What happened when Mary showed Jesus’ adoption file to Joseph

December 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

Let me paint a picture for you.

A wife comes to her husband and explains that she wants to have a child.

He responds that he is not sure about the timing, but he is willing to try… or at least practice a lot.

But then she explains that this isn’t that kind of child.

She goes on to explain that he would not be the biological father of the child.

Realizing that this conversation isn’t going at all where he had hoped, he cocks his head in confusion.

She explains that they would be adopting this child.

He begins to realize that she is serious. He loves her, so he says that he is willing to think about it. He mentions that this might be an option for them at some point in the future.

She then explains the child has already been selected and that the timing is now.

He begins to shift from confusion to frustration and maybe even the early stages of anger. This does not sound like a discussion. This sounds like an ultimatum. He pushes back. It’s too soon to have a child. We don’t have enough money. Or space. And how is it possible that you have already selected this child without me being involved?

She then explains that she believes this child is from God.

Now he’s mad. She’s not being rational. She’s not playing fair. By playing the “It’s from God” trump card, she is trying to circumvent the discussion and his role in it. He is NOT happy.

They argue… a lot. And in the end, he simply cannot get comfortable with the idea of adopting this child.

It is an issue that puts a real strain on their relationship.

He wrestles with the idea, day and night. There are times he is excited. There are times he is scared.

There are times he is both at the exact same time.

And on one of those fitful nights, he has a dream. A wonderful, miraculous dream.

He wakes up knowing that she was right. God has confirmed everything his wife had been saying about this child.

He wakes up ready. Ready to adopt. Ready to be this child’s daddy. Ready to go on whatever adventure God has planned for them.

Several months later, this child arrives into their life… and that originally reluctant husband loves some other father’s child as his own.

And several years later, that child dies on the cross for all of our sins.

Like most RHs, this is Joseph later claiming it was his idea.

Like most RHs, this is Joseph later claiming it was his idea.

Even before the last line, I am sure most of you recognized this story from Matthew’s gospel (1:18-24.)

The husband is Joseph. The mother is Mary. The adopted child is Jesus.

But with the exception of the last line, I suspect that others recognized elements from your own life as this tale parallels the story of many adoptive families.

Let’s be honest about something… the vast majority of adoptions are initiated by women and resisted, at some point, by their husbands. (I am willing to bet that almost all of the people reading this blog are women, and the very few men are only reading it because a woman suggested that they do so.)

In fact, the most common question Anne receives from other women is how they can approach their husbands about adoption or even ”talk him into it.” I offer Mary and Joseph’s story in hopes that it might provide some comfort that, if it is God’s will, He (capital H) knows how and when to talk to him (lowercase h) about it.

I have been reluctant in almost every major decision in my life, except wanting to marry this woman.

I have been reluctant in almost every major decision in my life, except wanting to marry this woman.

I know that women frequently become passionate about orphans first, passionate about adoption first, passionate about a particular child first… sometimes before their husband is even aware that there are orphans at all…

And that is why I offer this picture of Joseph. Not as an indictment of husbands or wives, but rather as a picture of how God chose to work in building His own family.

A picture of a Godly man and a Godly woman. A picture where God spoke first to the wife… but did not ask the wife to convince her husband.

A picture of God’s will being done, and the process of how that will plays out in real lives.

God could have spoken to both of them at the same time, but he didn’t.

I know I have struggled at times with this in our adoption stories (and even in the timing of when to start trying to have our bio kids.) Anne is frequently ready for the next step before I am. But then again, my coworkers will tell you that I am a little bit late to almost everything…

I have wondered in our story why God frequently planted a seed in Anne’s heart before planting it in mine, but I no longer worry about whether God’s will is ultimately going to be done.

I have been the reluctant husband. (The “RH” that you will see referenced in the aforementioned adoption sites. Yes… we know what you call us.) I have been frustrated. I have been scared. I have literally cried my prayers to God for wisdom on this topic… seeking clarity on how to balance an orphan’s need versus the commitments I already have to my current family.

If you read my prayer journal, you would think I was a heartless robot. I may be the only person with spreadsheets in my prayer journal. But God sometimes talks to me in the numbers. Sometimes the answer for me is in Cell G7. And yes, sometimes he talks to me in my dreams.

