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Urgent Medical Need: Kenneth

July 4, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Kenneth is such a sweet and responsible 8-year-old boy!

Kenneth-smile

WACAP staff met him at a recent Journey of Hope Camp and were so impressed by him even though he was nervous meeting a foreigner for the first time. Kenneth was found when he was 6 months old, and he currently lives with a foster family where he seems very attached. Kenneth’s foster family reports that he attends the local public school near his orphanage. He is an excellent student, and has a 98/99 score in his language class! His classmates and teacher all like him and support him in class. He is also reported to be very good at math. He enjoys playing chess, as well as video games, but he always finishes his homework before he plays!

Kenneth-cute

Kenneth’s foster mother is very protective of him due to his serious heart condition. He is unable to receive surgery for his heart in China. He did not appear cyanotic or have clubbed fingers when our staff saw him, but we were told he has a hard time when he has a cold or illness, due to his heart. Kenneth desperately needs a family to help him get the heart care he needs to live a long and healthy life.

Kenneth has a grant available! WACAP is offering a $7,500 grant for qualifying families, in addition to waiving their application fee and pre-approval deposit fee. You can contact WACAP directly here.

The Long Journey Home

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Or Why My Family Is Banned From the Hong Kong Airport Hotel Indefinitely.

I can remember spending so much time and thought in anticipation of the journey to China. I imagined every possible scenario and packed accordingly. Checked with those who had gone before. Prepared my heart for any response or encounter I could imagine. Double checked and packed again. There are so many details and so many papers and deep down, although people keep telling you that it will all work out, you half wonder if somehow the system will break down and you will end up without a child. 

Or worse, in jail.

Note: Adoption from China is perfectly legal and jail time is not a rational outcome of the process, but something about the journey can mess with your head and two logical and educated parents can look at each other in a dusty government office on the sixth floor and whisper close to the other’s ear under their nervous breath, “This is legal right?”  This rational couple can go from steady to “crazy town” in mere seconds on this journey to China and IN China. Or so I’ve heard.

After the months of preparation for the journey and the moments of what I will refer to as “crazy town” in country, the journey home can be an after thought. You are just hoping to get there and hoping to make it. And “crazy town” thoughts pop in as you envision someone jumping out and taking your baby back, right before you board the plane. “Just kidding!” they would laugh and disappear into the night with your sweet child, mocking you as you are carted off to jail.

Note: Again, jail time is not a likely outcome of the adoption process but by the time you are headed home, “crazy town” thoughts are getting more and more common. From what I’ve heard. 

We started our last leg of our journey home, in a mini van headed to Hong Kong from Guangzhou. That journey, projected to take under three hours, ended up lasting more than six hours. Traffic was halted, and at best, jarringly stop and go, and our newest addition screamed at the top of her lungs for five of the six hours. Imagine a car alarm that won’t stop blaring for five hours. Now escalate that by about 150 decibels. And now envision being chained to that car. For five hours.   

I’ve been a mother for a while so I knew our daughter’s trauma was temporary. The trauma that I was really worried about was that of our driver. I could watch little beads of sweat pour down his neck as he navigated that van through painfully slow stop and go traffic. His face was tense in the rear view mirror and we knew it wasn’t road rage he was battling. My husband whispered under his breath, “Do whatever you have to do to calm Grace down. I’m worried he is going to drop us off on the side of the road and never look back. “ There was the kind of pleading in his voice that let me know we were in desperate times. So, we ate through an entire bag of lollipops. Grace, me, our two precious biological children in the back seat just coping. Lollipops all around! As we eventually neared the airport, our bio daughter calmly and gracefully puked in a plastic bag. She essentially summed up that drive in one grand expulsive gesture. We stepped out of the van, grateful that we had not been abandoned on the side of the road and that we were alive. 

And not in jail.


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Once we checked into the hotel at the Hong Kong airport and finally settled in our room to sleep, it was close to midnight. Our crew of 5 people lined up like sardines in the little Chinese beds and we crammed a crib into a tiny open space for our new little daughter. My husband and I had to walk across the beds to get to the window or bathroom, as the space was crammed with furniture, crib, suitcases and bags. Literally no walking space – like a human game of Frogger where the parents are the frogs trying not to step on small children. So we slept.

