what we're reading links: 7.22.2014

July 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it.

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

blogs

Rachel Engel shares What Facebook Means to Special Needs Families on her blog Tales From the Plastic Crib. And she is oh-so-right.

In China adopting her son, Liberty laments her son’s poor condition in Orphanages are No Place for Children. Then, after having a chance to visit her son’s orphanage, she shares her new perspective in They Saved His Life.

At The Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee, Christina shares An Adoptee’s Perspective: 15 Things Transracially Adoptive Parents Need to Know.

Jaclyn of Kinda Crunchy explains their journey from dreaming of adopting a daughter to joyfully planning to adopt a son in Delicate Decisions: Adopting a Chinese Boy.

Listen to the parent interview in Grace as Allen and Teri Reaume of Michigan adopt their daughter, who has vision impairment.

Amy of Two Vandalgrads and Three “Gs” shares her heart in The Unspoken “But…” after 49 days parenting her newly adopted daughter.

Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases tells others on the Huffington Post blog why she knows that sensory processing disorder is real.

At We Are Grafted In, big sister Meredith Toering writes about how her younger sisters constantly ask her to “Tell Me My Story Again.”

inthenews

Half the Sky launches Nanny Connect, a program that “allows adoptive families to submit updates and photos about their children to caregivers at the 53 institutions where we have established our programs…”

The Huffington Post reports that Crohn’s Disease Model Bethany Townsend Reveals Colostomy Bag (PICTURES).

Another article from The Huffington Post features the family of a little girl born without a nose – arhinia – who want to encourage others not to to give up on children with rare conditions.

Mallika Rao of The Huffington Post tells others You May Not Know About the First Chinese-Americans, But You Should.

Distractify offers up 40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever.

We’ve seen two recent news articles about China’s population control policies, including Second-Child Policy Having Limited Effect in China Daily and Trusting God for a Second Child in China in World Magazine.

Kat Chow, a member of the Code Switch Team at npr, details how “Ching Chong” Became the Go-To Slur for Mocking East Asians.

This week Love Without Boundaries announced its new Cleft Initiative. So excited about this!

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

liberty

Liberty and her new son Luke

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Enlarge Thy Tent
Strengthen My Hands
Blessed Beyond Measure
Sprout Spot
Filled With Joy Family

Just Home from China…

One More Piece
Lybbi Shu Fang
Full Hands Fuller Heart Family
The Trusty Family
Everything Beautiful
Adding One Morh
Impossible, Difficult, Done
Our Jones Clan

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.


what we're reading links: 6.18.2014

June 18, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it.

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

Gia

Gia, just days after meeting her new forever family

blogs

Several bloggers tackled the topic of racism against Asian-Americans, including Dami Obaro’s piece outlining the model minority myth entitled “Why Can’t You Be More Like Them?;” Tara Vanderwoude’s piece I’m Not an Exotic Asian; and Don Lee’s account of a recent encounter with a waiter in That’s Kind of Racist, Dude.

Kasi Pruit shares her journey as she processed the Death of the Picture Perfect Family at her husband’s blog i already am.

Kelly the Overthinker shares a list of 20 key things you need to know about China travel in #ohChina.

At Two Vandalgrads and Three “G’s,” Amy describes their visit to their new daughter’s orphanage in Journey to Gia, Day Four: Brokenness Before Redemption.

Several parents received great news in recent weeks, including Jamie from Hearts Set on Pilgrimage in She Hears! And other exciting news! and Lisa of Pursuing Miracles in God’s Got It!

Margie Perscheid, adoptive mom to two adult Korean adoptees, acknowledges her non-adoptive privilege.

High school graduate Christine, adopted from China, shares her college essay about growing up Asian in a Caucasian culture and having a brother with autism.

Ellen Stumbo ponders the question “what if she lives with us forever?” in regards to her second daughter, born with Down Syndrome.

Maureen of Finding Mei Mei discusses the effects of early trauma on a child in The Past is Not in the Past.

Chris of Apricot Lane Farms proves that being born with limb difference can’t stop you from anything, even one of the most physically demanding jobs in the world – farming!

At My Life in God’s Garden, Diane moved us to tears with her recent post Suffering.

Adoptive dad Jim describes the victories that count at Lanterns, Ladybugs and a Whole Lotta Love.

inthenews

Several Chinese newspapers ran articles about their country’s adoption program in recent weeks, including Chinese parents compete with foreign applicants to adopt health babies, Adopted American Girl in Quest for Her Chinese Birth Parents and International and Domestic Adoption in China.

Researcher ChangFu Chang, creator of the documentary Long Wait for Home, shares the synopsis of his current documentary project Ricki’s Promise and its kickstarter campaign.

In Yahoo! News, ANI reports that a New discovery could soon make epilepsy history.

Chicagoan Lily Born, an eleven-year-old Chinese adoptee, invented an unbreakable, hard to spill cup for her grandfather, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

Yosemite National Park shared the story of Gabriel, an eight-year-old diagnosed with Ehler Danlos Syndrome, whose Make-A-Wish request involved the park in a huge way.

The Guardian shared a book review about the new book “Leftover Women,” written by Leta Hong Fincher, which details the “toxic vitality of sexism in China today.”

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Everything Beautiful
Adding One Morh
Impossible, Difficult, Done
Our Jones Clan

Just Home from China…

Two Vandalgrads and Two “G”s
The Layers of Life
Stop for Flowers
My Life Song
Lanterns, Ladybugs and a Whole Lot of Love
One More Thing
Bringing Home Andi
Homework, Hotdogs and Valium
Love Makes a Family
The Collected Hord
Team Willie Goes To China

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A big thank you to Amy for sharing a photo of her lovely daughter, and another to those who helped compile this week’s post.


become a Mentoring Mom

June 2, 2014 by Amy 7 Comments

I am so. excited.

This project has been in the *dream* stage for a long time. But with a website overhaul pending, and realizing our need for more organizational and informational supports to make NHBO all it can be, the time to turn this dream into reality is now.

Joining me on this adventure are Rebecca, Liberty, Becky, Amy and Sheryl. All moms of precious kiddos from China, who just happen to have special needs. All passionate advocates for the orphan. And all just as excited as I am to be working together to launch this crazy big idea.

And we want you, adoptive mama, to be in on this, too.

So just what is it we are doing? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Our dream is to establish a network of Mentoring Moms (or Dads, as the case may be) to represent most, if not all, of the special needs that are seen in children coming home from China. Each need would be represented by two or more moms, depending on the amount of support a specific need might require and how many children are represented by that specific need. Each team would be lead by one mom who checks in regularly with the larger NHBO team.

Collectively, each team of Mentoring Moms would work together to 1) improve the resources available on NHBO and keep it updated with the most current and most accurate information available for that specific need 2) publish occasional posts on the NHBO blog and help raise awareness through social media 3) work together to help educate and inform those who are considering parenting a child with special needs 4) work together to support parents who are already home with a child and wondering what the best next steps in parenting a child with that specific need.

Individually, a Mentoring Mom would be someone who is parenting a child with a specific special need that they have become so familiar with, so knowledgeable about, that they’ve become something of a non-trained-but-eat-sleep-and-dream-about-it expert.

