No Boys?

September 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

That’s what we were saying back in 2006. We had 4 biological sons and felt like that was a good number. We had one daughter and felt like the Lord had perfectly planned it… we needed more girls! I had always dreamed of a sister for Katie. Of course not one that was 20 years younger but whatever!

We had heard about China’s one child policy and how every family in rural China wanted and needed a son. We read about all the little girls in the orphanages and our hearts ached. So we set off adopting our daughters!

The boys were desired and preferred in the Chinese culture. The little boys were not in the orphanages. They were not waiting for families. They were with their families, so we thought.

I am sure you have heard of the saying- “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans!”

As the years went by we started to see pictures of waiting boys. We learned that a boy with a disability was unacceptable to many families in China. They considered the child cursed, they could not work as hard as they needed to for their elderly parents and the family was unable to financially pay for what ever medical care the disabled son needed.

Our previous decision began to not make sense to us but we still proceeded with the plan.

And then God spoke to me…

As I was looking at a picture of an adorable little boy with a very serious and complicated heart issue the Lord said to me, “He is your son”.
WHAT God? What did you say? Really? How? We said, no boys, how can he be our son?

This little boy wasn’t even paper ready to be adopted. You cannot preplan an adoption of a child that is not paper ready.

When hubby came home from work he looked at me and said “What happened?”
He could see by the look on my face something big had happened. When I shared with him what God had said hubby’s response was an immediate “yes.” Now, that was a yes to God because we had no control over this little boy being ours or not. We believed what happened, we trusted God with the whole situation but we had no idea how or when this was going to happen.

Because of this little boy’s heart we were able to find out that he was going to have surgery before being paper ready.
Of course, if you’re going to adopt one boy you may want to adopt another boy because they like to wrestle and have fun like little puppy dogs! At least that is what we figured after having 4 older sons!

This is how God opened the doors and brought our boys home!
Sam came home in April 2011
Luke (the one the Lord spoke to me about) came home in December of 2011
Ben and Joey came home in December 2013 and now our next little guy will come home in early spring 2015.

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Our boys are so precious to us! They adore us and I love that about them! The bonding has been very easy.

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So many boys are waiting because they are… boys. Please consider bringing one of these treasures home! We can’t imagine our lives without them! Every day they bless us!

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“Cold Feet”

August 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

After adopting 13 children you would think I have it all down to a science! But I don’t… Once again I have suffered from the feelings of “cold feet”…

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Am I sure that it will work out adding to this large crew that somehow seems to work well together? Was it just me that thought this child was adorable or is it God telling me she is our daughter? What about the vehicle situation–there’s no more room in our van? Really God, another bunk bed? And what about the love/hate thing I have for traveling to China? I love meeting our new child but I’m not the best mom when I am there because I am dealing with all of my feelings. I get claustrophobic in the plane and a constant nervous stomach. If hubby goes we are without him for two to three weeks. Are we too old for this? And what if…

The doubts the questions come into my mind one after another. It doesn’t matter if it was our first adoption or our last. It’s happened every single time we adopt.

It’s not God that is putting these questions and doubts in to my mind it is the opposition taking advantage of my wavering faith and my weaknesses. He is stealing the joy, and robbing me of an opportunity to put my TRUST IN GOD. The opposition would like nothing better than for us to back away in fear and to stop doing as God desires us to do. Whether it’s missionary work in the USA or overseas, whether it’s fostering, adopting, or service to our Lord, in anyway the opposition wants us to fail… and he will stop short of nothing to cause us to fail or turn around in fear. BUT our GOD is bigger than all of this. He is our armor, our strength and HE fights off the opposition. Prayer and faith are our weapons.

Thankfully my cold feet don’t last very long. Thankfully (each time) God steps in and puts me back together and sends me on the path that he has planned for us.

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When I feel this way I get rather quiet and prayerful. I put out an APB for the Lord and I don’t stop praying until I feel His presence, His comfort, HIS peace. Of course He never left me. He doesn’t ever leave us but somehow I had blocked HIM out and allowed the opposition to sneak in…

My cold feet were quickly a thing of the past and my heart overflowed with gratitude for Lord.

I wanted to share with you that questioning what you are doing is normal. Most likely others around you are not adopting so you are going in a different direction than maybe some of your friends. You are stepping out in faith for a child. You are stepping out to serve the Lord and to be His hands and feet. There are many unknowns but if you focus on what you do know you will find abundant blessings! You know that God will never leave you. You know that even though you fear you can’t do it, He can! You know that God’s hands are all over adoption- it is HIS desire that we care for the orphans and widows.

Even when our adoption journey has been hard the best still flow.

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What I have found in our adoption journeys is that GOD handles the details. The van will somehow work out or we will take 2 vehicles. The bunk bed will fit into the room–it will be crowded but that’s okay. Most likely we won’t even notice that we have an extra child at the table, it will instantly feel “normal” to us.

But to the child it will be life changing. A sparkle will come to our new daughter’s eyes. Her smile will radiate joy and her health will be restored. She will laugh and giggle as she plays with her many siblings. She will learn about Jesus and what a life with FAITH is like! And the icing on the cake is that she will run to her Mommy and her Daddy for a hug and kiss…

As we serve God we wonder how on earth could we be so blessed…

THANK YOU LORD!



Diagnosed… And then Rediagnosed… And Then…

July 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

In 2010 we saw an adorable picture of a little girl with a sucker in her mouth! She immediately caught my attention. Her eyes looked straight into mine and they were calling out for a Mommy and a Daddy. I read her short bio and the word cancer was in there. I immediately said to myself, “Nope, can’t do that…” and then I wondered who would be the family that would step forward? I prayed that someone would bring this beautiful child home.

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Fast forward 6 months, we were in process for our Luke but we had an unsettled feeling. There was another child waiting BUT who was it? We looked and looked but our child was nowhere to be found. We waited and prayed and then there she was… little Arizona with the sucker in her mouth. We prayed about it and that evening when hubby came home he uttered the exact same words that God had placed in my heart that day. “She needs to come home!”

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We knew very little about Abby’s situation other than she needed blood transfusions every 6 weeks and that she was diagnosed with MDS, which is a preleukemia diagnosis. I asked her orphanage to transfuse her right before gotcha day so she would feel as good as possible- they obliged! They were so happy she had a family and would have a chance at life. As the three weeks in China went by Abby slowly faded. Her coloring changed to a pale yellowish, her lips were no longer pink, she was tired and a bit ornery. I could tell she was not feeling well.

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When we got home we went straight to the Pediatric Hematologist. Her hemoglobin was about 6 and she was wiped out. She was afraid and had no idea what they were going to do to her. She cried and moaned in fear. It was a very sad and hopeless cry… She did not care what the translator was saying- she had her memories of what it was like in the hospital in China – all alone for many days (5-7 days), getting a transfusion… That is how they did her transfusions in China. Nobody stayed with her, she was an orphan and they could not spare the staff or the money to have someone be there for her, she was all alone and scared.

