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Dear younger me, Let your heart be broken

July 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Hey there, shadow of myself. Yes, I’m talking to you, the woman who is spending countless hours picking out the perfect color for the walls of the nursery where, in a few months, you will rock your “healthy, as young as possible” baby girl from China.

I’m smiling right now, thinking of the woman I once was over eleven years ago. You have no idea, absolutely no idea, how your world is about to be rocked. This tornado disguised as a little girl will turn your world upside down.


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You will be in the trenches, sometimes beaten down, wondering what happened to your life, trading in the time spent making sure her dresser drawers are neat and organized for time in the attachment therapist’s office. You’ll learn to let go of everything you thought you knew about parenting, of your preconceived idea of family, of “healthy”.

You will be forced from selfishness to selflessness. You will stop thinking of adoption as finding the right child for you and learn to become the right parent for a child. It will be difficult. It will be ugly at times. It will leave you a sobbing heap in the closet. It will stretch you and twist you until you don’t recognize yourself anymore.

But it will be glorious, and you will look at yourself in the mirror a decade from now and be so proud of the parent and family you have become.

I could never sum up over ten year’s worth of experiences and insights into one blog post, so I’ll sum up for you, my younger self, some things to help you along the way as you prepare to bring home your children through adoption. Oh, and by the way, there won’t be one adoption. There will be five!


Don’t confuse the desires of your own heart for God’s promptings.

Sometimes the right thing to do, the path you are supposed to be on, is the one you resist the most. Sometimes you rationalize that what you want is what God wants. Not so. Let go, and allow yourself to truly embrace the unexpected. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on this beautiful boy, and the life lessons he will teach you.


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You are stronger than you ever imagined yourself to be.

Yes, you… the shy woman who once avoided anything frightening, unknown, or challenging. You will receive a terminal diagnosis from the first cardiologist who treats your son and you will learn what it means to fight for your child, to navigate the medical world, to not take “no” for an answer when on the phone with your medical insurer, to dig and research and advocate.

Trust me. This is a path to amazing things. Just keep going. It will lead you to amazing places, and along the way you will be led to this precious boy, your baby boy


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Stop being afraid to hurt people’s feelings. God gave you instincts and a voice. Use them, but with grace.

You’ve spent over three decades doing your best to be unobtrusive. Listen to me. That’s not what your children are going to need from you. Those sacred souls you will be entrusted with need you to find the strength to say, “I appreciate your years of medical school. You have a world-class reputation, and I know you have my child’s best interest at heart. But I’m still going to obtain the input of others. This is not about my not trusting you. It’s about being able to answer to myself and to my child. It’s about providing myself with emotional insurance.”

Take a deep breath and do this. It will change the course of your baby boy’s life. It will save some of your future children’s lives.


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Scarlett and Mommy before surgery


Don’t fear potential loss. Don’t fear the diagnosis. What you should fear is fear, as it is a joy stealer and a thief of life.

You see that oxygen saturation reading on the morning of your 28 month old daughter’s first open heart surgery? It’s not her lowest. When reviewing her file, some will tell you not to adopt this child. She has the most severe form of single ventricle heart disease. She may not make it to adulthood. She may be brain damaged from chronic and pronounced hypoxia. (She is, by the way. And she is absolutely perfect as such. You will not be able to imagine your life without her perfectly incandescent smile.) She may be in full time Special Education Services. (She is, and so what? It has been an absolute joy to parent this “mentally retarded” child, as one medical professional will refer to her as when you fail to display the expected tearful reaction to the results of her neuro/psychological testing. It will be a blessing to become friends with the parents of her classmates and other adoptive parents of special needs children, and to feel a connection and an understanding that, sadly, is now missing in many of the relationships you had before you became an adoptive parent.) She may not be able to ever live independently. (Guess what? The idea of having this precious, sweet, funny, and feisty daughter as a permanent resident under your roof will fill you and Eric with joy!)

Stop worrying. It’s going to be okay. In fact, it’s going to be great.


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Scarlett and Mommy after surgery


Find your way to peace when in your hardest times. Have patience for those caring for your child in the medical setting. Do not hold grudges against friends and family for not knowing what to say or how to support you. Find something to praise in each and every day, even while in the hospital. You will need to practice this, for the hardest days are yet to come.