I know that parenting two children who came home from China with unrepaired bilateral clubfoot has pushed me to learn way more about clubfoot than I ever wanted to. I also know how much I love being able to share with other soon-to-be clubfoot moms about our experience. From the first traumatic look at Jude’s bruised and twisted feet in China, through 7 sets of casts, and then finally to tendon transfer surgery, we’ve been through a lot together. And I learned so much on the way.
MentoringMom

So here is what we’d want from you, expert mama:

– Mom to a child from China adopted through the SN program
— Commit to volunteering approximately one to two hours per week
— Be willing to work on a two to three person team for each individual need, as well as the larger Mentoring Mom team
— Be available to discuss via email or FB the project as well as ongoing needs for NHBO
— Organize/collect information for the NHBO site (resources and special needs pages) as well as links, blogs and available support
— Write up one post, at least quarterly, about real-life parenting of a child with that special need
— Seek out additional resources, blog links, and other moms with wisdom to share with NHBO readers
— Be willing to help spread the word about the NHBO Mentoring Mom program through social media
— Share with other moms who are considering a child with this special need and/or are already are parenting a child with this special need

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? We would love to have you on board.

Below is a Special Needs Checklist we’ve created to help organized the more common special needs seen in children adopted from China. But by no means is it exhaustive. Please review it to find the specific special need you are interested in being a Mentor for and select that need when you complete the form below. If you would like to be a Mentoring Mom and are parenting a child with a special need not listed, let us know by completing the form – you’ll have an opportunity to share more about your child’s specific need there.

snchecklist1

click checklist to enlarge

So, are you ready? All that’s left is this short questionnaire, designed to help us get to know you a little better. If you have questions, feel free to comment on this post or on the form below.


 

what we're reading links: 5.23.2014

May 23, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

These past two weeks have been chock-full of news stories relevant to the China special needs adoption community! Here are some of our favorite articles and blog posts about parenting an adopted and/or special needs child.
As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it.

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

blogs

Heritage Hardcore at adoption.com highlights the importance of incorporating your child’s birth culture into family life, especially in the case of older child adoption.

Lori from IMMEASURABLY MORE shares her heart in a recent and very personal devotional called waiting…

Tammy from Casting a Stone talks about a recent conversation she had with a child living in an orphanage in “My life would be so different…”

At Unto Adoption, Mia shares details about navigating life with a child who has an unrepaired cleft palate in Cleft in the Rock.

A recent experience caring for a friend’s infant twins sparks thoughts of orphanage life from Amy Eldridge, the CEO of Love Without Boundaries.

On his blog, Jason Johnson makes a case for Killing the Orphan Care Hero Complex.

Mary Evelyn of What Do You Do, Dear? hangs up her superhero cape in The Myth of the Special Needs Supermom.

At the Verge Network, Jamie Ivey shares Four Things to Do When Bringing Home a Child from Hard Places.

Occupational Therapist Heather answers the questions Does My Child Have Behavior Problems? Or Sensory Processing Issues? at Golden Reflections Blog.

Adoptee and Holt employee Courtney Young discusses family, culture and the complexities of adoption reunion at No Fairytale Ending on the Holt International blog.

Jane Samuel, a board member of the Attachment Trauma Network and former ex-pat in China, describes Asian attitudes surrounding adoption in Adoptive Moms and Mother’s Day at Mothering in the Middle.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

inthenews

Today contributor Jacoba Urist writes about how HIV discrimination against children feels like ‘a punch in the gut’ for parents.

Several articles in recent weeks focused on how photography intersects with adoption and/or special needs:
‘Model’ children: Parents share beautiful photos of kids with special needs, disabilities on today.com
Photos capture special moments with adoptive parents and children in the Lifestyle section of the Lebanon Daily
News From China with love: mementos of adoption at The Telegraph

Several news organizations shared special Mother’s Day tributes, including Channel News Asia, that highlighted the work of Dale Edmonds, adoptive mom and founder of Riverkids; and CBS in the Bay Area, that highlighted the work of Jenny Bowen, adoptive mom and founder of Half the Sky.

In the Health & Science section of The Washington Post, Caitlyn Dewey tells the story of Lacey Phipps: In pain and forced to use a wheelchair, a young woman opts to amputate her clubfeet.

Lantern Vision shares its video about Project Hopeful entitled Adoption is Redemption: Considering Children with Special Needs.

Sandra Upson of The Scientific American shares just one of many results of China’s one-child policy in Health Care Crisis Looms as China Faces Elderly Dementia Upsurge.

At Gazillion Voices, David Amarel, a transracial adoptive dad to teens, shares his recent encounter with a stranger on a train in The Unbearable Whiteness of Being.

trusty

Kate, whose mama blogs at The Trusty Family, just home from China

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Two Vandalgrads and Two “G”s
The Layers of Life
Stop for Flowers
My Life Song
Lanterns, Ladybugs and a Whole Lot of Love
One More Thing
Bringing Home Andi
Homework, Hotdogs and Valium
Love Makes a Family
The Collected Hord
Team Willie Goes To China

Just Home from China…

The Trusty Family
Hearts Set on Pilgrimage
September Sweeties
Becoming Home

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A big thank you to Kristina for sharing a photo of her beautiful daughter, and another to those who helped compile this week’s post.


what we're reading: 5.8.2014

May 8, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

sandypuc1

blogs

Rob from tea in fairyland reflects on life and parenting after four months with his girls in Fridays With Father.

In Jasmine Flower, Lisa of Seriously Blessed shares about her daughter Jasmine’s positive attitude, medical challenges and memories of her life in China prior to adoption.

Momma at Joy Embraced asked are personal questions acceptable? in regards to transracial adoptive families.

Over at Parenting With Connection, moderators provide nine ideas in response to the reader question what activities can I do with my child that also promote connection?

John Simmons offers a Very Simple Explanation of Reactive Attachment Disorder to his then-teenage daughter, diagnosed with RAD and possessing an IQ in the high sixties.

Jim of Lanterns, Ladybugs and a Whole Lotta Love shares his conflicted thoughts about his child’s first parents in The Ghost at the Feast.

At Home Is Where the Heart Is, Andrea gives a comprehensive update on three of her children in No More Owies.

On its blog, Love Without Boundaries shares helpful information about the First Steps of the Adoption Process: What Happens in China.

Shannon at Here We Grow Again writes touchingly about her son’s first birthday home… at the age of eight.

Abigail Chuan-Ling Tuan MacLean guest-posts at Wordy Nerdy about her experiences as a biracial American in A Scrambled Egg — Not All Yellow, Not All White, Mixed.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

inthenews

NBC Nightly News interviewed Professor Cole Galloway who, frustrated with inaccessible and expensive wheelchairs, created the Go Baby Go program which provides… Custom Cars With a Purpose.

Jeff Katz, executive director of Listening to Parents (a national organization that seeks to eliminate barriers to foster care adoption), ponders the question Why is it easier to adopt a child from overseas than from another state? in a Washington Post opinion piece.

Love Without Boundaries recaps the doctors final rounds for this year’s trip and shares a heart-felt thank you letter from Maureen Brogan, Director of Medical Exchanges, on Cleft Exchange Saturday.

#weneeddiversebooks goes viral. Created by several authors, including Asian-American author Ellen Oh, this campaign took social media by storm on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Max Pemberton, MD tells readers of The Spectator, As a doctor, I’d rather have HIV than diabetes.

Yahoo! News reports on The Lizzie Project, a kickstarter campaign created to fund an untitled Lizzie Velasquez documentary, in New Documentary from Woman With Rare Syndrome Aims to Curb Online Bullying.

An update on Mia, the daughter of Duck Dynasty stars Jase and Missy, who recently underwent her fifth surgery related to cleft lip-cleft palate.

May is Asian-American Heritage Month. Lots of good resources on this site.

Jeff Yang shares Why the ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ TV Series Could Change the Game in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Wall Street Journal.

