find my family: Luke

October 30, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Oh my… What a sweet face!! Dear precious Luke is 5 years old and he is listed with Lifeline Adoption. He is Special Focus and his special need is club feet. Just look at this adorable little face, he needs a family to turn that little frown upside down.


This precious little guy was found at 3 years of age and was said to be upset at first but gradually adapted to “group life.” Luke is stated to be able to stand on his knees, crawl quickly and play on the slide. He is able to go up a platform and up and down stairs. Luke’s file states that he gets along well with other children and can carry on a conversation with his caregivers. He will undoubtedly thrive with the love, attention, and medical care a family could provide.


Please contact Annie for more information.

I’m Just Sad

October 28, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

September is always a big month for our family. Both of our sons came home in September {2009, 2012} and our 8 year old, Joel’s, birthday is on the 4th. So we generally just have lots of good talks and eat tons of yummy food in celebration all month.

One evening, after having celebrated Gabe’s forever family day, Joel casually asked me when his was. I explained that his would be very soon. He smiled, gave me a quick hug, and shot off to the living room to build yet another Star Wars ship out of Lego.

I didn’t think much of it.

Joel’s day came and went. It was pretty normal as days around here go. He has never liked a lot of fanfare. He’s not comfortable being the center of attention {though he craves praise and attention individually}. He was pretty melancholy but Joel can be a grumpy Gus anyway. Bedtime came and he put up an argument for why he should be allowed to finish a movie with his dad. He lost though and reluctantly went to brush his teeth.

I went into he and Gabe’s room, like we do every night, to pray and tuck them in. Only Joel’s face was buried in his pillow and he would not look up. I rubbed his back, leaned over and prayed and said goodnight. I figured that he was just mad about the movie. And he was.

But there was more.

Joel is a kid plagued by triggers. Are your kids that way? Several things can just set him off. He has historically had a bit of a temper {mostly when he came home and for the six months after, but is sooooo much better now.} and sometimes events or circumstances just trigger either bad behavior or emotional breakdowns.

I guess that can be said of any of us really.

Sitting on his bed, waiting to see if he would respond to my request for a goodnight kiss, I heard a whimper. So I scooped up my big Thai Tornado and looked at his face. He stared deep into my eyes and tears began to fall from his.

“Baby, what’s wrong? Are you made about the movie? I promise, you can finish it tomorrow, but it’s bedtime, okay?”

He’s sobbing now and having trouble speaking at all.

I put him in my arms, hold him like an infant and rub his face.

“You can tell me, baby. Are you just upset with Daddy?”


And then, “Mom, I’m just sad.”

“You are? Why? Is something bothering you?”

He nods, takes a deep breath and manages to say one word.


We talk for a couple of minutes and sweet boy begins to just unload all of these feelings while laying in my arms sobbing.

I ask several questions and let him do the answering. He misses Thailand. He misses his friends. He wonders if they are okay. What they are doing.

Raising his voice, “But I can even remember their names or what they look like, Mom!”

I decide then to bring him to his daddy in the living room. We sit and hold him close, rub his sweet face and just let him talk. We show him his Thailand coffee table book with pictures of his favorite caregiver and his two best friends. We explain that one of them was adopted right after he was by a family in Germany and the other went to France. We assure him that we believe they have families who love them and take care of them just like we do.

And we tell him that it’s okay. Okay to feel confused and upset and sad that he doesn’t remember. Okay that he doesn’t know things that he used to know. We reassure him over and over and over. We take deep breaths and hope that our words seep and settle into his heart.

I’ve read blogs and books and listened to adult adoptees speak at conferences. I’ve tried to glean from them and as best as I can, walk a step or two in their shoes. It’s impossible. I will never know what they know or feel what they feel or experience the loss they have known.

And in moments like these, it’s just gut wrenching. I want to take this from my son. I want to relate to him in a real way. To take on his hurt and trade my beginning for his.