One of the most challenging skills you will need to learn is how to find joy in the saddest of days. Buy yourself a treat at the hospital cafeteria. Indulge in an overpriced latte. Share a funny video with a nurse. Make jokes with doctors. Laugh with friends. Ponder the beauty of God’s sunrises and sunsets through the window of your children’s CICU rooms. It’s okay to smile, to laugh, and to appreciate all of the beauty of life even when your child is struggling. This will save your soul.

However…

Allow your heart to be broken.

You will be strong and courageous and good at finding each day’s blessings, but you will forget that part of courage is finding the strength to grieve. Give yourself this gift. You are not turning a blind eye to each day’s goodness or insulting God by allowing yourself to be devastated by the brokenness of this world. You will pay a price, emotionally and physically, for not allowing room for your pain during the times to come. Give yourself permission to cry.


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Rini waiting for transplant


Expect, understand, and accept that you will not be the same person you were before.

You will lose the perspective of the world that you once held, but you will gain a wider one. You will lose your ability to enjoy some of the pastimes you once pursued, but in their place you will find more meaning in this life and deeper ways to utilize your time. You will lose some friends you’ve had for years, but you will find yourself entrenched within the most supportive and loving community you can imagine.

And ultimately, you will lose your innocence. How can you not, when the heart beating inside of your daughter is the same heart that stopped beating inside of another mother’s child?


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Rini’s old and new hearts


Thank God each and every day for placing you at the beginning of this most wondrous and miraculous path.

You will be given far more than you can handle. That’s why you will rely on Him. You will be asked to give back to the world in a way that will terrify the shy inner child in you. Do it. You can! And on the days to come when you wonder whether you have the fortitude to become the mother your children need, remember the promise that He will make to you time and time again: You do.


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Andrea Olson
Executive Director
Little Hearts Medical

Find My Family: Matt

July 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Sweet Matt is a quiet and gentle little boy. He is 3 years old. He is very active and loves listening to music and is often found engaged in reading picture books. Matt loves to crawl and can also walk with assistance.

Matt has Down syndrome and is a great sleeper and gets along well with his friends. Matt loves playing with toys and is able to cover bottles with a cap, bang blocks together and use his pincher fingers to pick up small objects.


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Matt is very clever and understands “big” and “small.” He is also great at imitating words and is able to express his needs.

This adorable toddler can also go up and down stairs while holding onto a railing for support and has great balance as he can balance on one foot.


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You can read more about Matt here and watch a video of him here

Matt is a special focus referral and available for immediate placement. Families do not need to have a dossier completed to accept him. Families with approved home studies interested in adopting him are eligible for AGCI’s Special Treasures grant which will cover up to $5,000 in agency fees.


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Contact Carin Sherman at All God’s Children for more information on his adoption or call 503-327-7407.

Dear younger me, Don’t look back

July 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Recently, one of my little ones was walking backwards while also conducting a conversation with a sibling. After nearly tripping and tumbling, I warned him, “Turn around… you need to face the direction you are headed.” And, as so often happens, the gentle voice of the Lord whispered the same thing to me…

“Keep walking forward. Don’t look back. I’ve got this. I know what I’ve called you to, and there are good places ahead.“


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Adoption is hard. I don’t think many of us mince words when it comes to that. But it’s not easy to share the hard stuff, especially in a public forum. The words that dare to veer from the ideal of Adoption Perfection are deemed unworthy of sharing and are given a cursory shove aside and locked out of view because to share is to be vulnerable.

Here’s the thing…

There will be really hard times ahead of you if you are in the paperwork chase. Documents will get lost. Waits will be long. Mess-ups will happen.
Maybe new medical information comes to light. Maybe your spouse takes a pay cut. Maybe your family has to move across state lines.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God who called you to this knows where every piece of your paperwork is. He knows your timeline. He knows where you will be when your child comes home. He knows every single last detail of this process. He’s got this. Trust Him.

There will be really hard times ahead of you if you are about to get on an airplane to go get your baby from halfway around the world. One way or the other, your world will be rocked. Your child may be everything you expected. Your child may be the total opposite of what you expected. She might scream and cry because she loved her nanny. He might retreat into a shell and refuse to change his clothes because they are the only things familiar to him. She might eat ravenously like she can’t get enough. He might shut down and refuse all nourishment. There might be behaviors you only read about and to see them being acted out in front of you might make your heart race with fear.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God who chose your family and this child to be family together will never leave your side. He will do greater battle on behalf of your heart during these days, even if it seems like your world is falling apart. He sees these first days; a family coming together in a way only He could have ordained. He sees. He is there.