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Hearts Set on Pilgrimage
September Sweeties
Becoming Home

Just Home from China…

Love is the Answer
Miracles and Mudpies
Our Sunshine Days
To Tallulah

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. Thank you to Sandy Puc for sharing her beautiful photo, and thank you to those who helped compile this week’s post.


what we're reading: 4.24.2014

April 24, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

sandypuc

blogs

Yvette from Bringing Home Holland reflects on her fears about bringing home an 11 year old boy.

Our own Amy, home from a recent vacation, recounts some painful moments when she and her “conspicuous” family ran head first into adoption and orphan ignorance.

Dawn from Fried Rice and Noodle Soup retells “A Beautiful Story” in which she unwittingly found her future daughter through the internet.

Laura from Bringing Home Emily Hope shares her recent experience upon visiting her daughter’s orphanage in China.

Photographer Sandy Puc travels to China and captures some powerful images of “gotcha day”.

Two-time adoptive mama, Ginny, shares some wise advise for those first few weeks home with your new child.

Alex Chase, mom to two boys from US foster care, shares what motives her boys to better behavior and a happier demeanor. And it’s not sticker charts.

Kelly from Mine in China thoughtfully responds to the remark oft-heard by parents who adopt internationally: “We need to take care of our OWN!”

And Maureen at Light of Day Stories with a reminder that all adoptive parents should consider. As beautiful as adoption can be for the parents, for the child adoption is traumatic.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

inthenews

Mercury news shares 18 powerful images of orphaned children in China. Estimates are that there are now close to 1,000,000 orphans in China.

A follow up on one of the links we shared in our last WWR post. With the help of an Upsee, a little girl with CP – unable to walk or stand on her own – was able to be the flower girl in her aunt’s wedding. She said she ‘felt like Cinderella’.

Medline Plus reports that the recent outbreak of measles is, at least in part, due to U.S. adoptions of children from China.

An interesting read on Daily Life – why Chinese parents don’t say I love you to their children.

Louisville News with a story about Carly Donner, member of the National Honor Society with a 4.7 GPA and adopted from China as an infant. Carly was recently accepted to the Naval Academy with a special nomination from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Adoptive dad John Simmons shares his thoughts – and frustrations – at the recent decline in international adoptions. Says Simmons, “I am frustrated that there are outspoken people who evangelize that adoption is politically incorrect. I am even more frustrated that there are people weak enough to succumb to those words without consideration, simply because they are afraid of what others might think.”

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Miracles and Mudpies
Our Sunshine Days

and just home from China:

Scarlet Threads
Difference for One
Our 7th Heaven
Bringing Home Emily Hope
Adoption Adventures with 2 Princesses and a Prince
From God’s Heart to Our Home
To Tallulah
To the Moon and Back

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to Sandy Puc for generously sharing her beautiful photo for today’s post.


the fruit of your labor

April 22, 2014 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Two months ago, we asked for your help.

We were looking for a few new bloggers to help round out the NHBO team.

And boy-o-boy, did y’all come through.

We received 115 nominations. And we sifted through each one. What fun to visit all those adoption blogs and read the stories of so many precious little ones and the parents who fiercely love them. The only hard part was coming to the final decision… which three would be the best fit for No Hands But Ours?

Somehow we managed. And we not only found three, but the three we asked said “YES”.

Welcome to Mike, Desirée and Rebecca!

(Yes, I am a bit late in getting this posted. In fact, each of our new bloggers has at least one post up on the NHBO blog. But I wanted to announce it officially, and to let you all know how grateful we are for your help in finding these amazing writers and big-hearted adoption advocates.)

MIKE:

mikeedit

Mike is married to his high school sweetheart, Anne. They live in Cincinnati with their six children – Abby (13), Adam (11), Mia (9), Will (7), Ellie (5), and Sammy (3.) The youngest four were adopted from China. Two of them have hearing loss (microtia), and two of them have HIV.

As if it were not obvious from the perfect spacing and alternating girl-boy pattern of his children, Mike is an engineer. During the day, Mike develops new hair care technologies for Pantene. (He is passionate about both Jesus and lather.) On nights and weekends, he volunteers with the youth group, drives to dance, attends Cello recitals, coaches soccer and basketball, plays a mean game of Freeze Tag, updates his budget spreadsheet, and occasionally binge watches television shows with Anne.

You can read Mike’s posts on NHBO here.

DESIRÉE:

desireeedit

From Desirée: “In 2012 God choose me to be the forever momma to the greatest little boy ever. He just happens to have been born in China… and have an extra chromosome. Our life now is helping others fall in love with adoption & Down syndrome and to have a dance party at least once a day, sometimes in the cereal aisle. We are super excited about doors of advocacy that the Lord has opened up for us! During my “free” time, I am a director in a family practice residency; getting to teach the newest generation of primary care providers to value each and every life they touch.”

You can find Desirée’s posts on NHBO here.

Desirée’s personal blog is The Adoption Seed.

REBECCA:

rebeccaedit

From Rebecca: “Mark, and I are the parents of four little people, three of which are gifts from China. God has used adoption to expand the borders of our hearts. Each journey has been filled with beauty and challenges, laughter and weight, each showing us the heart of our Father in a new way. He’s drawn us closer to Himself, and never seems to stop pushing us to step beyond our comfort zones to serve the fatherless in new ways.

For years I have followed NHBO, and have been so inspired and challenged. If I might “pay it forward” and offer encouragement to others, I’ll call myself abundantly blessed. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to serve, this creative stretching, and this way to connect with families who share a heartbeat for adoption and orphan advocacy.”

You can read Rebecca’s posts on NHBO here.

Rebecca’s personal blog is La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life.

So thankful to have such talented writers added to our team. And so grateful for the adoption community that rallied to nominate so many amazing bloggers. Y’all are the best.



what we're reading: 4.3.2014

April 3, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

inthenews

Good Morning America takes a look at how Jenny Bowen – founder of Half the Sky – and how one mother, moved by the transforming power of love, has impacted the lives of countless orphans in China.

Heartbreaking pictorial of Chinese parents as they abandon their sick and/or special needs children at the Guangzhou “baby hatch”.

Another article about a baby hatch, this one in Tianjin. “… all 35 babies left in the Tianjin hatch have severe disabilities and illnesses, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and congenital heart disease,” says Xu who runs the Tianjin baby hatch.

Maylaysia Airlines missing airplane exposes the devastation of the “orphaned” adults that were created in this tragedy due to China’s one-child policy.

Lisa Milbrand, mom of a daughter from China with microtia, blogs at Parents.com with her thoughts on why she chose to adopt a child with special needs.

A mother in Israel comes up with an ingenious way to help her son walk with her. He has cerebral palsy and this invention enables them to do all sorts of everyday activities together. She hopes her invention will benefit children everywhere with impaired motor skills.

blogs

Oh my. Sweet, sweet portraits taken of some of the children at the Little Flower Project foster home in China.

Melissa, mom to two little boys from China through the special needs program, shares transparently about the attachment struggles she has encountered with her second adoption that she never experienced with her first. Great read for anyone home or in the process.

Karen, mom to a 5 year old home from China since 2012, shares her recent experience with trauma-related behavior in her daughter and how she was able to navigate those difficult times by utilizing The Connected Child.

And another post by Karen, about a recent trip to see the musical Annie and how it caused an unexpected reaction in her heart.

Experienced adoptive mama Kelly gives insight into how your newly adopted child is feeling in those first few days and weeks after adoption.

Annie, who recently adopted two sweet girls from China, shares her heart on the heartbreak and the healing of adopting children who have endured more than any child ever should.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

extras

Outstanding resource for adoptive families, Empowered to Connect. Be sure to visit the Resources page for access to an online library of articles, audio and video presentations for adoptive and foster parents, all free.