Adoption is beautiful and lovely and redemptive. It’s continuing to place value on those for which Christ values. It’s an answer to prayers and longings both by children and adults.

Adoption is also ugly and scary and tragic. It’s losing and forgoing and forgetting.

Prosperity and calamity are married here. They are intertwined into the story of our Thai Tornado and our Little Prince…and your children too.


The good news is that, the next morning, our Joel was his happy go lucky self. Most days, most moments of each day, he looks just like this. A huge smile. A loud laugh and a heart that wants to please. But that night, he was just sad.

Maybe your children are sad sometimes too. And I’m learning to trust that that’s okay.

A Dream Come True: Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome

October 27, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I always knew I would adopt from China. From a very young age, I remember being drawn to families who had done so, and having a very strong intuition that one day that would be my journey too.

When Chris and I married, we were very young. I was just shy of my 23rd birthday and we had so many plans. Before we really knew what we were doing, we had two biological boys and we were insanely busy with Chris’ demanding work schedule and boys that were more complicated than most. Our oldest was 3 when we began to suspect that he might be on the Autism Spectrum, and our youngest was unbelievably bright and precocious with severe sensory processing needs.

It was at that same crazy busy time that we had completed our home study and were hoping to start the process to adopt from China. Of course, we wanted a girl who was as young as possible and as healthy as possible. When we learned that the wait times were increasing to 4 and 5 years for those precious girls, and we considered all that we had going on at home, we put those treasured adoption plans aside and decided to focus on our boys’ therapy and on Chris’ career.

Of course that longing of mine to adopt never went away, and 7 whole years later I was still (basically) begging my sweet husband to revisit those plans. A lot had changed for us though, and we had very different and more realistic expectations about children and parenting. Chris really didn’t want to adopt at all. After the hard work we had put in with both of our boys, we had gotten to a place where parenting had become “easy.” They were both in elementary school all day long. Chris’ career had progressed to a point where I was able to stay home full time. We finally had the freedom to hire babysitters and take kid free vacations. And (other moms will get this…) I could go to the pool and read a book on my lounge chair and not worry that they would drown.

I didn’t care about all of those things. I knew that I would forever regret a decision not to adopt, and fortunately my sweet husband understood that too. So when I went back to start my research on the process again, I learned that many things had changed. There were scores of older children with special needs waiting for families. Some of them had been waiting for years. I also noticed that children with Down syndrome were now being listed! Years before (without Chris knowing) I had asked about adopting a child with Down syndrome from China. There weren’t any available. At that point, China felt like children with Ds weren’t desirable, and therefore did not spend their time and energy preparing their files. Those children were aging out and spending their lives in government run institutions meant for the very sick and elderly. But little by little, over the course of the last few years, families had been adopting these precious kids, and China began to change their practices. Many of these children are available now.

One little girl instantly had my heart. The minute I saw her photo, I knew she was my child. I sent her photo to the priest who had been counseling Chris and I about this decision. She immediately called me back and said “This is the part where we pray,” and she continued to pray the most beautiful and fervent prayer I had ever heard. At the end of that phone call I knew this child was our girl.


That afternoon I showed Chris her picture and he agreed. We had to go get her. I was thrilled, and so struck by the fact that in over 7 years time we had gone from wanting to adopt a child who was as young and as healthy as possible to knowing that this 5 year old girl with Down syndrome was our daughter.

Within that peace, there were still so many unknowns… Was she verbal? Was she able to care for her own basic needs? Had she been mistreated during her first 5 years of life? Would her transition to us be more painful because she was older? And our friends were thinking, Why would you want to make your life more difficult?

We have been home with our daughter one year this week. Those worries are such a distant memory that I almost can’t believe they were real. Our journey to our daughter Winnie, and the year that we have spent with her, have changed every single fiber of our lives in the most positive ways. Chris and I loved her from the second we met her. She was scared and grieving in China, but we already knew that we would move mountains for this brave, vibrant and magical little girl.


