Dear younger me, Enjoy them

July 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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 things I would want to hear again if I was a new mom.

Enjoy every stage because it goes by in the blink of an eye.

I can’t believe how true this is and time seems to go faster with each child we have added to our family. So often you hear people say, “I can’t wait until they are school age.” Or, “I can’t wait until they can do crafts.” Or, “I can’t wait until they are teens.” Not me.

I have no biological children, so perhaps it’s easier for me to cherish the time because we missed so much of the early years of our two youngest. We never knew them as babies who could fall asleep on your chest or snuggle up with a bottle. I can’t get that time back and I want to enjoy them as they grow.

A friend of mine told me when he realized that time was going by so fast with his first child, he asked the neighborhood “Grandpa” if he felt the same way. The man said, “I will tell you this. My granddaughter was born 2 weeks ago and last night she graduated from high school.”

Don’t let the child change your family style.

The person who told me this had three grown children and the way she explained it was – if you are a loud family, stay loud. Don’t make your house artificially quiet because you have a baby in it now. She said this was especially important as you add more children. They are naturally loud and boisterous and if you are riding them all the time to be quiet, then everyone in the house is stressed out and frustrated.

We have a daily nap time and/or quiet time in our house that is enforced for the good of all, but the rest of the time they get to act like kids.

It’s easy to think you are an awesome mom when you just have one.

Oh dear, this is so true and cuts to the heart. I mistakenly thought I was such a great mom when I just had one. How ridiculous of me! Once we added our second child who was a toddler from a horrible orphanage with so many struggles to our family, I learned the true depth of my sin. I learned what it really meant to die to self and sacrifice for another person.

Now that my girls are a bit older and I am not completely sleep deprived, I remind myself that I have to keep working to be a great mom to them. It will be something I work at all the rest of my days.

Only parent your own kids.

Stop and think about this for a moment because it’s such great advice. So often people just spout off about what they would do and how their kids were and more. Social media has ramped this up in an ugly way that it often frustrates me.

Sleep when they sleep.

It’s seems so obvious, but my brain would tell me all the things I could get done when they were sleeping like cleaning, blogging or dishes. Just go to sleep if you are tired. It can wait until you have more energy. You don’t need to have a Pinterest life.


Now here are a few things I have learned that I would tell myself if I could.

Adopting toddlers is really, really hard.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Our adoption agencies, social workers, books, webinars, fellow bloggers and more didn’t really prepare me for what was to come. Even our first adoption didn’t prepare us for how hard the second one was going to be.

Let them learn at their own pace.

Let them play, play, play to learn. We have homeschooled from the beginning, but I really wish I would have been more relaxed about it in the beginning like I am now.

Your kids are going to do things that boggle the mind.

Good and bad. Sometimes I ask myself if something really just happened with my kids. Many days they shock and confuse me. But then I remind myself that I was a kid once and must have done the same thing to my parents. It’s really okay, just keep teaching them goodness and mercy.

It doesn’t matter when they potty train.

All kids are different. All kids have different backgrounds that will affect when and how they potty train. Unless they have a severe special need, no one goes to college in diapers.

Ignore the words of “know it all” people who aren’t walking the same road.

I can’t tell you how many people who only have biological children have told me “how it is”. Sorry. It’s just not the same for those of us who didn’t have our kids in utero. Your biological kids didn’t suffer neglect, lack of food, lack of air conditioning or dirty water making them sick. Your kids don’t have large scars with no answers as to how they got there. Your kids don’t have gaps in their timeline that you don’t have any answers for. The only response to this is to ignore because they just don’t understand. There are plenty of people you can connect with who do understand, so don’t let others get you down.

Embrace the chaos!

The more kids you have, the more wild your house will get. And most of the time, that is awesome! Our kids have us laughing so much and they are so creative. They bring so much delight to the world, but lots of times that delight is loud and messy. Let them paint. Let them mix the play-dough colors. Let them get soaking wet in fountains.

Enjoy them as they grow. It goes by in the blink of an eye.

– guest post by Louanne

Waiting to be Chosen: Nikki and Katie

July 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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 an independent spirit. Nikki kept everyone entertained during Kids Camp with her fun personality. She is quick to smile and when happy, she is a charming little girl.


During Kids Camp everyone realized that Nikki loves bags. Nikki came to America with a backpack that she took with her everywhere she went. For the Christmas celebration each child received their own backpack filled with books which was a hit for sweet Nikki! The next day the children went to the zoo. Nikki walked out the door with two backpacks and an Easter basket… you never know what you might need at the zoo!

