My Wounding

November 27, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Attachment, Carrie, parent-to-child attachment 25 Comments


“I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human.” – Frederick Buechner Be gentle with me, dear reader. Please …Read More

Dear Parents-To-Be: Advice From the Front Lines

October 22, 2015 by nohandsbutours adopting two at once, adoption realities, China trip, disruption, Gotcha Day, guest post, older child adoption, orphanage behaviors 9 Comments

There’s been a rash of disruptions lately, both while still in China and shortly after the families are back in America. I’m not here to pass judgment on people, or talk about families who disrupt months or years into the process. I’m here to talk about the beginning, and to give some advice. Real advice. …Read More

An Apology to the Village

October 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Katie, October 2015 Feature - It Takes a Village 5 Comments


I am sure you have seen the posts. You have been given the information on how to be the village to your friends arriving home with their new, precious, yet traumatized son or daughter. You diligently studied how to be that good friend, how to give space for cocooning, how to offer meals and household …Read More

Not Okay

October 11, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption community, adoption realities, Amy 1 Comments


I think a good lot of us have a little habit of telling un-truths. Specifically, when asked a common question such as, “how are you?”, we respond with “I’m ok” or “I’m good” or “I’m fine” – when in fact, we are not. Sometimes we are not ok. It might be a day, a week, …Read More

Embracing Loss

September 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, embracing their story, infertility, Mandy 0 Comments


It’s something about the weather — that point where I know the hot and humid days of summer are coming to a close, and yet the cold days of fall have yet to greet me. It is as if summer and fall coexist briefly. The slightly chilly air and the warm sun dance across my …Read More


August 25, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Amy A. 10 Comments


From the time I was a young girl, I always felt the Lord’s presence and His pursuit of my heart. However, I did not begin regularly attending church or consistently studying God’s word until a while after my husband and I got married. In the spring of 2007, we joined a “small group,” and every …Read More

Beyond Ourselves

July 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours adopting two at once, adoption realities, China trip, Gotcha Day, July/August 2015 Feature - Going to China!, Rebecca 7 Comments


It’s the pinnacle of the adoption journey. We build a beautiful image of what gotcha day will be, and hold hard to that as we wait. Much preparation goes into readiness for caring for the child we’ve seen only in pictures. We study bonding techniques and possible reactions, and pack and repack little backpacks. But …Read More

Hardest. And Best.

June 14, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, disruption, Katie, Sensory System, undiagnosed SN 7 Comments


My life was almost returned to normal. I would have slept better, been freer, able to eat better, clean the house, and find my way back to the normal details of everyday life. But I chose to finish the adoption, to make this girl who was so far from the one portrayed to me, my …Read More

My Daughter’s Red Thread

May 29, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption community, adoption realities, Mandy 3 Comments

bright smiles

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” – Unknown The day Lydia was placed in my arms (what many call “gotcha day”), I had so much excitement and anticipation. I was about to become a mom for the first time and see …Read More

Lean In to the Author of Your Story

April 6, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, books, guest post 0 Comments

Bringing Lucy home front cover

Each adoption tells a story. When our family was in the midst of the laborious form-filling, check-writing, waiting, waiting, waiting stage of our daughter Lucy’s adoption, we had plenty of time to envision how our story—how Lucy’s story—would go. We had plenty of education, you see. We read and re-read The Connected Child, we attended …Read More

disruption: 3 things for parents to consider

March 26, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, disruption, guest post, March 2015 Feature - Disruption, orphanage realities 3 Comments


Today we finish out our month-long series on disruption with a post by Amy Eldridge of Love Without Boundaries Foundation. We are so grateful to include her voice of experience here, as she has spent years working on behalf of orphans in China and has witnessed the wake of disruption on families and children – …Read More

Adoption: Hard to Start. Harder to Stop.

