Meet the Contributors: Katie

December 10, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Continuing today with our series in which we share a short Q and A with one of our contributors to give y’all, our faithful readers, a little more behind-the-scenes insight into the amazing group of writers assembled here. And it will also give each of our contributors a chance to share their heart in a way a traditional post might not allow.

Q: Tell us a little about your family.

Craig and I met and married in college. We had our oldest two while in seminary and then a few years later came our last bio baby. We have since adopted three children from China. Michigan is where we have made our home for almost nine years now! Craig works from home (in a basement ballet studio) running a website for a family business. I just started China At My Door and stay super busy running kids to school and keeping the house from falling down. We love to play board games and sit around the fireplace in the evenings after school and practices.

Q: What led you to adopt from China?

I read a book when I was seven years old. No joke! And ever since then my heart was turned towards the orphans of China. When I started dating Craig I asked him how he felt about China and adoption. When he said he would like to pursue it someday he could have proposed on the spot. LOL

We took the long road to China, starting first by trying to adopt through the domestic waiting child program, and after a year of that we fell in love with a boy from China. The rest is history. 

Q: Which provinces are your children from?

Guangdong, Jiangxi, Henan

Q: What special needs are represented in your family?

Beta thalassemia, anophthalmia, microphthalmia, brain differences, cognitive impairment, non-verbal, Dandy Walker variant and microcephaly.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of adoption? Hardest?

Favorite is watching a child go from unattached and unsure of life in general to loved, attached, growing in confidence each day. I love the way the entire face changes with love. I would say the eyes, but well… we are short on eyes around here.

Hardest is probably the way the family breaks apart individually as well as collectively before rebuilding into something far better. But the rebuilding is hard. It takes so much work and dedication and tunnel vision. It is so hard. Finding that new normal and realizing it is nothing like normal should be is a shock but then you learn to grab it and run with it. Somehow that oddity of the new normal becomes so much better than average ever was.

Q: In just a few sentences, share two tips applying to any part of the adoption process.

Survive. Literally just focus on survival. Wake up, eat, feed people microwaveable meals, fall asleep in the laundry pile, possibly squeeze in a shower once a week but survive at all costs.

The human touch is so healing. So even when you don’t want to find a moment to stroke the head of your new child. Go hug your spouse and stay in that embrace for fifteen seconds. Set a goal to touch at least three times a day in the beginning. Increase it over time and allow it to heal all of you. 

Q: How has adoption grown/stretched/changed you?

The bigger question is how has it not changed me? I’ve changed so drastically. The biggest change I see is that I now grasp grace. I stopped thinking I had life all figured out and realized I know nothing, not one single thing about how to do this right. There was a time that would have paralyzed me. But grace won me over and I realize that God is breathing out this grace on me daily. So, I just grasp it. I hold onto it. I fail over and over again and I grasp that grace yet again. 

Q: Can you share a few of your favorite blog posts shared on NHBO? Some from your personal blog?

When It Isn’t Harmonious was one of the hardest but most intimate posts I have written. I love looking back at it and knowing from this side of things how it will all work out for the best. I love knowing that I DID fall in love with Ellie. Gosh, I love knowing that.

On Surviving Adoption I love the post The boy who called me Mama. It feels like it always continues. It is a reminder that there are so many we left behind and how much work there is still to be done. 

Q: What is your favorite book? Quote? Verse?

I really don’t have one favorite book. Books are my favorite. Period. Our house bleeds books. They are in every last crevice and corner of this place. And we treasure them for their knowledge and the adventures they lead us on when we open them.

Quote: “What if I fall? Oh, my Darling, but what if you fly?”

Verse: “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5 And “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

I struggle deeply with shyness. Strangely, when my husband is with me it disappears. Love him! But when I visit new people or parties alone I have to really make an effort to talk to everyone. I am an extreme introvert who can fake it well but it will wipe me out. If I go out with friends I need a few days at least to just stay home and not even go out at all. If I don’t get to be alone for days at a time I start to feel like my skin is crawling! 

Q: Can you share a favorite “mom hack” that makes life easier for you?

Paper plates. LOL. For real though a mom of a large family once told me that they are so cheap and worth every dime. She was right. Most nights we dine in on paper plates and then there are only the dishes that I cooked with to clean.

Spread the chores to your children. They will be better human beings for it and you will be able to breathe for a few moments each day. 

Q: If you could share one parting thought with someone considering special needs adoption, what would it be?

Remember these are children. It is easy to see them as a diagnosis, but that paper, that file, represents a real child who is dealing with all those needs without a parent. They have no one. Yes, carefully consider, pray, research, but please remember they are real children.

Single, 30 and About to be Mom to a 3 Year Old Boy

December 9, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

In October 2015, I was beginning to think about pursuing adoption through foster care or international adoption. I was single, and I wasn’t completely sure it was the right time, but I had a full time job, a house, a car, and it seemed like I would be ready “soon”.