Our Hematologists quickly transfused her (it’s about a 4-5 hour process) and once again the color returned to her cheeks and she had a smile on her face. She was surprised that I stayed there and didn’t leave her side. She was surprised that she got a toy and that we colored, painted, played with toys, looked at books and watched TV. She was thrilled when we left together and when we went home together!

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Once Abby was home we found out she needed to be transfused every 3-4 weeks.

Abby has been home now for 2.5 years. Throughout this time she has had her diagnosis changed 6 times.

1. It started out as MDS (Myelodysplastic Anemia) in China.

2. It was confirmed as Myelodysplastic Anemia at our local University and Congenital Sideroblastic anemia was added.

We immediately had an appointment to discuss a bone marrow transplant for Abby. It was planned to be done as soon as we got the excess iron out of her body.

This is called Chelation and it is necessary because whenever someone is given another persons blood their body is unable to breakdown and excrete (pee out) the other donors iron so it is stored in the body. No big deal if you have one or two transfusions BUT those having regular transfusions have an extremely large amount of extra iron that is store in their body. This excess iron can be stored in the liver, pancreas, heart, brain or other major organs. Abby’s was stored mainly in her liver and pancreas (if you have to pick these are the best 2 places to have it stored).

We had a plan and we were good to go! I prayed about the BMT (bone marrow transplant) and how our large family would cope with it. It is not a procedure to take lightly. It can be life saving as a last effort to help a patient/child but the statistics are not as favorable as we would have liked. With prayer and counsel we decided we would only do it as a last effort to save Abby.

Our Hematologist studied at Boston Children’s and wanted to send Abby’s blood there for testing so we agreed.

3. They determined she did not have MDS and that her diagnosis was Congenital Sideroblastic Anemia.

WOW! We were shocked and thrilled! Praise God! This was such great news!! There was a weight lifted off our shoulders! The BMT was looking less and less necessary!

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It was also determined that Abby’s chelation process was going very well and the excess iron levels were decreasing at a good rate! Abby wore a backpack containing medicine in it. She had an IV in her port. For 48 hours every 2 weeks she did this. After 6 months she no longer had to wear the backpack and have with the IV. Now she drinks orange juice with exjade in it, every morning. She is a trooper and doesn’t complain.

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Six months passed and it was time for another round of testing.

4. Once again our local University said she had MDS. Our hearts sunk and I began to feel fearful. I lost sight of God’s comfort and HIS capable guidance and I found myself teary and weakened.

Then, a sample was then sent on to Boston Children’s again.

5. Once again came back to us with the diagnosis of Congenital Sideroblastic Anemia and said that it was NOT MDS. We celebrated and exhaled!

Soon after that we had a proposition. Boston Children’s hospital was conducting a study and asked if they include Abby’s blood sample. We agreed!

Months passed and we forgot about it.

At one point we said to our Dr. “Medicine seems to change so often. We are going to wait to see what other research is out there and then make decisions on how to best treat Abby’s condition.” She looked at me and said- “Sadly, this is so rare there is no other research. There may not be another person that has what Abby has and if there is we may never find them.”

Gulp, that put it all into perspective.

We knew who was in control of all of this- our God. Our adoption of Abby. Her health journey- it was all HIS story, not ours. Whatever decision we may think we had were for HIM to decide. We were comforted knowing HIS hands were all over this…

And then we got the phone call and heard what diagnosis #6 was…

6. Jean, this is Abby’s doctor, “We have some interesting news from Boston.” I have goosebumps and tears as I type!

Abby has Beta Thalassemia. She has a rare form of it that presents itself a little differently than the typical Beta Thal. But they were able to find a mutation on the globin gene and she went on…

In this same study the Dr found one other little girl with this mutation so he decided to check the rest of the samples and see if any of them also had this mutation. Abby’s was the only other one that had it.

About now you are wondering “Hmm, is this good news or bad news?

This is GOOD news!

Abby does not have MDS!

She does not need a BMT.

She is not preleukemic!

We are now able to follow the Thalassemia protocal. We have some answers and direction on how to care for her!

Abby is doing wonderfully now! She is healthy and happy! We are so thankful she is home!

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Children with Thalassemia and other blood disorders need to come home. There is a shortage of blood in China and the orphans are the last to get it… Look at the difference in Abby! Look how much she has changed and how healthy she is now! We have seen a miracle unfold right in front of our eyes! Please consider adopting the children with Thalassemia and other blood conditions. They need to come home in order to live…

 

 

Taking Care of Personal Business

June 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 6 Comments

In other words this is a poop and potty post!

Many of the children that sit and sit and sit on the waiting child list are there because they are incontinent. Which means they cannot control their bowels and bladder.

We have brought 2 children home that were in “that situation.” One was diagnosed with Anal Atresia (or Imperforate Anus and came home with a colostomy) and the other was diagnosed with Spinal Bifida and came home in diapers.

Each time, when I saw our child on the waiting child list I said, “I can’t do this.” But God encouraged us to step out in faith, so we did. At times we felt like it was too big for us but we knew it wasn’t too big for Him. NOTHING is too big for Him.

Somehow, God always works out all the details. I don’t worry about things as much as I used too because I know it is in HIS hands and HE is in control. There is no one more capable to be in control and worrying gets me nowhere. I used to want to have control but not any more.

As we have brought our children with incontinence home we have learned a lot.
The keyword for us right now is “social continence.” That is the goal for both of our children. Social continence means that the child/adult does not wear diapers and can care for their bowel and bladder needs independently. They are able to be in social settings and able to live a normal active life just like anyone else.

When our children came to us… they smelled. It wasn’t a good smell- it was of urine and poop. They needed love, a bath and a new plan to care for this issue. Both of them are incredible kids. We cannot imagine our lives without them. Within hours of them being ours- they didn’t smell any longer. They were clean, happy and actually a bit appreciative- they knew they were being cared for properly. There is NOTHING more bonding than caring for a child when it involves private issues such as potty and poop. I have seen it happen both times for us. The bond between the child and parent is accelerated.

The nannies do all they can for the children and they try to care for them but they do not have access to the supplies and medical care like we do. One of our sons was using a plastic baggy and a cloth tied over it, for his colostomy. It didn’t take long for this energetic little boy to dislodge the contraption and soil his clothes. The director tried to clean him up for us but she was a bit irritated that this had happened. I just wanted to scoop him up and get him back to the hotel to give him a bath. The very first time I cared for him he looked right into my eyes and said, “thank you Momma” in Mandarin. He had my heart right then and there…

Our second little guy came to us in a very soggy and very small diaper (not his size). His clothes were wet and he wreaked of urine. Although he was adorable it was hard at first to see beyond the smell. This little guy was from one of the best orphanage in the country. When hubby got him back to the hotel he immediately gave him a shower and a diaper that fit. This time my hubby was the recipient of “Thank you Daddy” in Mandarin. When they came home I could see right away that Daddy and son had a special bond.