February 19, 2015 by nohandsbutours a father's perspective, adoption realities, large families, Mike 29 Comments

Chinese Village

“When you go back…” In the weeks before we left for China for our first adoption, Anne and I met with some family friends who had adopted three Chinese daughters. The goal of our time with Kevin and Vicki was to better understand what to expect on the trip and in the months to follow. …Read More

A Letter to My Daughter

February 5, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption community, adoption realities, Attachment, Carrie 0 Comments

Darling Girl, I walked into your room the other night, well after you had gone to sleep. I could hear your quiet breathing and the whole room smelled like you. There’s something about the way my babies smell that makes me feel peaceful and comforted and deeply at home, and when it dawned on me …Read More

Chronic: The Race Set Before Us

January 23, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, chronic conditions, Rebecca 4 Comments


I am coming to terms with it.  This is not passing.  It’s not over after a surgery, or two.  Or after a therapy session, or three.  The first year is behind us, but there are more miles in this marathon.  I’m discovering what chronic means.  I’m learning that adopting a child labeled medically complex truly …Read More

post-adoption depression: one mom’s story

January 13, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, guest post, January 2015 Feature, January 2015 Feature - Post-Adoption Depression, post-adoption depression 5 Comments


My husband and I delved into the world of adoption like most parents; blinders on and only thinking of having our newest family member in our arms. We trudged through all of the standard trainings which really prepared us for nothing and filled out our mountain of paperwork. Before we knew it, we were packing …Read More

He is Here

January 1, 2015 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Attachment, Carrie 10 Comments

November 2014

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a …Read More

He was here

December 26, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Kelly 0 Comments


It’s his first Christmas home, his first Christmas with a family. It will take but a few minutes for him to learn that ripping pretty paper leads to special treasures. I’m sure his little Christmas jammies, sticky candy cane lips and fingers, and the smile that fills his face will speak of only delight. We …Read More

Even If They Are From A Good Orphanage…

December 16, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

They need a family… When we adopted Ben we knew he was from a nice orphanage, much different than many of our other children. We also knew he had a foster family for many years. Once he was home we found out he had been with them for 6 of his 7.5 years. From Ben’s …Read More

A Beautiful Mess

December 7, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Amy, Attachment 16 Comments

grace bw

“Imagine the exhaustion of Christmas, Thanksgiving, a wedding, a funeral, and childbirth in one day, and that would almost be Gotcha Day.” This is how I recently described Gotcha Day on a friend’s facebook feed, mostly for the benefit of their family and friends to get a perspective beyond the dramatic and romanticized “Gotcha Day” …Read More

the name game

December 5, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Tara 1 Comments

My sister is due to have her first baby pretty much anytime within the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, there is much excitement in our home as the kids anticipate the arrival of their new baby cousin! Not to mention, every time they see something intended to be used or worn by a …Read More

We’re good

November 25, 2014 by Kelly adoption realities, Kelly 2 Comments

Coats were on and heads were being counted when she shared it with me.   “Mommy, I have to tell you something. A girl in my class said, ‘Is your mom Chinese?’ I said, ‘No.’ Then, she said, ‘Well, you have Chinese eyes so your mom has to be Chinese.’ But, I told her, ‘No, …Read More

365 Days “Upon the Waters”

November 24, 2014 by Rebecca adoption realities, Rebecca 2 Comments

One year ago, we were somewhere over the ocean between East and West, with our two newly adopted, Mandarin speaking children. We were a muddled mix of joy, weariness, readiness to be home, heaviness from leaving our children’s birth country, and profound gratitude for our intensely beautiful time in China. Feeling the joy of long …Read More

It turns out that chicken fried rice does not count as culture

November 19, 2014 by Mike a father's perspective, adoption realities, Chinese Culture, large families, Mike, transracial adoption 10 Comments

I am the textbook definition of a white guy. Beyond simply a scarcity of melanin, I have almost every other stereotypical characteristic that one might associate with my race – a general lack of rhythm, limited vertical leap, a “John Cougar Mellencamp” playlist on my iPod, an unhealthy relationship with ketchup, and a generalized ignorance …Read More

I’m Just Sad

October 28, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Kam 2 Comments


September is always a big month for our family. Both of our sons came home in September {2009, 2012} and our 8 year old, Joel’s, birthday is on the 4th. So we generally just have lots of good talks and eat tons of yummy food in celebration all month. One evening, after having celebrated Gabe’s …Read More

everyone stared

October 7, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Amy 14 Comments


There was a time when I had two children ages 3 and under. They were born healthy with no delays of any kind. They were held from the moment they were born, I nursed them both, I was a stay at home mom until they were in school, and for the most part they were …Read More


September 27, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Hannah, orphanage realities 1 Comments