Nikki is a very sweet girl who cares for others around her. When one of her friends had a stuffy nose during Kids Camp, Nikki would hold up a tissue and help her friend to blow her nose. She was kind and caring to others.


You can view videos of Nikki here (password is nikki), here (password Nikki1), and here (password Nikki).

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Contact Meagan Smith at Lifeline for more information.


Meet darling Katy.

Katy is a precious, fun-loving six year old girl. Katy’s special need is Down syndrome and CHD; specifically postoperative VSD repaired and PFO, and mild tricuspid incompetence. Katy came to Lifeline’s March Kids Camp and was so fun to be around. She is described as a polite, curious, and outgoing child.


Katy likes to dance to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and play with her friends. It was observed at Kids Camp that she likes to pick a buddy and be with that person for the entire day. When she went to the zoo, she chose a buddy that was tall so that she could sit on his shoulders and wave to all the guests at the zoo.

Katy loves to laugh and be silly. She loved to be moving — whether that was riding in the Target shopping cart, swinging, or spending time playing with a friend or buddy. During the shopping trip to Target, Katy picked out a pair of glitter dress-up shoes. Once the group returned to camp, she did not want to take off those shoes! She “clicked clicked clicked” all over camp in her pretty new shoes.

Katy is full of energy and described as a really special little girl by one of the volunteers from Kids Camp.


You can view a video of Katy here (password is katy1), here (password is katy2), and here (password is katy).

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Contact Meagan Smith at Lifeline for more information.

Pondering the “What-Ifs”

July 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

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 might experience: bonding, attachment, grieving, RAD, feeding issues, night terrors, delays, and so much more.

I felt I was educated and prepared for her, but in hindsight I realize I wasn’t prepared for me.

The call came on September 9th. We had been logged in since February and the weeks and months felt like they were just dragging by. Seriously, how many national holidays can a country have? But then things took off at warp speed. We saw her precious picture. We got the medical reports and paperwork. This is when fear began creeping into my heart. There were needs here that we did not check off on our “approval” list.

Hearing issues? Ok. We can deal with that.
Vision issues? Not so sure I’m prepared to deal with those.
Possible Unknown Syndrome? I don’t think I can do that.

We had a specialist look at her information and I’ll never forget the words of one of the doctors, “I recommend you give a nice donation to this orphanage and wait on a different child.” An acquaintance even asked me why we were doing this.

We had four healthy children already, why impact our family so profoundly by adopting a child with a known special need?
What did this mean for our bio children?
Were we asking too much of them?
How would this change them?

Constant thoughts and questions and worries swirled through my head.

Fear. Gripping, mind-numbing fear.
There were sleepless nights and so much prayer.

My husband and I didn’t want to make a decision based on fear; we wanted this little girl to be in a family that was best for her.

Was that us?
Was this who God chose to be our daughter?

She was.

He blessed us with peace about our decision and we proceeded.

The next months were filled with more paperwork and getting ready to add a 5th child (first adoption) to our family. A few weeks before travel we received a final update and where I thought I had known fear before, this took me to a whole new level. The update was so different from the referral, I wondered if it was even the same child.

At 17 months old she can’t even sit up on her own? Her original file said she was crawling and pulling up.
She can’t chew? Her original file said she did fine with solid foods.

And many more discrepancies filled that report.

Was the original doctor right? Was this too much? Could I handle this much unknown and unexpected?

“Be still and know that I am God.”

That verse from Psalm 46:10 just kept running through my mind and heart. There were brief seconds I could escape the fear and feel his peace in my heart. In the biggest step of faith we have ever taken, we left for the other side of the world to meet the daughter whom God would have for us. A daughter who I already loved even though I had never seen her in person.

Fear crept back in on the day we met her. She was terrified and screaming, hiding her eyes whenever she saw us looking at her and wailing whenever we touched her. Fear gripped me when I realized this 17 month old was pretty much developmentally an infant. She cried a lot the entire time we were in China, but so did I. There were sleepless nights where I stood staring at her in her crib and looking out a hotel window onto a foreign city where I wept before God and admitted I couldn’t do this.

I was so scared of the what-ifs and the unknown her future held, yet I already loved her.

I knew her little heart must have been even more fearful than mine. She had no say in this situation. She was losing everything that was familiar to her and was about to lose more – her language, her culture, familiar sounds and smells. I felt bonded to her in our shared fear. I knew the One who could calm our fears and knowing I could teach her about Him and share Him with her gave me strength. I started to feel protective of her; I started to feel joy at each tiny accomplishment and stopped fretting about the what-ifs of the things that might or might not be in her future.