I started poking around for information about fostering to adopt and adopting internationally. After seeing the profile of a little boy on a waiting child page, I contacted a local adoption agency for more information. Initially I was told since I wasn’t 30 years old yet, I’d have to wait to be matched to a child, but I could submit my information and medical conditions checklist to get “in line” to review files when I turned 30.

Funny how our plans don’t always fall into place the way we think!

In December 2015, the CCCWA changed its law about having to be 30 to be matched with a child. Instead, you could be matched with a child before 30 as long as the child was considered to be “special focus” and your dossier, or paperwork, would be submitted to the CCCWA when you turned 30. This meant that you could start the process and be matched starting at 29.5.

On January 12th 2016, I got the phone call.

CCAI had the file of a little boy who was turning three on that very day. His medical needs fit what I had marked on my medical conditions checklist, and they wanted to know if I’d be interested in reviewing his file.

Mind spinning, I agreed. I could always say no, right?

The email popped up in my inbox, and I found myself in my car looking at this little face on my phone.

Don’t get attached, I told myself.

Not being able to say yes or no until I felt at peace, I consulted with an International Adoption doctor, and talked it over with family members. I even talked it over with the chiropractor’s secretary and people at work (I’m sure they all thought I was crazy).

I went back and forth – maybe I should say no? I could be a bit more financially stable first. I was single. What if his special needs were too much for me, as a single mom, to handle?

I didn’t feel at peace with yes or no. Then I didn’t feel at peace with no.

I said yes.

I had marked “either gender” on my MCC. I wasn’t aware at the time how many boys there were waiting for families. I didn’t realize that most people didn’t realize there were boys at all, or that the majority of families adopting both domestically and internationally want girls. At times, agencies will have 1-2 families willing to consider a boy, and 40-50 waiting for 2-3 years for their turn to adopt a girl.

Boys are awesome. Boys are sweet. Boys are so much fun.

I hope to travel to bring my little guy home within the next month or two. His room is ready. Clothes are folded and put away. Two semi-packed suitcases are under the bed in his room.

I’m so ready, and I can’t wait!

(And maybe, just maybe, a little brother from China will be in his future.)

– guest post by Alicia

From an Adoptee With Love

December 9, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I just recently entered the world of adoptive family forums and Facebook groups and am amazed at the number and the commitment of adoptive parents who would do anything to protect, and give the best life possible to their children. As an adult adoptee from China, I’ve “met” parents who have shared their stories with me and asked questions for an adoptee’s perspective. I am not qualified to be giving advice to anyone but I can say that I grew up, like so many of your children, with all of the joys, struggles and difficulties, complexities, and questions of an adopted child.

You already know that every child is different; some with more or less trauma, some older, some younger when they are adopted, with varying degrees of abilities and disabilities. What do we all have in common? We have parents who loved us to the extent that they sought us and traveled to the ends of the earth to bring us home. The tender care and loving concern only begins there. Adoptive parents think of all of the unique questions and possibilities involved with raising adopted children. What is the best thing that I can do for my adopted child? The worst? Should we adopt more? How can we integrate culture, language, etc? What if my child is bullied? What should I do regarding my child’s biological family? The questions go on.

Now that I’m older, married, and hoping for children of my own, adopted or biological, I’ve given some more thought to these sorts of questions. My circumstance is rather simple when compared with other adoptees. I was adopted at 9 months old, in 1993 from Wuhan, China to an American couple living in Cleveland, Ohio. I was a healthy (chunky) baby who lived with a foster family, and then in an orphanage. My voice is only one among many.

So what are the most common questions that I get from adoptive parents, specifically those who have adopted or hope to adopt from China?

Q: When did you know or learn that you were adopted? How did being adopted affect the parent-child bond that you had?

Two separate, but related questions. My only memory of parents is with my adoptive parents, as I was a baby when I was adopted. Being adopted was never a secret for two reasons; first, I didn’t look like my adoptive parents, and second, my parents took care to integrate our Chinese culture in our lives very early on.

As a baby, I connected with my parents very quickly, recognizing them as Mom and Dad within the first week of my adoption. (This, I know, can be different for children who are adopted when they are older). My parent’s love and discipline alike were just the same as what I saw in my friend’s families. I never felt as if my parents weren’t my “real” parents, not in the biological sense but with regard to the time, effort, and unconditional love that all parents give.

Q: What did your parents do to preserve your language and culture?

While I had no speech abilities when I was adopted at 9 months old, my parents did enroll me in a Saturday school for Chinese language and culture education when I was 5 years old. I was surrounded by other Chinese children, both adopted and biological, many second-generation children. We learned reading and writing in the classroom as well as song and dance as an after school activity. My one criticism of the program is that more interaction with the already proficient Chinese-speaking students may have boosted the language abilities of students who had no home exposure, like myself.

When I reached high school and took lessons there. Though I’ve forgotten some of my Chinese language, as it is hard to learn a language when you are not immersed in it, the early expose predisposed me to furthering my education now and in the future.

