find my family: Rion

March 2, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Adorable and handsome Rion recently turned 8. He is waiting for a family on the shared list and he is diagnosed as having postoperative cleft lip and palate and epilepsy. As of Dec. 2011 he has stopped the medication he was taking for his epilepsy and it sounds as if he has not had any seizures since.


Rion is very active and personable boy. He is in first grade now. At first he struggled with sitting still and with his homework, but with patient guidance he has been improving in those areas. His favorite subjects are physical education, music, and art. Rion is described as an active and restless boy. He is extroverted and mild tempered. His speech is not clear because of his cleft lip and palate, but has no problem in daily communication. He is polite and mature. He gets along well with other kids and he is willing to help other kids too. When learning new concepts, his teachers need to explain slowly and repeat several times.


Rion adapts quickly to the outside environment and would not be nervous in a strange environment. He likes to run and jump and likes toys like Ultraman. Rion is attached to his ‘mother.’ He proudly says “this is my mother” when introducing her to others. He likes his aunts, uncles and other kids in the institute. He likes when the aunts and uncles take him and the other kids out to play. He is willing to be adopted and hopes he will have a forever family.


Since Rion is on the shared list he can be adopted by a family working with any agency. Contact the Advocacy Team for more information.

How Children’s Books Helped My Family

March 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Dr. Karyn Purvis said, “If you didn’t teach your child something then don’t assume he knows or understands it.” We have found this to be very true in our family.

When my daughter joined our family last year, people were often curious about how her English language was progressing. Some assumed this would be the challenging aspect of our adoption. For us, teaching her English was the easy part. What was not so easy was teaching her that the skills she needed to survive in an orphanage were really different than the skills she needed to thrive outside of an orphanage setting. We also struggled teaching her concepts like what it meant to have a mommy and daddy and what a family was. Instead of really focusing on acquiring the English language (which happened quickly), our focus was on teaching our daughter the language and ways of family (which takes more time). That’s where we had to be intentional. Over the past year, I have come to appreciate the power of children’s books and play to help our family as we attach and bond. Lots of us talk and write about our favorite attachment and bonding books for an adult audience, however today’s post is about my daughter’s favorite children’s books that helped our family bond and attach.


Before my daughter understood or spoke much English, we made a picture book of my husband and I doing nurturing and fun activities with our daughter (recommended in the book, Attaching in Adoption by Gray). Every photo was of us together. Our daughter was resistant to nurture for many months, so we had to get creative with the photos we included. One page in the book was a photo of me putting a bandaid on her “owie”, one page was of my daughter asleep in my husband’s arms, another was a photo of me pushing her in a swing, and another was of me feeding her gummy bears (her personal favorite). Many times throughout the day and during high anxiety moments, my daughter would reach for this book. This simple book was a reminder to her that we are fun and we take care of her. We made several copies of this book for just a couple of dollars at our local drugstore’s photo development center.

One of my daughter’s favorite books is My Mommy from the Disney Baby Animals Stories 12 Book Block. Although the book is very simple and small, it was a helpful tool to help her understand that I will take care of her. The words in the book have become a powerful script my daughter recites daily. “My mommy feeds me,” “My mommy keeps me safe and warm,” and “My mommy loves to cuddle” are the phrases I will hear her recite several times per day. When my daughter was resistant to nurture, we turned this into a time to play what we saw in the book, making sure to only do what my daughter was comfortable with. But, this was a great opportunity to demonstrate nurture with play.

Mommy Hugs by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben is another favorite. We read this book each night at bedtime, and my daughter loves to act it out with me. The book shows different mommy animals hugging their baby animal and ends with a human mother and child hugging. Each time I hug her the way the mommy animal does, my daughter responds affectionately and says, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” The author also wrote Daddy Cuddles and Daddy Kisses.


My daughter Lydia and I are extremely excited about a new series of books by licensed clinical social worker and author Cindy R. Lee. I first learned about Cindy from hearing great things about The Halo Project she helps lead in Oklahoma. Cindy’s children’s books teach important concepts developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. Richard Cross’ Trust-Based Relation Intervention (for more on TBRI, see the book The Connected Child and these NHBO posts: TBRI part 1, TBRI part 2 and TBRI part 3. TBRI is often recommended as a helpful tool for adoptive and foster families.

