waiting child highlight: boys with down syndrome

February 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Photo 1_Chen Liu Bei

Lewis is a happy 4 year old boy. Lewis has lived with a foster family since he was a newborn. He loves to run around and is always smiling! Lewis also loves listening to music. At age 2, he could walk, speak simple words, and recognize strangers. He has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. He has some delays in intellectual, motor, and physical development. Lewis is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file and is from an agency’s orphanage partnerships. A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review his file. Please contact America World Adoptions if you are interested in learning more about precious Lewis.


Photo1_Wei Qian Xi

Tyler is a sweet 33 month old boy who lives in a foster home. Tyler loves playing with other children and can use simple words to express himself. He enjoys sharing toys and food with other children. Tyler has been diagnosed with bilateral cryptorchidism (absence of one or both testes) and Down’s Syndrome, so he has some delays in intellectual, motor, and physical development. . A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review his file. Please contact America World if you are interested in learning more about sweet Tyler.


Photo2_Wei Qian Cheng

Zay is the cutest little boy you have ever seen! He is 3 years old and likes listening to music and playing outside. He enjoys visiting busy places and clapping. He loves his foster dad, mom, and sister. He has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and nystagmus (minor eye condition). He is an agency orphanage partnership file. His file is listed by the CCCWA as Special Focus and he is eligible to be matched with a family at any stage of their adoption process. Please contact America World Adoptions if you are interested in learning more about adorable Zay.

For more information on beginning the adoption journey contact the Advocacy Team.


February 17, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

by Keri, mom to Claire from China with a SN of mediastinal tumor

I have hesitated to share our story because I feel some guilt including it in a ‘special need’ category. You see, we experienced a true miracle with our Claire. We were clients of AWAA on the NSN route knowing nothing about SN. When we were DTC the wait was supposedly 6-7 months. Of course this ended up not being the case and we started hearing about SN adoptions and I called our family coordinator and spoke to her and we filled out a check-list. Our home study provider was AHH and because the wait had grown so long, we found it necessary to do a home study update. I got on AHH’s website to pay for our update and I just “happened” to check on their list of waiting children. I saw and instantly knew our daughter on their list. She had been there waiting for three months. Her diagnosis was a tumor in the mediastinal cavity. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was our daughter, but I was concerned that my husband would be concerned about her diagnosis. At four months she had a chest x-ray and a CT-scan that documented the tumor and now she was 22 months old and she had received no treatment. AHH had been trying to get copies of the x-rays and CT-scan, but they still hadn’t received them. I called my husband and I told him that I really felt like I had seen our daughter. I gave him the web address and I asked him to stop and pray about it before he opened it and read her special need. He called me 15 minutes later and told me to call AHH and tell them we wanted her. We were very fortunate the our two agencies worked together to help us bring our daughter home.

We faithfully prayed for Claire every moment of every day. I don’t believe there was hardly a moment of any day that I wasn’t praying. I have met on-line and in person so many people who told me they were praying for Claire. Praying for her healing and for her to have a home. It just fills my heart so full when I hear that someone has prayed for my daughter. To those of you who did this, I want to say, “Thank you so much!”

We met Claire on December 11, 2006 and had a wonderful time in China. She loved, (and I mean loved) all the new clothes we had brought for her and she really adapted well. She was 2 years old. When we got back home she was able to meet her two brothers and her sister and it was love at first sight. She had seen a lot of pictures and we had sent a pillow ahead of time with a picture of our family on it. She came into our home squealing and excited. Not at all shy and reserved like I had expected! We were so happy that she felt at home.

Exactly one week later we had an appointment to meet with our wonderful International Adoption Specialist, Dr. Shawn Taylor. She gave her a very thorough physical, but I will admit the only thing we could concentrate on was the upcoming chest x-ray. We went for the x-ray and we waited with Dr. Taylor while the pediatric radiologist read it. She was on the phone with Dr. Taylor while we stood there with her. My heart was pounding and my stomach felt sick. All of the sudden for the first time since we had begun this journey, my faith began to waiver and all sorts of horrible things ran through my mind. At that moment, Dr. Taylor looks at us with a huge smile on her face and gives us a “thumbs up” sign. Claire’s x-ray was totally normal. “One-hundred per cent normal” were her words. I felt like my legs would collapse underneath me at that point with total relief. I will never be able to praise God long enough for this miracle, our daughter.