I’ve been in America since May, which means that I haven’t been to an orphanage since April, which means that it’s been many months since I last took pictures of orphans. Because of this I’ve had some extra time (ha! Is there any such thing?) to go through old pictures. Y’all, I’ve taken a lot …Read More

God’s Calling (And He’s Using a Megaphone)

September 24, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Rebecca 16 Comments

We adoptive parents are a feisty, powerful bunch. We are in pursuit…on mission…active…hoping…
dossier building…finger-printing…connecting….fundraising…hurdle jumping…praying…planning…
counting-down…conferencing…reading…packing…travelling…bonding…adjusting…teaching…nursing… care giving…loving. But are we listening for God’s voice? Many claim that adoption starts with a calling. God speaks and we respond. And for a glorious moment, our ears are perfectly tuned to His voice. Sometimes though, somewhere along the …Read More

I’m Pretty Sure My China Mommy Cried

September 19, 2014 by nohandsbutours a father's perspective, adoption realities, Mike 11 Comments

As an adoptive parent, I sometimes forget that my adopted children had a life before me… that their life did not start when we met in a Chinese Civil Affairs building. The following essay was written last year by my 9 year old daughter, Mia, as part of a class assignment on “A Place I …Read More

changing the world

August 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Hannah 1 Comments

I’ve often sat in front of a blank computer screen and wondered what in the world to write. What do I have to say to you? Each and every one of you readers: pre-adoptive parents who are wading through the trenches of paperwork and up to their necks in notarizations and acronyms; traveling families who …Read More

a mom’s struggle with attaching

July 31, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Attachment, guest post 17 Comments

I was given a deadline for this post of the end of July – mostly because I asked for one.  That was a month ago.  As I write this I am now only one week out from the deadline, and I’m just now sitting down to put my thoughts on paper.  Although I am a …Read More

Cora's story

July 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Hannah 2 Comments

Twenty-three years ago she made her mother-in-law angry. Cora had just given birth to her first child, a daughter, and the news did not bring any celebration into the household. Her husband’s mother was angry; the older woman fumed and refused to hold her new granddaughter. As the weeks past she finally agreed to hold …Read More

The adoption process isn't really the hard part

June 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 18 Comments

Picture it—a roomful of adoptive and preadoptive mothers. It’s a little quiet, and you’re in charge of getting some conversation going. Likely, the easiest way to start a buzz is to open up the floor to (1) odd things people have said to you about adoption or (2) the red-tape, long wait, and high costs …Read More

Loaves, Fishes, and Bedrooms

June 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours a father's perspective, adoption realities, affording adoption, Mike 13 Comments

As a dad, one of the most common concerns from prospective adoptive fathers is on the finances relative to adoption and larger families. This provides some perspective on our experience: This month will be the 10th anniversary of when we moved into our current house. We built this house, and it was the perfect size …Read More

making a difference

June 13, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Hannah 1 Comments

Making a difference is one of those things that everybody aspires to do. I sure want to be one of those people… someone who is dynamic and passionate and yet caring and sweet-and-happy-all-of-the-time, all at the same time. Don’t you? It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. Sometimes I can hit three-out-of-four. I can be dynamic …Read More

You’re not in Kansas anymore

May 17, 2014 by nohandsbutours adopting SN: the process, adoption realities, birthmark, Chinese Culture, hemangioma, Kayla 3 Comments

I’ve told the editors of this blog that I am running out of things to write about regarding the special need that Jubilee (that’s my daughter) has. It simply doesn’t matter to us any more that she has a skin deformity on her torso. It will matter to her one day, no doubt, but we …Read More

I know that she was loved

May 11, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Hannah, orphanage realities 2 Comments

Over the past ten months I have watched baby after baby arrive at the orphanage we work in. In my first four years of orphan care work in China we were working with a foster home – a place of healing and hope, where orphans with medical needs that the orphanage could not handle arrived …Read More

I fell in love.

