not disabled. differently abled.

January 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 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.



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.




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.




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!


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!


Go here for more information on Lacy.

find my family: Kyle

January 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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 cornea that causes dimness or obscurity of sight), with “normal mental function”.


Kyle is an active and sweet little boy, who enjoys watching cartoons. He is said to love new things and meeting new people. Kyle’s file states that he has good language expression, is able to greet guests well and is very polite. This sweet child is also said to be a helpful and obedient child who cares about others, often giving his seat up for an adult! What manners!

Please read these comments from some of the families and team members who got to spend time with Kyle at Lifeline’s 2 week Camp: “Kyle is very sweet spirited. Even though we could not speak the same language, he was very proactive about using hand motions, etc. to help me understand and was always so patient. He can also play the piano- how special! He loved getting his face painted during the Fall Festival and loved spending time at Camp Shelby. He was so curious to play on the tanks and to explore.”

“Right after he landed in the U.S., he was social enough to have made friends with two other American kids quickly in the airport. He felt these two boys were so nice and friendly, so he wanted to me translate ‘If I could be adopted, I would want to be adopted into one of their families’ to them.”

“Our family had the privilege of spending one day with some of the kids at the hosting program. We were able to have a great conversation with Kyle through a translator. He is a sweet and curious child, and also a bit reserved and serious. He told us that he wants very much to be adopted. He loves animals! He wanted to know where animals came from and we were able to talk briefly about God’s creation. Kyle is a beautiful child and desires a family. We are praying that his family finds him soon! ”

“When I was translating questions during medical eval, the teacher asked him what his favorite subjects were, he said law and science. I remembered that so during the vision evaluations while we were waiting, I asked him ‘Last time, you said you love the subject of law, how come? Have you started to study some laws already?’ Then, he said ‘I just want to study the law of adoption so that I would know how I could be adopted.'”


Please email Annie for more information about Kyle.

His file will go back to the shared list very soon, so please pray and help us to spread the word about this awesome little boy who so desires his own forever family.

Chronic: The Race Set Before Us

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


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


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


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


“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


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


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

The Lost Boys of China

January 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments

In case you have any question about it, boys need moms, too.

It started with Adam It was at McDonalds on a crisp December morning in 2002, and we had just completed an ultrasound appointment for our second child. During the appointment, we learned that our first child, Abby, was going to have a baby brother. Over her tray of hash browns and an Egg McMuffin, Anne …Read More