Choosing Happiness Daily: Adopting a Child with an Unfixable Heart

February 19, 2017 adopting a boy, complex heart defect, double inlet left ventricle, Eisenmenger’s Syndrome, Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, heart defect, Heart System, older child adoption, pulmonary hypertension, terminal diagnosis, TGV 1 Comments

One evening less than two months after bringing home our second son from China, I told my husband that I wished we could adopt an older child someday too. In both of our travel groups, there were older children who were adopted. These had made such an impact on my heart! They understood the idea …Read More

Yes, I Did. I Asked For This.

February 17, 2017 Developmental System, Down syndrome, Family Stories, large families 14 Comments

Someone finally said out loud what I assumed people might be thinking all along. I was asked, “How are you?” Careful not to ever come across as complaining about this beautiful mess God has called me to, I simply answered, “Good.” I never want to appear to have it all together (which isn’t hard); however, …Read More

After the Honeymoon: Adopting a Child with Complex CHD

February 14, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting as first time parents, complex heart defect, Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, first year home, Heart System, heterotaxy, medical needs checklist, Morning Star Foster Home, pulmonary atresia, should we adopt?, surgery, waiting for referral 0 Comments

Prologue: In our son’s room, we have a picture that reads: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) We chose this verse for him, but in reality it applies more to us. My husband, Derek, and …Read More

He Is A Gift

February 9, 2017 adopting a boy, Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, Heart System, HLHS, older child adoption, pulmonary stenosis, single atrium heart disease, single ventricle heart disease, TGA 6 Comments

Our son, Matthew, is eight years old. He came home last year in May 2016. Throughout the adoption process and shortly after arriving home, God reminded us that Matthew is a gift. My husband and I would hear “He is a gift” over and over again. God had to remind us. He had to because …Read More

Fighting for Her Heart

February 5, 2017 Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, heart defect, Heart System, hospital stays, surgery, Tetralogy of Fallot 15 Comments

Just over four years ago, I was waiting in a cold government office in Zhengzhou, China to meet my second daughter. I had hesitantly said yes to adopting a child with a heart condition. In saying yes, I had armed myself with knowledge and facts and learned everything I could about my daughter’s medical diagnosis. …Read More

Straight into the Fire: Our Road to Rosie

February 1, 2017 complex heart defect, complex medical, Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, Heart System, medical expedite, Tetralogy of Fallot 3 Comments

February is the month of hearts. And here at NHBO, we are all about hearts this month, too. This February, we will be sharing stories of children with congenital heart defects – from minor to complex – and how their families found them. pursued them, and brought them home. ……… After adopting our first daughter …Read More

Adopting a Child with Unpredictable Special Needs

January 31, 2017 adoption realities, bronchiectasis, dysphagia, Family Stories, medical needs checklist, referral, swallow study, undiagnosed SN 0 Comments

When you visit a carnival, some rides are very predictable. The frog hopper, bumper cars, flying elephants, and even the tea cups come with a high level of predictability. You hand over the ticket and, with almost 100% certainty, you can foresee what the outcome of the ride will be… steady, smooth, and timely. Then …Read More

Confessions of a Former China Director Turned Adoptive Mom

January 24, 2017 adopting a boy, Attachment, attachment activities, cognitive delay, complex medical, developmental delays, Developmental System, Family Stories, first weeks home, first year home, low muscle tone, Newly Home, should we adopt? 8 Comments

Alternately titled: What I wish I would have known, and what I would like to share with other adoptive families I first started out with adoption in 2004 when I was just 21 years old. It was the summer before my senior year of college when I got a job as an intern at All …Read More

Family Makes a Difference

December 29, 2016 adopting a boy, age assignment, bone scan, cl/cp, Craniofacial, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, Family Stories, first year home, International Adoption Clinic, night terrors, Sleep issues, switching agencies 0 Comments

If you have read any adoption account they all contain transformation stories. Most are pretty dramatic. How could it be anything less? Family makes a difference. The love of family brings healing physical, emotional and spiritual. It is no different in our story. My family was in line to be matched with a child in …Read More

Outnumbered and Loving It

December 28, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, Family Stories, referral 0 Comments

Five years ago this month, we got “the call”. To say it was unexpected would be an understatement. Our dossier wasn’t logged in, the check marks on our medical needs list were few, and the shared list had been released earlier in the week. When I checked the caller ID on my cell phone I …Read More