One of our boys has reached social continence and truthfully it’s wonderful for him and for us! Once home he was able to have surgery to “replumb” his intestines and it was hooked up with his “new rectum.” Then 2 months later they took down the colostomy. We followed the Dr.’s instructions and within 4 months after that he was out of diapers!

Our other son is “in process.” His situation is a bit more complicated as he does not feel the potty and poop due to spinal bifida. Our goal and our doctor’s goal is for him to be out of diapers, also. Some children can be regulated through diet alone but we didn’t feel it could be adequately managed that way. So for him the first step is called an ACE procedure- simply put he has a little tiny opening from his belly button to his large colon and each morning we irrigate his bowels with water so we can get all the poop out. That way he can start fresh every day and doesn’t need to worry about poop. In time he will do all of this himself and he will continue to do this as an adult. It’s just part of his morning routine!

For the urine we are catheterizing him 4 times a day and emptying his bladder. He is on a medication that will allow his bladder to do a better job holding the urine. There are many other options for him and for other children. We will see how this works for us and if it does, great and if not, we will try something else. He just needs to bring his catheterizing supplies with him and he can cath himself in the bathroom where ever he is. If he is at school he goes to the nurses office to do this. If he is at the zoo he goes into the stall in the men’s room. Most likely you know someone that does this BUT you are unaware of it. It’s not something that others need to know and that people readily share unless it’s necessary. He will grow up just like any other little boy and have a normal life. As far as sexual function we know he can have children but his private life will remain between him and his spouse. We know it is our Doctor’s goal to be sure he is working that way too.

If your heart has been moved to adopt one of these special kiddos don’t let potty and poop scare you. It’s nothing to be afraid of and I know that now! Step out of your comfort zone and help a child. If you don’t… then who will?

 

 

A Silent Event… A Near Drowning

May 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

And it was awful… it still haunts me… I don’t think I will EVER forget about it… the image is forever ingrained in my mind…

In all of our 30 years of parenting it has happened just once. AND once is ENOUGH…

I am not going into specifics. It’s private and it will always be extremely painful. But if I can help just one other family and spare them from this horrible experience than it will be worth it.

It could have been worse… our child could have drowned. Praise God for His saving grace. Praise Him for his mercy and praise Him that our child survived.

It was called a near drowning.

We were all together swimming. We (the parents) were watching closely and being careful. Dad was in the pool with the kids and I was circling around the pool. Accomplished swimmers were allowed to be more independent. While other children that were new at swimming were instructed to follow our safety rules very carefully with included life jackets and pool bounaries. One child found a way to disobey. He/She didn’t intend to hurt anyone or get hurt himself/herself, it was an accident, a bad choice.

It wasn’t at all like the movies. There was no screaming or yelling for help. It was silent and it was almost unnoticed… gulp. It was also confusing because I thought the child was fine and then I watched just a little longer and then saw the almost lifeless body begin to sink… In my mind I still see it happening in slow motion.

We were able to get the unconscious child out immediately and call for help. The child was not breathing initially but by the time help arrived the child was breathing and eyes were open. I was holding my baby and crying – praising the Lord for His mercy.

It happened to us and I don’t want it to happen to you…

Please go to this link below and learn, so this does NOT happen to anyone in your family! It’s different than you think…

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Expecting

April 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 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 shared it with our 13 treasures from China. They all cheered with excitement. They waited patiently as the baby’s picture appeared on the computer screen.

And then I realized…
how different it was when they came into the world…
and my heart broke…

They are all such beautiful treasures, how could it be that their entrance into this world was less than… stellar…

What happened on that day? What were their parents feeling?

Was their family excited that a new child was about to join their family?
Or were they wondering how on earth they would feed another child?
Were there already older daughters and they could just not keep another daughter?
Were they hoping for a son this time?
Were they shocked by their new child’s disability and would have no means to pay for the medical care their child would need?
Did they keep their child for a while and then realize the severity of their new child’s needs or was it evident right away?
Did they pass away soon after giving birth because they could not get the medication they needed to live?
So many questions that I have…

And…

If I have them…

Then they must have them, too.

I think some of our older adopted children think some of these thoughts and then they- put them away because it hurts too much to think about them.

Our daily life is happy and busy so we do not focus on our pasts but instead live in the present and look toward the future. That’s a nice philosophy but at some point these issues are just going to hurt too bad and they won’t be able to “put them away.”
I will tell you that there is only one other issue that would hurt even more than this one…
And that is if they never had a family… if they had never been adopted…
If they never had someone in this world that truly loved and valued them.
If they never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus and God’s love for them.

Many of the hard questions will never have answers. There were no newborn pictures… no decorated nursery, no baby showers. BUT, we choose to believe that their parents loved them very much and due to circumstances did what they thought was best for their children. There is nothing to gain and no reason to think the worst scenarios…

I am thankful to their birth parents that they chose life for their children even though they were unable to keep them. So as we celebrate the birth of our delightful new grandchild we will also celebrate our delightful treasures from China!



How To Find Your Child

March 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

At least, this is how we found our children!

We started with prayer. Prayers for strength, perseverance, guidance, grace and for the child that HE was leading us too. Once we felt God’s presence we proceeded.

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This is a good place to start! The NHBO site is filled with information on different special needs, parenting in adoption and current waiting children. Start by looking at all the other posts on this blog! You will see pictures of children along with a little bit of information on each child. This site has so much information on it! Take it all in, educate yourself and be proactive.

This is how we started- we knew our child was out there so we felt led to search for her/ him. Many times we both agreed- that’s her or that’s him but sometimes we had to step back and pray over it. We had to wait for God to move our hearts.

The children on the NHBO site are listed with different agencies. Most likely, if you find a waiting child on an agency list they will want you to adopt that child through their agency. Of course I have my favorite agencies but then so do others and the good news is my favorites are different from others- meaning so many of the agencies are wonderful! There are occasions when an agency has had the file for over 6 months and they are willing to transfer the file to the agency you are working with.

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The next step is to join this yahoo group: advocateforwc-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. They continuously advocate for the waiting children in China. They answer adoption-related questions and they are extremely helpful! This group is so active you may have to sign up for the daily digest! We have found a few of our children through this advocating group! We are so thankful for that!

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Next you will want to check out Rainbow kids. This website has pages and pages of waiting children from many different countries and agencies! They also have articles on different special needs that you may or may not be considering. It is very informative!

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At this point I would start making a list of special needs that would work for your family. Sometimes the names of the special needs seem rather confusing and the information on the internet can be overwhelming but once again pray over it and look for God’s guidance. Sometime the actual need of the child is not as serious as it sounds.

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The first time we adopted, our list of acceptable special needs was very short. After the first adoption, I couldn’t fill that list out any more. Our agency would say to me “we need your list,” “we need your list” and I just wouldn’t fill it out… I couldn’t… What if I did and missed our child because I was afraid to include a certain special need?