And regardless of what I think I may want in the beginning, I believe God gets what he wants in the end.

(Although I think a bit more savings and planning might have helped to avoid the “no room at the inn” issues.)

Which brings us back to Joseph’s story.

There will be struggle and pain in this world, but God wins in the end.

A beautiful story that starts in a Christmas manger turns to tragedy on Good Friday’s cross and ultimately back to God’s triumph when that adopted child is raised from the dead and all of us are adopted by our daddy on Easter morning.

Yes… I am taking credit for all of them.

Yes… I am taking credit for all of them.

So let’s give Joseph and all RH’s some grace. I do not believe that adoption is normally the product of a more compelling argument or a better spreadsheet. I believe it is ultimately the product of God’s perfect plan… playing its way out through imperfect people.



Frequent RH, Father of Six, Adopted Son of God



All I Want for Christmas

December 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I’d like to share a story about a little boy. A boy who was “almost” my son. A boy who has been waiting for over 2 years for a family to choose him. To be his forever.

You see, when he was 2 his paperwork was filed. And we read his file and saw his sweet face.


And as we looked at this sweet boy, so young and adorable, we thought FOR SURE he would find his family. And the other child we were considering was already turning 5 years old and might not. So we prayed and felt confident that we should submit LOI (letter of intent to adopt) for our son Chengbin.

A few months later, a fellow thalassemia mama visited his orphanage and took this heart-wrenching photo of him. He was nearing 3 years old. And still waiting…


My heart shattered. This sweet boy. This beautiful boy. Those eyes. The sadness. It overwhelmed me and I promised myself I wouldn’t forget him and would do all I could to find his family.

And then his file disappeared. My agency no longer had it. He wasn’t on the shared list of waiting children either. No other US agencies had his file. It was gone…

And I prayed it was because a family somewhere in the world had chosen him.

I prayed that he was about to become someone’s son.

And I continued to wonder what happened. I thought about him and prayed for him for a year and a half.

Then, a little over a month ago, one of the caseworkers at WACAP sent me the file of a little boy new to the agency’s list. She was hoping I’d help advocate for him since he had thalassemia. So I scrolled down and read the name on the file…

It couldn’t be! I recognized that name. I opened the picture and there he was again. The sweet little boy who I thought was SURE to find a family. The one who had disappeared from the list. The little guy I have been praying for for a year and a half.


And now he’s 4 years old.

And still waiting for his family to come…

This sweet boy was abandoned at 1 year old. He’s turned 2 years old, 3 years old, and now 4 years old in the orphanage, still waiting for his family to come. How much longer will he wait? His paperwork describes him as a smart, extroverted boy who is close to his caregivers and the other children in the orphanage. He is said to receive transfusions twice a month. Aside from his thalassemia he appears to be healthy and growing. He would truly thrive in a family!

I am continually praying for this boy. Many times each day. His picture is on the lock screen of my cell phone, so many times a day I see his face and say a prayer. A prayer that this time he won’t be lost. A prayer that this time his family will say ‘yes’ and run to him. All I want for Christmas is for Harris to find his forever family.
Are you his family?

There is a $4,000 grant toward his adoption. I’m happy to talk to you about beta thalassemia major and life with a thal major child. You can read more about thalassemia on my blog. Please ask me about him at or contact Lindsey with WACAP.

~Guest Post By Fannie

Joseph’s Heart

December 21, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I seriously love Christmas. I love the lights. I love the giving. I love the awe. The awe of God’s promise fulfilled through Mary and her baby, and the total miracle of it all. But my heart goes out to Joseph…because I want to be the forever parent I think he was. He was chosen to be the earthly & forever father to God’s son. I’m certain he was chosen not because he had the skills to do the job, but he had the heart to obey; he would have to daily cry out to the One who chose him to do the seemingly impossible: give up everything to raise the sinless son of God and trust in Grace to not screw up!


What did his heart do that night the angel visited? Did it break for the family shame his sweetheart would now carry? Did his mind immediately calculate the financial and social cost to such obedience? Would his new carpentry business ever thrive under such controversy? Surely he would be shunned. Would he EVER be able to support his family? Did he have to force his feet to walk in blind faith until his heart could follow?