Each book teaches parent and child an important Trust-Based Relation Intervention concept or script. For the parent, the book includes a one page summary of the concept. Although I regularly spend time watching the TBRI DVDs and reading and re-reading The Connected Child, I have found Cindy’s summaries and examples to be helpful. The book also includes one page of teaching tips for parents. She includes a script that parents can use, discussion questions, a game to play with your child, and tips for real life implementation. The summary information and exercises are incredibly helpful, it would be a mistake to turn past these pages thinking it is only a book for children. Although my daughter is too young to understand the discussion questions, she absolutely loves the books and so do I. The illustrations are fun and colorful. The stories are educational, funny, and sweet. Even though the stories are written to teach the child an important concept, they remind me of important things I forget in the day to day. Unlike the other books I mentioned above, I think Cindy’s books are appropriate for a broad range of ages (like I mentioned before, I learn from it too).


To date, three children’s books by Cindy R. Lee have been published –

Baby Owl Lost Her Whoo — This book tells the story of a baby owl who was “left alone” and needs a mommy owl to show the baby owl what is best. The book covers concepts such as sticking together and in a gentle way reminds the child that the mommy owl is the boss. Every time we read this book, my daughter gives me a big hug and kiss and says she loves her mommy owl. This shows me that she really gets it. Also, this book gives me a gentle and playful way to engage and correct my daughter. For example, when my daughter cries and demands that she wants a cookie for breakfast and says, “Gimme a cookie right now!” I might say, “Whoa precious baby owl! Who is the mommy owl?” and I recite the line from the book about the mommy owl making sure the baby owl eats healthy food. Usually, this has helped my daughter even in the moment when it is hard to accept no…because let’s be honest, I also want a cookie for breakfast.

Doggie Doesn’t Know No — This book tells the story of a dog that is available for adoption. The dog used to be on his own, and once he is in a family, he has to learn what “no” means. This book has been so helpful for me and my daughter. Because of it, I have become more intentional about saying “yes” more throughout the day about inconsequential things that way she is more likely to accept no on the bigger things. It helped me realize our days were full of many “no, no, no’s” and that doesn’t help us connect.

It’s Tough to Be Gentle — This book tells the story of Rex, a dragon who is trying to learn how to be gentle and kind.

Another China adoptive mom and I have talked at length about how our daughter’s have positively responded to the books Cindy authored. We also wait with great anticipation for each book to be published. To read about the upcoming five book titles and the concepts they teach visit the author’s website.

So, what are some of your favorite children’s books that help with teaching your children about family and nurture or that help with bonding and attachment?

What We Know…

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We know that adoption is beautiful, don’t we? We know that it is a wonderful way to build a family. We also know that it can be painful, and scary, and even though it can most definitely be a dream come true, it can also hold many frightening unknowns…

We have three dreams come true, Three precious ones, ages 6, 4, and 2, who came to our family through the beauty and pain of adoption, and whom we cannot imagine our lives without. They are beautiful and even though they each came to us with their own set of unique medical needs, they have all three been perfect for our family.


Our oldest came to us at almost two and a half with a complex heart defect called Tetrology of Fallot (ToF), and double outlet right ventricle, with pulmonary atresia. What that means is that she had several holes in her heart, and because she didn’t get the surgery early in life her heart had grown to compensate. She was also missing her entire right ear (called microtia) and had profound hearing loss in both ears, for which she now wears a hearing aid in her left ear. She had surgery to repair her ToF four weeks after we got home, and she will have a second surgery in the next few years to replace her pulmonary valve. She has done amazingly well, and has come SO incredibly far in the four years she has been home.


Our son came to us at almost three years old, with unrepaired unilateral club foot, and was otherwise healthy.

And our baby came to us just four months ago… we were planning to “go easy” this time around, and “just take our time.” I know many of you can relate, ha!