We slept until around 2am when we heard the sound of our oldest daughter vomiting in her sleep. She was so tired and she was completely unaware of the projectile vomit going everywhere – bed, pillow, wall, floor – you name it, it was there. We jumped out of bed and sat her upright, then tag team Frogger carried her to the bathroom, stepping across beds and children. Once there, she began to cry, not because she was encased in vomit, but because she just wanted to sleep. And my husband and I just stood there looking at each other. 

That’s when the “crazy town” gets scary. When two people who always know what to do, who are generally not affected and steady – just. stare. In silence. With a vomit dripping child between them. And then my husband said it. 

“I don’t know what to do.” 

There was panic in his eyes – this man is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force; a cancer surgeon who is not phased in high stress moments and there was shear panic in that little hotel bathroom.   Without stopping to acknowledge how his words sent me into a panic, I said resolutely, not breathing through my nose, “We are going to pray, we are going to get back up prayer, we are bathing her and we are getting out of here alive.” A group text was sent that probably read something like, “Daughter covered in vomit, vomit everywhere, scary vomit that needs to stop – please pray.” 

We put our oldest daughter in the bathtub, pajamas and all, and proceeded to clean her up. I remember reaching for the ruined pajamas to discard and crazy eyes husband in a scary whisper voice saying, “DO NOT throw those away. We will place them in a plastic bag (more vomit than pjs by this time) and clean them at home. It will mark that we actually made it. These are her favorite.” I knew better than to argue with irrational crazy eyes and gingerly balled them up into a bag and sealed them shut. 

She was Frogger-carried back in the bed and we proceeded to get two more hours of sleep before our alarm went off around 6:00am. By an act of Providence, our newly adopted daughter slept through the night. 

In the light of day, that hotel room looked like a combination of Bunker Hill and some sort of gross alien attack. Our daughter had been placed at the foot of the bed after her bath and several pillows stacked on top of and in between where she previously was and where her brother lay oblivious to it all, so that he would not roll into the pit of doom. We surveyed our damage and decided it was completely pointless to try and fix it. We instructed our children, you speak of this to no one. And then crazy eyes husband whispered low, “If we all have a stomach virus, your mission is to get on that plane and in the air before throwing up. You hold it in and get airborne and then I don’t care if we all puke the entire way to America. We are going home. We are making it home. Just get on that plane looking normal.”

We got on the plane. We made it home and thankfully by what I’m convinced was some major intercession on our behalf, no one else got sick and our daughter was fine as well. It’s probably a good thing that we feel our family is complete because I am convinced that our mug shots are on display throughout most of Hong Kong. Security footage likely exists of us carefully tip toeing out of that miserable room, over the hazardous waste that was expelled from our child and never looking back. I imagine figures like those in the movie ET were called in to completely strip the area, white suits and all, angry at the Americans who did God knows what in that room. 

God knows what we did. We just made it and made it home. 

And we are indefinitely banned from the Hong Kong airport hotel.   

Note: I write this to offer hope and transparency to anyone traveling currently or preparing to travel. As people we love to hear about beautiful weddings and perfect pregnancies and  baby deliveries, but we so appreciate when someone gives us the gory details of what can really happen. We try not laugh and we feel better in the midst of our own “crazy town” that we too can make it, because others walked it and survived. So, I giggle as I write this, remembering our journey home. I’m laughing now. Because I didn’t go to jail. 

it’s my birthday and I want to do something wonderful. join me.

July 3, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

This is a post from my personal blog. But I’m sharing here because it’s my birthday, and you’re my friends, too. And I think you have as much of a heart for the fatherless as I do. So welcome to a little birthday party, friend.


I love it when it’s my birthday, because I get to do special stuff. Ask for special stuff. And usually, because I’m the birthday girl, I get what I ask for.

Last year I asked y’all to join us in celebrating a new little one who would be joining our family. (Can you believe it’s just been a year?) And before that I asked y’all to join me in supporting a sweet friend in bringing her daughter home.

And you’ve never disappointed. You love others in a big, beautiful way.

So here I am again, on my birthday, asking for something. But this year, I’m giving something, too.

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So what am I giving?

Six So Loved shirts. (Already have one? Give one – I’ll send one to whoever you choose with a US address.)

What am I asking for?

Help spreading the word about So Loved.

Help raising funds for broken-hearted babies.

Help raising awareness about orphans and orphan-prevention.

Help shining a light on the amazing work Meredith and her team are doing at Morning Star Foster Home.

