs, video, and introduction worked together to set the stage for the rest of our evening.

As soon as they finished singing, a representative from Lifeline Children’s Services shared information about adoption and their (un)adopted program. Next, a representative from Central India Christian Mission shared a powerful video about a child whose life changed by God through CICM. She also discussed opportunities to sponsor and/or adopt children served by this ministry in India. Ryan played a Francis Chan video clip to demonstrate the parallel between our spiritual adoption and earthly adoption.

The next portion of the evening provided people with various ways to get involved with vulnerable children in our local community. Our county’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) shared information about Foster Care. Then, Safe Families provided information about the need for safe, loving homes while parents voluntarily restore stability in their lives. Next, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) shared about the need for children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect to have someone to represent their best interests during judicial proceedings.

To introduce the next part of the program, Ryan showed another video about global orphan care opportunities. A representative from The Boaz Project shared about their organization’s work serving orphans in India and Russia and provided ways for people to get involved. Last, representatives from Horizon International provided attendees with information about how their organization serves orphans affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and offered several ways for people to get involved. As soon as they finished, Ryan then played one final, powerful video called Depraved Indifference by Eric Ludy. Despite seeing it at least 10 times, I still cry every single time.

Hearing representatives from each organization speak about the great needs in our community and around the world was heartbreaking. Those people are on the front lines, witnessing vulnerable children on a daily basis. At the same time, my heart was encouraged to see so many people willing to learn more about opportunities to defend the fatherless. I closed out the program with some final words and a prayer. Tears of heartache and hope fell that evening. The musicians played one final song, No Turning Back, which had such an impact throughout our first adoption journey. Everyone was dismissed to visit the booths and gather more information from the representatives before going home. It was incredible to talk with people about how God was moving in their hearts that night. I loved seeing so many people asking questions and learning more about the organizations. Visiting with some very special adoptive families and meeting the children I have prayed home was so powerful.

Throughout the entire evening, I found myself amazed at what God had done that evening in bringing us all together. He sovereignly opened doors for us to share His heart for the fatherless and had planted us in a field that was ripe to hear His heart. As we move forward, it is my deepest hope that God answers the prayers of many children through the people who attended the Orphan Sunday event. I am confident that He planted many seeds that evening. I have received many email messages from people excited to take next steps or wanting more information. We are having dinner with a couple next week to talk more about adoption. As much as I would love to continue adopting more children, I believe with all my heart that this is how I need to serve the fatherless for now. I want to be a voice for vulnerable children, encouraging, empowering, and enlisting others to step into their lives.

I hope many of you reading this post will encourage your churches and/or community to engage in the plight of the orphan. I gave you as many details as possible for you to consider as you plan your own events to bring awareness to the plight of the orphan. Regardless of whether God is opening doors for you to host your own event or you are feeling resistance from those around you, never give up because “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Stand boldly as you speak with love and keep fighting the good fight! I am cheering for you.


Waiting Twins: Chad and Tad

November 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Chad and Tad are twin brothers who are 3.5 years old. They were found as infants and determined to be premature and of low birthweight. After a few months of careful care provided by their orphanage, they grew and matured enough to be sent to foster care. The two brothers have lived in separate foster homes since this time. Both boys are now considered healthy and similar to their peers of the same as far as their health and physical development.


Chad answers questions about his name, age, and asking where people such as his foster father are. He can count from 1-20. He is able to follow instructions, recite poems, sing, dance. He has friends he likes to play with and knows their names. He is affectionate with foster mom and makes good eye contact. Chad’s foster mom has cared for 10 children and thinks he is almost on par with peers. Chad is described as a “naughty” child, doing things such as stealing the tv remote to watch his favorite cartoons. Chad has no special needs listed.


Tad’s special need is suspected autism. He was moved to an experienced foster family about a year ago and during that time his foster mother feels he has made good progress. However she reports that Tad does not feed himself or follow directions to carry out simple tasks. He exhibits repetitive behaviors and is nonverbal. Recent video shows Tad exhibiting behaviors which suggest that his autism might be more mild to moderate. On video you can see him interacting with individuals, giving social smiles, exhibiting fine motor skills, and crossing his midline during play all while in a noisy environment. Tad shows great potential improvement for a family who can provide him with the many resources and therapies available for children with autism.


Chad and Tad are currently designated to Lifeline Children’s Services, please contact them for more information.

Looking Beyond the Label

November 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Gastrointestinal Issues.

These two words changed our world and lives forever on December 2, 2012. My husband and I had poured over the list of special needs provided by the Waiting Child Program at our adoption agency and chosen those we felt we could handle emotionally, physically, and financially. Gastrointestinal issues was a special need we added late in the home study process. It seemed like a vague addition but one we were willing to research on a case by case basis.

On November 30, 2012 we received a phone call from our family coordinator letting us know that our home study was approved and they would begin looking for a referral match. She asked us to clarify which gastrointestinal issues we would be willing to accept and let her know in the next few days. We didn’t get a chance to have that conversation – six hours after our conference call was complete the phone rang. There was a file available for a two year old boy with gastrointestinal issues. Would we be interested in reviewing the file? We said yes.

Since the file was shared between agencies we had 72 hours to read the file, find an adoption specialist willing to review it and let our agency know our decision. It was late Thursday night when the call came in so the countdown was on. We had to have the acceptance or denial paperwork emailed by Sunday morning. Yikes!

We found an adoption specialist in another state willing to do a review between Friday afternoon and Saturday and then Skype with us on Saturday night. The gastrointestinal issue? Repaired anal atresia, also called imperforate anus.