When the infant-Jesus cried through the night, through his exhaustion did Joseph sing Psalms over his tiny son? “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercies endure forever” (Ps 107:1)

Did he take boy-Jesus fishing in the early hours of the day and discussing & memorizing the Torah. (Deut 6:7)

Did his heart pause when his son asked to hear the stories again about Great-Great Grampa King David? (Isa 11:1)

Did he spend hours in the shop after hours with his teenage son building cabinets & shelves for the widows, single moms & orphans in Nazareth? “Hold the saw like this, son. Watch your fingers. If we finish early, we’ll still have time to check on Widow Jacobson’s roof.” (Deut 10:18)

Did his blood boil when the other children made fun of his ‘different’ son? Yet, he would have to choose to model grace, forgiveness & compassion. “Come with me, son. I know it hurts, but they don’t know what they are doing. Let’s pray their hearts change soon.” (2 Chron 6: 36-39)

While singing the Passover prayer to his other children, did Joseph’s heart silently bow to the Sacrificial Lamb who was sitting at his own dining table? (Ex 12)

Was it with Joseph’s final breaths that he took his oldest son’s hands “My son, there are extra shekels in the workshop. Make sure your mother is well cared for. I’m so very proud of you.” Jesus learned from someone to care so deeply for his mother. (John 19:26-27)

The night before His crucifixion, was it Jesus’ first response to run to his Heavenly Father in prayer because he had seen his earthly father so often do the same? (Luke 22:41-44)


Every day Joseph had to choose: What’s best for this child who has a plan so much bigger than I could ever dream? He has been given to me for this time on Earth alone; how do I, in every encounter with my child, model what our Heavenly Father would do?

Jesus told his disciples “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19). I by no means want to devalue the majesty of that statement, but there is a part of me that wonders, was Jesus’ earthly father accurately able to model what he saw HIS Heavenly Father do to his own forever son? Was it through his forever father that the Christ child saw His Eternal Father first? Surely, in the early years, Jesus copied his daddy who was so earnestly seeking to follow the Lord. What an impact that must have made! It’s this heart… Joseph’s heart… that I want to have as I parent my child on this earth.



40 fundraising families. And a challenge for you.

December 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Last week we shared the organizations working on behalf of the fatherless in China. 19 incredible organizations that I hope you’ve had a chance to read about and consider how you might partner with one. Today we are featuring fundraising families. 40 of them. Whew. The too-many-to-count hours spent compiling and formatting the information for …Read More

find my family: Ellie

December 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Ellie is a cutie pie She is three years old She has a funny personality and makes everyone laugh She laughs a lot too and sweetly gives kisses She loves to scribble on paper She likes toys and playing with the stacking cups She is walking and can squat down and pick up a toy …Read More

Unspeakable Joy: adopting a child with complex special needs

December 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


Sometimes life takes us places we never expected to go and in those places God writes a story we never thought would be ours. — Renee Swope I never viewed myself as “special needs” parent. Our biological daughter was born healthy and our adopted son has a complex heart condition. I believed special needs to …Read More

Waiting with Cancer

December 18, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The following children all wait to be chosen by a family. They are either battling cancer currently or have a history of cancer in their past. Children with this special need, understandably, wait a long time to be chosen by families. Aubrey from Xiamen with All God’s children She will be 3 in January and …Read More

Even If They Are From A Good Orphanage…

December 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

They need a family… When we adopted Ben we knew he was from a nice orphanage, much different than many of our other children. We also knew he had a foster family for many years. Once he was home we found out he had been with them for 6 of his 7.5 years. From Ben’s …Read More

find my family: Tony

December 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Tony was born at the end of August of 2009. He has bright eyes and a “cleverish” mouth according to his caregivers. He is a clever (which in China means bright and smart) and skilled child who is very sensible. He shares his toys and will pick up toys for the other children and comfort …Read More

The Grinch Can Steal Christmas Because Jesus is All I Need

December 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


I love Christmas. I confess I play Christmas hymns year round. They are hymns people. Hymns. They work all the time — January through December. It’s truly my most favorite! I also confess I decorate well before Thanksgiving. If you follow me on Instagram — I was totally annoying you with my holiday decorating mid-November. …Read More