Find My Family: Gary

May 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

We have a treat for you today, a precious and sweet little boy.

Two year old Gary is a handsome little boy born in September 2013!


He was a tiny little guy when he was found and so assumed to be premature (3 lb). He has a sensitive special need for which he has had surgery for (there are pictures in his file). He required special feeding and oxygen at birth. His heart is normal but does have some mild mitral regurgitation. His development was delayed, which is normal for a preemie, especially one who had medical procedures early in life. He was sitting up around 9 months, crawling at 18 months, and standing with assistance at 23 months. He can say simple words and understand simple directions.


He has good physical development. His caretakers like him very much and describe him as smart, active, quick in response, and fond of listening to music. He especially likes to ride a small wooden horse and laughs happily when he is held! What an amazingly cute little boy!


His file is assigned to BAAS, please contact them to review his file. He will make a wonderful addition to any family!


In the Quiet Moment

May 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

On March 20, 2009 I spent the quiet moments of nap-time looking at waiting child programs with various adoption agencies. Home from China just four months with our second child, we weren’t ready to expand our family just yet, but as a planner I wanted to have ‘all my ducks in a row’ for when the time came.

I did not realize it at the time, but my actions that day would soon change the makeup of our family. One search took me to a waiting child list and as I scrolled down, I saw the ‘slightly blurred for privacy reasons’ photo of a chubby baby girl. Keep in mind that when I saw it, this photo was blurred, but somehow she looked familiar; and I felt as if I had been looking for her for a long time.


Her information was sparse, listing a birthdate, the fact that she was a smiley baby, and a diagnosis of ‘neurocutaneous syndrome‘, which was something that was completely unfamiliar to me. A quick Google search lead to much confusion, as well as some very scary terms, but then there was that face… So I sent an email to my husband that read something like, “All I ask is that you look at her information and pray…there is something about her.”

In the weeks that followed, after getting more information and contacting several specialists, it was determined that her specific neurocutaneous syndrome was likely Sturge-Weber Syndrome. Up until this point I had never even heard of SWS, so the learning curve was high. What we found is that Sturge-Weber is a relatively rare syndrome presenting with several common symptoms and a huge window of severity. The following information from the Sturge-Weber Foundation’s website gives the best summary I’ve seen.

“SWS has no clear genetic pattern, and two affected individuals almost never arise in the same family. The syndrome presents in all races and with equal frequency in both sexes. Port wine birthmarks occur in 3 of 1000 newborns.

In a patient with a facial port wine birthmark, the overall risk of having SWS is only about 8% to 15%. The risk of having SWS increases to 25% when half of the face, including the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve is involved and rises to 33% when both sides of the face, including the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve are involved.

Seizures occur in 72% to 80% of SWS patients with unilateral brain lesions and in 93% of patients with bihemispheric involvement. Seizures can begin anytime from birth to adulthood, but 75% of those with seizures begin having them during the first year of infancy, 86% by age 2, and 95% before age 5.

Glaucoma occurs in 30% to 71% of patients.”

We spoke with a local neurologist who previously ran a Sturge-Weber clinic, one of the nation’s leading pediatric glaucoma specialists, a highly recommended dermatologist known in the area for treating facial port wine stains, and a fellow adoptive mother from our area’s adoption group.

Basically we came to realize that moving forward was going to require a leap of faith because from the limited information available to us, it was difficult to tell exactly where this little one fell on the spectrum. We could see the port wine stain, and glaucoma was highly suspected, but the information from the MRI that had been done left the neurologist scratching his head due to the vocabulary used to describe the images that someone across the world had interpreted. Basically he told us that while the information that no seizures had been recorded to date was promising, there were some confusing terms in the MRI report and he wasn’t sure if lesions on the brain were being confirmed or denied.

I think the turning point in our decision was speaking with our pediatrician, one who realizes that there is an Ultimate Healer. As he reviewed what limited information we had and painted a picture from best case to worst case scenario for us, he shared some words that moved me profoundly: “…just remember that you are not considering adopting a condition, you are considering adopting a child, THIS child. Pray, and if God gives you peace, then He will give you what you need to parent THIS child, whatever the road brings…” And so it was after much prayer that we were led to the decision to make her a part of our family.