I will tell you right now we never intended to adopt a child with
Cognitive delays
Cognitive disabilities
Imperforate anus and a colostomy
HIV
Cataracts
An older child
An incontinent child

Thankfully GOD intended us to do all of this and we have been blessed because of it!

Unlike me you should still fill out the list of acceptable special needs. But with time other special needs may feel more comfortable to you. Giving your agency this completed list will help them find a child that may be a fit for your family.

Once we know a child is ours their special need becomes insignificant. They simply become our child and we will do what ever we can to help them! We have also found that many of the special needs are more doable than we originally thought and caring for the child becomes part of our routine and daily life.

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So let’s keep searching!

Next I would start checking out the advocating blogs!
Here are just a few that I know of:

There are so many more blogs and websites on the internet, so start searching! Your child is waiting for you!

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At this point you have seen many children that need families. You may have even found a few that make you heart skip a beat. Now it’s time to find an agency if you haven’t already found one. You do not need to go with an agency near your hometown. You can go with any agency in the USA. Cell phones, faxing, attaching, emailing, and overnighting has made it a small world. Our family is in Minnesota and we have adopted with agencies in Minnesota, Colorado and Alabama.

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After this I would contact a few agencies that you are interested in adopting through and see if you can view their waiting child lists. You will need to fill out a form to have access to their lists. However, this does not mean you are committed to adopt through that agency. There may be a small fee but many of the agencies will allow you to see their lists with just filling out the form.

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I hope that this information will be helpful to you and at least get you started on the amazing journey of adoption! I am unable to have a comprehensive list because there is so much information available. We have found that one list or one contact will lead you to another! Somewhere out there is your precious child. The journey to your child will be filled with excitement and challenges! It is amazing and you will see God at every turn! ENJOY!


Bonding Goes Both Ways

February 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

The literature on children bonding to their new parents is plentiful but it falls short when it comes to the parents bonding with the child.

With our first adoption I didn’t even consider it an issue. After all she was 16 months old and completely helpless. I had bonded to her before I had ever met her and once we were together it was all so natural. It is often like this when adopting a younger child.

As we continued to adopt we sometimes found it more challenging to bond with our children. It wasn’t spontaneous or instant. It took effort, prayer and time. As I have said before some kids are just simply easy to love. They are the ones that do not test your patience, they exhibit less frequent irritating behavior and they are simply a joy to be around. If only everything in life was “that easy”!

But the truth is, it’s not… and sometimes it’s the ones that we work the hardest for that are the most rewarding. We feel that God has put these challenges in our life for a reason. He has entrusted delightful, special and challenging children to our care and it’s our job to love and nurture them into adulthood.

Actually, it’s these children that send me “straight into prayer” as I am answering the same question for the umpteenth time and trying to smile through the answer. “They” keep me closer to Him. It’s not the “easy life” that sends me into prayer, it’s the challenging times that keep me on my knees.

So how does a new parent attach and love a “hard to bond with child”?

Here are some ideas that have helped us.

1. We don’t expect to love our new child right away. If we do, alleluia! However, often times we have found that it takes time. Give yourselves permission to take the time you need to bond. Be nice to yourselves and to each other during the preliminary bonding stage.

2. We know that it is a process and that there is no set time that “love begins”. It starts small and grows. It comes from knowing how much God loves us and if we are worthy of his love certainly we can love HIS children.

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3. We try to understand our child and their past. Why they respond the way they do to the world around them. We try to appreciate the fact that they have survived so much already and that they should be celebrated for their accomplishments. Sometimes it goes a little deeper and we need to understand the learning challenges that our new child may have. It really helps to have this information so you can better understand them and how they think.

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4. Our new child needs to fit into their new life. We are not going to rearrange our whole family to fit around their desires. They need to obey the rules of the house and learn how to be part of a family. We all need to work together to make it work. Everyone is happier when we all work together!

5. We try to find common interests. I refuse to play Barbies but I will happily do a puzzle! I think it is so nice to share a common interest, it is bonding when both of you are enjoying your time together! Have fun with your new child!

6. I really like it when my child begins to speak English. Sometimes charades, sign language and pointing is all you need but it becomes so much more of a relationship when you speak the same language. In many ways that is selfish of me. Had I known we were going to adopt 13 children I would have put more effort into learning Mandarin.

7. Time together is key! Think of all the time they have spent away from you… the only way to really know your child, is to be with them as much as possible.

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8. Try not to compare your “hard to bond with child” to your other children We are all so different and we will all manage these difficult times in our own way. I do keep in mind what worked and didn’t work with the other children but I try my hardest not to compare them. I remember after our first birth child I felt so confident! This parenting thing is easy! I got it down! I can do this! And then came child #2, she was COMPLETELY different than our first child. What an awakening!

9. Whatever cares your child needs, you should do them. It is bonding changing a colostomy bag, helping an older child change his diaper, handing them their daily dose of medicine or combing your older daughter’s hair.

10. It’s a choice, chose to love your child.

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11. Pray about it. Give it to God and fast if you can.

12. It is also nice to have someone trustworthy to talk to such as your social worker or another adoptive mom. It helps to process your feelings and to get yourself back on track.

I hope these suggestions will help you.
Blessings,
Jean



My Reflection

January 15, 2014 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

God works in mysterious ways… Sometimes I don’t always understand why HE does the things HE does BUT I do know how much HE loves me and just knowing that makes me want to trust HIM even more.

In the summer of 2010 God gave us a gift. It was an unexpected gift but nevertheless it was a gift. That is when we adopted Emma. A frightened, confused and cognitively disabled 10 yr old girl.

This was a new experience for Hubby and I. Emma came to us completely out of control. Her life was turned upside down and she could not process all the changes that were happening to her. She had no idea how to behave during this time of upheaval. After all, who were these people that claimed to want to be her parents? During our time in China Emma was mean, as mean as I have ever seen a child. She hit us, scratched us, grabbed our privates, shoved young children, laughed at inappropriate times and ran away from us. She broke the toys we brought her, yelled in our faces, cried, moaned and ranted on and on in Chinese.

It was only due to the grace of God that Emma came home with us.

The months went by and Emma adjusted to her new surroundings, to her new family, to the new language and to her new home.

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As time went by I began to notice something special about Emma. She was somehow connected to me. Whenever we were in the same room she would stare at me. No matter who else was in the room and no matter what I was doing. Sometimes it was tolerable and other times I had to ask her to stop staring. She studied my face and often took on my emotions. If I was happy she was happy, if I was not so happy she was not so happy. At first I couldn’t tell if she was mocking me or not? And it irritated me. As time went on and I got to know Emma better I could see that Emma is kind to the core. If she has an unkind moment it is because she thinks she is protecting herself or because she has been mistreated in some way. She not capable of and would not try to mock or make fun of anyone. Even when she laughs at inappropriate times- it is just a rudimentary response.

