All About Love

February 13, 2013 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so let’s talk about LOVE! One of my favorite subjects!

Some say, “Actions speak louder than words.” In some cases, that may be true. But we must never underestimate the power of words.

When we meet our adopted children for the first time, we always say I love you lots and lots and lots. They may not understand what it means, but we know eventually they WILL understand. We want to make sure they hear us express our love, and so we express it LOTS!

Over the first few months home (and really forever….), we hug them as much as each child will let us, we kiss, we smile, we listen…we do all the love “actions”, but we pair those actions with words of affection, too.

“I love you”

It’s said over and over and over.

Our recently adopted children have been home a little over a year now. Our three year old, Crickett, knows she’s loved! She can hear it. She sees it. And recently, I know she FEELS loved. How do I know?

Well, when she walks in my room, and I smile and give her a wordless hug….she says,

“I love you too, Mommy”

Notice I hadn’t told her, “I love you Crickett”

I didn’t have to.

She felt the love.

Isn’t that precious?

Happy Valentine’s Day, and may you all hear, see, and feel lots of love!!!!!



#1 Sign

January 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

Here is the Number One Sign that you need to re-clarify the similarities between adopted and birth children:

When your 5 year old sits next to an adult visitor at church and promptly asks him,

“Did you come from a belly?”

Well, Kevin. As a matter of fact, we ALL came from bellies. Time to have another one of those conversations! :) I am sure many of you have similar stories to share!



Adopting Two with the Same Special Need

December 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

Our first four adopted children from China have all had completely different special needs: radial club hands, cl/cp, bi-lateral microtia, and CHD.

Our 5th adoption was our 5 year old Keith, who has radial club hands like our 7 year old daughter from China. When we saw his picture and his hands, we were amazed at how they looked just like Kimmie’s hands! We had experienced first-hand the blessing of adopting a child with this “special need” (which in our opinion, is not a special need!!!!!) and so we plunged forward to bring him home.

When Keith and Kimmie met, they were kindred spirits.

Call me crazy, but I swear there has been a sweet spring in Kimmie’s step that had not been there before.

It has been such a wonderful thing for them to have each other! I know as they get older, they will verbalize even more their true emotions about living with this special need, and about what it is like to have a sibling with the same hands. They are both young now, and about as far as we get in talking to them about this is “I like that Keith has hands like me”. Not profound or wordy. Just truth!

And so we are doing it again. God has blessed us with a little boy who Candie says, “has an ear like mine!” When we started out adopting, we never planned on adopting children with the same special need. We didn’t sit down and say, “Okay, for our next adoption, let’s find a child who has *this* special need, so that “so and so” can have a buddy.” (I’m not saying that’s bad if someone does that! I’m not saying that at all!!!!) I guess what I AM saying is that God knew who He wanted in our family. He knows! And He has a plan for EVERY life, and for EVERY family.

What a privilege to get to be a part of His plan!!!!!



730 Days

August 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

“Stick ‘em up, heart cath…”

Kevin joined our family in February 2010 with pulmonary hypertension, single ventricle, heterotaxy, VSD, and a few other heart anomalies.

Before we brought Kevin home, we knew there was a possibility that he would not be a candidate for a heart repair surgery. Just a few weeks after arriving home, it was confirmed that his pulmonary hypertension was indeed too severe to sustain a heart repair surgery. Thankfully his surgeons implanted a BT shunt to redirect blood flow from his lungs to try to decrease his lung pressures.

730 days ago, Kevin had a heart cath to see if the BT shunt had done its job.

Were his lung pressures low enough for surgery?

They were not.

But they were lower than before, praise God.

And so we were sent home to let Kevin live life and wait.

Not to live life as Kevin, a little 3 year old with a complicated heart, but as Kevin, a little 3 year old who loves to play hard and be silly and talk much and sing even more. (and maybe aggravate a few siblings just for good measure. :)

The past 730 days we have gone in for echo-cardiograms every six months to see if there are any significant changes.

There have not been any….until this past June. :)

Kevin’s oxygen had increased from lower 80s to the mid 80s. His heart looked good and strong on the echo.

And so our doctor thinks its time.

Time to check those lung pressure numbers.

So 730 days since his last heart cath, exactly TWO YEARS to the day,

Kevin will have another heart cath.

Will his lung pressures be low enough for surgery?

God knows.

It’s been a wonderful 730 days. I’m not gonna lie, when you don’t have a heart cath staring you in the face, it’s easy to slip into the land of denial, forgetting that we have a son with a serious heart condition.

Thankfully, we don’t face this alone. He is with us. He never leaves us. And ya know what? He loves Kevin more than we can imagine.

God’s will is always best. ALWAYS! So that’s why we’re praying for His will in Kevin’s life.



The Bed

July 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

I love my bed, don’t you love your bed? Think about it for a minute. When you’ve been out of town for awhile, don’t you just look forward to your OWN BED? There’s just nothing else like it. And oh, that first night back in your bed after you’ve been away on a trip? You know the feeling…you sink in with that warm “home” feeling. Eyes close before you even hit the pillow.

Our 5 year old, Keith, was adopted from China last November. Eight months since he’s slept in the bed. That bed. The bed he had slept in all of his life minus his first six months. That bed. The bed that held that warm “home” feeling.

Has he missed it? You better believe it. I know I would too. Can you imagine? He has missed every little thing about China. He doesn’t want to go back to live there, make no mistake. But he DOES want to take US back to sleep in HIS bed. In a way, that is so sweet it makes me smile to type it. And in another way, it makes me cry.

Each day, he talks of China and his “Nai Nai” (foster grandmother) a *little* less and less…but not much less. He is passionate about his life in China. He loved it. And he loves this life in America too. He has an amazing resiliency and easy-going personality. Yet I have been patiently waiting for our home and his room and his “new” bed to feel like “home.”