Adorable set of eight farm animal wall cards in Chinese.

families

 
 

In China now, or just home with their child…

C&Alea

Our very own Carrie meeting her precious daughter Alea for the first time

Scarlet Threads
Difference for One
Our 7th Heaven
Bringing Home Emily Hope
Adoption Adventures with 2 Princesses and a Prince
From God’s Heart to Our Home
To Tallulah
To the Moon and Back

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to everyone who submitted recommendations for What We’re Reading this week.


what we're reading: 3.20.2014

March 20, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

Around the Blog World:

Did you know that boys outnumber girls on the shared list, 5 to 1? Andrea at Home is Where the Heart Is shares transparently about her initial preference for adopting a girl instead of a boy from China… and how she feels now, two little boys later.

On Brain Child, Avra Wing, mom to a teenaged daughter from China, reminisces on the surprising and unexpected effects of a return trip to China.

Our own Amy recently experienced one of her worst fears – her daughter Grace was hospitalized with pneumonia. And here she shares the rest of the story.

Six weeks after bringing home daughter Kaili from China, mom Jodi shares her thoughts on special needs adoption on the America World blog.

Rebecca at The Sweet Life follows up her first homeschooling post (found here) with this post about homeschooling Pre-K. Great ideas for encouraging learning between toddlerhood and kindergarten.

Johanna from Stop and Smell the Flowers writes about their word for the year – and how it has affected their adoption journey.

On Forty Days, find forty days worth of Chinese orphan charities to help, support and fund.

In the news:

News anchor in Dallas is surprised by the on-camera visit of the formerly orphaned teen for whom she helped find a forever family five years before. Have a tissue.

Down Syndrome: A Year of Grief and Joy – a mom looks back at all that has changed since she first discovered the little boy she was carrying had Down syndrome.

‘Baby hatch’ in Guangzhou closes – unable to care for any more than the 262 babies with special needs and/or illnesses that have been abandoned since it opened in late January.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

Traveling Families:

alisa

Alisa at A Family4Him with her family – now grown by one adorable little guy

In China now, or just home with their child…

NowHere – our very own Carrie!
A Family for Him
Shouts of Joy
A Mother’s Love
Polkadots on the Windshield
We Are Coming for Chu
His Plan. Our Joy.
Seeing Double
2 Red Threads
The Oasis – Adopting HIS Children

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to everyone who submitted recommendations for What We’re Reading this week.


what we're reading :: we're back

March 6, 2014 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Because you asked so very nicely.

Thanks to those of y’all who messaged, commented and emailed, we have officially revived our What We’re Reading feature.

If you’re not familiar with What We’re Reading, it began 5 years ago as a once-a-week post by Tonggu Momma to share links that encourage, inspire, enlighten and inform those of us on this journey of special needs adoption. Because, don’t we know, this is a journey that is full of hills, valleys and everything in between. It morphed a smidge over time to be a little less frequent (that’s when TM handed the reins off to me, ahem).

We also added links to blogs of families who are in China meeting their new little ones. Because that? Is so. much. fun.

And we would love your help to make our What We’re Reading posts even better. We’ve created some very simple forms to complete with any links you think would be of interest to our readers. It might be a news story, a blog post or a special needs resource – anything adoption related, China related, special needs related or parenting related. If you thought it was a good read, let us know. We’d love to check it out and consider sharing it in a future What We’re Reading post.

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

Around the Blog World:

Connie at One More Ladybug reviews the last year with her newest child, Khloie. They’ve tackled cardiological, neurological, vision, verbal and motor issues – and Khloie’s progress has been nothing short of miraculous.

Fannie at Crazy Life of the Wilks Family shares her heart after hearing the news of the death of a child in China with thalassemia.

Photographer/Designer extraordinaire, Ashley Ann, on her blog Under the Sycamore shares the story of Noelle – a little one at New Day who is in desperate need of life-saving heart surgery. Amazingly, all the necessary funds were raised for Noelle’s surgery. Yay!

Katie at For the Love of One with a profound post about what it feels like to live with “the constant reality that I will more than likely bury my own son.”

Rebecca at The Sweet Life recently brought home her son from China who, developmentally, has much catching up to do. She shares a bunch of wonderfully fun and effective ways to encourage learning for little ones, especially those who have not received appropriate opportunities to learn.

Hannah at Loving Dangerously reflects on a visit to an orphanage where she visited with the frailest and sickest children of all.

Tara at Gladney’s blog All I Need shares a powerful guest post about the adoption of her daughter with a similar need to her very own – severe burns.

In the news:

Maybe She’ll Go To The Moon – father of a little girl with Down syndrome speculates on all that his very special daughter will be able to accomplish. At her birth, he was told by the geneticist “you’ve probably seen them bagging groceries” in reference to his daughter’s Down syndrome.

The Holcomb C3-R, an alternative to corneal transplants for people with keracotonus, helped make bobsledder Steven Holcomb’s Olympic dreams come true. The Today show has a 7 minute video on the Holcomb C3-R here.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

Traveling Families:

precious Maggie, newest daughter to Ginny at 4URuthie

precious Maggie, newest daughter to Ginny at 4U Ruthie

In China now, or just home with their child…

4U Ruthie and Mountains for Maggie
The Oasis – Adopting HIS Children
Is There Not A Cause
Fancy That Design House
Our Adoption Journey
Troncalli Family Adventure

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to Holly and Liberty for your contribution to What We’re Reading this week.


we want to hear from you

February 24, 2014 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

We have an amazing group of contributing authors here at No Hands But Ours – those who currently blog and those who have blogged for us since we began over 5 years ago.

When a new contributor joins our team, we ask them to commit to one post a month for the calendar year and, at the beginning of the next year, we all get together via email and discuss. And contributors decide if they are ready to commit to the year or if they need to step out.

We have been so blessed by all the mamas who have taken given of their time and talent in order to share here on No Hands But Ours and help advocate for those who wait. And we miss those who have to step back.

But we totally understand. Life is busy and as mamas we must be mindful.

We now have a few contributor spots open for the remainder of 2014 that need to be filled. And, instead of us trying to find the perfect person to fill those spots, we want to hear from you.

Nominations are now being accepted for new contributors here at No Hands But Ours.

Feel free to nominate yourself or someone you know. Or even someone you don’t know. If you enjoy a blogger and think she would be a good addition to our team here at No Hands But Ours, let us know.

Only one nomination is necessary, we will consider each nominee equally.

A few details. What we are looking for in a monthly contributor is someone who:

– has adopted a child from China through the special needs program (number of children and/or severity of special needs does not matter)
– enjoys writing and is able to communicate their journey passionately and effectively
– would be able to commit to one post/month for the remainder of 2014 (blogging topics are wide open)

To nominate someone, just complete this short, confidential form. Responses come to me privately and will not be shared with anyone other than the NHBO team.

We will leave nominations open for the remainder of this week – through February 28, 2014 – and then we will be in touch (via the email addresses left in the responses) with the nominees we have questions for or want to learn more about. Once our new bloggers are on the No Hands But Ours team, we will make the official announcement here on the blog.

YAY!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact us via email.

Can’t wait to hear from you!



what we're reading: links

October 23, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From the last several weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Somewhere In Between is a must-see movie for adoptive famililes. It profiles four Chinese teenage adoptees in contemporary America – Haley, Jenna, Ann, and Fang. From the synopsis: These four wise-beyond-their-years, yet typical American teens, reveal a heartbreaking sense of self-awareness as they attempt to answer the uniquely human question, “Who am I?”. Visit the website to see if this film is playing near you.