Sometimes it was hard for me to deal with especially when I was trying to adjust to something new and just needed to work though a situation or feelings I was having. I would pray and say “really God why is she doing this now? Why can’t she be just fine and let me deal with what I am dealing with… “ It felt like she was adding on more stress, just when I didn’t need it…

And the truth is… she was… because Emma mirrors me. Remember awhile back how I said she stares at me when I don’t want her to stare at me. She looks confused, sad and blank at times (maybe even a little angry). Emma can’t read words BUT Emma can read her mother. She knows when I am stressed, confused, bewildered, sad, scared and the list goes on. She may not be able to describe what is going on in words but she knows exactly how I am feeling. AND THEN she takes that feeling on and it becomes hers…

When I look at her face I see myself. I see how I am acting and what mood I am portraying. It is sometimes enlightening and it is sometimes a bit eerie .

But most importantly it is a huge responsibility.

We all have our emotions and sometimes I want to keep them private. But I can’t because she reads me and she exposes them whether I want them exposed or not. It is a gift and sometimes a curse. There are times I want to hide, feel what I need to feel and move on. But I am reminded that whatever I am feeling is affecting her and others.

I think of Emma as my barometer. She lets me know when I am off and she lets me know when I am on. The look on her face, the smile or the stress says it all.

I have noticed this about Emma for a very long time. I have wanted to post about it but in order to want to post about it I want to like what I am seeing because I am in essence seeing me.

It also feels like such a huge responsibility. It makes me aware of how I am affecting others around me, my children (big and little), my blessed treasures. It makes me realize how much I need GOD and how I am completely dependent on HIM. I am a servant and in my own right I am useless but if HE works through me, together we can love and care for the children. It truly puts me on my knees.

Emma is a gift. And even though it took me awhile to understand the gift that was given to me it is my responsibility to embrace it. To be thankful for the insight that she provides.

Emma asks very little of me. She asks that I unconditionally love her, care for her and she sure would like it if my only emotion was constant happiness- because if I am constantly happy than she is too! I guess that is not realistic but at least now I know when I am going astray… because my dear daughter lets me know.

I can see it in her face… as she can see it in my face.

I didn’t ask God for this “gift” but God gives us what we need not what we want.



Who Do They Love More?

December 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

I have been a mom for 30 years. Yes, our oldest son just turned 30! It is hard to believe how fast the time has gone. It was just yesterday our dear baby boy was born. We spent our time… just staring at him, in awe, completely amazed at this tiny miracle that God created!

Fast forward 30 years to December 2013. And here we are with 5 older biological children and 13 children born in our hearts. Each one a perfect blessing from GOD!

As parents we love our children passionately regardless of how they came to us. We fiercely protect them each and every day, as best we can.

But there are times when we fail. When we are not in the right place at the right time and our children are subjected to experiences that are less than desirable… experiences that are downright hurtful…

That is what happened to our daughter…

She was lured into a situation where she was taken advantage of… mocked by those she thought were her friends (an adult and a young teen).
She was interrogated and video taped as they asked her questions that she did not understand. She expounded in untruthful ways trying to please her audience and when it was over she was left feeling empty and confused.

Our daughter was previously an orphan, she was abandoned by her birth mother as an infant. For the first year home she would say to us “my birth Momma didn’t want me, she threw me away”. In the beginning it was said in a nonchalant manner but later the tears flowed. It has taken us many years to reassure her that her birth Momma loved her but was unable to care for her and unable to keep her, so she did what she thought was best for her baby. Our daughter and other international adoptees have suffered more than any of us will ever know or understand.

My heart and my head… for the life of me, cannot understand why any adult would EVER do this to a child. Why would they ask a question that is so full of hurt. Why would they deliberately try to open an old wound in an adopted child.

Why would a grown woman EVER attempt to isolate a child (who was previously an orphan) from her family and then interrogate her…

Why would she barrage her with questions and in an attempt to get information that is none of her business. Our children’s special needs are for our family only! Whatever I share in our family blog is for education, adoption advocating and prayer purposes only. It is not to be used to discriminate against, harass or intimidate our children and family.

As the interrogation ended she asked our daughter “the question.” “The question” that no adoptee should ever be asked by a neighbor or anyone else.

Here is the question that continuously breaks my heart to even think of …

“Do they love you as much as their older birth children?”

My jaw drops every time I think of this…

I am so sad that I was not there to protect her, to intervene and stop the litany of unusual and unkind questions.

Why would an adult EVER say this to an adopted child? Why would she try to hurt this child that she previously seemed to be fond of? Why would she try to victimize the victim…

Our daughter was flustered and surprised by such a question… she hesitated and then answered back “I don’t know, I think so…”

Well, let me make this PERFECTLY CLEAR!
YES, WE LOVE OUR ADOPTED CHILDREN JUST AS MUCH AS OUR BIRTH CHILDREN!
AND our birth children would expect nothing less from us!

AND we will fiercely and lovingly protect all of our children because they are ALL OUR CHILDREN no matter how they came to our family!



Loving Children… That Are Hard to Love

November 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

Many adopted children are so easy to love. They may have a vibrant personality, a good sense of humor, a smile that lights up the room, a positive attitude or other characteristics that attractive! They may remind you of yourself, your beloved husband or siblings or someone else you love. It is easy to love what is familiar.

But what about the adopted child that comes to your home and has characteristics that are “hard to love”. A whiny voice, a negative attitude, doesn’t follow directions, seems lazy and doesn’t return love. The list could go on and on. In fact we each have our own list of characteristic that we find difficult to live with and difficult to love… What bothers me may not bother you and vice versa.

I am writing about this because I have received many emails asking for help! What should I do and how do I love a “hard to love child”?

Do we personally have “hard to love children”? Yes, we do and if we are all honest everyone should answer that question with a “yes.” Hopefully they are not hard to love all… the… time…

However, if your child is newly adopted you may feel like he/she is hard to love all of the time. And you haven’t had that moment of “whew” things are finally getting better. Adoption isn’t easy and sometimes it’s really, really hard and it challenges us in ways that we don’t want to be challenged.

Hubby and I have had many of the same feelings that you are feeling. We wondered if we would ever get to the point of really loving our new child. I wasn’t feeling very hopeful. It was the one special need we said “NO” to. The one we didn’t think we could do and the one we didn’t want to do. I was concerned about my feelings and even more so about my husband’s feelings. I felt like I was to blame for this “mistake.”

Or was it a mistake? God orchestrated the whole thing… Hubby and I knew all the risks and we jointly answered with a “YES.” Together we prayed about it before, during and once we were home. We knew HE was near to us the whole time…

God doesn’t make mistakes…

So since this wasn’t our plan, it must have been God’s plan. Even if you did not pray about it I am pretty certain it was God’s plan for your family too!

Nothing in the way this child acted was familiar to me. Or another child that has a shrill and whiny voice that is unpleasant to continually listen too. Or another child that forgets everything I say and I have to repeat, repeat, repeat myself on a daily basis. Okay I could go on and so could you, wink, wink!

Yikes! So what do I do? What should you do?