After we left Dr. Taylor’s, and had called everyone we knew to share the news, the realization hit me. If Claire had not had the diagnosis that she had, she would not have been ours. She would have gone onto a NSN list and gone on to another family and she wouldn’t have been ours. The thought brought me to tears for the second time that day. She is so our daughter and I can not imagine our lives without her.

You can visit our family blog here.

Abby Grace

February 2, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

By Jennifer, mother to Abby Grace from China with complex unrepaired heart condition and unrepaired bi-lateral cleft lip and palate

In December of 2005 a little girl was born in the city of Ping Liang in GanSu Province China. A child that was not perfect in the eyes of man but perfect in the eyes of God. After four months of being with her family she was left on the doorsteps of the Ping Liang SWI on April 11, 2006. She was taken in and named Liang Wan Jian. She was suffering and malnourished most likely from her bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. Upon closer examination of the small baby she was also diagnosed with a heart condition, a VSD.

While all of this was transpiring in China the Lord was speaking to my heart and I was not sure I was really hearing him right. Adoption? Really Lord? Are you kidding me? We already have three wonderful children, could he really want us to adopt? I sat on that idea for a few days and then figured I’d look into it on the internet. I found many blogs and followed the journeys of a few families. Then I researched many agencies and had information sent to me from several. I settled on a small Christian agency , AWAA and finally worked up the courage to bring the idea up to my husband, Sean. I told him all about what the Lord had been telling me. We had a daughter in China that needed us. We decided to pray about it and attend an information seminar in the spring. We did not speak to anyone else about it nor did we tell anyone where we were going that day. Instead we wanted to really look at things before making this life changing decision. As we drove to the seminar I was already in tears. Was this really what God was wanting us to do? Me, a mom to 3 kids? What about the expenses? What about our children? We sat through a lengthy seminar and walked out dumbfounded. Knowing that yes, this is what He wanted us to do. As we made our way across the parking lot to our car Sean grabbed my hand and with tears in his eyes said, “Let’s do it!”

Fast forward eight long busy months to December 2006. We had all of our paperwork complete and were DTC December 15, 2006. We were requesting to adopt a healthy little girl 0-2. We were going to name her Abbigail Grace. We had a little celebration that night with our children, who by this time knew everything and were so excited to be getting a little sister from China.

Almost immediately after our dossiers took the little flight across the ocean I felt another little nudging from above. From the beginning of this process I had been dreaming of a sweet little baby girl with dark hair and perfect almond eyes. Slowly my dreams included faces of different children. Much different than I had originally planned. What are you trying to tell me God? I’ve listened to you and you have gotten me through the paper chase. You’ve provided everything we have needed so far. OK God, I’ll pray about it. We were ecstatic when received our LID packet telling us that we were logged-in January 15, 2007. Among the many papers in our log-in packet was an information flier about SN/waiting children. All right, God, I get it, I’ll do it. I brought the idea of looking into special need to Sean. For a brief moment I think that he though I had lost my mind. But through my tears I think he began to understand that this was where God was directing us to go. He asked me lots of questions about the different SN on our agencies list. I researched them on the internet, e-mailed a few families from on-line who had children with the needs we were considering. Out of the list we felt comfortable with some like CL/CP and club feet but were scared to death of others, especially heart defect. Now let me say, switching to or planning on adopting a special needs child had never before crossed my mind through the paperchase. In fact our social worker had mentioned it but we both said, I don’t think that is what we are supposed to do. But once I gave it to God it was evident to me that this was what we were supposed to do.

We applied to our agencies WC program, were accepted and began our wait. Many times through the wait we looked back at the list and thought about changing things. Again, we gave it to the Lord and continued to pray for our daughter nightly. As the summer of 2007 rolled around I began to hear him speaking to my heart again. Could you adopt a child with a heart condition? I don’t know father that is a very scary idea. What about all of the problems she could have, what about the complications, what about the surgeries? As we prayed about it for days I began to feel peace. He would not give us more than we could possibly handle. So I updated our list to include a yes to repaired heart condition and maybe to congenital heart defect. I then joined the China Heart group on-line and followed several families as they traveled to get their heart children in China. Gathering a folder full of information, just in case.