Recently we had to go out of town for a week. Upon arriving home, everyone was busy getting their things out of the van, unpacking, etc. But Keith? He was wallowing and rolling in his bed. As soon as I walked in his room and saw him, he declared, “I MISSED MY BED, MAMA!”

Yes, the bed. THAT bed. The bed has gained its honor, folks! (and a boy has gained his forever home) Hallelujah for the warm “home” feeling of a bed!



A Birthday Fully Enjoyed

June 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

I remember 5 years ago on May 26th, 2007. I was at my niece’s graduation camping experience with my entire family. We were having the time of our lives. Biking, hiking, roasting marshmallows, swimming, talking, sharing…it was a wonderful day!

Except for that deep void I felt in my heart. That sadness that made me want to cry, despite the fun we were having.

I was missing somebody that day. Someone who had captured my heart and who God had made to be my daughter.

She was in a foster home in Wuhan, China. And it was her 2nd birthday.

I had so wanted to be able to have her in my arms on her birthday! My heart ached!

Thankfully, just two months later, I DID have her in my arms…sweet Kimmie. (and her brother Quan!) and of course, God’s timing was perfect.

So on May 26th, 2012, we celebrated Kimmie’s 7th birthday, and her 5th birthday with us. And let me tell you, I treasure our birthdays with Kimmie just as much as I did the first year we were together!

I asked Kimmie if she wanted me to wake her up extra early, when the sun woke up. I told her we could go on the beach together, just the two of us, and hunt for seashells. She was DELIGHTED.

At 6:20 a.m. on her 7th birthday, I gently shook her to wake her up, and immediately she grinned a HUGE grin and got right up. We had a special time together…momma and daughter and Jesus. As we walked along the shore, I couldn’t help but reflect on this amazing girl God has given to us. She picked up the smallest of seashells with ease, despite her radial club hands. She is my child who dreams of being an artist when she grows up, and truly she shows incredible ability in that area. She has shown such perseverance this year as she has learned to tie her shoes, as well as crochet her little heart out.

I’m so thankful God gave her to us!

No matter how many birthdays we celebrate, rest assured that each one is even more precious than the last!



Oh Mother, You Are Beautiful!

May 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

It’s Mother’s Day. You’re a mom of one, two, three, seven, ten, fourteen?

You’re beautiful, Mother!

It’s Mother’s Day. You’re a mom to biological children, adopted children, step children, grandchildren?

You’re beautiful, Mother!

It’s Mother’s Day. You’re about to be a mom for the first time, second time, seventh time?

You’re beautiful, Mother!

It’s Mother’s Day. You’re a mom to special needs children, teen-agers, toddlers, adults, babies?

You’re beautiful, Mother!

It’s Mother’s Day. You have the best job in the world.

Who else can put on their camo and go to battle on their knees for their children everyday?
Who else can climb out of the trenches to play one more game of CandyLand?
Who else can juggle doctors appointments and surgeries and ball games and spelling tests?
Who else can wash dishes, check homework, listen to a teen-age saga, and rock your grandbaby all at the same time?
Who else can walk stealthily through a floor of legos strategically and not step on a single one?

You’re beautiful, Mother!

BELIEVE THAT. If you don’t believe anything else you hear today, believe this: God made you beautiful, and He made you to mother these children! Yours is a high calling, Mother. And you are never alone. He is right beside you, guiding you. One beautiful step at a time.

May your Mother’s Day be so blessed! Please share how blessed you are, beautiful Mother!



Good Things Come in Small Packages

April 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

It is a common expression, and it is completely appropriate for the subject of this post…but I must add a disclaimer. Good things come in really big packages too! :)

In this case, the small package is a $3,500.00 little black box about the size of my thumbnail.

It attaches to a screw implanted in my daughter’s bone behind her left ear.

And it gives her normal hearing!

I’m referring to the BAHA, or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid.
Prior to adopting Candie, I had no idea about a BAHA except that it was a city in California.

Candie was eight years old when we adopted her. She has bi-lateral microtia. For eight years while living in a Chinese foster home, she heard nothing but muffled sounds.

After we brought her home, our ENT suggested she would be a candidate for a BAHA, and so we opted to go with just one side for starters.

Candie has been wearing her BAHA for 3 years, so technically her “hearing age” is 3 yrs. old. Of course she is really 11 years old. But because of her hearing impairment, she is significantly delayed.

HOWEVER, through the Good Lord’s intervention, His grace and mercy providing Candie with extensive speech therapy and auditory therapy…she has made GREAT strides. She still has a ways to go, but as I find in so many situations, the best perspective is to look how far she’s come, and not focusing so much on what she CAN’T do.

Candie’s BAHA is the first thing she puts on in the morning and the last thing she takes off at night. It is her “right hand man”. Wherever we go, it goes.

So you can imagine Candie’s dismay when a few weeks ago, the skin around the screw became so infected that she couldn’t wear her BAHA. After oral and topical antibiotics, it still didn’t clear up and in just a matter of days, her skin grew BACK OVER the screw.

There was nothing we could do but schedule a revision surgery to remove the skin and expose the screw again. And this would take weeks for them to “fit us in”.

And what would Candie do during those weeks of not being able to hear again?

Oh it was sad, I’m not gonna lie. She became extremely quiet. She wouldn’t utter a peep for days. It was like she reverted back to her silent life in China.

And it broke my heart.

Imagine not being able to hear for 8 years, then being given the gift of hearing, working hard to learn words and sounds for 3 years, and then just like that, you can’t hear anything anymore.

We had to do a lot of yelling so she could hear us. (and I confess, often I would forget who could hear and who could not, so it was not uncommon for one of my children to remind me, “Mom, I CAN HEAR YOU!” That did provide some comedic relief!)