I did the only thing I could do… I gave it too HIM! I prayed, I visualized giving it to him and I asked HIM to help me, I mean us. I asked HIM to help me to LOVE.

My personal imperfections became clear and the fact that HE loves me despite that was eye opening. Unconditional love, that is what HE has given to me. That is what HE wants me to try to give this child or children, whatever the case may be.

So maybe this child was meant to be ours so that we could grow closer to HIM. Maybe I needed to fix a few of my many flaws. Maybe my list of undesirable characteristics was too long… And maybe, just maybe, I could love someone that is completely different than me (or what and who I think I am)…
Maybe I could be more patient.
Maybe I could instruct more tenderly and then help the child do what I ask.
Maybe I could look past a special need that previously bothered me.
Maybe I could give love even if I don’t get love back.
Maybe I could be an example to the other children and they could learn to love a sibling that is hard to love.

So many beautiful maybes…
So many interesting challenges ahead of me… and you…
So much continuous support from our Maker. He is there ALWAYS, ready and waiting for us to call on HIM.

It’s possible. I can do this because HE can do this! You can do this because HE can do this.

I have seen our older children grow immensely from this exact situation. If I would have tried to change anything about it, I would have robbed them and us the opportunity to grow in our compassion for others and in our faith.

Look at this situation as an “opportunity” and embrace it.

 

 

Free to Dream

September 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

What a joyful noise it is when we hear our children tell us what they want to be when they grow up!

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It was only a few months to a few years ago when words like that would have been completely futile. There was no future and there were no dreams. Life was purely an existence. Each day was filled with managing their surrounding in an orphanage. Always trying to get enough food even if it meant taking others’ food away. Trying to navigate relationships and avoiding being the victim. Laughing at others before they laughed at you.

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An orphanage is no place for a child to live, to grow or to dream.

A child growing up in an orphanage does not get to pick “what they want to be” when they grow up. Anywhere between the ages of 14-18 they leave the orphanage and are on their own. Sometimes the orphanage will try to get them a job as they age out and leave the only life they have ever known. Many fall into the age-old career of prostitution and many commit suicide as they realize they have no other options.

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In China’s society there is no place for the orphan because they have no value. The individual is not important. All that matters is what the government decides is best for “all the people”. The orphan is the lowest of the low. They were not wanted by their family and they are not wanted by society. An orphan with any kind of a disability is of no value to anyone. They consider them a hindrance and bad luck.

On all of our trips to China we have met wonderfully kind people. People that want to love and care for the orphans. People that are trying to change China. People who believe that each individual has value. People that are learning about Jesus and learning about God’s love for everyone.

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I am thankful for the ray of hope that those people gave to our children in the orphanage. The smile, the hug, the food and whatever they could do to help the children in the orphanage.

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And now onto the best part of this post!

Their dreams, their desire and their hopes!

  • Sarah – Wants to be a preschool teacher, in the Olympics on the USA gymnastics team, a dentist, a swimming instructor and a mother. While she is still at home she would like to scoop ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s, work at the local grocery store, be a lifeguard and honestly her ideas never stop!! We LOVE it!!
  • Emma – A teacher and a Mommy.
  • Ellie – A missionary and a Mom.
  • Mia – “I dona know” (she needs more time at home to dream!).
  • Ava – A teacher, an artist, a doctor.
  • Melissa – We think she should be an artist but she answered “I don’t know”- again, she needs more time at home to DREAM!
  • Abby – Just wants to be a Mom.
  • Anna – A scientist, an artist.
  • Sam – A fireman, a scientist, a cowboy, a policeman and a farmer.
  • Madeline – “Ahhhh, no comment…” After awhile she decided she wanted to be a Momma. Then Hubby asked, “What about a Daddy?” To which she promptly responded “I notta boy!”
  • Luke – A fire truck, a policeman or a dog.

YEP! He really said that! It was so cute!! And it was that answer that prompted this post!

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I love their hopes and dreams! I feel blessed to be their Mom!

We are excited to watch their lives unfold right in front of us! We look forward to where God leads them!

I know He has a special plan for each child and whatever it is…
it’s a good one!

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Done Or Not?

August 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 11 Comments

We have brought home 11 children in 5.5 years. We have 2 more still waiting for us in China and we hope to bring them home in November or December.

I thought at this point I’d feel peaceful. That somewhere down deep inside of me I would know that we did all that we could for the orphans in a short amount of time we had. I thought I’d know that we were officially done. After all that’s what happened with our birth children. About a year after Johnny was born I prayed and asked God “Are we done or do you have more children planned for us.” The direction was clear. Out of nowhere I heard “You are done”. Of course he must have whispered very quietly after that “for now, that is” because 12 years later he planted the adoption seed.

I don’t feel peaceful, I don’t feel relieved knowing the size of our family, I don’t feel like I’ve done enough and even if God does speak to me and reassure me – I will never be able to forget the others that are left behind…

Every time I hear of a dear child desiring to be adopted, loved, and to have a family, I ache and ache inside… Every time I hear of a child aging out and missing their opportunity to be adopted, I ache. Every time I hear of a child being disrupted in China and losing their chance for a family, I ache. Every time I hear of a child with a serious medical condition and they are no longer eligible to be adopted, I ache. Every time I look at the faces of the waiting children, I ache.

It’s not gotten better after bringing home 11 treasures soon to be 13… It’s gotten worse.

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We’ve had conversations with God. He knows that our hearts break for the orphans. He knows that we desperately wanted to do all that we can do while we can do it. In other words get the children home before the door closes or before WE age out! God has opened many doors and allowed that to happen. When we started this journey we thought that there was only enough time to get 3-4 children home. But our powerful Almighty Lord opened doors and created miracles so that many more could come home. Each one hand picked by HIM and each one a blessing!

As we are in our last adoption process I have already seen so many treasures that I would love to bring home. It is painful to see their dear faces and know we can no longer do what we have been doing! Actually that’s the easy part — bringing them home! While in process we feel like we are at least doing something for the fatherless.

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BUT, hubby and I have talked and truthfully we think we are done… with the adoption phase, that is. (I don’t want to be… I want to keep bringing the children home. I want to continue to be God’s hands and feet in this way.)

With 11 home and soon to be 13 home we feel like He is calling us in a different way. We don’t know exactly what that means? Things are happening in our lives that make us think he has plans that we are not yet privy to… We are waiting to find them out… We are actively praying about it and waiting for HIM to reveal HIS plans for us.

Have you felt this way after bringing your children home? Have you felt the deep heartache for all of the children that still wait? It took me by surprise. It got so much worse once we knew we were done adopting…



We Can’t Do That

July 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

When Hubby and I first began our adoption journeys we talked about which special needs we could do and which ones we felt that we couldn’t do. Of course as time went on we changed our minds and brought home children with needs that we had previously said no to.

There was one need in particular that we could do BUT we didn’t want to do and we both agreed. Of course we still kept it under that heading of “we can’t do that one”…

It felt safer that way. No one would question us and no one would judge as long as it was safely tucked away under that heading.