On October 3, 2007 our agency received a batch of SN referrals containing 21 girls and 14 boys. We had waited through three previous batches of referrals with disappointment. But this time I felt a sense of calm come over me. I told Sean she was in this batch. It would be six long days of waiting and praying before we got the call. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. We were both working that day and I had missed the initial call on my cell phone as did Sean. When I saw a message in my box and saw who it was from I knew this was “the call.” I quickly called Sean and asked him if he wanted me to wait and call once he could meet me or if he wanted me to go ahead and call. “Do it, what are you waiting for.” So I quietly walked to the lounge and dialed up our agency. I was briefly placed on hold then our FC said, “Jennifer, we have a file of a little girl with a bi-lateral CL/CP and a congenital heart defect we’d like for you to take a look at if you’re interested.” Interested? Are you kidding me? Of course we’re interested. Through my tears and sobs she gave me a bit more info and then e-mailed me her initial referral. I anxiously waited for Sean to arrive and together we opened the file and saw the face of our daughter for the first time. Tears filled our eyes and we knew she was the one. There was no doubt about it, she was the one.

We sent out LOI to adopt Liang Wan Jian. We met with a few doctors but knew they really could not tell us anything specific about her until we got her home. Five long months past from the time we first saw her sweet face to the time she was placed in our arms. We arrived home with her on April 11, 2008. Two years to the day that her birth-mother placed her on the steps of the Ping Liang SWI. She was finally home.

We spent the weekend with her getting to know her siblings and extended family. We took her to church for the first time in her young life. As she sat in my lap in Church munching on cheerios I remember praising God for this wonderful little girl. She was doing great, sleeping in her own crib, and eating everything in s

ight. Occasionally she got a little out of breath but was too interested in everything to take it easy. We went to her first check-up on Monday April 14th and were immediately referred to a pediatric cardiologist. We went to his office and he was shocked at how poor her little heart was doing. Her oxygen sats were in the 70’s but she was holding her own. He referred us to MUSC for a sedated echo and heart cath. to see if she was a candidate for surgery. It was at that point that we realized how severe her defect was. We went home in tears. We arrived at MUSC on Wednesday, April 16th in good spirits. We stayed with her until they took her back. Her procedures went very well and the doctors explained in great detail the complexity of her defect. She was a good candidate for surgery so we’d go home and schedule it for a few weeks out, right? Nope, her sats dropped to 54. They immediately put her on oxygen and scheduled surgery for the following morning. Less that a week later our sweet Abby Grace was up and running. We left MUSC knowing that we’d return some day for her follow-up surgery on her heart but knowing that she now had a life to live. A life that if left in the China would likely not exist today.

She returned to MUSC in the fall of 2008 for her CL/CP surgeries and is doing great. She attends speech class twice a week and is learning more and more words daily. Her therapist tells us all of the time how smart she is and how much she enjoys working with her.

As I look back on our adoption journey I hate to even wonder what would have happened to Abby Grace if we had simply said, “No, thanks. I think CL/CP and a complex heart condition are too much for us to handle.” Where would she be? Would everyone else feel the same way? I cannot imagine life with out this special and unexpected gift from God. We feel so blessed that God chose us to be her family.


January 30, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

by Leslie, mother to Susannah from China with complex unrepaired heart defects and unrepaired cl/cp

Our journey to Susannah began years ago as God was birthing the desire to adopt in both of our hearts. It is very hard to pinpoint a specific date as I can look back at so many moments when I felt God whispering. My husband Charlie too felt that ever-present restlessness that God so often uses to speak to our hearts. He often would say that we were done “having” children. I would often say that I thought our family “was not complete.” We were both right!

Though I did not “have” Susannah, she could not be anymore my own than if I had carried her in my womb for nine months. And her Daddy, well he does not say we are “done” anymore. Adoption has changed both of our hearts and it has changed Susannah’s as well. We officially began this journey in the summer of 2007. In July, Charlie gave me the go-ahead I had so desperately wanted to apply to America World Adoption Association. I can honestly say that I had been on their website several times and we were introduced to them through another family who had recently adopted their child and used this agency. From the first moment, I was struck by the Special Needs program as it was called then.