SoLovedClementine-4


The fundraising cycle for Morning Star Foster Home and So Loved is coming to a close. July 31st is the date we have set to end the So Loved fundraising year.

It’s also the date we’ll tally up the totals and grin from ear to ear thinking about the little one at Morning Star Foster Home that will be blessed by the funds that have been generated by the sales of So Loved. And the date we thank God for the big-hearted people who have come alongside us in this adventure to love the broken-hearted in a big way, even halfway around the world.

It is also the date we would have celebrated my beautiful girl’s 6th birthday, if her heart had not been broken.

SoLovedClementine-8


So we’ve got 4 weeks to kick this thing into gear. The store is stocked up in girls’ sizes 4, 6, 8 and 10. And women’s sizes fitted S, M, L and XL as well as classic sizes S, L, XL and 2XL.

Clementine is wearing a 4 in these pictures and at all of 31″ and 21 pounds, I think she’s pretty much killin’ it, so even if you have a little one, they can probably still rock the So Loved for Morning Star.

SoLovedClementine-11


So what do I want for my birthday? Join me.

1. Take a picture of yourself or your kiddos in their So Loved tee, or, if you’re shy or don’t have a So Loved yourself (yet!) you can download and use one of the images here.

2. Share it on FB or Instagram and tag it with BOTH #solovedtee and #msfh (for Morning Star Foster Home) along with a bit about So Loved (why you bought yours or what it means to you or what each purchase goes towards etc).

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The fun will run for one week – now through July 10th at midnight EST. At that time I’ll randomly select three winners who have shared on FB and three winners who have shared on IG. Entries must be of the So Loved design, include a comment about So Loved and have both hashtags – so be sure to tag your posts properly. I can only ship to US addresses.

If your Instagram account is private, be sure to let me know you’ve shared by commenting on one of the So Loved posts on my IG account.

You can share as many So Loved images as you’d like, for as many entries as you’d like. And if you post to both FB and IG, you’ll have twice the chance at winning and, even better, you’ll have shared with twice as many people who might have their eyes and hearts opened to the orphan. And who knows what the Lord might do with that.

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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Psalm 147:3-5

I’m Ready to Adopt: Choosing an Agency (Part 9)

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Today we’re back with our I’m Ready To Adopt series with the ninth in a 10 post mini-series by Kelly – who blogs at Mine In China – on How To Choose An Agency. You can find links to the previous posts here.   Grants, Fundraising, and Understanding the Business Side of Agencies   Finances are an important consideration for many parents. Few …Read More

what we’re reading: 7.2.15

July 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

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It is our pleasure to bring you another episode of What We’re Reading. We have a long list of traveling family blogs to share with you. These people are becoming lovingly acquainted with the heat of summer in Guangzhou and other regions of China, Lord bless them all! Thank you to everyone who shared their …Read More

The China Trip: a Tip a Day

July 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

GTCNHBO

As much as I hate to see the end of our June feature, I can’t wait to begin our July/August Feature: Going to China! We will cover all things China-trip related: packing, traveling, gotcha day, orphanage care vs. foster care and setting realistic expectations. We’ll even have some fun Q and A posts from the NHBO contributor team. …Read More

The Simplicity of Prosthesis

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

That would probably not have been our reaction if you would have told us seven years ago that we would have multiple pairs of prosthetic legs in our house. In early 2009, we were researching China’s special needs adoptions after adopting twice through the non-special needs program. Some of the special needs just looked too …Read More

Who Would Want a Dad Like Me?

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 9 Comments

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Finishing up our June Feature, Let’s Hear it For Dads, with a post by Mike, a former (and much-missed!) regular contributor. We at NHBO enjoyed this series so much that we are working on bringing in more “dad” voices. Because dads are awesome, too. So grateful that Mike agreed to share this wit and wisdom with …Read More

find my family: Lenny

June 30, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

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Precious little Lenny is 1 year old and is listed as a special focus file with Lifeline through an orphanage partnership. his special need is postoperative CHD. Lenny is a handsome little boy! When his caregivers speak to him he will smile and laugh! He can hold his own bottle and feed himself a biscuit …Read More

Let’s Hear it for the Dads

June 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

mandy

Baba. Daddy. Dad. Your name is worthy of celebration. You are worthy of celebration.   Your name is powerful. For our children, your name means comfort, safety, strength. Perhaps you were the daddy that our child was scared of, and so lovingly and patiently, you pursued our little one. It took time, lots of time …Read More

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