Well, God had other plans and He was not going to allow us to continue the charade for long. He knew our capabilities and He knew HIS desires for us.

In July of 2010 we brought home bio sisters from China – Emma and Ellie. It was a bit of a novelty because siblings from China were almost unheard of. They are seldom on the waiting child lists. An acquaintance of ours who lives near us brought home sibling girls from China about 4 years prior. We had been in contact with her previously discussing older child adoption. When we saw our daughters on the waiting child list and when our agency said we could move forward, we were thrilled! It felt like God had placed them there just for us! And just like our other adoptions – they were our daughters!

Their file had conflicting information in it. It would list a concern the orphanage had regarding the girls, (such as their speech or their voice) then after the concern it would say that it was resolved and was no longer a problem.

With the urging of our social worker we asked for an IQ test to be done. The results came back low (around 80) but not too low. Given their circumstances we felt like we could work with the girls and help them with their education. Since we considered them to already be our daughters we did not ask more questions or for clarity regarding the conflicting information in their file..

We knew our GOD would handle the details and it was our job to be obedient and joyfully serve HIM.

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Meeting our girls and our time in China with them… was an event to say the least. We were not prepared for the behaviors that occurred and the feelings we felt.

You see, our girls both had the one special need hubby and I said, “we couldn’t do”.

I think of the quote —

“If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

In China, our heads were spinning and we had feelings that we never anticipated having. Our new daughters were completely out of control and had no intentions of listening to us. We were after all strangers to them.

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BUT GOD had this all planned out. HE knew exactly what HE was doing. In His eyes it was a perfect plan, we just didn’t know it yet…

When you are a Christian and your head is spinning and you have feelings you never wanted to have and you are confused — what do you do?

You Pray…

You PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

And that is exactly what we did.

We were in China with Anna (3), Sarah (10) and our older daughter Katie (24).

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In everyway God heard our prayers, He heard our pleas for help. He comforted us as much as we would allow Him to. He guided us every step of the way, every day! Our girls were from the vacation spot of China – Guilin. The sights were magnificent and despite our challenges we truly enjoyed our time there. He gave us a sense of humor during serious times to lighten our load and ease us into our situation. He brought us support through others — friends that emailed consistently and extra personal attention from our agency. The other adoptive families were kind and supportive.

Our girls’ behavior in China was extreme and atypical. At time we were being physically hurt and they were screaming at us in Chinese or running away from us. We needed all the support that we could get and God so wonderfully provided. At one point we considered the “D” word for one of the girls – which means disruption and that is when a family decides not to continue with the adoption and the child returns to the orphanage. However, the Lord impressed upon my heart that was not part of HIS plan.

We made it through our time in China with actually many good memories and we made it home with only moderate challenges as we traveled.

Once home God’s peace came over both of the girls the moment they stepped into the house. We knew they were where they were supposed to be and we knew who was in control of this journey… not us! Praise the Lord.

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Our girls have been home for 3 years now. They have made tremendous progress. They behave beautifully and are always willing to help at home! They are a joy to us and we can see how very happy they both are! Our whole family has grown from this experience in ways that we otherwise would have never been able to.

Our experience was extreme and challenging BUT God had a purpose and He taught us the lesson He wanted to teach us. Most children are not as severely cognitively disabled and their cognitive delay is not as challenging to the family while in China. Children with cognitive delays are often joyful, sweet and trusting and that is exactly what our girls have become! It took the grace of GOD and the love of a family for them to blossom!

Our girls behaved the way they did because they were scared to death and they had no coping mechanisms to deal with all that was happening to them. Truly, I should have prayed more for them than for myself but I didn’t understand what was happening at that time, either.

We have found out that their cognitive levels are in the 40’s and 50’s (not the 80’s as we were told). We have found out that “we can do this” because “GOD can do this”.

Jean1

We feel blessed to have been chosen as their parents. We are so humbled and grateful to GOD! There was no reason for us to be afraid of this special need – HE was with us every step of the way!



jailed

June 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

I remember seeing him on my friend’s blog.

I emailed her about him and asked a couple questions. She gave me the information she had on him…

And then she gave me a link…

Which changed everything…

I felt like a boy was waiting somewhere in China for us and I wondered if this was “our boy”.

We were familiar with the special need and truthfully,

it’s an easy one.

So many people fear it in the USA, mostly because they are uneducated about how it is transferred from person to person. AND they just don’t know how truly healthy these children are when they are on medication.

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In China… EVERYONE feared it…

So much so, that they would JAIL a child to protect themselves…

There was no thought or consideration for the child that was being “jailed”.

No one considered what was in his best interest.

No one thought of how they may be harming him by keeping him isolated for 3 years.

Everyday he looked through the bars in his room and crib and saw the other children playing outside.

I am guessing that he longed to be free and play with the other children.

For three years he was “jailed”…

Isolated in every way…

No hugs,

No kisses,

No comforting…

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When I saw what was being done to this child,

and that he was separated from everyone else due to no fault of his own.

And that he was being HIDDEN because he was HIV positive-

I WAS SICKENED.

truly. physically. sick

I wanted to throw up,

my knees were wobbly…

My head hurt as

my thoughts were wildly spinning around.

And I moaned in pain for him.

I wanted to break him out of jail immediately.

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When I hear of situations like this,

I ache.

How can life be so unfair.

How can people be so inconsiderate, unkind and ridiculous.

My Momma Bear instincts flare up when a child is involved and

ESPECIALLY

when that child is an

ORPHAN.

They have NO VOICE and no choice.

They are innocent victims… of an adult world.

Here is the article I read about this boy.

And, yes…

With time God revealed that

this little boy is our son.

Through a multitude of events He showed us his plan.

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This is our Joseph…

We have been told that once this article was published and his story was out in the open-

HE

WAS

FREED!

We think the orphanage has since been educated and our little boy is interacting with the other children and in preschool.

At least that is what we have heard.

We are praying that it is true.

I have only seen one picture with him and other children.

He doesn’t seem to be dressed like the other children.

I find that a little concerning.

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He is on medication now and doing very well. We have no idea what the repercussions of being isolated for 3 years will be. Praying he can over come the past and embrace his new life.

Sometimes the HIV positive kiddos go to an undisclosed foster home in their Province. They are able to partake in “normal life” and they flourish. Their special need is kept quiet and they can live life just like any other child (rather, just like any other orphan). They are cared for by nannies that understand HIV and are not afraid of it.

We are thankful for this article and the people that were involved in writing it.

It’s because they exposed the injustice that occurred and it resulted in his freedom.

Oh God, please bless him and watch over him…

Please prepare his heart and mind for parents and for a big family.


what would you do?

May 15, 2013 by nohandsbutours 13 Comments

Hubby and I knew God was calling us to bring home a second child, we just didn’t know who that child was… YET.

There was a special little girl that had a daunting special need. We didn’t completely understand it but her picture was adorable and being positive thinkers we knew there was a chance her diagnosis may be wrong. We felt very drawn to her – the pull of God.