When I first got up the nerve to mention the “Special Needs” program to Charlie, he simply wanted to know more. I was sort of surprised. I think if the tables had been turned and he had brought this up to me, I would have been very hesitant but he just wanted to hear more about it. In early August, we mailed off our application to our agency and within a few weeks we had been accepted as a family. Around that same time, we sat down on the sofa and just started looking over the Special Needs checklist, which I had printed off the website. There were so many needs, many of which we did not even understand. We were using my laptop to type in some of them, and I remember us both becoming frustrated and just feeling sort of defeated.

One other area where Charlie and I just could not seem to come to unity on was the age we were open to on our application. For our agency, they had ranges starting with 0–2 years and then 3–4 and so on. I really felt that we needed to be open up to age 2 years. However, Charlie felt that we needed to go ahead and mark the next box, 3–4 years. In fact, he felt very comfortable in checking the next box for 5–6 years. Our youngest son was already 5 at the time and we both felt that we did not want to disrupt the birth order, but we also felt that he would most likely turn 6 before we received a referral. So Charlie and I committed to praying together about this as well.

After some more time, we came back together to discuss age again. Charlie still felt comfortable in going up to age 6, and I still felt that 2 years old was the right choice. We decided actually very easily that we would compromise and go with 0–4 years of age since it was right in the middle. I don’t remember who of us suggested that, but I believe it was Charlie. It seemed right and so we went with that. Charlie even predicted that she would be “exactly 3 when she came home.” I thought that odd at the time, but it was yet another moment that would later be part of our confirmation that Susannah was the one whom God had intended for us since time eternal.

I am so thankful that I opened up my heart to an “older” child or we would have missed out on the blessing of Susannah. She was 31 months old at the time of her referral to us, which would have made her out of our age range had we not marked 3–4 years. She turned 35 months old just 4 days before we met her in China. As it turned out she turned 3 years old just 4 days AFTER she “came home” from the hospital, which she had been in since the day after we arrived home from China! Again, God was in the details!

Going back to the special needs checklist, we continued to pray over it and came back to complete it in late August, and this time we felt that things were much more in focus. There were many needs that we simply had to say No to and that was very difficult. We did not come to any of those No decisions lightly. We also had marked several Maybes, but I remember clearly that our agency shared with families that they would only make contact for a Maybe in rare instances. As it turned out, we did not honestly have very many Yes boxes checked. For our particular agency checklist, there were two lines for heart defects. One was for repaired heart defect and the other for congenital (or unrepaired) heart defect. We had chosen to mark repaired with a yes and congenital (unrepaired) with a maybe. And so it was done on August 31, 2007.

As the end of the year neared, we finished our dossier and it was mailed to China on December 7, 2007. We were overjoyed to finally have it done, and we were hopeful that it would be logged in before 2007 was over. It was a bold prayer at the time but one that God would later answer as we learned in mid-January that our Log-In Date was December 14, 2007! Our official wait had begun, but for us it really began on September 10, the day we were approved for the Special Needs program.

Around that same time, the China Center for Adoption Affairs implemented many changes in the Special Needs program and even renamed it the Waiting Child program. I was admittedly upset that our agency would most likely no longer receive files of individual children and that most likely our wait time would increase. I felt like I was losing all control of the adoption process, and I did not like it. Charlie on the other hand remained calm and at total peace, reminding me that God had already chosen our daughter and that if we truly believed that then we did not need to worry about the process in which she would come to us. I can honestly say that he believed this and his faith in that truth never wavered. Mine wavered like a seesaw at times.

After we turned in our dossier, I thought we could relax and just enjoy the wait. Yet Charlie became restless in his spirit about the adoption, not in a worrisome or anxious way like I had become, but namely that our special needs checklist was not totally in accordance with God’s will for our family. When he expressed to me that he felt we should change our maybe to a yes on one particular need, I knew which one he meant: unrepaired heart defect. He even mentioned a little girl by name that we know very well and whom I had been teaching in Sunday school. One Sunday as this little girl walked out of the classroom and skipped off down the hall with her Mommy, Charlie said to me, “What if we were saying no to her?” That struck a chord with me. Charlie was in no way trying to convict me, yet his heart was so heavy and he needed to convey to me how heavy this burden had become. I finally understood and honestly, I knew no fear and felt a total peace about the decision to change our checklist.