From EMK Press: Top Ten Tips for Successful First Year Parenting by Deborah Gray and Realistic Expectations – The First Year Home (a free download).

News about the Adoption Tax Credit! There are bills in both the House (HR 4373) and the Senate (S 3616) that would create an adoption tax credit that is inclusive, flat for the adoption of children with special needs, refundable and permanent. Ask your representative to co-sponsor HR 4373 and your senators to co-sponsor S 3616. Without an extension, the current adoption tax credit is set to expire December 31, 2012.

Blog World:

Jill, from Phebe Jayne, recently traveled to China to bring her daughter, Phebe Jayne, home from China. And during her time in China, she shares her thoughts on attachment in those first few days with her new daughter.

Tristan, mom to Mason who was born with Spina Bifida, set out to blog about 31 days of Spina Bifida Awareness during the month of October. Lots of wonderful information for anyone with a child with SB or considering this as a special need.

Ashley, from Under the Sycamore, recently returned from China with her new daughter. Ashley shares about her journey in becoming a mom to a child with a physical special need, and how she draws inspiration from her daughter to “just rock it”.

Alison, from Not Yet What We Shall Be, shares her thoughts on adoption, and the overwhelming orphan crisis, as she waits to bring her daughter home from China.

And our own Nicole posts about her daughter’s recent speech therapy evaluation.

Traveling Families:

In China now…

Following Our Leader – Mom Tara is bringing home her daughter Cora, who has a significant heart defect. Please stop by her blog to offer a prayer and some encouragement, Cora had a very serious episode on the in-China flight and Tara is worried about how Cora will do on the flight home.
All Aboard
Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses
Waiting for Ian

About to go to China…

The Journey to Our Daughter
And Then There Were Three

If you have something you’d like to share for a future What We’re Reading post, be sure to let us know via email – we’d love to feature your links or posts about life with your special needs child.



What We're Reading: Links

September 11, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Check out a new ministry created by China adoptive mom, Amy Kratzer. Forever Hope is a non profit, Christian ministry that seeks to provide adoptive families with personal care and support, connection to valuable resources and a network of supportive relationships.

And Nicole, mom to a little boy with Thalassemia, has created Choosing Thalassemia – an entire website devoted to Thalassemia as a special need. Fabulous resource for anyone considering or parenting a child with this special need.

Read about the Mid-Atlantic Burn Camp, “where no one stares, the scars don’t matter and kids can just be kids.”

Blog World:

Yvette, who blogs at Bringing Home Holland, looks back on the 9 months home with son Cavanaugh (adopted from China with a SN of limb differences) and is amazed at how those 9 months have changed him, inside and out.

Monica, big sister to Reese adopted from China in 2007, shares the wonderful news that her parents were recently granted TWO waivers from China to bring home their newest family member, Ana-Cherie. Exciting news for them, and encouraging news for other families that might need a waiver (or two) in order to adopt from China.

Carrie, from To China We Go, looks back on the six months since bringing daughter Abbie home from China and shares her thoughts on parenting a special needs child.

And Ann, from Crazy For Kids, is mom to Kim who was adopted from China with a SN of cleft lip and palate. Kim, now 15, recently had her final surgery and was interviewed about what it is like to have CL/CP… her answers will most definitely be of interest to anyone parenting a child with similar special needs.

Traveling Families:

Recently home from China

The Aiden Adventure
Everyone Eats Rice
Lynch Life
Everyday’s An Adventure
Anything but Lokey
Under the Sycamore

In China now

Faith, Family, Adoption – our very own Kam!
The Weavers World
Phebe Jayne

About to go to China

Amazing Love

If you have something you’d like to share for a future What We’re Reading post, be sure to let us know via email – we’d love to feature your links or posts about life with your special needs child.



What we're reading: links

August 22, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

A disclaimer: It’s summer and I have been sadly remiss in posting our What We’re Reading links… I’ve been a slacker. Forgive me! Additionally, our No Hands But Ours email was not working properly, but this has now been resolved. If you emailed us a link or post over the last few months, please don’t think we ignored you! Just send us your link or post again… we’ll actually get it this time!

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Jen Hatmaker – author, speaker, blogger and adoptive mama – shares a must-read post about one year home with her two adopted children. A humorous and honest reality check of what you can expect the first year home with our new child.

Jenna Cook, a student at Yale, was abandoned as an infant and later adopted by a family in the US. She has determined to search for her Chinese birth family with mixed responses from Chinese netizens. Undeterred, she explains that she does not resent her birth family, and will do whatever it takes to find them.

And in a follow up article, Chris Zheng, a friend of Jenna’s and also a student at Yale, contemplates the cultural differences between the Chinese and the American response to Jenna’s story.

The Painted Turtle is a summer camp for special needs kids, aged 6-17. Created by Paul Newman, the camp is free for eligible children. Visit their website for more information.

And you must read the incredibly inspiring but heartbreaking story of Lou Xiaoying, now 88, who has saved over 30 abandoned babies she happened upon on her job as a trash collector.

Blog World:

Our beloved Tonggu Momma talks about attachment. She says, “As parents, we must – MUST – do our best to guide them through the healing process. But we also need to remember that they have responsibilities as well. They have to reach a point where they are willing to heal.”

Jean from There’s No Place Like Home is mom to many. She is currently in the process of completing their third dual adoption (adoption of two children at the same time) and she shares her thoughts on the process of dual adoption.

Michelle, mom to a little boy with a limb difference, gives ideas on how to help our kids cope with differences in others more effectively and more lovingly.

Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore recently celebrated her daughter’s first birthday, although her daughter is still waiting in China. Be sure to check out the beautiful way she celebrated.

And she also shared a beautiful and informative post on her daughter’s special need, cleft lip and palate.

Kristin from Tired Mama blogs about the fascinating journey she and her son Willem have been on to correct his bilateral clubfoot. So much wonderful information, and the pictures are nothing short of amazing.

And our very own Nicole shares about Sunshine’s recent palate repair – really fascinating photos included (along with some really cute photos, too!)

Traveling Families:

Recently home from China

Brown Eyes and Bare Feet
A Heartful
Bless the Broken Road

In China

Everyone Eats Rice
Lynch Life
Everyday’s An Adventure

About to travel

Anything but Lokey
Under the Sycamore
and Faith, Family, Adoption – our very own Kam!

If you have any links or posts you’d like to share for a future What We’re Reading post, let us know via email!



Give1Save1 Asia

August 15, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From Tonya Garrick at Give1Save1 and the contact for the G1S1 Asia page:

We are off to a great start, with all 3 families of the week reaching or passing $1000. This week’s family is at $1600… it’s been super exciting to help these families!

The process is very simple:

— An adoptive family from Asia applies by sending me an email. I will send them an application. Everyone has to submit a short video, too.

— We choose our family of the week based on readiness or how close they are to travel.

— We blog about them for a week on our website and link our donate button to their paypal accounts.

— Sharing their stories on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc is KEY. We share and they share, hopefully, everyone shares!! We don’t ask for big gifts on our blog, just encourage people to give a dollar and share the story.

Pretty simple!

For more information, or to read about the families featured, visit Give1Save1 Asia by clicking the button below…



next shared list

July 22, 2012 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

The next shared list is scheduled to be released tomorrow night, July 23rd – exciting news for all those waiting families!

Congratulations to all families in the Special Needs program, whether you find your child on shared list, the Special Focus list or an individual agency list… it’s always wonderful when children find their forever family!