We asked for her file and another agency had just taken it. We missed it by a day… was that a sign that she was not ours? Within two days we got word that if we were positive about adopting her the agency that currently had her file would transfer it. This little girl had waited a long time for a family and her health was not good.

We gathered all the information we could find – her old file – and prayed over it. We were both a little fearful. What if we adopted her and she died? That would be very hard for the whole family.

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As I privately thought those thoughts… it dawned on me, it would be even worse if she died without a family. I felt like yes – we could be cowardly and not listen to God calling us. Or we could trust the Lord and trust that he would see us through this journey and that even during the HARD parts HE would not leave us. So many thoughts whirled around in my head. But the one thing I could hear amongst all the confusion where these words, “she needs to come home, she needs to come home, she needs to come home.”

As hubby walked in the house after work he said to me, “So what do you think?”

I said, “I don’t know? What do you think?”

He said, “I think she needs to come home.”

I just smiled and said, “I think you are right.”

And that was the beginning of bringing Abigail Elizabeth home.

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The diagnosis was MDS. A pre cancer condition that eventually leads to leukemia. I did a little bit of research on it and of course only remembered the positives. God is so good that way. We felt his comfort throughout the whole process and Abby came home in December 2011.

For the next year she had many tests – liver MRI’s, liver biopsies, Bone marrow biopsies, CAT scan, MRI of her heart, etc. She has had blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks and chelations every 2 weeks, plus more.

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The first diagnosis in the USA came back in March of 2012 as MDS. China was right… We immediately went to meet with the BMT specialists. A bone marrow transplant was her only choice and they seemed eager to have this take place sooner rather than later. HOWEVER, her liver was very unhealthy and having a BMT now would most likely result in liver failure. Her chances of surviving were not good.

We began aggressively chelating – to get the excess iron out of her liver. The goal was to get her liver as healthy as possible, to closely monitor her and watch for any changes in her health and signs of leukemia. In July 2012 she had another bone marrow biopsy- the samples were sent to Boston Children’s where they specialize in pediatric MDS. The results came back in October 2012. Abby did not have MDS but instead has Congenital Siderblastic Anemia.

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AND WE EXHALED…

Whew… Praise the LORD!

This means she is no longer racing against time in regards to Leukemia. It is not a pre cancer situation.

Abby will have another liver MRI within the next month. They are anticipating that her liver is in better shape and the iron levels are way down.

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Soooooo, what about the bone marrow transplant?

This is our dilemma…

A bone marrow transplant would cure Abby. That would be wonderful. No more transfusions or chelations. No more low, low hemoglobins. If it worked, her new bone marrow would be able to produce red blood cells that could carry oxygen in it. She would be healthy and live a normal life.

Wow, that sounds good!

BUT there is a 30% chance that the bone marrow transplant will not work and then she would immediately have to have another one. In that 30% is the chance that she will not survive the bone marrow transplant. And it may be questionable if her liver is actually healthy enough to withstand the chemo drugs that are used in the process.

They have found a 5 out of 6 point cord blood match for Abby. That is pretty good. BUT how good is pretty good?

The bone marrow transplant process is over 5-6 months long- if it goes well. She would be in the hospital for 30-60 days. Then if it goes well she would come home but she cannot be exposed to anything because she will have no immune system to fight it off. Our family is large and although we have been very healthy we have many possibilities of spreading unwanted germs

So the other option is that Abby has transfusions and chelates for the rest of her life. Her life will be shortened most likely(50’s- 60’s). She could at any time develop a reaction to a blood transfusion- I am not sure exactly what that means and what would happen if she did start reacting.

We are not sure what to do? How do people make this decision? What a huge decision this is… Do we wait until she can make it herself?

jean6

Right now we are still gathering information. We need to see the results of the new tests coming up. We would want to meet once again with the BMT doctors to see if her odds have improved and hear what they would recommend.

We have been praying over it and we know God will make the direction clear to us when HIS time is right. But sometimes someone else sparks a thought or can add new knowledge to a tough situation.

Please tell us – what are your thoughts?



Your Waiting Child?

April 16, 2013 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

Welcome to Jean – our newest contributor at No Hands But Ours!
Jean and her husband have been married for 31 years and have raised 5 biological children. In 2006 God called them to adopt and he hasn’t stopped calling them. They now have 11 treasures home from China in addition to their 5 older bio kids. Jean blogs about life with “Jim and Jean Plus Sixteen” – as they jokingly call themselves – at There’s No Place Like Home.

So, when you looked at that picture, what was it that caught your attention? Was it the sad longing face, the joyful smile, the pouty lips or the eyes staring back at you? Was there something familiar about the child looks? Even though he/she was a different nationality did one of their features feel familiar?

For us it was something different every time. But it reached out and grabbed us and we couldn’t get that child out of our minds. Even when I walked away from the computer the image stuck with me. Even when we figured the special need was too much for us- the vision of that child kept coming back.

Sometimes we would see a child that was hanging out on the waiting child list or the shared list… for months. We couldn’t believe no one grabbed him or her. When they became ours I wanted to shout it out to the world. This child is wonderful, you will soon see! We are so lucky to be blessed with this child! They are a diamond in the rough! A beautiful child of God’s!

jeannhbo

I feel that way about your children too! Oh, this lucky family now has the referral for this little boy or girl! I wish that I could follow them all as they grow and blossom.

Sometime the Lord gently spoke to our hearts and said “she needs to come home”.

Other times I would think to myself “We cannot do that…” and the Lord quietly answered back “of course you can, because I can”.

I remember saying we would never do “this” special need and unknowingly that is exactly what we did. God chuckled and we moved closer too him as we had been unprepared for his gift.

Sometimes I feel like I have the best kept secret and I want everyone to know! Children with special needs are an amazing gift. They are unique and delightful. Watching the Lord as He medically or emotionally helps a child heal is a blessing to behold. And then, to be part of that transformation is jaw dropping!

We prayed for healthy babies through 5 pregnancies and were thrilled each time our prayers were answered. But now I realize that blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Our healthy children were indeed a blessing but no more so than our adopted children with special needs.

An acquaintance in our church is starting an organization for children with special needs. When my close friend referred to our family the woman said but none of those children have special needs! I loved that answer!

Some families like the agency to pick a child that matches their preference list and send the referral while they pray over it. Often it’s a fit and you wonder… how did God know?

Pictures speak to me. I look at the waiting child photos and imagine them in our family. I ask God is this the one?

One time I got an audible answer from the Lord! I was shocked and amazed and YES, he is home now! A few other times my heart leapt (they’re home). And yet another time I showed hubby the picture and although adoption wasn’t in the fore front of his thoughts he quickly answered back YES (much to my surprise) and they are home, too!

So what was it about your child that grabbed you and wouldn’t let you go?

Or how about that child on the waiting child list that you keep checking on? There is something about him or her that makes you smile and your heartache all at the same time…