Candie did a lot of lip reading. She sat and “listened” while I read books aloud, but she couldn’t follow along. We all did our best to help her during this time.

Oh how I prayed that her verbal language development wouldn’t suffer a setback!

Finally the day came for the revision, and Candie couldn’t have been happier! (granted, a little nervous about being put under anesthesia)

A few days later, things were looking clear enough to try to wear the BAHA again. I snapped it on the screw, and turned it on.

Immediately, her face lit up.

Her beautiful smile came back.

Her brother whispered ever so softly, “Candie.”

And she turned her head to him and smiled.

I realized then how much a little black box can mean to a little girl. It can give her access to the sounds of God’s beautiful world.

A few nights after this, we were about to have Bible time, and Candie quickly got her Bible and came to find me. She said to me, “Mom! I hear read Bible now!”

Yes, you can. You can hear us read the Bible now. Thank you Lord. Good things do come in small packages!

Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”



sibling saga

March 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

I am sure that many of you can relate to sibling sagas. I prefer the term saga than rivalry. But it’s basically the same thing: siblings who struggle to get along with each other (and that is putting it very mildly when you’re living it, let me tell ya)!

When we brought home our Kevin at age 2 in 2010, he was the BABY. With all capitals, mind you. And add on top of BABY, he has a very serious heart defect, so he was BABY multiplied. You get the picture.

For twenty months, Kevin was the youngest of 8.

Then his world was rocked.

His throne was usurped.

We brought home another BABY who is 2 years younger than Kevin. And at the same time, we brought home another ‘big’ brother who is 5 months Kevin’s senior.


Crickett, Kevin, and Keith on our adoption trip

And we did this without Kevin’s permission :)

Actually, the baby sister, Crickett, has been the least of Kevin’s worries (and of course…that was the issue I was most worried about…Kevin losing his baby position).

In fact, it has been the ‘almost the same age’ brother, Keith, that has been the sweet pebble causing the ripples in Kevin’s smooth little pond.

Mind you, Keith and Crickett have adjusted beautifully into our family. There have been no attachment issues, thank you Lord. They have been a complete JOY and have transitioned amazingly well.

For the first time ever, we are learning to deal with a sibling saga. And the particular sibling behind most of the fusses is not one of our newly adopted children. No, he’s a four year old, 31 pound bundle of FIREWORKS.


Forced to be brothers and notice Kevin’s forced smile!

Oh the jealousy. The rivalry. The fighting between Kevin and Keith. If Kevin says something, Keith has to say it too. If Keith says something, Kevin has to say it too. If Keith wants that toy, Kevin wants it too. If Keith doesn’t play with Kevin, Kevin gets mad. So Keith plays with Kevin, and Kevin gets mad anyway.


These two toy robots they’re holding were the brunt of many battles at Christmas

I have heard people talk about “love/hate” relationships. And now I am getting an up and personal, front row seat to one of those. Except I can’t just watch this drama, I get the starring role of MEDIATOR.

After Keith and Crickett had been home about one month, and I had been on my knees in tears over what to do about Kevin and Keith’s endless battles, (I tried EVERYTHING), God gave me insight and wisdom.

“Just remind Kevin that he will ALWAYS be in your family. Remind him that you will ALWAYS be his mom and dad. Remind Kevin that he is ALWAYS loved. And persevere. And thank Me for these battles, because it is through them that Kevin and Keith will learn peace with each other.”

So I did. Again and again. I thanked God for every time I had to intervene in their “playing”. And I told Kevin as much as possible the truths that God reminded me to tell.

And I saw Kevin processing every little word I said.

But that’s not all I saw.

I began to see progress. More laughing and sharing. Less screaming and fighting.


Glimmers of hope when they hold hands during reading time.

Glimpses of good things to come when I see Keith slowing down so Kevin can catch up.

And then after I tucked them in one night (in their SEPARATE bedrooms, by the way, things aren’t THAT good yet :)), I saw something very simple but it shouted to me of a coming peace in our boys:


Their riding toys parked side by side. No older siblings had done it. They were left right where Keith and Kevin parked them. TOGETHER.

Our boys. Four years old and Five years old… Forced to be brothers… Forever… And after only 3 months, I am already seeing their “love/hate” turn into “love/love”.


Thank you Lord!



"Why is one nostril bigger than the other?"

February 13, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

That was the question I got over the weekend from my 7 year old son, Quan. We adopted Quan from China in 2007. He had a cl/cp. Both were repaired upon arriving home, he was in speech therapy until 2010, and he has done AMAZING.

I know not every experience with cl/cp is this simple. I do not take for granted how easy Quan’s special need has been in our case.

Or maybe I do.

Because honestly? I’ve forgotten about it. The repairs and therapies seem so long ago!

So when he asked me this, of course I said, “What are you talking about? One nostril is not bigger than the other!”

“It looks that way to me” he said with his eyebrows all scrunched up.

I got right down close to his nose and scrunched my eyebrows up too….searching….really trying to see the smaller nostril.

“Nope. I don’t see a difference. Kimmie? (same age sister adopted at same time as he) Do you think one of his nostrils looks bigger?”

“Not really. I can’t tell any different,” she said with all honesty.

Quan said, “Well, it looks different to me.”

I really tried to look at his nose from a different perspective….not from my momma-who-only-sees-an-adorable-dimpled-7-year-old-bundle-of-silliness-and-fun…..but from somebody else’s perspective. I remembered how many people have met Quan and didn’t even know he had a cl/cp. Maybe there IS a teeny tiny little difference in the size of his nostrils….so I say,

“You know, one might be a little smaller, Quan. But I certainly can’t tell much of a difference if at all!”

That was good enough for him, and off he went to finish his lego plane.