If you have recently been matched with your special needs child, please feel free to share your news. We’d love to hear about your new little one!



next shared list

June 25, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The next shared list is scheduled to be released tonight, June 25th – exciting news for all those waiting families!

Congratulations to all families in the Special Needs program, whether you find your child on shared list, the Special Focus list or an individual agency list… it’s always wonderful when children find their forever family!

If you have recently been matched with your special needs child, please feel free to share your news. We’d love to hear about your new little one!



what we're reading: links

June 21, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

US News recently released their newest rankings for the top pediatric hospitals in the US for 2012-2013.
According to their findings, the top five hospitals are:
1. Boston Children’s Hospital
2. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
3. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
4. Texas Children’s Hospital
5. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

They’re ambitious, beautiful, ready to take on any challenge life throws their way. And being in a wheelchair does not hold them back. That’s how Monika Joshi, of USA TODAY describes the leads in a new show on Sundance Channel. Push Girls features four women in wheelchairs in a new 14-episode unscripted documentary series.

In the blog world:

Amy at Learning to Fly with Chopsticks shares about the progress her son, Milo, has made since coming home. Milo’s special need is a missing hand – but check out the video of him peeling an orange all by himself.

Our beloved Tonggu Momma shares about her little one, Squirt, and the continuing search for the cause of Squirt’s ongoing medical issues.

Shannon, who blogs at Here We Grow Again, recently shared her heart about a boy, Charlie, that needs to find his forever family. And although she wanted Charlie to be her son, after much prayer and consideration, they determined that adopting Charlie was not God’s plan for them.

Yvette at Bringing Home Holland shares her thoughts on her son’s imperfect, but perfect-to-her, legs prior to surgery. A few days later, Cavanaugh had his foot amputation surgery to allow him to be fitted for prosthetics.

Hiking Mama from Hike. Blog. Love. responds to Margaret Cho’s recent comment about being older and the possibility of having a child with special needs. Cho remarked, “I get worried about that, as an older woman, I don’t necessarily want to have a retard.” Ouch.

Cynthia at Blessed Beyond Measure shares about her daughter Lucy’s special need of microtia and hearing impairment and their plans for an upcoming surgery to build an ear drum and ear canal.

And I’ve been chronicling our son Jude’s recent clubfoot relapse. At six years old, despite following the proper bracing protocol, Jude’s right foot is relapsing. We recently completed the required MRI (to rule out neurological issues) and are awaiting casting and surgery in July.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their children.

Step By Step to Jack
Maggie at Last – non-special needs
Finding Franky

Thanks to Nancy and Holly for sharing links they had found to share for What We’re Reading: Links. If you have any links or posts you’d like to share, let us know via email!



what we're reading: links

May 24, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the blog world:

Alea, a little one with a very serious liver disorder, is being cared for at New Day Foster Home. She desperately needs a liver transplant to survive. Find out how to get involved in giving Hope for Alea.

Amy Eldridge, at Love Without Boundaries, has begun writing a series of posts entitled “Realistic Expectations” in an effort to better prepare all adoptive parents for the day they finally meet their long-anticipated little one. I’d consider these a must read for anyone in the process to adopt from China.New this week, Amy shares about expectations on food issues.

And our beloved Tonggu Momma shares some great thoughts on the best books for speech delayed children.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their children.

Ainsley’s Little Sister
Our Journey to XiangJun
The Hatley Home
Our Chinese Princess
Journey to Joshua



what we're reading: links

May 9, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Meet Jessica Cox, born without arms but able to drive a car, achieve a black belt in karate and even hold the Guinness World Record for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate. Amazing story of someone unafraid to try – and achieve – what others would call impossible.

In the blog world:

An adoption announcement unlike anything you’ve ever seen – be sure to visit A Road Less Traveled to see it.

Kelle, who blogs at Enjoying the Small Things, is mom to two biological girls. Her youngest, Nella, has Down Syndrome. And, on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, Kelle shares her thoughts on her daughter’s special need and the lasting, and wonderful, impact it has had on her entire family.

And Amy Eldridge, at Love Without Boundaries, has begun writing a series of posts entitled “Realistic Expectations” in an effort to better prepare all adoptive parents for the day they finally meet their long-anticipated little one. I’d consider these a must read for anyone in the process to adopt from China.

Expectations on cleanliness
Expectations on potty training
Expectations on clothing
And expectations on preparing a child

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their children.

Straight Talk
From This Moment
Living Out a Crazy Love
Love Multiplies Here
Life’s Little Wonders



What We're Reading: {Links}

April 25, 2012 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Annie Clark, age 7, was born without hands. Adopted from China, she recently won the national penmanship award. Truly inspiring story and video.

And a sweet story of an older American couple, 66 and 69, living in China and caring for orphans with significant special needs. It began in 1993, when they were asked if they would take a look at a baby girl – with numerous special needs – who had been abandoned on the campus where they taught. They now run a facility that cares for 32 children with autism and cerebral palsy.

In the blog world:

Angie, from a Blog Full of Weldons, transparently shares about her daughter’s recent cleft surgery, and the ensuing post-adoption depression it caused for her. Beautifully written, and straight from the heart… it is a blessing to many when we, as adoptive moms, can share our hearts so honestly.

Karin, from Our Treasures From Afar, shares pictures from her son Jordan’s recent surgery to create a new ear. The final results are amazing.

Hiking Mama, from Hike. Blog. Love., writes about her son’s recent diagnosis of autism and test results. And the fact that no matter what she is told by “specialists”, or what numbers he is assigned on paper, she knows the undefeatable hope she has for her beloved boy.

Our own Nicole, from Living Out His Love, shares some fantastic ideas for sensory play. She has created sensory bins for her daughter – with water beads and coffee beans – and both have been extremely well received by her daughter, Sunshine. Great ideas for any adopted child.

And new adoptive mama Carrie, from To China We Go, shares about her recent realization of being a conspicuous family – and the ensuing comments they have received – now that her daughter Abbie is home from China.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their children.

One Less Broken Heart
September Sweeties
Finding Faith
Kaylee’s Journey Home



next shared list

April 16, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The next shared list is scheduled to be released tonight, April 16th – which is wonderful news for all those waiting families!

Congratulations to all families in the Special Needs program, whether you find your child on shared list, the Special Focus list or an individual agency list… it’s always wonderful when children find their forever family!

If you have recently been matched with your special needs child, please feel free to share your news. We’d love to hear about your new little one!



What We're Reading: {Links}

April 4, 2012 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Adoptive mom Linda Goldstein Knowlton, who produced the award-winning film Whale Rider, recently produced Somewhere Between, a documentary film that tells the stories of four teenaged girls, all adopted from China.

In the blog world:

Maureen, who blogs at Paths of Joy, shares about her new daughter Molly’s recent diagnosis of a rare form of Congenital Muscular Dystrophy.

Laurelle, from Planet Linden, recently blogged about her son Linden’s successful surgery to repair his palate.

Karin, from Treasures from Afar, blogs about some recent medical appointments for her kids, Zoey and Jordan. Zoey went to Shriner’s to receive a new prosthetic leg and Jordan went to Boston to reveal his “new” ear. Be sure to check out the amazing ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.

And our very own Nancy, recently home from China, has found herself co-sleeping with new daughter Mazie, and not loving it. But thanks to some great advice, she has found a lovely, and restful, compromise.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.