The Rewrite in our Adoption Story: Choosing a Son

December 21, 2016 adopting a boy, Blood Conditions, cerebral atrophy, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, Family Stories, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura) 3 Comments

You make them. I make them. We pray they are the right ones. Choices. As a parent, we analyze and make decisions sometimes seamlessly and other times with great thought. When you are faced with a life-altering choice it weighs heavy on your heart and mind. When I began to weigh what it would mean …Read More

Just an Inconvenience

December 15, 2016 congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, older child adoption, Sensory System 4 Comments

J: “Mom, we did four mile repeats today! I ran them all about 6:20.” Me: “Well, can I expect to see a 21 minute 5K on your next race?” J: “Mom, we got to rest five minutes between repeats. You know a race isn’t like that. Oh, and my agricultural instructor wants me to talk …Read More

Research, Reach Out, Advocate: Adopting a Child with Dual-Sensory Loss

December 13, 2016 December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, glaucoma, hearing aids, hearing loss, IEP, public school, Sensory System, vision loss 3 Comments

Princess. Uniquely and wonderfully made. Perfect. One of a kind. (Actually, 1 of 347 in our state and 9,574 in the U.S.*) All words to describe our daughter Lily who joined our family in January of 2013. Her file stated bilateral congenital glaucoma. Fast forward three years… and she is legally blind, wears a sclera …Read More

Blessed by Boys

December 12, 2016 adopting a boy, adopting again, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, dossier reuse, Family Stories, referral, should we adopt?, virtual twins, waiting for referral 1 Comments

I completed my first adoption in the fall of 1983. Cradling my new baby, I raised my right hand as I stood in front of my mother pledging, “I promise to love my Cabbage Patch Kid with all my heart. I promise to be a good and kind parent. I will always remember how special …Read More

It’s a boy! And yes, he’s from China.

December 11, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, Family Stories 8 Comments

We’ve noticed a common theme has emerged when we share that we adopted our youngest son from China… “Wow! How did you adopt a boy?!!” “I thought you could only adopt girls from China.” “I can’t believe you found a boy in China!” I have to admit, before a friend adopted a handsome Chinese son …Read More

Embracing the Unknowns

December 7, 2016 ambiguous genitalia, Disorder of Sexual Development, Family Stories, hypospadias, November 2016 Feature - Urogenital, Urogenital System 0 Comments

Our son is adventurous, affectionate, good-natured, and strong. He loves playing outside, blowing bubbles, reading books, and playing with anything with wheels. He is absolutely amazing and the perfect addition to our family. I want the world to know all of this about him. What I choose to keep private is information about his special …Read More

Love Beyond Sight

December 6, 2016 cataracts, congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, first year home, hypoplasia, medical needs checklist, micropthalmia, Newly Home, prosthetic eye, referral, Sensory System, vision loss 1 Comments

I have always been a planner, always been cautious. I had even been planning this adoption since I was 12! What I hadn’t planned was that China would become a special needs adoption program by the time my husband and I were able to adopt. It was daunting looking over the Medical Checklist. I could …Read More

Then and Now: Selah

December 5, 2016 Family Stories, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now 5 Comments

One year ago we were sitting in a hotel conference room waiting to meet our daughter for the first time. One year ago the minute hands on our watches seem to stand still. One year ago we watched families meet their children for the first time. One year ago our daughter was finally brought into …Read More

Reach for the Stars: Adopting a Child with Vision Impairment

December 1, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, nystagmus, older child adoption, opaque cornea, public school, Sensory System, TVI, vision issues, vision loss 0 Comments

It was the second time in his life to ride on an airplane. The first time was only ten months ago when he traveled the 16 hour flight from China to America. On that first flight he was a scared, angry little fighter whose only concern was protecting himself. Now he was a happy, calm …Read More

Then and Now: Caris and Calah

November 26, 2016 cl/cp, Craniofacial, Family Stories, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now 1 Comments

November is Adoption Awareness Month. And our focus is Then and Now… glimpses into the lives of children – children who were once orphaned – who are now beloved family members. Daughters, sons, sisters and brothers who are now blossoming in the love of a forever family… ……….. In 2004 when we first felt the …Read More

Then and Now: Abby and Evie

November 23, 2016 adopting again, adopting out of birth order, Family Stories, food issues, Heart System, homeschool, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now, older child adoption, orphanage behaviors, port wine stain, spina bifida, VSD 0 Comments

