Never Say Never Again

May 29, 2014 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

My husband, Joe, and I never set out to be parents of this many kids. If there can be such a thing as accidental adoptions, we have experienced them. Now though, our adoptions are no longer accidental. This is the way we have chosen to live. The path that led us to this decision, at a rather young age, is long and winding. It’s also a source of curiosity for families with the average one to two children. We understand that, and that’s why we’re okay answering the questions ‘are you done now?!?’ and ‘how many more do you think you’ll have?’ We’re okay answering it now, because the answer comes easily these days.

We don’t know.

We have said we were done, both to each other, and to our friends and family, so many times that it has become ridiculous. Now, when people ask, we just smile and raise an eyebrow. People are so off put by the fact we won’t commit to an end point for our child rearing days that it bothered us at first. We felt pressure to know we were finished. Sadly, that pressure led to us feeling like we should be done. There is no should anymore, there is only watching and waiting to see what life has in store for us.

We started out knowing exactly how many children we wanted. We tried to have your typical American family, and when it didn’t work the typical way, we decided to forego infertility treatments of any kind because we thought that adoption would be ‘easier.’ We learned that lesson the hard way. It isn’t easier, but it’s beautiful. After adopting three little boys domestically, and then a treasured little princess, we declared ourselves done.

The domestic four

I felt sad about this, but comforted myself by working with children who had no parents and needed medical care that I could provide as a nurse. This led me to Ghana…and to our next three children.

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People asked, yet again, ‘you’re done NOW, right?’ And, we felt the pressure, so we caved and said ‘FOR SURE!’ We had seven kids, which is three to four times the national average. And, we had just dropped three older children into the middle of the children we had parented from day one, wouldn’t it be crazy to consider doing this again?

Yes, it would be, but we did. Having a medical background as a pediatric nurse makes me unafraid of special needs that scare most parents to their core. And, maybe I should be more afraid. Maybe I’m naïve. But, my naiveté led me to China and to our daughter who was dying in her orphanage of a Congenital Heart Defect that turned out to be much more complex then even we could have imagined.

Tess in the orphanage

We barely made it home with our baby girl. Her heart condition will require an untold amount of surgical intervention in the future. It may lead to the need for a new heart. But, I’m not kidding you, the girl is a miracle. And, watching that miracle happen, right in front of our eyes, has done something indescribable for our family. It has made us never say never.

And, we didn’t. We happily welcomed our ninth child to our home in November of 2013. We could never say never to him.

Bowen and Joe

The world around us says it a lot though. They wonder how it is EVER possible to give enough to the children in our home. How will they have enough one on one time? Won’t they suffer having so many brothers and sisters? How will we have time for each other? How will we have time for them? When will it be ENOUGH?!?

Becky kissing Tess

I feel terrible every time I hear this, like I’m the most selfish person in the world for bringing these children into our home and forcing them to live this way.

Kids Playing checkers

So, yet again, pride made us promise we were finished.

Then, we had a fight. Yes, my husband and I fought. Because, one evening, in a fit of anger over the children on the other side of the world who were suffering with diseases that could be fixed easily here in the U.S., who were experiencing neglect and dying alone with no family, I decided I didn’t care anymore. I don’t care what other people think. I know what I can handle, and if a Social Worker agrees with me, and the foreign government approves it, then I want to keep adopting.

Being honest over the fact that we fought over this is hard for me. Just like I don’t want to be a bad mother, I don’t want to be a bad wife. I don’t want to push Joe into living in a way he doesn’t want to live. And, I was. I still do to some extent. Joe would be happy being dad of a small family. He’s just happy wherever we are in life. I am the one who pushes to the future, and sometimes, the future on the horizon in front of him scares him a little. This time, it scared him a lot. While I see what could have been for the children in our home, he worries about what will be for the children in our home. How will we pay for college for all of them? Will we EVER get to retire?

I called him selfish.

How unfair.

After arguing, discussing, and then praying, we finally came together, to the same spot in this journey. We came to the place where we’re okay taking it one day, and one child, at a time. We came to the place where we could move forward hand in hand, one more time…well, maybe…to China.

We would like to introduce you to our daughter, Cate.

Cate Collage

She is the reason that we keep on saying yes to this adventure. Well, her and the nine other little people who continue to say to me “Mom! We could do this just one more time!!!”

Kids on the Beach

~Guest post by Full Plate Mom

waiting child highlight: older girls

January 4, 2014 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

To open your heart to a child who may or may not remember her biological parents. Or is attached to an auntie. To be bringing home a child who has already developed a personality and habits. To be bringing home a child whom you may have chosen to name after yourself (Ruthi) only to have her tell you she already has an English name (Vicky). To have a child who needs cuddled, held and comforted who is the same height as you and yet they DO fit on your lap. To meet a child who is so frightened that her cries are forever etched in your memory, but right along side them is the joyful first smile and laugh. To bring home a girl who is so thankful for seconds at the dinner table. Who wants to sleep in the wonderful girlie pajamas yet prefers clothes as she always slept in the same clothes she had worn. To have your daughter tell you that you are a good mom, one that she never had.