There will be really hard times ahead of you if you are newly home and your child struggles and you struggle and everyone else in your family struggles. You might question your sanity. You might have the sweetest of honeymoon times and then be slammed with behaviors that seem to come out of nowhere weeks down the road.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God who sees all sees your struggles. He hears your cries whether they are out-loud or silent. He is the Light in the darkest of moments. You will know him as Father more than ever before as he holds you through these days.

There will be really hard times when you wonder if there is another soul who could possibly understand what you are going through. You may cling to social media and the normalcy that comes from finding others who know exactly what your days are like and how totally possible it is to eat your weight in dark chocolate. You may lose some friends, and that’s never easy.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God who created you knows you inside and out. He understands you better than anyone ever could, and he is available 24/7 for heart-to-heart conversations, which always end in a lavishing of truth.

There will be really hard moments when you’ve been home what you think is a “good” amount of time and wonder what happened to trigger the loud and public meltdown your child just had.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God who called you to the first step in the process knows every step along the way. He knows how the tantrums seem to come in waves and he knows how many days, hours, and minutes there are until the next meltdown happens. He builds us up for these moments, and gives grace we are sometimes unable to give to ourselves when the moments overwhelm us and our tempers are short.

There will be days when you are so terrified of what the future looks like with your new child, what school will look like, what doctors visits and surgeries and therapies will look like. You might wonder how on earth you are going to manage it all.
Keep walking forward. Don’t look back.
The Lord God sees the entire tapestry of your family, not just today or a decade from now, but generations. He knows exactly how to weave your new child into the fabric of family, and his handiwork is breathtaking.

There will come a day when your child might reveal in a casual tone a piece of their past that rips your heart in half. And you will realize… this is what you were walking toward. This moment. This grace of healing you are allowed to participate in. This gentle response that comes from a place you didn’t know existed inside of you. This moment when you realize you are broken and your child is broken but together you are being made into something beautiful.
You will know that existence isn’t about comfort, that nurture may always have to battle nature, and that love is a choice – a daily “yes”. You will know that who you are now would not be possible without the trial by fire. You will know the depth and sheer force of the Father’s love for you, and the depth of his love for the fatherless.

Keep walking forward, friends. Don’t look back. There are good things ahead.


His Hands and Feet: Adopting a Child with ABS

July 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

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Sometimes you are clearly given a gift of grace and sometimes you find yourself in it. Both are of Him and from Him and are equally overwhelming and exciting. This is a glimpse of both. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8 ….. …Read More

Dear younger me, You are enough

July 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

daisy

I’ve been thinking about you lately. Images of you have been coming to mind, and I’ve been remembering little things I heard you say here and there, moments when you said nothing at all, and sighs that said it all. All the memories led me to reach out to you. I think bridging the gap …Read More

Dear younger me, You were wrong

July 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Dear Younger Me, You were wrong about many things, and I am oh so very glad you were. /// You got married and designed a life plan. It was a dreamy projection, and you believed you had control of how it all would go. You had a timeline, a number of kids in mind, visions …Read More

Thoughts from an Adult Adoptee: Two Sides of One Coin

July 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

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Hello Readers, I am new here at guest posting on No Hands But Ours. First, let me introduce myself. My name is Parrie Liu and I am a Chinese adoptee. Since the age of almost four, I have lived in Texas with a loving family. Currently, I am attending university and pursing a degree in …Read More

Dear younger me, Enjoy them

July 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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After I agreed to write this guest post on what I would tell my younger self, I wondered how I could narrow down all the things I would tell my younger self. Here is all the advice that people gave me about life with children that I now know was actually helpful. These are the …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Nikki and Katie

July 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Meet sweet Nikki. Nikki is an adorable six year old girl with a tender heart for others. Nikki’s special need is Down syndrome and esotropia. Nikki came to Lifeline’s March Kids Camp and was a joy to be around. She is described as outgoing, active, and full of spunk. She is strong willed and has …Read More

Pondering the “What-Ifs”

July 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

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I remember reading all the recommended adoption books, watching all the training videos, stalking all the mom blogs, and talking to other adoptive moms during the time leading up to our own adoption. I got myself familiar with so many new terms and tried to educate myself on any possibility of trouble our future daughter …Read More

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The content found on the No Hands But Ours website is not approved, endorsed, curated or edited by medical professionals. Consult a doctor with expertise in the special needs of interest to you.