November is Adoption Awareness Month. And our focus is Then and Now… glimpses into the lives of children – children who were once orphaned – who are now beloved family members. Daughters, sons, sisters and brothers who are now blossoming in the love of a forever family… ……….. We have been blessed with two beautiful …Read More

Uncommon Visible Difference

November 19, 2016 adopting a boy, adopting again, Craniofacial, craniofacial cleft, Family Stories, large families, lateral proboscis, referral, surgery, visible special need 6 Comments

There is an art to a successful adoption announcement when you are adopting a child with a visible difference. You learn to manage the situation, to set up the encounter in ways that you would never think about when you adopt a child who looks more typical. You mention your referral. Your friend expresses excitement …Read More

Then and Now: Mila

November 18, 2016 Attachment, attachment challenges, developmental delays, Developmental System, Family Stories, feeding/swallowing therapy, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now, parent-to-child attachment, siblings, Trust Based Parenting 4 Comments

November is Adoption Awareness Month. And our focus is Then and Now… glimpses into the lives of children – children who were once orphaned – who are now beloved family members. Daughters, sons, sisters and brothers who are now blossoming in the love of a forever family… ……….. We’ve all seen those glossy magazine ads …Read More

When You Know a Child is Yours: Adopting a Child with DSD

November 15, 2016 Disorder of Sexual Development, Family Stories, hypospadias, November 2016 Feature - Urogenital, Urogenital System 1 Comments

When my husband and I first began filling out our medical needs checklist we had no idea what most of the conditions were or what we could, as a family, even handle. We figured anything in the “mild needs” category could be managed. It’s a funny thing that happens though when you see a child’s …Read More

The Lucky Ones: Adopting a Child with a Visible Special Need

November 13, 2016 birthmark, Family Stories, hemangioma, phakomatosis pigmentovascularis, port wine stain, Vascular System 2 Comments

The Lord uses many avenues to speak to the hearts of his people and call them forward to adoption. For some that call comes from the Bible and teachings of the church, for some that call comes through knowing people who have adopted, some people meet the vulnerable in orphanages and fall in love, and …Read More

In the Trenches

November 1, 2016 bowel management, bronchial deformity, Family Stories, imperforate anus, incontinence, November 2016 Feature - Urogenital, tracheo-malacia, tracheoesophagel fistula, Urogenital System, VACTERL 1 Comments

When my husband and I were researching the needs of our would be son, we turned to various physicians, websites, and blog posts in search of not only what the diagnosis was and what it would entail medically, but also what the day to day parenting for a child with his special needs would be …Read More

Not What I Expected

October 30, 2016 Family Stories, infertility, pre-adoption, referral, should we adopt?, waiting for referral, working mom 0 Comments

Our family story. It’s not what I expected. Ten years ago when my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, “my time” likely caused God to laugh because nothing, really, has happened according to my desired schedule. Ten years ago we were the ideal parents. My husband and I went to …Read More

1 in 1000: Adopting a Child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

October 17, 2016 apraxia of speech, Central Nervous System, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, early intervention, Education, Family Stories, non-verbal, October 2016 Feature - Developmental, speech delay, speech therapy 0 Comments

Like so many of us who are part of the adoption community, we have learned so very much in the time our two youngest kiddos have been part of our family. Our son, Liam, who is now eight years old, joined our family at the age of 28 months. His special need was listed as …Read More

The Blessing of Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

October 11, 2016 adopting a boy, Developmental System, Down syndrome, Family Stories, Morning Star Foster Home, October 2016 Feature - Developmental 5 Comments

I was sixteen weeks pregnant with our second child sitting outside Panera sipping my tomato basil soup when an elementary aged boy walked by smiling and holding his mother’s hand. The boy had Down syndrome. As they walked past a question entered my mind I had never thought in my life, “What if my child …Read More

Down Syndrome, Sign Language and Adoption

October 6, 2016 ASL, Attachment, attachment activities, Developmental System, Down syndrome, Family Stories, non-verbal, October 2016 Feature - Developmental, sign language, speech delay 2 Comments

When our oldest daughter, Reagan, was a baby, I had every intention of teaching her sign language. I had researched the benefits, both for parents and children, and was excited to go down that road. But then life happened, sleepless nights and other duties prevailed, and we never pursued it further. 