Exactly 11 months from the day after I first saw her picture, we walked into a cold civil affairs office in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and there she was.

Our daughter.

I was smitten at first sight, but my sweet girl, at not quite three years old, was already self conscious of what we have come to refer to as her ‘red cheek.’ When she began ducking her head and trying to hide from us I came undone, but by the end of our time together we began to see glimpses of the girl to come, and she went from shy and avoiding the limelight to a little girl willing to strike a pose for the camera.


We arrived home on a Thursday night and hit the ground running with appointments. Monday to the pediatrician, Tuesday to ophthalmology, Wednesday neurology, and Thursday dermatology. In that first week we learned that she had advanced glaucoma in her right eye, we’d begin treatments for her port wine stain in the fall, there was no apparent brain involvement in her case, and she was “unofficially” diagnosed with Type II Sturge-Weber Syndrome (meaning the port wine stain and glaucoma were present but with no detected brain involvement).

Within her first month home she had her first eye surgery to help alleviate the high pressure in her eye. Six months later was the first pulse-dye laser treatment for her port wine stain. Going forward there would be two more eye surgeries, and to date she is in the 20s for number of laser treatments (I’ve honestly lost count). She has a daily regimen of three different types of glaucoma eye drops. With her eye, skin, and craniofacial orthodontist appointments (her complex ortho case is most likely related to tissue overgrowth in her jaw area due to the port wine stain) we drive to Duke at least once a month, but it is manageable…most days she’s just another third grader.

It was about a year after she was home and settled that I was contacted by an adoption advocate who asked if I would be willing to help as she advocated for another little girl with the same condition. Her adorable little face tugged at my heart, and while we were getting ready to travel to bring home our fourth child, I agreed to be a resource for people with questions about Sturge-Weber.

I emailed, texted, Facebook messaged, and spoke on the phone with a number of families, but none of them were fully at peace with making her a part of their family, and about 18 months later it became apparent why…because she belonged in our family.

Afterall, we knew the symptoms, we had the doctors lined up, and we had a girl who had once asked for a sister “with a red cheek like me.”

Fourteen months later, we were in Changsha, Hunan Province becoming a family of seven, and just a few months after that we began our double appointments at Duke.


Yes, the medical appointments are many. Yes, we are on a first name basis with several specialists at Duke Children’s Hospital and I have their personal cell phone numbers stored in my contacts. But beyond all of that, they are your “everyday girls” and an integral part of our family.

We realized early on that Sturge-Weber Syndrome is one aspect that describes our little girls, but it is NOT what defines them. One is a free spirit, brilliant, loves art, a good friend, loyal, a dancer who gets lost in books. The other is our firecracker, a take charge gal, a math whiz with an amazing imagination, a limit pusher, and in the rare moments that she slows down enough, the world’s best snuggler.

Both just happen to have SWS and we wouldn’t change a thing.

-guest post by Kristi

He Knows

May 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Who knew ​this momma – who had once upon a time envisioned life with my husband to include ​a couple of ​children, a spacious home, and (of course!) many family vacations to tropical destinations​ – would instead​ learn (​and ​daily​ re-learn)​ that the path to the​ purest​ peace and the greatest joy​ is to​ yield to God’s ​plans​ and purpose ​for my life rather than my own?​

​God ​knew.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”
Psalm 143:10a

Who knew ​that eight​ years ago, after ​a ​second heartbreaking ​​ultrasound of yet another lifeless, perfectly formed baby​ in the second trimester, God would conduct life-saving surgery on my heart? Who knew that I would reach the end of myself and, by His ​mercy, fall through an opening​ in the safety net of control I’d been ​residing in for so long? Who know that when I fell, I would land in the open ​Arms of Grace and become a soul surrender-er and a grace-receiver and truly, ​for the first time, ​begin to understand what it looks like​ and feels like​ to truly walk in freedom?

The One who saves knew.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” ​Galatians 5:1

​Who knew that shortly after that season of heart refinement and soul surgery​, God would open our eyes to the reality of the orphan crisis by ​leading us​ to His Word and ​His call to us as Christians​ to love and​ care for them, and ultimately​,​​ ​open our​ hearts to ​adoption​?​

The Father to the Fatherless knew.