Leaving for China this week:

Beautiful Ordinary Life
Love Knows No Limits
Ni Hao Y’all … eek!
No Ordinary Moments
My Four Blessings
Our Bigger Picture
The Kown Family
Three Sippy Cups



what we're reading: links

March 22, 2012 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

The Little Couple (from the TLC show), after their surrogate suffered a miscarriage, are looking to adopt a special needs child – specifically a child with dwarfism. Check out the video, you can see them looking at the little ones listed on Rainbow Kids :)

In the blog world:

Mike and Tricia, from the Little Redhead, are in China now to bring home their new daughter, Pippa. And they have shared an incredibly sweet video on their blog of the moment they met their daughter for the first time.

At the Lillie Family, mom of Emma Jean – adopted from China with a special need of low-birth weight – shares how her new daughter recently received a surprise diagnosis of partial, and permanent, hearing loss in both ears.

And Karin, who blogs at Treasures from Afar, is mom to 10. Her son Jordan has a special need of microtia and Karin chronicles his recent surgery, the bumps in the road and the arrival home.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.

Little Red Head
Our Little Lyla
Our Double Blessing
Just Haven’t Met You Yet
The Other Side of Mt. Everest
The Miracle of More
Hope 4 the Wounded
Five of My Own
Waiting 4 Years
My Miracles



next shared list

March 19, 2012 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

The next shared list will be released tonight, March 19th – wonderful news for all those waiting families!

Congratulations to all families in the Special Needs program, whether you find your child on shared list, the Special Focus list or an individual agency list… it’s always wonderful when children find their forever family!

If you have recently been matched with your special needs child, please feel free to share your news. We’d love to hear about your new little one!



What we're reading Wednesday: Links

March 9, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

In the news:

Creating a Family has complied their Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Delays When Filing for the Adoption Tax Credit.

And from the Parenting Squad, 5 Ways to Protect Your Special Needs Child

In the blog world:

Shelly, who blogs at Hoot’s Momma, recently celebrated one year home with her daughter Libbie. And as she looks back at their first year together, she candidly shares about the first, incredibly difficult, days with their daughter.

Andrea, who blogs at Adoption Road, is mom to Lydia who has a special need of unilateral microtia. And Lydia recently received a cutting-edge device to help her hear, and Andrea gives a great review for other parents of children with similar special needs.

Kelly, who blogs at My Overthinking, shares her list of adoption themed books.

And Mary, who blogs at Grown in Our Nest, looks back on the first four months with her new daughter, Gracie. She shares honestly about those early days – and struggling with a feeling of regret.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.

Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy 9
Love Them Home
Raising Godly Girls
House of Hoffmans
For the Sake of the Dream
Hemmes Family Happenings
Bunk Beds: Making Room for Daisy
Our Lighthouse
Around the World to Harper
Shelah Books It



next shared list

February 25, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The next shared list will be released on Monday, February 27th – fantastic news for all those families out there who are waiting!

Congratulations to all families in the Special Needs program, whether you find your child on shared list, the Special Focus list or an individual agency list… it’s always wonderful when children find their forever family!

If you have recently been matched with your special needs child, please feel free to share your news. We’d love to hear about your new little one!



What we’re reading Wednesday: links

February 22, 2012 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

From the blog world:

Our very own Kam shares the story of finding her “Little Prince” – a little boy with a heart defect – after losing her son Seth, who also suffered from a heart defect.

Shonni, who blogs at Nations Around our Table, shares candidly about the grief experienced by many children after they are adopted, especially older children.

Rebecca, who blogs at In the Heart of our Home, recounts a recent visit to the neurologist. Rebecca’s son, Johnathan, has schizencephaly, which causes motor, cognitive, and speech delays, as well as paralysis or weakness and seizures. Johnathan also has some limb differences and underwent an amputation surgery to prepare his leg for a prosthetic. Rebecca shares honestly about the surgery, and his progress since then.

Our beloved Tonggu Momma writes candidly on a topic in which she is exceedingly well versed – attachment. A great read for all adoptive parents.

Jenna, from Many Colored Days, is mom to Cooper who came home from China with a heart defect. She shares her thoughts and frustration over the “lucky boy” comments she, and other adoptive families receive from others.

Emily, from Table for Seven, compares the process of adding a new child to your family through adoption to the grafting of a new branch onto an apple tree.

Anna, who blogs at Anything but LoKey, details her daughter Lily’s recent cleft palate surgery: cleft palate post one with pictures, and cleft palate post two – speech and teeth.

Alan, at Planet R-H, recently traveled to China for his new daughter. He has since compiled several lists for anyone preparing to head to China:
Travel Tips: Flying to China
Travel Tips: Packing
Travel Tips: Hong Kong

And Jessie at Play Create Explore, has some great ideas for attachment play for children aged 1 – 3.

From the news:

From MSNBC, China to ban names that signal ‘orphan’ status“The Ministry of Civil Affairs plans to issue new regulations to prohibit orphanages from using naming conventions that make it easy for other Chinese speakers to guess that an individual is an orphan—leading to lifelong stigma.”

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.

The Kratzer Family
Laughter Love and Family



wow.

February 21, 2012 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

I am simply awed. And so very grateful.

My friend and website-designer extraordinaire, Lauren from Restored 316 Designs, has just finished her overhaul of No Hands But Ours.

I gave her some ideas when we first got started, but I was blown away when I saw the finished product.

Thank. You. Lauren.

Even our button got a makeover. Feel free to grab the one below, or one from the sidebar. We’d be grateful for your help in getting the word out about No Hands But Ours.

No Hands But Ours

No Hands But Ours has a facebook page now as well, so if you enjoy reading along here, find us and “like” us on facebook.

Look at us, going and gettin’ all grown up!

One more thank you goes out to some very generous moms… for sharing their beautiful kiddos pictures to grace our homepage. We will be featuring new children in the slideshow regularly, so if you have adopted a special needs child from China and have a picture you would like to have featured, please send the picture and some information about your child to us at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

So, have a look around and let us know what you think! We have added several new bloggers recently, and two more will be joining us shortly. You can find a list of all our current contributors with links to their personal blogs on our About page. To all our contributors, thank you so much for your commitment to No Hands But Ours and the children of China who wait for their forever family.

2012 is going to be a great year!



What we're reading Wednesday: links

February 8, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

From the blog world:

Please keep the Wife of the Prez and her new daughter, Sallie, in your thoughts and prayers. At last, Sallie is in their arms, but she is having a hard time and grieving terribly, which is made worse by her very complex heart condition.

Our very own Tonggu Momma shares about her therapy equipment (aka toys!) for children – like her daughter, Squirt – with gross motor delays.

Yvette, who blogs at Bringing Home Holland, has a biological child with dwarfism and an adopted child with dwarfism. And she shares her heart on adopting a child with dwarfism.

La Dolce Vida shares how she created very special lifebooks that tell the adoption story of her daughters.

Mary Beth, at Letters to Maggie, shares about her daughter Maggie’s time in a spica cast and now how she is learning to walk since having the cast removed.

Danielle at Westhaven Kids takes a very honest look back at her son’s gotcha day, and shudders at the thought of what it would have been like if she had been totally unprepared.

Jen, at Love Laugh Learn and Grow, takes a look back at her son Johnathan’s adoption, who has now been home 100 days.

Kelley from Gazing Upward shares her thoughts on being honest on a public blog and answers a question she often hears regarding adopting an older child.

And our newest NHBO contributor, Nancy from Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy 9, takes a look back at her daughter’s attachment journey, and recognizes that, for children like her Tess, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

From the news:

From the Courier-Journal, Babies Read Our Lips More That We Thought. A fascinating read about how and when babies read lips, and then, at a year, move back to focusing on our eyes. But, if confronted with a foreign language, they go back to lip reading. Adoptive parents would be wise to read this and consider it when communicating with their newly adopted children.

Traveling Families:
And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.