Quan has an upcoming appointment with an oral surgeon to see if it’s time to get his cleft in his gum-line repaired. Maybe since he’s aware of that appointment, he is really processing and thinking about his mouth and nose and how he was born with a cl/cp….maybe that sparked his question. Or maybe he’s just 7 and was picking his nose in the bathroom mirror and realized one nostril is bigger.

Regardless, it is what it is. We take the questions as they come, we answer with honesty, and we pray for wisdom as we navigate the road of parenting. Thank the Lord we do not have to do it alone!!!!

I don’t know about you, but nostrils are not the first thing I see in a person. :) And in Quan? Yep, pretty much all I can see is 100% CUTENESS!!!!!!

and we love

May 13, 2011 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

There is something unique about the international adoption community ~ specifically the SN group. It is not uncommon for us to sacrificially give to help raise the ransom for our children. We celebrate with one another during each step of the process and especially when our children come home. Yet with great joy comes deep sorrow and unfortunately, sometimes we have reason to grieve together with families we may never have even met in person.
I think I speak for everyone in this close-knit community when I say that our hearts are broken for Stefanie and her family in their grief over sweet Esther. We are all yearning to come alongside her to show her love.
Just two weeks ago there was joy in LOAs coming much more quickly than expected. And we all celebrated with Stefanie and her family. Just a few days ago the final count for the so Loved campaign was announced. And we read the numbers in awe with her and thanked our Heavenly Father for the generosity of this community.
Today? Today we sit in shock with her, grieving a child that none of us had the chance to meet, yet that we loved from afar.
It is so hard to process this loss. So very, very hard.
Stefanie loves really big. Her testimony on her blog has touched so many. And Esther is loved VERY BIG. By her family and so many other people….

Esther’s little life mattered much. She is a testimony to how great our God is! Just look at all of us who will wear our ‘So Loved’ tee and remember the reason we bought the shirt…because of a loved little girl on the other side of the world who had a family that was fighting for her.

Yes, today we grieve. Yet there is hope and even some joy when we recognize how much love was spilled out from our Father in this journey. Esther’s life placed an imprint on our hearts. A lasting, permanent imprint.

She is loved. Stefanie, your family is loved. We are holding you all up to Him. And as we do, we recognize that there are countless others out there who have experienced similar loss and heart-break. Our hearts are broken with you and yet we hold on to the following promise beautifully expressed by Steven Curtis Chapman:

Out of these ashes
Beauty will rise
And we will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of this darkness
New light will shine
And we’ll know the joy that’s coming in the morning”
…from “Beauty Will Rise”
As a community, we stand beside you, encircle you with our love, and through the pain watch with you in anticipation to see the beauty that will rise.
[I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord…Wait for the Lord; be strong and l

et your heart take courage.] Psalm 27:13-14

Laine and Kristi

I Never Dreamed I Would Adopt Special Needs Children

February 14, 2011 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I love to hear adoption testimonies! Everyone has a different story. Some say they ‘knew since they were little’ that they would adopt children. Some say it was never on their radar! Some say they began to talk about adoption after years of infertility. Some say it was something they discussed with their spouse from day one of their marriage. I just love to hear individual experiences!

I will never forget the first time I encountered the thought of adopting special needs children. I was standing in a parking lot talking with one of my good friends. I had shared the news with her that we were in process to adopt from China. I told her that the wait was really really really long for a healthy child, but there were many special needs children available right now.

Then she said it.

A statement that reverberated in my soul and spirit and shook my world.

“Oh Laine. I could SO SEE you and Rob adopting a special needs child.”

I didn’t want to hear that! Adopting special needs children scared me! That was for people with lots of faith and patience and strength. Not me.

Insert a big fat grin from God right about now.

As much as I tried to run from the thought, as much as it frightened me to the core….I could not stop thinking about what my sweet friend said.

Really? Us? Adopting a special needs child? A thousand questions ran through my mind.

But Rob? He was ALL FOR IT.

That scared me even more!

I once heard a very appropriate acronym for FEAR

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

that is what fear is…False Evidence Appearing Real.

All my fears?

Some of them turned out to be utterly ridiculous, like the fear that we wouldn’t be able to handle all the doctor appointments, surgeries, etc. Of course we cannot handle it all! Not in our own strength! We depend on the Lord every moment, and through HIM we handle it!

And the fear that it would hold back my other children in our home? Ridiculous! Adopting special needs children has expanded their view of others, it has taught them unconditional love, it has ADVANCED their spiritual, emotional, and social growth…it certainly has not held them back.

And the fear that I wouldn’t be able to love an adopted child as my very own? Ridiculous! Now of course out of the four children we have adopted, each attachment process has been unique. It is a PROCESS. It is NOT always easy. Love grows for each of my children, biological and adopted. Love grows! Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it takes more effort, but nevertheless it grows!

And when fears materialize, and suffering comes, you do make it through. I would say if I put my fear on one end of a balancing scale, and the benefits and blessing of my special needs children on the other end of the scale, their is no doubt that the benefits and blessings FAR outweigh the fears.

As it turns out, adopting special needs children isn’t just for those with lots of faith and patience and strength! It’s for regular people like me and you!

Child Desired Form

December 14, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The Child Desired Form.

It is one of the few pieces of paper that has not been completed in our home study paperwork.

It is a form that has an exhaustive list of medical special needs. We are supposed to “check” the special needs that we feel comfortable accepting. And I mean– there is every special need you could ever think of on that list.

Why have we not completed it? What’s the big deal?

Oh. My.

It is SUCH a big deal. My heart. How it hurts! I want to check off every need on that list! Why? Because I know that for every need listed on the “child desired form”, there are hundreds of children behind that special need. CHILDREN. Real little blessings.

And what if I miss out on the one God intends for our family because I’m afraid to check that special need?