“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6

Who knew that every time we’d pra​y​​ eagerly and believe we were ready to begin the process, we’d ​inexplicably lack peace ​and instead​,​ quietly tuck paperwork away only to hear ​the Lord say, “T​rust Me?” And ​who knew that during this​ exact season​ of waiting​ and praying​, a ​tiny​ ​baby boy would be born on the other side​ of the globe who was known, seen, loved, and set apart​ by ​his Abba, Father​ to become our​ son ​one day?

​The All Knowing One ​knew.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord… “to give you a future and a hope.” ​Jeremiah 29:11

Who knew that in the meantime​ there would be a season of​​ surprise and​ ​joy​ as we welcomed the birth of a new​ baby​? And​,​ only​ ​a​ short time later​,​ that there would be​ a season of gut-wrenching grief​ ​as we​ ​watched my ​beautiful mother – my children’s beloved grandmother​ – ​suffer with ​pancreatic cancer until the Lord carried​ her home​?

The ​One who is our Comforter ​knew.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b​

“He heals the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

Who kne​w​ tha​t​​ almost exactly ​five years after our first ​prayer​ seeking God’s heart for our family with regard to ​adoption​, I would unwittingly stumble across a ​photo​ of a​ little boy​ who would steal my heart​ immediately, and I would know he was the son we had been praying for all these years​?


The Faithful One knew.

“I called upon You; for You will answer me, Oh God​.​” Psalm 17:6

​Wh​o knew that ​all those​ years of​ heartfelt prayers​ and saying that we trusted God,​ we would still struggle​​ to believe? “​First of all,​ he’s in China​, Lord​.​ ​H​ow could we ever afford the ado​ption costs? ​Not to mention, we fall short of the income requirements​. ​And, by the way, we were okay with one special need but not a list that includes words we cannot pronounce or understand​. This was not the child we were expecting.​ Our hands are pretty full already, so they say. ​How will this potentially affect our other children? Are you sure? You know ​we have no idea what we’re doing, righ​t?​ Now?​??​”

​The ​Savior ​who beckons us out of the boat knew. ​​

“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Luke 8:50​

Who knew that China allows waivers,​ and ​when we finally took that first timid step​ out onto that Ocean of Unknowns​, ​our hearts would overflow with peace?

​The Prince of Peace knew.

​”Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7​

Who knew that ​we’d desperately desire to hop on the next flight to China, that ​12 months ​could feel like 12 years, ​and that our hearts would ache for years lost and birthdays missed​? Who knew ​we’d ​have to ​learn that patience coincides with perseverance as we ​navigated trenches of paperwork, social worker visits, and adoptive parenting classes, books, and blogs?​

The One who sits on the throne knew.

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrew 4:16

Who ​knew that when God ​told us​ to have the faith of a chi​ld, He meant it? ​Who knew our kids would willingly sell the family camping trailer, lemonade​, and ​homemade ​necklaces and voluntarily hand over​ their​ humble life savings​ in eager anticipation to help bring their brother home? Who knew ​that the ​seed​s​ of faith God planted in our family woul​d ​be watered and flourish​ ​as​ He​ ​faithfully ​provided every penny​ we prayed for ​through adoption grants and the generosity ​of cheerful givers​ who answered God’s call to care for orphans?


The​ ​One who ​Provid​es​ knew.

“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:27

Who knew that ​after that long year of heart​s prepared​, funds provided, and seas parted​, ​this​ Momma, who was so confident in Christ’s calling, would quietly squirm in ​my ​seat on ​a ​China​ ​bound plane ​a​s​ the enemy of ​our soul​s ​would​ attempt to launc​h​ one last​-ditch​ sneak attack ​​on ​my​ joy ​with missiles of doubt, fear, and inadequacy​?
​ ​
The ​Voice​ of Truth ​k​new.

And we know therefore, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Who knew that faith causes fear of the unknown to flee, and obedience causes joy that knows no bounds? ​​And who knew our hearts would burst with love for our new son,​ and​ at the same time, we would​ wonder what we had done, all the while, traveling through China, overwhelmed with a fresh gratitude for the Gospel ​of Grace and the miracle of our own adoption as His sons and daughters through the life-saving blood work of Jesus Christ on the cross?