His words continued to calm my heart and ease my fears during our weeks in China. Scripture after scripture and verses from praise songs and prayers from friends and family around the world helped all of us to push away those fears and see glimpses of the joys. Watching my husband pursue this little girl who was so terrified of him, watching him love her like he loved his other children broke that bond of overwhelming fear in me. Through Christ, we could do this.

And we have. Kaili has been home for two and a half years and soon will be four years old.

We found out once we were home she is blind in her right eye with a diagnosis of micropthalmia caused by a severe coloboma. Big scary words at first, but now they hold no fear over me. We had a quite a journey to find the right specialists to get her the prosthetic eye she needs to allow her facial structure to grow normally. (After she swallowed the first eye we found a team from St. Jude hospital in Memphis that made one that fit correctly).

Although her ears are not formed completely on the outside, once she had ear tubes placed, her hearing tested at the normal level. She has ringlet curls and those cute ears barely show with her wild head of hair.


Her misaligned hip bones straightened on their own once her nutritional needs were met and gave her the strength to do her physical therapy exercises. Within months she was strong enough to push herself into a sitting position, then crawl, and then – exactly on her second birthday – she started to walk!

Watching her grow and learn and change and adapt has been a very special and incredible thing. Sometimes I feel like I am getting a front seat to the work of God just by getting to experience things through her.

And our first four children?

The changes in them are true blessings. Their new sister has opened their eyes to needs that were previously unknown to them. They now have more compassion and understanding for people in all sorts of different circumstances. It opened up their world! It has changed their hearts and their future desires.


So much has changed in Kaili since she became a part of our family. The night terrors are gone. The panic attacks over food are gone. She chooses us to comfort her when she gets hurt. She now wants to be held and touched. Her favorite two words are, “Tickle me!”

Has it been easy? No.
Has it been worth it? Yes. A thousand times, yes.

The love our family has for this little girl is overwhelming. She has changed our hearts and our lives and her story continues to open the hearts of those she meets.

Do I still ponder the what-ifs? Yes.
But not in worry or fear about her future.
What if we had said no?
What if we had let fear win?
What if we had missed this blessing?

God is using her mightily and I am so thankful that the One who speaks to us to “Fear not” is faithful to His word to do so. Her unknown future doesn’t bring fear anymore.


Her future is completely in His hands, and we are totally blessed to be a part of it.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

– guest post by Jodi: facebook || email

No Hands But Ours: Reader Survey 2016

July 20, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


A little over a year ago we created a reader survey, asking our readers to weigh in with your thoughts about NHBO – what you liked, what you didn’t like and what you thought would make NHBO better. Well, y’all delivered. We received so much wisdom and insight – we used your ideas as a …Read More

Luke Waits

July 20, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Meet seven year old Luke! Luke is a charming boy who has a close relationship with his caregivers and is known around the orphanage for his helpfulness. He is attentive when the little ones cry and runs errands for his caregivers when they need an extra hand. Luke likes to play games with others, especially …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Lana and Josiah

July 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Meet little Lana. Lana is a precious 15 month old little girl who loves to smile. Lana’s special need is Down syndrome and congenital heart disease. The Chinese name that was chosen for this sweet girl means beautiful and smart — she has definitely lived up to her name. She is described as gentle, very …Read More

Dear younger me, You won’t be the same

July 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


If I could go back to when we started this journey, way back to sitting in those first adoption classes, I would want to take my hand and sit down and say, “Sweet thing, I love you. You are throwing yourself into changing this world. You have a grand vision. But you should know something. …Read More

A Treasured Son: Adopting a Child with Cleft Lip and Palate

July 18, 2016 by nohandsbutours 6 Comments


I like to say our son, Bo, is an answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had until we began the process to adopt him. ……. In 2004, my husband, Peet, and I became parents for the first time in a courtroom in Tomsk, Siberia, to a beautiful baby girl. Then in 2010, …Read More

What I Didn’t Expect

July 17, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Have you heard of that book, What To Expect When You’re Expecting for newly pregnant moms-to-be? Have you ever wondered why there isn’t a book written on what to expect when adopting? Hmmm…..I think it’s because the adoption process is about letting go of expectation and putting plans on hold….or embracing detours. It’s a wild …Read More

A Little Piece of a Big Plan

July 16, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


“I just spoke to the director. He will call me when they’re about five minutes away.” It’s almost time. My heart is almost uncontainable. Everything. All of this. It’s about to happen. So many months, years, planning for this moment… Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, being a part of and seeing just a tiny …Read More

© 2016 No Hands But Ours

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.