Can one itty bitty check mark really make that difference? Can it?

When we began this adoption journey, (this is our fourth journey), we proclaimed that we were open to whomever the Lord intended for our family. Boy, girl, special need, age..we wanted to surrender that completely to the Lord.

Our agency had a list of “special focus” children available listed on their website. We prayed through those children. As the time drew near for our agency to send their files back, we continued to pray. And now the files have gone back to the CCAA, and our agency has new special focus children. I ask myself: “If I am open to whomever the Lord intends for us, why did I let those files go back? Why didn’t I inquire about those children who are obviously available?”

I cannot answer that question. I thought I was open to whomever. And maybe it’s simply that our child just wasn’t on that list.

Regardless, this whole process is making me search deep to see my motivations, my desires, my trust (or lack thereof). And honestly, it’s not pretty.

During our first adoption, we filled out the “child desired form” with no problem. We knew we would accept a child with cl/cp, or mild heart defect, or birthmark. As a matter of fact, it had been such a struggle for me to get to that place to switch over to special needs, that after we turned in that form I felt a great peace wash over me. It was a huge step for me.

Our second and third adoption began with us finding our child on an agency’s individual list. So there was not even mention of a “child desired form”, because God had led us clearly to our child.

Now, we are clueless as to who the Lord wants us to adopt. And yes, we can go through that checklist and check off what WE feel we can handle. We can do that. That is what we’re supposed to do! I don’t know though, I just CANT DO IT! It feels WEIRD. Like I’m shopping or something. I really wish it did not have to be this way.

Of course I totally understand the reasoning. Families need to pray through, research, and feel confident that they can handle certain special needs. I get that. There is no way around it. I get that, too. It just makes me feel yucky. And picky. And guilty.

Anyone else struggle with this “child desired form”?

Please Allow Faster Players to Play Through

November 14, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Have you ever played miniature golf (we call it putt putt) and seen these signs? “Please Allow Faster Players to Play Through”

There are those who are younger and take a few strokes more than others to get that little orange ball in the hole. Then there are those who might be older but still take a bunch of tries to get that ball in the hole. (not naming names :)

If you have little ones, you know what I’m talking about. You pretty much just have to keep your hand waving the entire night so that people behind you will know to go ahead and “play on through”!

Tonight when I saw this picture, and the words of the sign, I did a double take. Yes, it’s referring to mini-golf. But it hit me all of a sudden, this little innocent sign holds much truth for the way of the world.

“Please Allow Faster Players to Play Through”

Is it not true? The fastest, the smartest, the most creative, the favored, the talented, the prettiest….let them go ahead, play on through to the top of the proverbial ladder.

Much like in mini-golf, there is no time to wait on those who may take a little longer to “shine”.

But what are we missing by pushing the “faster players through”?

We’re missing the little girl with clubbed hands who can write her name after weeks and weeks of effort and sweat. And she can write it more beautiful than any kindergardener I know.

We’re missing the little boy who has a repaired cleft lip and cleft palate, after years of speech, who can speak now so clearly with just a hint of nasality that makes him have a sound all his own.

We’re missing the older girl who was deaf, slow, and lost. After a hearing aid and years of therapy, she is showing signs of huge improvement.

We’re missing the little boy with a life threatening heart defect, possibly unrepairable, life expectancy unknown. But he smiles and hugs you so tight around your neck that you feel like you’re going to suffocate in love, and he sings “Happy Birthday, Jesus” with all his lungs can muster.

And so we slow down our lives, our mini-golf game, too. And we relish in the accomplishments of those players who are not the “fastest”.
Kristi’s post below about “what if” is SPOT ON. What if we had not adopted our special needs children? We may play mini-golf a lot faster, yes. But we would have missed out on the blessing of slowing down.

Play on through, faster players! We’re going to take our sweet time!

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Grasping Concepts

October 12, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Adopting a hearing impaired child has brought so many new learning experiences into our family.

Okay, when I read that, I want to yell, “THAT IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!”

Our world was ROCKED when we brought Candie home. In a good way. Hard, but GOOD way. More importantly, HER world was turned upside down.

I like to think I am well prepared when adopting a child. And then every time we’ve adopted, I realize that there is no preparation like actually living the experience. Really. Does that make sense?

Before adopting Candie, we learned sign language. We made flash cards so we could communicate with her. We read up on how to teach a hearing impaired child. But other than that, we had no experience with that special need. What. So. Ever. We just knew she was our daughter, and whatever challenges we faced we would do our best with God’s help to get through them.

I had no idea that hearing impaired children, especially ones adopted at a later age, especially from a different culture/language, would take a really really really long time to learn our language. In my perfect little world, Candie would pick up on things really quickly, be a little sponge like all the other older adopted children I had read about, and be speaking great within a year. I thought after she received her BAHA (bone anchored hearing-aid), which put her hearing within normal limits, that she would just start picking up the language like our toddlers had learned. I didn’t realize that your birth age and your hearing age were two totally different concepts. That even though you’re 8, if you’ve only had your hearing aid 6 mos., then that is your “hearing age”. So you’re language matches that of a six month old. I didn’t know hearing impaired children don’t hear the “little” words we speak, like a, the, and, it, and so on.

I didn’t realize how long it would take for her to understand concepts that I never really had to teach my other children. Today she was shocked when I told her that the leaves will grow back in the spring. I thought she would already know that. I was wrong.

Everything, every little thing, must be taught to Candie. And re-taught. And taught again.

She’s been home with us two years now. And she’s ten years old.

When my step-father passed away a couple of weeks ago, I had a very hard time explaining to her the concept of death and dying. Concepts. Those are hard. Like Heaven. And God.

And if I remember that her hearing age is only 18 months old, then of course that makes sense. What 18 month old could grasp those concepts?