A recommendation for parents who would like to preserve their child’s language is to regularly expose them to native or fluent speakers. Another suggestion is to find an immersion camp, if your child is willing and interested in attending.

Regarding culture, my parents bought educational Chinese books and movies, which they read or watched with us. They celebrated Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival. We had Chinese dresses and every Mulan product that my mother could find. However, the biggest impact in my (embracing, ownership) of the Chinese culture was the time that my parents spent teaching and learning with me.

Later, my parents encouraged and supported my trips back to China to experience China for myself.

Q: Did you ever deal with any racism or bullying because you were Chinese or because of the way you looked?

I was actually bullied intensely in school on a few occasions; once when I was younger (in 5th grade) and again in high school. In 5th grade, I sat at an all boy’s table in Art class. One particularly troubled boy liked to talk about my skin and hair color and mistook me for being African American. He relentlessly made inappropriate comments and jokes to the other boys about me. In high school, another teenage boy liked to use very hurtful racial slurs when talking to me and about me to other people. This went on for far too long. Finally, a friend helped me to work up the courage to approach my guidance counselor about the issue. The boy was suspended for a few days, and returned to school.

However, the fall out of social exile by our mutual friends (who took his side) and spreading rumors about the situation were very difficult in the weeks to come. As a caution to parents; if your child is ever bullied (and I hope they are not), there may be follow-up counseling and/or intervention needed.

In the 5th grade, I did not tell my parents because I was afraid that they would approach my principal or guidance counselor. In retrospect, I wish that I had told them. I learned from the experience and told my parents the second time. If your child is being bullied, they may be hesitant to tell you. A piece of advice is to talk with your children about bullying and tell them that they don’t have to be afraid to tell you if they are being bullied for any reason.

Q: Do you have siblings, adopted or biological and did they change the way you saw yourself as an adoptee?

I have one sister who was also adopted from China, though not biological to me. She is my best friend and one of the greatest gift that my parents could have given to me. (Even though at the time when they brought her home, I was not happy for having been “dethroned”.) It was helpful to have someone who looked more like I did and also comforting to know that my sister may have had the same feelings and questions about being adopted as I did. I learned that biology means so much less than the nurture and love of family who loves you unconditionally.

Q: What can adoptive parents do to let them know that it is okay to approach them with feelings about their biological family?

My parents talked with me ever since I was a little girl about my birth parents, specifically my birth mother because we had small insights about her. They encouraged me to pray for them. Additionally, when I was older, they shared with me that they would not be hurt or upset if I had thoughts and feelings about my birth parents or even if I hoped to find them one day.

These are just some of the common questions that adoptive parents ask. For answers to more questions, please visit my blog and click on the FAQ tab.

It has been my joy “meeting” and talking with adoptive parents from all over. Adoption, though not simple, creates truly beautiful families and teaches us how to live and love fully.

Molly Schmiesing was adopted from Wuhan, China when she was 9 months old by an American couple from Cleveland, Ohio. She am currently living in Bei Jing with her husband Michael. You can read more on her blog, Finding China.

How Adoption Changed our Christmas Card List

December 8, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Make fun of me all you want, but I addressed the last of my Christmas cards and sent them out the day after Thanksgiving. We missed sending them out last year in the midst of the last minute paper push. We had LID December 1, and were in the midst of sorting through files and …Read More

Child Who Waits: Peter

December 8, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Peter was born in July 2009 and due to nerve damage in his ears he is deaf, however, he uses body language and gestures to express his needs. Peter is described as active, friendly and energetic. They say he is very thoughtful and caring and will often help out a blind child by accompanying her …Read More

Embracing the Unknowns

December 7, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Our son is adventurous, affectionate, good-natured, and strong. He loves playing outside, blowing bubbles, reading books, and playing with anything with wheels. He is absolutely amazing and the perfect addition to our family. I want the world to know all of this about him. What I choose to keep private is information about his special …Read More

Love Beyond Sight

December 6, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I have always been a planner, always been cautious. I had even been planning this adoption since I was 12! What I hadn’t planned was that China would become a special needs adoption program by the time my husband and I were able to adopt. It was daunting looking over the Medical Checklist. I could …Read More

Child Who Waits: Oliver

December 6, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Oliver is an adorable little toddler boy who is waiting for a family to call his own. He was born November of 2013. In his medical file, he is listed as has having post-operative congenital cataract as well as being diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss and chronic otitis media. However, he received surgery for Cochlear …Read More

Then and Now: Selah

December 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

One year ago we were sitting in a hotel conference room waiting to meet our daughter for the first time. One year ago the minute hands on our watches seem to stand still. One year ago we watched families meet their children for the first time. One year ago our daughter was finally brought into …Read More

Beautiful Unknowns

December 5, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Medical needs adoption is one you have to walk into with your eyes wide open. Though prospective parents may have a medical history presented to them before saying the biggest “yes” of their lives, you have to know this: there are unknowns. There will always be unknowns. We knew about the unknowns before saying our …Read More

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