So on the afternoon of Sunday, January 6, 2008, at 3:47 PM, I sent a simple email to our coordinator at AWAA asking her to make this change to our checklist: maybe to yes for congenital heart defect. It would be just two months and two days later that our coordinator would call me on a Thursday with the possibility of reviewing the file of a little girl with an unrepaired congenital heart defect!

mg style="margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer; width: 262px; height: 400px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_-NPLQ7jpFVw/SYC-BfHshDI/AAAAAAAAFYk/2AYyEef_v2M/s400/An+Yan+Wen+Photo+2_2.JPG" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5296442094530626610" border="0" />At around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, 2008, my phone rang as I sat at the computer most likely surfing adoption blogs or boards. I remember her words clearly: Hi Leslie, this is M calling from America World. How are you doing today? I think I answered back but I can’t be sure because I knew instantly why she was calling. My heart felt like it leaped right out of my chest. Then she said: Well we a have file that we thought you and Charlie might like to review. I started crying silently and explained to her that Charlie was not here, that he was in Nicaragua on a mission trip working in an orphanage and in a poor area helping to construct housing. She then said she wanted to double-check some things we had stated on our application and checklist and that she felt it would be OK for me to give a verbal yes to send the file. I explained to her that I would do my best to contact Charlie through the emergency number I had. As she began sharing about the little girl, all I remember her saying is this: She is 2 1/2 and she has third degree cleft lip and palate. And Leslie, she also has an unrepaired heart defect. At that point, I heard no more. I do remember saying, Yes, yes, please send us her file.

The next few days were a blur of activity as I consulted doctors and Charlie made his way home a day early. That weekend, we just prayed for peace and clarity and God gave it to us through many small nudges and some big confirmations too! Though THE CALL did not go as I had thought it would because Charlie was not able to rush home and open the file with me, it went perfectly. I was able to share with him over the cell phone about our little girl, and he just kept saying this was our daughter. I was sure too, but I was very scared. Her little heart was very defected if the paperwork was accurate. And I had lots of what ifs swirling around in my head. I still worried about the shared list and the locking of her file. We would find out later that Susannah’s file had been on the shared list at least since mid-April. She had been waiting for us all along!

The following Monday morning on May 12, 2008, Charlie and I sent in our LOI to our agency asking China to grant us approval to adopt this little girl. It was a huge leap of faith— unlike any Charlie and I had ever taken in our live. We had been very blessed with two healthy sons already, and our extended family had been blessed with healthy children on both sides as well. This was new territory and a place we could have never imagined walking even when we first began the adoption journey. God had led us to this place—for our daughter. For us, it is that simple and the simplicity of it all became more and more focused as we journeyed ever so closer to her. As the summer began and the days turned into weeks, those swirling thoughts of doubt came back to me again. Again, God gave Charlie a peace unlike any he’d ever known and God reassured me through the comforting words and prayers of my husband. I still worried but at the same time, I thanked God for Charlie and for this little girl who I knew already deep in my heart was VERY SPECIAL.

I want to also share that we do not have any grand suggestions or monumental advice on how we came to the decision to say Yes to a child with complex, unrepaired congenital heart defects as well as another significant need (cleft lip and palate) as so many have asked me to share about. We simply said Yes to God when He asked us to step out onto that particular path, and it is only by His grace that we could. Your path may be different or maybe He is asking you to say yes to that particular need. I do not know, but what I do know is that our God is always faithful to the end and that He knows the end from the beginning.

It is amazing to look back and see how God was preparing us for what we needed one day at a time. Our adoption trip itself would prove the very awesomeness of our detail-oriented, mountain-moving, miracle-making GOD! Our trip was different and supernatural and glorious. On September 16, 2008, we met Susannah An Yanwen in a hospital in China and on September 23, we arrived home to a yard full of family and friends who were very thankful to have her HOME! As it turned out, she went into the hospital the very next morning and had open-heart surgery just one week after arriving home on September 30, 2008. We had prayed all along for God to HEAL her heart and He did through the miracle of modern medicine. Finally, on October 8, 2008, just 4 days before her third birthday, Susannah came home to stay and we have been so blessed beyond our wildest dreams with this precious child. Though our journey to Susannah was not for the faint of heart and our journey since coming home has been EVENTFUL, we love our little girl infinitely and thank God for CHOOSING us to be her family and for CHOOSING her to be our daughter.