​The Grace Giver knew.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Who knew​ we would come home and make many trips back and forth to doctors and​ that our other children would actually enjoy tagging along with their little bro​ther​, cheering him on along the way? And who knew God would weave together a ​special and​ ​beautiful​ bond between ​one of our bio kids, who had been ​anything but ​excited​ about a new family member​, and our​ adopted son​?​

​The​ Redeemer ​k​new.

“And we​ know that in all things, God works together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28​

Who knew there would be some truly miraculous days when we’d ​marvel at God’s heart-mending work​ in our son​ and how far he’s come​,​ only to ​hit our knees the next, pleading with God ​for His patience​, ​strength​, grace, wisdom, power, mercy and peace to ​parent this child, who has been through so much in his short life, one day, one step at a time?

​The All Powerful One knew​.

“​And He said, ​’My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

​Who knew that when a well-meaning person would mention, “He’s so lucky,” we’d internally cringe ​and quietly respond, “No, no, we are the ones who are blessed,” because we know the truth of our inadequacies, and it’s only by​ God pouring out His ​grace​ upon grace​​ over us that we ​have been given the gift of parenting this precious little
​ ​
The ​Giver of every good gift ​knew.

“​For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.​” John 1:16​

And ​who knows what will happen if there ​is a dark day ahead​ and we ​begin to sink, forgetting to look straight ahead with our eyes on Him​ for every decision, every challenge, every victory, every breath,​ and ​we ​suddenly​ find ourselves​ cr​ying​ out ​to Him in desperation?​

The One who never leaves and never forsakes knows.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Who knows what​ the future holds, and who knows what words we will give when​ our precious son asks ​the inevitable ​questions we simply cannot answer?


The ​One in Whom our identity is found knows.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me.” Psalm 14-16
​ ​
The One who is writing a beautiful story in each one of us knows.


​”For I am confident of this ver​y thing, that He who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippian​s​ 1:6

-guest post by Joanna
Instagram: @rangerwife4

Large Families: the Good, the Bad, the Blessing (part two)

May 19, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


Today we continue with the second post of our two-part series featuring Large Families. This mom of six shares some fun, creative, and pragmatic ideas that will help us all (whatever the size of our family) to keep things running smoothly. You can find part-one here. I’d like to share some of the things we’ve …Read More

Aging Out Waiting Child: Wren

May 18, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Wren is described as active and smart. He likes outdoor activities and gets along with others well. He has lots of friends. Wren is also described as sensible, obedient, and innocent. He greet whoever he meets politely. He can usually answer questions others cannot. Wren is a bit shorter than his peers, but he is …Read More

Find My Family: Henry

May 16, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Henry RK

Meet Henry, age 4.5. He was abandoned on the day of his birth. Henry underwent a successful surgery last summer for hypospadias and is also diagnosed with cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), but he does have normal bowel and bladder control. He was initially labeled with disorder of sexual development, but the orphanage says they are certain …Read More


May 15, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

HoldingHands_FatherChild 2

I love Jesus. I love His simplicity. I love how easily He puts things into perspective. I love how when all the religious leaders wanted to prove Him wrong, false, and even sinful that His answers were never hour long oratories. Simple, concise. Believe and follow or don’t. Often I find myself in the midst …Read More

The Blessings of an Unknown Road

May 13, 2016 by nohandsbutours 19 Comments


Let me start by saying I am an ordinary middle aged woman living an ordinary life but just happen to have five extraordinary children, three of whom are adopted. My children have forever changed my life. My oldest son is 31 with a beautiful wife and two precious children of his own. My second oldest …Read More


May 11, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


We did everything backwards. After watching our best friends adopt two girls from China, my husband and I were very open to adoption. However, we are both “take it slow” kind of people so it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I felt ready to build our family through adoption. My husband? He …Read More

Find My Family: Trent

May 10, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Trent is a gorgeous little boy waiting for his forever family to see him! Trent is newly listed with Madison Adoption Associates. He is three years old and is diagnosed with ankle joint contracture of both knees; reduced muscular tension. His file states that after admission, he was given symptomatic and supportive treatment and received …Read More

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