 Our middle daughter, Reese, …Read More

When Mom Works: Every Single One Needs a Family

October 5, 2016 albinism, declining a referral, Family Stories, October 2016 Feature - Working Moms, referral, Skin Conditions, TVI, waiting for referral, working mom 20 Comments

Navigating work and being a mom is tough under the best of circumstances, but it can feel even more daunting when you toss in the complex issues that accompany parenting your newly adopted child. So this month on No Hands But Ours, some been-there-done-that working mamas are here to help, with advice on everything from …Read More

Epidermolysis Bullosa: “The Worst Disease You’ve Never Heard Of”

September 28, 2016 epidermolysis bullosa, Family Stories, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions 0 Comments

Epidermolysis Bullosa (ep-i-der-mo-lie-sis bu-low-suh), abbreviated as EB, is a rare, genetic disorder that impacts connective tissue. Approximately 200 children a year in the U.S. are born with EB, and it’s known as “The Worst Disease You’ve Never Heard Of”. Children with EB are referred to as “butterflies” due to the fragility of their skin. There …Read More

Not Really a Special Need: Adopting a Child with Albinism

September 26, 2016 adopting a boy, albinism, Family Stories, nystagmus, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions, TVI, vision issues 0 Comments

No Hands But Ours is focusing on skin conditions this month. My son has albinism, but I hesitated to write our story. Heck, our dermatologist has discharged us. If my son ever has a suspicious mole or a serious burn, we’ll go back. Otherwise, I am capable of – the dermatologist pointed out – totally …Read More

Our Red Thread of Hope: An Advocacy Success Story

September 21, 2016 adopting a boy, Advocacy, Family Stories, pre-adoption, referral, should we adopt?, switching agencies, waiting for referral 4 Comments

The Chinese have an ancient proverb that says, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.” Back in July 2015, the Lord called our family out of the Ethiopia adoption program, where had waited for over …Read More

God’s Path: Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome

September 19, 2016 Developmental System, Down syndrome, Family Stories 1 Comments

Four years ago, we were a family of five. My husband and I had two biological sons who are now 15 and 13 and one daughter who is now ten. We had adopted our daughter from China when she was only one year old. She had a hole in her heart, but God healed her. …Read More

Our Fair-Haired Hero: Adopting a Child with Albinism

September 17, 2016 albinism, Education, Family Stories, older child adoption, public school, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions, TVI, vision issues 0 Comments

Her name was spoken to us before we even knew who she was…. We had adopted from China in 2011 and just started the process to adopt again. One night I let myself start thinking about names for our new little one and after spending more time than I care to admit looking at baby …Read More

Adoption – The Beautiful Paradox

September 15, 2016 adoption realities, books, Family Stories, Parenting Special Needs 5 Comments

I just flew back from South Carolina. I went there to reunite my daughter with a friend that she had not seen in almost four years. The last time the girls saw each other, they were in an orphanage halfway around the world. The nannies who had raised them pressed the bewildered little girls into …Read More

More than White Hair: Adopting a Child with Albinism

September 14, 2016 albinism, Family Stories, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions 1 Comments

We didn’t plan to adopt a child with white hair. I wouldn’t assume many do when they consider adopting a child from China. I fell in love with our son Noah’s face and short description one night while perusing the waiting children on RainbowKids. Adoption was something my husband and I had prayed about, discussed …Read More

Beautiful Scars: Adopting a Child with a Congenital Nevus

September 7, 2016 birthmark, Congenital nevus, Family Stories, giant congenital nevus, medical needs checklist, medical waiver, referral, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions 4 Comments

When my husband and I first started looking into adoption, we were told that because of my epilepsy, we could only apply for a special focus child. In Adoption circles, Special Focus means either that the child has more than one medical condition, or has a more severe medical condition. Sometimes the label is given …Read More

Journey to Gabriel: Adopting a Child with Ichthyosis

September 2, 2016 adopting a boy, Family Stories, ichthyiosis, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions 7 Comments

I love adoption. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. It’s hard. It’s the big stuff — hope, joy, grief, love, sacrifice… wrapped up in one. It makes a world of difference to a child in need. It builds families. It’s an example of God’s handiwork. And being part of anything God does is just, well, awesome. When …Read More

Blessed: Adopting a Child Who Isn’t “Healthy”