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Our house is full of everyday conversations about China life. My husband, Claude, and I along with our four sons have added 8 daughters/sisters to our family since 2004. We adopted Kate at 22 months, Addie at 44 months, Vicky at 8, Penny at 11. Then we brought home Gracie and Morgan (9 and 13) at the same time. After them we added Judy at 13 and then Kim at 13 years old. We cannot avoid the conversations as they come up, normally they are all upbeat and interesting. Other times we have comments of “I have a mole that matches my moms right here” (on her neck). These comments are sometimes ones that catch us off guard while other times, “I wondered if I would have to wear four pairs of clothes to be warm in my new house” are absorbed as common.

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We have a couple medical conditions that were termed Special Needs: Microtia, bilateral club feet and severe Scoliosis. We raised 4 boys that were rough and tumble guys yet never had a hospital stay, broken bone or any health scares. With Gracie we went thru both feet operated on at same time, lovely pink casts to the knees….with Judy back surgery where she grew 4 inches during the 10 hour surgery. Several of our girls had the “special need” of being an “older child.” In our family the only special need we have really seen is that our daughters needed us as their parents.

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We have been in awe of how the girls have adjusted and thrived. Our daughters that were 2 and 4 adapted to English so fast it was amazing. Our daughters that were older were slower to grasp the language, yet Vicky won the spelling bee the first school year! Two of our daughters had very little education and struggled the first years but have truly moved ahead at amazing speed.

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We are asked, “how do you do it, are you insane?” We answer the truth, it simply seems natural and we know we have been blessed with daughters who match their brothers. The girls have all blended as family and have forever changed those whome they have touched. We are never arrogant about our success, simply accepting that we have a family unit that works greatly. So much so that we are again on a journey of hiking the paper trail of adoption and are hoping to travel in late June to bring home Wren and Lilly both 12 years old. Yep…we will have four 12 year olds next year. Life is wonderful! Please be encouraged to adopt older children. The forever addition to your family is a life change for everyone.

~Guest post by Ruth.

Waiting Older Girls

Meet Ani

Ani

Ani is a beautiful girl born September of 2000, she has been waiting for her family to find her for a very long time. She is not shy with strangers and is said to be an extroverted little girl. She will answer any question that guests ask. She likes to play games with other kids, especially the game of hide and seek—in that game, you can hear her happy laugh often. Ani cannot attend public school because of her special need, so her foster mother teaches her every day. She learns quickly and is able to teach other children what she has learned. She is able to take care of herself and sometimes helps her foster mother. Everyone at her foster home loves her. She has repaired meningocele, anal atresia, and a few deformed toes. Ani is on the shared list.

Meet Liberty Belle

Liberty+Belle

Unlike other girls, when Liberty first entered the orphanage as a toddler, she adapted to the new environment and she ate and slept pretty well. She didn’t cry or fuss, and she got along well with the other children. It was as if she had returned to her own home, and the teachers were all happy. Now little Liberty is ten years old (born September of 2003) and bashful, quiet, and gentle and fairly introverted. She can express her own needs, though she is a little afraid of strangers. She is diagnosed with right hemiparesis. Liberty has waited for a family of her own for a very long time. She is now on the shared list. Watch this video of her belting a song into a microphone.

Meet Hope

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This little 9 year old girl is beautiful, quiet, and shy. Most of her peers have been adopted. Hope is being well loved and cared for at the CWI but she longs for a family of her own. Her special need is low growth development and mental delay. She is in a regular school class with the others her age and likes to draw. She is on the shared list. Hope is just precious and could benefit by a loving family who has the time to invest in her that she needs to learn to trust and receive love!!

Meet Cassidy Update: My family has found me!

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Cassidy is a beautiful healthy eleven year old girl with a sensitive special need. She has also waited for a family for a very long time. She is on the shared list. A traveling family met her and she seemed sweet, but was obviously nervous and shy. She spoke some English and her Chinese was clear. She attends school and is a hard worker. When asked, she said she wants a mom and dad.

Meet Tessa

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Tessa is a beautiful eleven year old child suffering from congenital multiple flexion and contracture of joints. At present she can sit with the help of her caretaker, can move her body freely on the level ground, enhances the strength of toes, pick up objects with first and second toes, put small things in order, and draw vertical and horizontal lines with toes. She is a compliant and pretty girl, greets others actively and initiatively, calls “uncle” and “aunt” constantly; when younger siblings fall down or are in danger she will call aunt loudly to stop that happen. She is like an angle, protects younger siblings, but this angel lost her wings. She has good comprehension; when watching cartoon or listening to children’s songs she will sing together, so she likes singing, and she can sing several children’s songs well now. Tessa is also on the shared list and has been waiting for her family for a long time.

Families who have adopted older girls:
A Road Less Traveled
Impossible~Difficult~Done
Joy Unspeakable

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

why?