But then we asked God to lead, to show us if we were meant to move out of our comfort zone. And it seemed we were… Every little one we came across, and every file we were drawn to had very complex CHD’s. When our agency sent us the file for this precious eighteen month old little girl, we were not surprised that she had complex CHD. We talked about it and made our decision in two hours… we had been doing our homework, talking to our oldest daughter’s cardiologist about different complex heart defects, and we knew what every scary diagnosis in her file meant…

So we went for it! We saw her file in April, and we travelled for her in September. She has single ventricle, single atrium, with a common valve. She has transposition of the great vessels, and pulmonary stenosis. She also has heterotaxy syndrome with asplenia, and a possible ciliary disfunction. She had a Glenn placed in China at five months old. We were hoping that she would have a Fontan, but upon coming home it was found that she was not a candidate because of high Glenn pressures.

She has been in the hospital four times since we brought her home, and she had her first surgery with us in January to repair a leaky valve and disconnect a pulmonary artery.

We don’t know what the future holds for our precious one…


But there are many things we do know.

We know we are in good company. The adoption community excels at supporting and coming alongside one another. We have been prayed for, and encouraged, and even brought to tears by the thoughtful emails and outpouring of love from this community.

We know that we are blessed… so blessed, and so honored to be chosen to be parents to these little ones, and to be their family.

We know that we will be pushed and pulled in new directions, and we know we will need to be strong, maybe stronger than we have ever needed to be, but we just might find that we are stronger than we even thought we were.


We know that we will need to be brave, and we know that we can do hard things.

We know these days will be hard, but they could just be the best days of our life, because they will be days filled with hope.

We know that this is what faith is about, this stepping out into an unknown that is out of our control.

We know that sometimes loving someone who will not outlive you can seem impossible, but we also know the God that makes all things possible, even this.

We know that adopting a child with complex, serious needs can and will stretch your family and your marriage and your peaceful calm, life…

But we also know that this, and these babies, will be totally worth it. And we would do this again in a heartbeat.

guest post by Joanna who blogs at The Crafty Nester

find my family: larry

February 28, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Larry was born in September 2012 and diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Sweet Larry was found in a hotel dustbin as a newborn and taken to the hospital. At that time he had a hematoma on his scalp and began treatment for jaundice after entering an orphanage. His hematoma resolved on its own but it …Read More

out of the darkness

February 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments


I don’t think I will ever be the mom who believes God’s original and best plan for my daughter was for her to be in my home. I realize that’s a controversial statement, and perhaps many of the people reading this will feel something bristle inside of them as they think about their own precious …Read More

Medical Needs and Marriage: Ten Tips

February 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments


You adopted a child with medical needs and the game changed. The Coach altered the playbook. The new little life in your family has your whole team scrambling to reorient themselves. You survived the stretching adoption process with its paperwork, lack of control, waiting and financial stress. You made it home, and you’d like to …Read More

I don’t get it.

February 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments


I get it. There was a big crisis. In 1979, facing a huge and growing population, Chinese government officials created the “family planning policy” as the solution. Things were turned upside down as families who years before had been encouraged to build China by adding to their family were now told they could have one …Read More

find my family: Samantha

February 24, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Stunning Samantha is 11 years old. She is diagnosed with cerebral palsy with leg muscles weakness. She has been working hard to build her strength and while she does have difficulty walking, she can now walk up and down stairs while holding on to a railing! While she loves to learn, because of her delays …Read More

“Normal” Ain’t Got Nothin On This

February 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

As we continue through February, the month of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness, we continue to share posts from moms parenting children with heart defects. Our goal is to inform and equip those considering or home with children with this special need by sharing the real-life experiences of those already parenting a child (or children) with …Read More

find my family: Henry from Bethel

February 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Bethel’s adorable Henry is quiet at first but loves nothing more than to be on an adult’s lap for a cuddle. He likes to sing songs about animals and cars. He loves playing with balls and loves running and listening to music. Happy Henry has the most amazing smile. When he smiles, his entire face …Read More