But she is ten. And so we wrestle with that. She’s blossoming and blooming like a ten year old. Yet she’s not hearing, acting, or learning like a ten year old. It’s like she’s stuck in the middle.

At my step-father’s funeral, tradition holds that the family is allowed a private “grieving” time before guests arrive. Maybe it was all the flowers, or seeing her brothers and sisters cry, or the casket at the front of the room….but Candie all of a sudden understood. And she shocked us all by beginning to SOB. So loudly that I had to guide her into the bathroom. (And I was praying the whole way, “God how do I explain this to her? How do I comfort her?”)
Through my own tears I asked her “Did anybody ever die at your foster mama’s house?”
“No” she sobbed.
“GranBob is okay now, Candie. He is in Heaven and he is breathing GREAT now. And one day, we WILL see him again, okay?”
She nodded her head, still in tears.
“It’s okay for us to cry. It’s okay to be sad.”
And then she calmed down. And I hugged her tight. And I cried some more.

And I realized that she’s ten years old. And she’s eighteen months old. And she’s stuck in the middle.

But I think the middle of the valley is narrowing a bit. And that event catapulted our daughter closer to the ten year old side. The side of growing up and dealing with life issues. Hard, but good.
Difficult, but necessary.

And as her forever family, we’ll gladly walk with her until her learning and language and maturity catches up to her chronological age. And if that never happens, then her family will meet her in the middle every day of her life.

Yes, adopting a hearing impaired child has brought us so many new learning experiences. But think about all the new experiences Candie has learned! What a brave, strong girl she is. I think God has used her as OUR teacher.

HOLD ON TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

June 13, 2010 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

That is what I feel like I’ve been doing since my last post on NHBO….holding on TIGHT! In April, when it was time for me to post, we were in the hospital. In May, when it was time for me to post, we had just come home from the hospital the day before my scheduled post day. Thankfully, Stefanie is very forgiving! :) Of COURSE she is!

Holding on tight… Our whole family has been doing this very thing the last three months. We hold on to God. We hold on to each other. We hold on to hope.

We came home from China with Kevin on March 4th. We knew we would be facing many unknowns, and many doctor appointments with his complex heart condition of situs inversus, single ventricle, large VSD, and pulmonary hypertension. After his heart cath proved that indeed the way God allowed his heart to be formed is quite complicated and extensive, our team of doctors buckled up for many hard conversations and decisions to make about what the best plan would be for Kevin. We buckled up, too.

On April 6, the surgeon implanted a BT shunt, connecting Kevin’s aorta to his pulmonary artery. All of Kevin’s almost three years of life, he had too much blood flow going through his lungs, causing thickening and hardening of his veins. This shunt would hopefully redirect and reduce the blood flow just enough, but not too much, because we want it to reduce his lung pressures and resistance in his veins. This shunt would also hopefully get his lungs in good shape for his first surgery to repair his heart: the Glenn procedure.

(sidenote: I am by no means an expert on the heart, so I hope and pray I am not butchering the use of these terms!)

While Kevin was still in the ICU, recuperating from his shunt operation, he got a DVT (blood clot) in his left leg. It began to swell, turn purple, and cause him a lot of pain. He immediately began taking blood thinners which improved his condition greatly.

It took Kevin a few days to trust us again in the hospital. I longed to hear him say “mama” again and look us in the eyes. Eventually, he bonded right back to mama.

Kevin was able to come home after only 8 days in the hospital. Other than the Lovenox blood thinning shots that we had to give him in his belly, and the boo-koodles of oral meds he had to take, he recovered from his surgery well. I admit the shots were awful…twice a day, very painful, and having to put our new son (who we were still trying to gain his trust) through this was heart breaking. But, all that aside, he began to play, walk, and laugh again! Amazing!

Two weeks after we came home he had a routine check up at the cardiologist. Surprisingly there was a pericardial effusion around his heart (fluid build-up). He was sent home on high aspirin doses to reduce the fluid. (Also, he was taken off the Lovenox shots!) Two days later we were back at the hospital having an emergency fluid drainage procedure. That was the beginning of an 11 day stay this time.

The fluid came back quickly and Kevin had to have it drained AGAIN during our hospital stay. He contracted a staph infection and had to be given IV antibiotics. Kevin isn’t famous for good veins, and eventually his veins that his IV’s were in all blew, so they had to finish his round of antibiotics by doing shots of Rocephin in his legs.

Finally they sent us home on Bactrim. Kevin regressed severely after this recent trauma in the hospital. He still felt horrible from the fluid. He shut down. He wouldn’t walk. He wouldn’t play. He was swollen. For WEEKS. All he wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. He refused to talk to us or his siblings. All he wanted was Mama. Bless his baby heart. It was pitiful.

We called or went back to the doctor at least twice a week because Mama was scared about that fluid coming back. Mama had been present during the emergency drain, and Mama didn’t want her Kevin to come that close to the edge of the cliff again. We had lots of echocardiograms done of Kevin’s heart in the weeks following the hospital stay.

Three weeks after he had been on Bactrim, he developed a fever and a horrible rash. Back to the E.R. and it turns out he is allergic to sulfa antibiotics. (We were afraid it was Stevens Johnson syndrome, but thankfully it did not progress to that.) The fever persisted for 8 days, and so he was put back in the hospital again to check for infection somewhere else in his system. Praise God this hospital stay was only three days. We are still waiting on results from the blood cultures.

After coming home from the hospital THIS time, Kevin has been a different child! He has played, walked (albeit wobbly!), talked, laughed…oh how wonderful to see him come back to us again.

Kevin will have another heart cath soon to see if his lung pressures and resistance have decreased, and from that we will determine when the best time for his Glenn surgery will be. No, we don’t look forward to another surgery or hospital stay. Yes, we want what’s best for Kevin! Yes, we struggle with what exactly that is!