April 29, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Nicole 0 Comments

I have been trying to write this post in my head for a month now.  Words seem terribly inadequate, but today I want to share a small piece of how my heart was changed in China.  Being invited into the amazing work that He is doing was overwhelming.  Working in the orphanages alongside nannies to …Read More

10 Things Adoptive Parents of Medical Needs Kids Want You to Know

April 23, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Rebecca 9 Comments

Our plane from China touched down just five months ago. With our two newly adopted kids, both with emotional and physical needs, we stepped out into new lives, all things from before suddenly family history. Life now is both harder and more blessing rich. Six hospital admissions, two surgeries, and a thousand tests and appointments …Read More


April 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, heart defect, Jean, older child adoption 1 Comments

We just had our first grandchild! It is so exciting AND such an amazing feeling having her HERE! Our daughter talked to me every day (from Germany) before her delivery. The anticipation was riveting! When would she arrive, how would the delivery go, who would she look like? It was a happy moment when I …Read More

Yes, No, Maybe*

March 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 7 Comments

Neatly laid out in Times New Roman in alphabetical order are a list of labels, special needs, what China calls diseases. Albinism…Anal atresia…Cerebral palsy…Cleft lip/cleft palate…Club foot…Congenital heart disease…Delayed development…Down syndrome…Hemofacial macrosomia…Hemangioma…Microtia…Syndactyly… Some of them you’ve heard of. Others you struggle to pronounce, and you wonder if they’re even in English. Little “x”s in columns …Read More


March 24, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Rebecca 12 Comments

We are connected, you and I. Our stories different, our kids’ needs unique, but I’m guessing we’re on a similar trek. Is your family being refined and blessed by a medical needs child? Yep, mine too. Are you worn out, and a bit fragile? Uh, huh. Feeling deep gratitude for the care of friends and …Read More

Children’s Adoption Books

February 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 6 Comments


I may hesitate a little when I part with teeny tiny onesies and sneakers that have run one too many miles. But, our children’s books? They aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we converted one of our bedrooms into a “library” to house them all. They are overflowing and really need a good purging. But, I …Read More

An Advocate

January 25, 2014 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 0 Comments

It had been a rough few days. I had advocated for a little boy once. A family stepped forward for him, traveled to China for him, and came home without him. Then, there I was, advocating for him again in a post on a Friday afternoon, after which I spent the following several days dealing …Read More

He is there

December 23, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Kelly 0 Comments

Christmas 2009. Four Christmases ago. I was a wreck. We were so close to finding our new daughter. I just knew it would be a few weeks after Christmas; I hoped it would be a few weeks after Christmas. I was filled with expectation that Christmas. And, that meant that though I didn’t know who …Read More

The need for adoption talk never expires

October 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 5 Comments

A family for only a few months, I took my toddler daughter with me to visit a friend, an older women, a faithful woman I loved and respected. While Lydia was mesmerized with the dust in the air visible in the sun light, my friend shielded her mouth and whispered: Are you going to tell …Read More

Why you may hear me singing daily

September 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 9 Comments

I love shiny. Shiny is pretty. I love shiny…. She’s the finder of pennies. Everywhere she goes, she manages to find a penny. Today’s found treasure led to a song. Your turn to sing a song, Mommy. You make up a song. Not feeling particularly like a Maria this morning, Oh, I don’t know what …Read More

Disclosure Within Reason {Adoption and Back to School}

August 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 4 Comments

There are backpacks lined up in my dining room today. When backpacks are hanging on chair backs with zippers bulging with supplies and tissue boxes, even they look excited about a new year. Lydia doesn’t start kindergarten until next year. But, she’s joining me two mornings a week at a women’s Bible study. And, based …Read More

A letter to my four-year-old on her birthday

June 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 0 Comments

My sweet, You are such a big girl now. 4 years old. Wow. You remind me all the time of what a big girl you are. And, I know I always agree with you. But, now that you’re 4 years old? You are really big. When I put you to bed last night, I talked …Read More

Another parenting epiphany at the fair

May 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 6 Comments

He had to take her to the emergency room. We had been waiting in line at the fair for our tickets. I had told her to stay still too many times. Up and down, jump, up and down, jump. And, every time, the rickety metal steps leading up to the ticket trailer would rattle and …Read More

"What's fair {for the brother or sister of a child with special needs}"

April 25, 2013 by nohandsbutours adoption realities, Chinese Culture, Kelly 33 Comments

“Tell your mom I need to talk to her before you leave.” Please tell me I’m not the only mom who receives that message from her child and sinks a little. Come on. I figure either (a) someone wants me to do something (which I likely won’t want to do) or (b) my kid did …Read More

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