November 3, 2009 by nohandsbutours 22 Comments

Why?

Some of you might know me from my personal blog, Ni Hao Y’all. But I am sure many more of you do not. So a quick run down is in order, lest there be some confusion as I share my story.

Our story.

My husband and I met in 1997, each having endured a failed first marriage. I had two children, Victoria and Zach, from my previous marriage, and when Chris and I married in 1998, he became a husband and a father to two in one fell swoop. We spoke in the months that followed about how we might grow our family. Interestingly, not one of these conversations included the word “adoption”. And most certainly not the word “China”. Oh, how God must have been smiling on us as we wrangled with the questions, “Should we have any more kids? Or are we all set with two?” We vacillated between the two scenarios for months, one of us having the opposite opinion from the other every time we sat down to discuss it. God ended the decision making process when I found out I was pregnant… needless to say we were both overjoyed. Fast forward several years and we were again having this same discussion. Around we went and we decided, yes, we wanted just one more child. A pregnancy followed. Which was followed very shortly by a vasectomy.

Whew. Life of toting little ones around, getting up to cries in the night, hauling diaper bags and wrastling humongous car seats is almost in our rear view mirror… we’ve got an open road of freedom just around the bend.

Or so we thought.

Somewhere around the time that our youngest child was born, I was saved. I found the answers I sought to life’s most haunting questions in the form of my Savior. Jesus. As my relationship with Him grew, I prayed a simple prayer. It took me months to garner the strength to not only pray the prayer, but to truly mean the words contained in the prayer. I prayed that God would have His way in my life. That I would surrender my dreams, my hopes, my desires and lay those aside for His dreams, His desires and His hopes for my life. That He would use me as His instrument to fulfill His will in this world.

I had absolutely no idea how that prayer would affect my life, and how it continues to affect my life: the life He has for me.

In the summer of 2004, my youngest was 2, my oldest was 14, with a 9 and 4 year old in between. One ordinary day, my husband came to me with hands trembling. He was afraid to tell me what he had to tell me, he said. But he’d already waited three difficult weeks and he couldn’t wait any longer. He wanted me to sit down.

A million thoughts went through my head. But nothing could have prepared for me for his words: “God told me we have a daughter waiting for us in China.” I was stunned, shocked and completely without words. My first thoughts focused on my kids, their future, their needs. How could we add to our brood and protect them from this… this outsider? I didn’t see how it was possible, it was certainly not in their best interest to have to share their parents, their home, their lives with a complete and total stranger.

Less than 24 hours later, following some serious internet research, my heart had turned 180 degrees. The need was suddenly so real. The reality that we could make all the difference for one child was so hauntingly clear. My eyes had been shut tight and were now wide open. The cloud of selfishness surrounding my initial reaction was blown away by the almost tangible reminder of God’s goodness and love to me, in my time of sorrow and loneliness.

The journey that began that day still continues. We took a different path than we had anticipated and we continue to be amazed, blessed and surprised by the beauty of this not-so-typical journey. We have brought home four children from China, all labeled “special needs”. And one more little one with special needs waits for us in China, hopefully coming home before the end of the year. Our hearts have gone from wanting to make a difference for one to being passionately driven to make a difference for many. We sponsor children in foster care, we give to charities that work with special needs children, we pray nightly for orphans in China. But in our hearts, that’s just not enough. It’s not all we can do.

To be sure, we didn’t set out on a rescue mission to ‘save’ an orphan in China. We set out to bring home our children. Who just happened to be halfway around the world. God, in His infinite wisdom, buried a deep and abiding love in our heart for these children, our children, and it was and is that love that motivates us to keep on when the world would have us stop. And when life gets crazy. And when we get weary.

During each adoption, we have assumed that this would, indeed, be the final addition to our family. But then God gently reminds us, this is not about us. It’s about Him. And what is near and dear to His heart. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that God hears the cries of the fatherless, that He knows every tear that is shed by a child who longs for a family. And to Him, each one matters. Every single one. So, while the fact that we have adopted (almost) five children from China might be a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of orphans worldwide, in God’s economy, it’s five children who won’t ever go to bed frightened, or cry alone over heartbreak, or endure a life without the hope of Christ, again.


So when people ask me, “why?” in response to the fact that our family is adopting again, I wish I could take them by the hand, and spend just one day in China. In an orphanage, where the sound of a baby crying goes completely unnoticed. Where children have flattened, hairless patches on their heads from laying in the same position in their metal cribs day after day, week after week. Where children get sick and die routinely, without anyone shedding a tear, without anyone to hold them as they draw their final breath.

Then I would take them to our home, which is nothing spectacular, but is indeed filled with love, and ask them to look into the faces of our children. The one who came to us with a hole in her heart and sensory issues so severe should could barely tolerate touch on her hands. And the one whose feet were so twisted, his ankles were bruised from trying to stand. And the one who came to us so delayed, it took him months to even begin to come out of his thick, fear-filled shell.

And then, I doubt an answer to “why?” would be necessary.