So….all this is not to scare you. Though I probably have, and I’m sorry. I mean, it IS scary after all. If you look at all the scary parts.

God just reminds me to look to HIM….not the scary parts. He is in control of the scary parts, by the way. He is in control of the good parts too. What else can we do, but HOLD ON TIGHT? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can honestly say, I would much rather go through hard times, than not have Kevin. I look back at how God brought him into our family, and I cannot deny that he is where God wants him right now. With us.

Us.

Seven brothers and sisters who ADORE him, unconditionally.

A daddy who waits patiently on him to bond.

And a mama who is seeing first-hand a broken heart be mended by God…in more ways than one.

Here is the bottom line:

Three months + newly adopted two year old + in and out of the hospital =

HOLDING ON TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

Good News Bad News

March 13, 2010 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

Disclaimer: After being home from China one week, my mushy jet lagged brain is having trouble coming up with something profound and beautiful. So it is what it is, folks!

In special needs adoption, there is a lot of good news & bad news. (What am I saying? In LIFE there is a lot of good news & bad news, amen?)

Good news: More special needs children are being adopted.
Bad news: A few agencies are being less ethical in the process.

Good news: The U.S. is trying to make the paperwork as thorough as possible to prevent unethical procedures.
Bad news: It adds lots of time to the waiting for your child to come home.

I could go on and on.

I guess I’ve been thinking about good news and bad news a lot these last few days. We have been home from China one week. It has been one more roller coaster of good news/bad news.

Good news: Your son is delightful!
Bad news: His heart is very sick.

Sigh.

Thankfully, good news and bad news does not define our days unless we allow it.

I have heard more than one mom say that her child’s special need does not define her child. AMEN to that. I think we can expand that perspective to everything else in life. The only things that define us are what we CHOOSE to define us. If I ALLOW bad news to define my days, I choose despair. If I ALLOW my faith in a miracle-making God to define me, I choose hope.

Today, I choose hope.

Bad news: Some things in life require taking a huge risk.
Good news: It is worth the risk!

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Our first birthday together!

January 14, 2010 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

Last year she celebrated with her beloved foster mama.

This year she celebrates with her forever mama and forever family! ;) Thank you Jesus!

We brought our 7 year old, Candie, home on Halloween of 2008. Her birthday is 8/23/00. Her special need is bi-lateral microtia/atresia. Candie is a happy little girl and for that I am very thankful. Most of the time she is kind, caring, helpful, and content. What a blessing!

Do not believe that it is all sunshine and roses though. She has her moments like all kiddos. Actually, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past 11 months with her…

When we first adopted her, the transition was perfectly seamless. She fit right in with our crazy bunch. Even though she couldn’t hear well at all, she seemed to understand our gestures and our communication consisted of mainly that–gestures. I knew she couldn’t hear within normal limits (Candie’s SN is bi-lateral microtia/atresia) until she would be fitted with her BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid) and so I never pushed her to speak clearly or learn a whole bunch of words. Her speech was unintelligible even by our Mandarin guide in China and translator that we had here in the States. So…what’s a mom to do? We grinned and beared it. And we played and smiled and yelled so she could hear us.

In March she was fitted with her BAHA and in April she began speech classes. The speech therapists at the HEAR Center for hearing impaired children assured me she was at an infant/toddler level of speech because her “hearing” age was so low…she had only been hearing well for a month or two. While wearing her BAHA, her hearing is well within normal limits. So subtract one negative impact on her development…she can hear now! Hooray! But her speech would take a LONG time to develop. On top of that, she’s learning a whole new set of vocabulary….in a whole new language. Whew!

I contemplated sending her to school instead of homeschooling her. I felt like her needs may be more than I could help her with…but the school therapists suggested I home school her. They said she would be placed in a 4th grade classroom and be SO BEHIND. (wow, they were SO right)

So May came and went and I did Candie’s speech homework with her faithfully. I also tried teaching her some academics but her vocabulary was so low, she just wasn’t ready. I resigned that I would begin her in Kindergarten in homeschool in the fall. Candie continued attending private speech therapy all summer and we worked diligently with her at home. DILIGENTLY. ALL of us. It became a full time job for the family. Teaching Candie English.

In August she resumed her speech therapy at the elementary school putting her up to four speech classes a week. We do lots of speech homework everyday. And I will be honest, it’s taxing. Downright frustrating at times. I know her auditory processing skills are “off”. She cannot repeat what we say if it has more than two syllables. She cannot recall verbal directions. I know a lot of this has to do with her “hearing” age. She has never really had to listen closely to anything in her whole life. Now that she CAN listen, she has to be TAUGHT to listen. To hang on every word. She doesn’t like having to learn new things. She pouts and shuts down and gets very discouraged. And so do I, frankly! I want her to persevere and try…but she is so content staying in her world of playtime and not school-time. I knew academically that she was very behind, but since starting kindergarten work, I’ve really been hit with the reality of it.

I have a 9 yr. old daughter who only knows half the alphabet, can’t count to 20, and can’t hold a conversation.

BUT THANK YOU GOD…she is home. She is with her family. We love her too much to allow her to remain the same little deaf girl that she was in China. We push her, we make her try, and we reward her greatly for her efforts! We tell her we love her and that we want her to be able to talk and learn and succeed! We go over and over and over and over and over her speech homework until she “gets” it. Even if that means we are late going somewhere. We don’t give up on her. We desire her not to give up on herself.

Hmmmm…as I’m typing that, I’m reminded of how much the Lord does that for us. What a parallel.