August 31, 2016 Family Stories, Heart System, older child adoption 1 Comments

Scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook, I see a popular thanksgiving…. In the hospital after the delivery of a new baby, I hear the same praises. In the grocery store I hear faint echoes of the same gratitude while everything else goes quiet in my head. Parents and family alike are “so blessed” by having healthy …Read More

How HIV Changed My Life – For the Better

August 17, 2016 August 2016 - Infectious, Family Stories, HIV, Infectious 2 Comments

“Why would you want a child with HIV?” asked an employee from our daughter’s foster home. The question took me off guard. After all, she lived with and cared for people with HIV. Without skipping a beat, my husband spoke up, “Because she’s our daughter.” Three simple words. She’s our daughter. Words that echoed in …Read More

A Gift You Can’t Prepare For: Adopting a Child with CP

August 14, 2016 adopting a boy, Central Nervous System, cerebral palsy, Family Stories, should we adopt? 3 Comments

“You weren’t trained for this, but you were born for it.” I keep reading these words sent to me by a dear friend the other day. She knew I was struggling with parenting our three year old son, home since January, while also trying to meet the needs of our three biological children ages four, …Read More

When God Honors Our “Yes”: Our Sign Language Journey, Part One

August 10, 2016 adopting as first time parents, ASL, Attachment, August 2016 Feature - SIgn Language and Adoption, cl/cp, cochlear implants, Craniofacial, developmental delays, Family Stories, hearing loss, older child adoption, profound deafness, Sensory System, sign language 6 Comments

In May 2009, I first saw her face. She couldn’t possibly be our daughter; she didn’t “fit” any of the criteria we’d committed to on our Medical Needs Checklist and there was no way my husband would agree to adopting her. True, we’d agreed that caring for a child with cleft lip/palate was something we …Read More

Sign Language and Adoption: The Value of their Voice

August 7, 2016 ASL, attachment activities, August 2016 Feature - SIgn Language and Adoption, Family Stories, Heart System, sign language, speech delay, tracheo-malacia, VSD 0 Comments

You might think that sign language is only for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. We’d like to encourage you to reconsider. Signing is an incredibly valuable tool in any adoptive parent’s tool belt. It makes communicating with your newly adopted child exponentially easier – no matter their age or special need. And …Read More

Her First Smile

July 30, 2016 cl/cp, Craniofacial, Family Stories, guest post, July 2016 Feature - Craniofacial, surgery 5 Comments

It was the morning before my daughter’s cleft lip repair. Alongside my husband and with my daughter in my arms, we walked into her surgeon’s office. We had intentionally waited four months after her adoption before scheduling the surgery. I wanted to give her time to begin to know and trust us. I also wanted …Read More

His Hands and Feet: Adopting a Child with ABS

July 26, 2016 amniotic band syndrome, Family Stories, medical needs checklist, Orthopedic, pre-adoption, should we adopt?, waiting for referral 5 Comments

Sometimes you are clearly given a gift of grace and sometimes you find yourself in it. Both are of Him and from Him and are equally overwhelming and exciting. This is a glimpse of both. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8 ….. …Read More

Pondering the “What-Ifs”

July 21, 2016 coloboma, developmental delays, Developmental System, Family Stories, micropthalmia, prosthetic eye, Sensory System, siblings, vision loss 10 Comments

I remember reading all the recommended adoption books, watching all the training videos, stalking all the mom blogs, and talking to other adoptive moms during the time leading up to our own adoption. I got myself familiar with so many new terms and tried to educate myself on any possibility of trouble our future daughter …Read More

A Little Piece of a Big Plan

July 16, 2016 adopting a boy, BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, July 2016 Feature - Craniofacial, microtia, older child adoption, Ponto, Sensory System 0 Comments

“I just spoke to the director. He will call me when they’re about five minutes away.” It’s almost time. My heart is almost uncontainable. Everything. All of this. It’s about to happen. So many months, years, planning for this moment… Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, being a part of and seeing just a tiny …Read More

What Can Grow in the Dark?

July 13, 2016 Developmental System, Family Stories, low muscle tone 1 Comments

Thunderstorms – you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. It was 5:00 am when the crack of thunder woke us all up. My six-year-old crawled into our bed for the very first time. Yes, it’s normal for some children to be frightened by thunderstorms, but for some reason, he really hates them. Even the mention …Read More

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