What I didn’t know is that I would become consumed with passion about helping orphans with Down syndrome find their forever families. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit Winnie’s orphanage and spend some time with her beloved foster family. We even ran into her sweet foster sister, who also has Down syndrome, in the hallway. Her sister saw her that one last time, ran over to Winnie and picked her up off the ground in a giant bear hug. That sweet moment between these sisters is such a metaphor for how these amazing children live their lives. (Winnie’s wonderful sister is 11 years old and still waiting for her file to be prepared.) That day was so difficult, but that day, and the amazing year we have spent with our daughter, has inspired me to work hard on behalf of the children with Down syndrome who wait.

I think our story is typical of those families who are considering a child with Down syndrome. The worries are real, and can be too consuming for prospective parents to consider these precious children. I am here to urge those parents on the ledge, to take the leap. Any adoption is a huge leap of faith. Adopting a child with Down syndrome may seem like a bigger leap, especially to many reluctant husbands. A year later, my husband and I would both urge you to jump into this journey with both feet first and race to your son or daughter. You really cannot get there soon enough.


In the last year Winnie has given us so much more than we could have ever given her. She loves so unconditionally. Her hugs can make the worst day just melt away. She faces new challenges with such courage, that she will inspire you to fight your own battles with bravery too. She has brought so much levity into our family, and her brothers adore her in a way that I didn’t know was possible. She shares an extraordinary bond with our boy with Autism, and they give each other more than any therapist could ever give them.

Her laughter is absolute sunshine and she always finds a reason to dance to the music. Winnie has brought our focus back to the most important things in life, and we are so fortunate to have her laughter as our family soundtrack. I can truly say without any hesitancy whatsoever, that our daughter is absolutely a dream come true.

– guest post by Stephanie who blogs at Welcoming Winnie here and has a Down syndrome Adoption Facebook Group here.

two boys in China

October 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Two boys in China right now. Separated by many miles and many years. Both of their stories are only known to me in pieces, in a few words shared by the oldest’s teacher and in a few smiles with the sweetest little chicklet teeth from the other. As I lay awake, trying to convince my …Read More

Unity: Compelled to Orphan Prevention

October 23, 2014 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


There is unity among adoptive families, a connection of experience, passion and heart. Becoming a card carrying member of this big, powerhouse club takes tears, bravery, faith, paperwork and prayer. We’ve paid our dues and call ourselves blessed to stand shoulder to shoulder, unified in many ways. Unified in celebrating adoption. Unified in raising funds …Read More

Southern Hospitality 2014 is underway

October 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


  From Lifeline’s website: Our goal in this endeavor is to shower these children with love, introduce them to the culture of the southern United States, and provide them with some unique experiences. This event is also an important element in our on-going development of our orphanage partnerships in China. Through our partnership orphanages we …Read More

a family for Jude

October 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


A while back we shared about a little girl named Lee Lee who needed a forever family. And today we have another little one who needs a forever family of his own. This is Jude. We met him this summer when we visited the orphanage where he lives. He is almost 8 years old. It …Read More

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October 21, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


October is Down syndrome Awareness Month. An entire month to celebrate those who were gifted with an extra gene. Which is kinda cool, if you think about it…like a national birthday party for your DNA. It’s hard to get better than that! I frequently describe Down syndrome as an ‘extra chromosome of love’. It is …Read More

The Ayers Family Writes Their Own Story

October 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments


As people grow up, get married, and launch into a life together, there’s a funny series of conversations that often encircles these rights of passage. Even as a teenager, I remember the chatter. “How many kids do you think you’ll have?” And after weddings, I’ve heard, “When do you think you’ll starting trying?” Right after …Read More

Find my Family: Sam

October 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Sam is fun, engaging, and is now eleven years old. His age and the fact that he is a boy are likely his biggest special needs. He has seen many friends be adopted, yet he still waits. How hard that must be for this sweet eleven year old, to dream of a family yet never …Read More