Me: “Candie, I don’t want you to be complacent about your school—(not like she understands that word…but I did tell her that one day b/c I had to get it off my chest, ya know?)
Jesus: “Laine, I don’t want you to be complacent about two areas of your life that you have left undisciplined”

Me: “Candie, I’m helping you learn this because I love you. Sometimes it’s not easy. You just have to try.”
Jesus: “Laine, I’m helping you learn this lesson because I love you. Sometimes it’s not easy. You just have to try”

Me: “We are going to keep going over this until you get it, Candie!”
Jesus: “We are going to keep going over this until you get it, Laine!”

Me: “Candie, I love you too much to let you play around and not keep trying”
Jesus: “Laine, I love you too much to let you stay the way you are.”

Me: “That complaining is not acceptable. You need to be thankful, Candie.”
Jesus: “Your complaining is taking your eyes off of me, Laine…be thankful in this.”

Me: (to Rob) “I’m so tired of having to correct my daughter’s speech all day long”
Jesus: “I will never get tired of sanctifying and refining you, daughter.”

What a Mighty God we serve! How He shows us our own heart issues through our children! Thank you Lord. What love…

To sum up this post, I will say that the first six months of Candie’s adjustment have been much easier than the second six months. Her attachment to us is still strong and sweet as ever, but the academic and language issues have been a hurdle we’re learning to jump over. We may fall down, but we know with the Lord’s sweet Hand as our guide, we will pick ourselves up and keep trying!

(Just to add, this post was written in Sept. 2009…and since then she can now count WAY over 20, knows ALL her letters AND sounds, is reading three letter words, can understand more of what we say and can make 4-5 word sentences! But most importantly, she is gaining confidence, assurance, and security in her abilities. GO GOD!)

The Big Build-Up

December 13, 2009 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what in the world I would post on this beautiful blog. Don’t yall LOVE this blog? It is a big ol’ blessing to so many…Kris, your post below stole my heart.

Anyway, yesterday I attended a travel information meeting my agency hosted. It was for families who are getting ready to make the trip to China to meet their child! It was the second time I’ve heard the details of the process, by the same sweet social worker, but I felt that no matter how many times I adopt, there will always be something to learn about the journey, amen? ;)
I’m so thankful I went, because it confirmed what the subject of this post would be, something that I’ve been thinking a whole lot about lately:

The Big Build-Up to The Big Trip

If you have traveled to China, or if you are thick in the paperchase to adopt your child, or if you are about to get on that plane in three days, or if you are just thinking and dreaming about adopting one day…I think you will agree with me on this one point: there is so much anticipation, so many butterflies in our stomachs, so many dreams and scenarios played out in our heads of “THE TRIP”.

As our social worker presented all the glorious details leading up to “Gotcha Day”, I felt those familiar emotions of anxiety, nervousness, and extreme excitement that I was getting closer to the day I would meet my son. Who, by the way, is the CUTEST thing you ever did see, don’t you agree? ;)
I’m off track. Looking at him does that to me! ;)

So I’m getting excited as she talks about the moment your child is handed to you…which is really how it happens mostly. They just hand you your child after checking your passport and paperwork. And then she went on to talk about attachment and adjustment, and the wide spectrum of issues that go along with that.
And I was reminded (and brought back down to reality, frankly) that this TRIP, this marvelous, long-awaited trip….well, that’s all it is…a TRIP. It is not the end-all, be-all of my journey. Certainly not! Yes, it is important, because it is the vessel used by God to bring me my child. But in the big picture, it is all about getting through the trip to the other side…home with our son!

Both times we’ve gone to China, I get wrapped up in the preparation of this trip. It does seem huge, looming before us. The packing, the buying of gifts for Chinese officials (don’t let this stress you out like I have done!), the tizzy of ordering plane tickets, the details of who will keep my other children while we’re gone. (Don’t tell anyone, but our first trip to China….I consumed myself with making sure everyone had matching outfits. And then Gotcha Day came, and we were handed two 2-year olds, and how ’bout those matching outfits? Do ya think I cared one bit about our clothes after that? ;) It’s easy to let the trip consume our thoughts, of course. And certainly we should relish every bit of our child’s culture and birth country while we are there… taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and people of China. But this trip is two-three weeks long. In the big scheme of a lifetime, that’s pretty short. It will be full of bumps, unexpected surprises-some good, some bad, and we will survive it and get our son home, and then new life will begin.

The REAL TRIP will begin…getting to know him, establishing a new normal and a good routine, cleaning up his messes, taking him to doctor appointments, comforting him through major heart surgery, and prayerfully one day taking him on vacations, watching him walk across the stage at graduation, smothering his children with my kisses. That is the trip I want to prepare for…and it is a wonderful trip called LIFE!

John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

Perspective

October 27, 2009 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

As a mom to three special needs children from China (one CL/CP, one microtia/atresia, one radial club hands), I am learning to see things in a different light. With each adoption, I learn the art of looking at life through the eyes of a child more and more. As they are growing older and becoming increasingly aware of the differences in their physical appearances, I learn new perspectives on what the world sees as a deformity.

I learn THEIR perspective on their own special need.

Case in point:

When a mom of seven children takes a shower, you never know who is going to burst in the bathroom with an earth shattering proclamation. Today it happened to be my four year old, Kimmie.
“Mom? When Candie goes to Heaven, will her ears be wike mine ears?” Stunned by her question, I mumbled something profound like “….uh….yes”
“And will my hands be straight?” Pulling myself together (as much as one can do with shampoo running down one’s face), I explained that yes, your hands will most likely be straight in Heaven. Jesus will give us new bodies and we will have no more boo-boos or tears or pain.
“Well…I wike my hands, cuz dem make a good turkey when I trace dem.”


Oh Lord have mercy. I wike those hands too!!!!!!!!!!! Who knows…maybe all our hands will be turned inward in Heaven. ;)

May we all have that child-like perspective when we encounter those around us who are “different” from us, seeing the blessings and purpose in what the world may see as a pity or pain.