We knew nothing about this condition or what “repaired” meant. Thankfully the specialist reviewing our file was very thorough and during our two-hour conversation she walked us through the continuum of what repaired anal atresia could look like. We were surprised at the vast differences between children with this diagnosis (no issues to multiple surgeries and daily interventions). After our conversation with her we felt informed enough to make a decision. With what we had learned and our strong belief that this child was meant to be our son, we responded with a resounding YES!

Fast forward 7 months later and we were handed a beautiful little boy who is full of energy, life, laughter and . . . poop!


There weren’t any “surprises” regarding our little boy’s condition while we were in China (everything seemed correct anatomically) except the lack of poop. There was nothing for two days and we were growing concerned. Our first thought was there had been a mistake in the file and that he didn’t poop regularly. We soon found out we had nothing to worry about . . . the kid was a pooping machine! Nonstop. Really. Nonstop the entire time we were in China and right on through the first months of being home. Every diaper. Every day. Lord help us!

Our pediatrician (an adoption specialist at the University of Washington) referred us to the Bowel Management division of Pelvic Medicine at Seattle Children’s for further review and testing. It turns out that our little boy’s corrective surgery wasn’t the worst they had seen but it wasn’t the best either. Our first hurdle (after an MRI, echocardiogram, and x-rays to rule out other potentially related issues) was to go through Bowel Management week. It was determined that a daily enema program would be necessary to facilitate cleanliness for our little munchkin (then 3). This became part of our nightly schedule and routine. Our second hurdle was several months later when he had surgery to remove a stricture (basically scar tissue) that was hindering larger pieces of excrement from being passed. Once his incisions healed we were back to our nightly enema routine.

For two years our son has been “clean” because of his enema program. Enemas are not fun for any of us and they can create scheduling issues but making adjustments where necessary is a small price to pay to help our child live life to the fullest.

Then there is little boy number two. Our second adoption came as a surprise to us; we had not planned on adopting again. My husband was checking his email last December (2014) and saw a message from our former agency advocating for several children who had not been matched. These emails come through all the time and have never caused a stir in our hearts. This email was different. He saw the picture of an adorable little boy and knew he belonged in our family.

When I got home from work he asked me to sit down and he showed me the picture. I had the exact same feeling . . . this is our son. His special need? Repaired anal atresia (and other related issues). Really? Oh my. At the time I remember thinking, Wait, we only have one bathroom in our house! How is this going to work? It seems like a ridiculous thought when I think back but it was where I was at mentally.

We traveled to get our second son early October 2015 and while there weren’t any real surprises with our first son’s condition, we were heartbroken when we saw the result of our second son’s surgery. When it comes to the diagnosis of repaired anal atresia, you are basically in the dark about where your child is at on the anal atresia continuum.


The files are not always accurate, the spectrum of this condition and the broad use of the word “repaired” leave much to the imagination. That said, things did not look good for the newest member of our family. We took one look at our son’s repair and knew we were moving to a completely new level of care once we got home. Interestingly enough, that is what got us past our Lord, help him! and tear filled moments while in China. He is our son and we will do everything necessary and utilize the medical resources at our disposal to improve his quality of life. We cannot wait until he knows what it feels like to have a normal size abdomen and to be able to poop without extreme pain!

I am writing this one week after returning from China. He has had his initial appointment with the pediatrician (the same one our oldest sees) and she has put in referrals for four different departments at Seattle Children’s Hospital. We know this journey will have larger mountains to climb than we have dealt with before but we have experience to draw from and the knowledge that our little on is in good hands.

The label gastrointestinal issues played a large part in how our boys came to be a part of our family. We would love it if they did not have to deal with poop issues on a daily basis (honestly, it would be great if we didn’t have deal with their issues either) but it is a part of their reality that cannot be changed. Instead of the label, we look at our boys and see all of the possibilities the future holds for them now that they have access to the care they need. They are our sons (poop and all) and we love them to forever and back!

guest post by Robyn

My Wounding

November 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 21 Comments


“I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human.” – Frederick Buechner Be gentle with me, dear reader. Please …Read More

Telling the Story: Theirs, Mine and His

November 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Templeton 2

I realize now that when we first brought our children home, I had an undefined, but deeply felt and well-meant desire. However, I have also realized that my desire was not exactly what God had in mind. Let me explain. I wanted our adopted children to be so loved, so secure, so encompassed in the …Read More

find my family: Jude

November 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Jude turned four years old in October and is diagnosed as having lower limb weakness. He came into care at the approximate age of two. His nannies report that he has big beautiful eyes and is very handsome. When his file was prepared in October of 2014, he could stand up and walk while holding …Read More

Meet the Contributors: Nicole

November 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a …Read More

find my family: Naomi

November 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Naomi is a precious two year old little girl who is listed with Lifeline. Her special need is cerebral palsy. Naomi is a beautiful little girl! She responds to others asking for her belongings and waves goodbye to others. She is a good sleeper and likes playing with toys. Naomi’s file reports that she is …Read More

Nothing Else Mattered: FAQs About Anal Atresia

November 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

We saw her face. We fell in love. Nothing else mattered. My husband and I simply wanted to be parents and we knew in our hearts that our children were in China; we just had to go get them. Like most parents to be, we hoped and prayed that our children would be healthy. Our …Read More

Embracing Their Story: Going Back

November 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Their story with us didn’t start at the beginning. I think we jumped in around chapter 3 or 4. Much like opening a book midstream and trying to piece together a plot, our adoptions began with many unanswered questions and many holes that I knew we could never fill. Yet at some point, I knew …Read More

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