Adoption Tax Credit for 2011

January 27, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Anyone who has adopted should know about the Adoption Tax Credit. It’s a huge blessing for adopting families to recoup a portion of expenses when adopting a child. But if you’re most of us, that’s about where your knowledge ends.

Internet to the rescue.

With tax season upon us, here are some links to help you maximize your credit, and minimize the effort.

The numbers below reflect the total Adoption Tax Credit amounts. Note that only in 2010 and 2011 are these amounts refundable, which means that the refund is received in a lump sum. This was a huge surprise to many of us last tax season when we learned that our refund was going to be significantly larger than anticipated. But the IRS insisted on auditing many adoptive families, so it is wise to make sure you have all your receipts and documentation of expenses organized and ready to go before you file for 2011. According to the IRS website, “Taxpayers may also be asked, after filing their returns, to substantiate any qualified adoption expenses they paid.”

2013: $5,000 or $6,000 for a special needs child (projected)
2012: at least $12,170 (will be indexed for inflation), non-refundable
2011: $13,360 (will be indexed for inflation), refundable
2010: $13,170, refundable 
2009: $12,150, non-refundable
2008: $11,650, non-refundable
2007: $11,390, non-refundable
2006: $10,960, non-refundable

Adoption Tax Credit Amount Source: William Perez – about.com 

If you have any sites or tips to share for this tax season, please do. I know that many of us learned way more about taxes than we wanted to last year when the vast majority of refunds were being withheld due to audits.



What we're reading Wednesday: links

January 11, 2012 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption from China and/or parenting a special needs child from China.

As always, if you are a traveling family, or have posted something, or read something, that you’d like to share here on No Hands But Ours, please let us know at nohandsbutours@gmail.com.

From the news:

From the Nanfang Insider, a heart-breaking story of a 3-year HIV+ old boy, who was abandoned at birth and found to be HIV+ a year later. He was separated from the other children and now lives a life of solitude, with hopes of being adopted one day.

In China, a daring few challenge one-child limit (APNews) by Alexa Olesen who tells the stories of several families in China who are trying to change the one-child policy. One desperate mother shares, “I don’t think I’ve committed any crime. A crime is something that hurts other people or society or that infringes on other people’s rights. I don’t think having a baby is any kind of crime.” 

Amy and Benjamin Root adopted baby Maisy from China with a special need of hairy nevus birthmark. They just celebrated the one year anniversary of the life-saving surgery she underwent to remove the potentially cancerous mark – and she has made an amazing recovery.

And an article from The Washington Post about Guangzhou, the stopping place for all adoptive families before they exit China. Lots to learn about this beautiful city, the third largest in all of China.

From the bloggy world:

Sara, who blogs at Football and Fried Rice, just came home with her second little one from China. And she shares what it really looks like when you get home from an adoption trip.

Our very own Wife of the Prez shares about her littlest guy, and his new BAHA hearing aid. Adopted from China with a heart defect and cleft lip and palate, his hearing deficiency was an unknown need… but with the help of his BAHA, he can now hear in both ears.

Rachel, who blogs at Kittens and Ladybugs, recounts her new son Jaidin’s recent cleft lip and palate surgery – just weeks after coming home from China.

Maia, who blogs at Une Envie de Sel, recently shared a very profound conversation with daughter Q, who came home from China with cleft lip and palate.

Kelley, who blogs at Gazing Upward, recently celebrated six months home and a major breakthrough with her daughter, Caroline LiYun, 13.

Our beloved Tonggu Momma answers some very pointed questions in her post “Am I Angry?” regarding her new daughter, Squirt, and her recent medical scares. Although Squirt came home as a non-special needs child, she has since suffered from several unexplained seizures.

Branda, who blogs at Days Made of Now, shares a red-letter day in the life of parenting a child who was adopted as an ‘older child’. Her daughter, ManYu, has made a big step in accepting her new family, and calls her mamma for the very first time.

Liz, who blogs at Learning Patience, recently came home with two little ones from China. She offers up her candid thoughts for anyone considering adopting two children at once.

Traveling Families:

And lastly, if you’re like all of us around here, you’ll want to take a few moments (or hours!) and travel vicariously with these families currently in China to bring home their kids.



one year with my sweet Vivi Kate

January 3, 2011 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Vivienne officially joined our family on January 11, 2010.

That was a glorious day for our family: we were gaining a precious daughter.

It was a tragic day for her: she lost everything she knew.


A month later, I shared more about the reality of that day.

By early spring we were both emerging from the fog that is China. That is adoption. That is adding to your family by one, overnight.

And it was good. At least I was feeling good. Falling more madly in love with Vivienne by the day.


But she took a bit longer to feel the same.

We co-slept. We danced around the kitchen. We layed on the couch together with Chris in the evenings.

We worked on just being together. And allowed God time to begin to heal those wounds, and slowly build a foundation of trust. And love.

And by summer? It showed.


This picture was taken at the hospital on the day we confirmed that Vivienne has dwarfism.

And thus began an overwhelmingly sad season… for me.

But again, God was so merciful. And He revealed to me that His creation, Vivienne, was no accident. He made her just as she is.


And now? Oh my. We are now at a place of blessed joy. And peace. And connectedness. Vivienne has blessed our family beyond belief. And while I can’t speak for Vivienne, I think these pictures reveal just how far she has come.

In looking back on these pictures, that depict our first year together, I can’t help but cry.

They represent such a journey.

Of my heart.

Of Vivienne’s heart.

And all the tears shed? All the hardships faced?

Absolutely, positively worth it.

a blessed surprise

August 28, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Since entering the adoption realm in 2004, admittedly painfully unaware, I’ve done my share of reading.

My share of gleaning.

My share of asking.

Since then I have also been asked many questions about adoption by potential adoptive parents. And one question in particular has always stood out to me. Maybe because it was one of the first questions I asked myself at the very beginning of our own journey into adoption….

“How will our biological child(ren) feel about an adopted sibling?”

And the answer, at least in our experience, has been one of the biggest surprises in this journey.

And one of the biggest blessings.

Not to imply that adding a new child to any family isn’t without challenges. But worrying about our biological children not ‘accepting’ an adopted child just wasn’t necessary.

No bitterness.

No jealousy.

Okay, occasional jealousy over who got a few more M&Ms.

But really, just love.

Real love.

My kids surprised me… their hearts were exponentially more open and accepting than I ever anticipated. In fact, they’ve completely embraced their new siblings as just that.

Brothers.

Sisters.

I bet your kids surprised you, too.

loving China

June 28, 2010 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

We have five children from China, ranging in age from 2 to 6. While none of them have come to us with a desire to explore their heritage, we have taken it upon ourselves to at least crack open the door to their roots. In a small way, embracing not only our children, but where they come from.

We don’t take Chinese classes. We don’t have lots of Chinese friends. Currently, bound by time and monetary constraints, that just isn’t possible. But it is possible to introduce, in small ways, pieces of China into our children’s lives. And we have found that when we crack open that door, more often than not, our children run through, delighted at the opportunity to learn more about their “China”.

We have numerous Chinese books around, all age appropriate for small children. This is one of our favorites… we have enjoyed trying the traditional Chinese recipes and referring to it for child-friendly stories about Chinese Holidays. Tonggu Momma has some wonderful book ideas for children adopted from China on her blog here. So far our children have enjoyed reading books based on China, but nothing like they love seeing China… in action.

They love this DVD. I actually bought it a while ago. Initially, it met with mixed reviews, no one really disliked it, per se. But no one loved it. When Vivienne arrived home, with her love of singing and dancing, I decided to pull it out again. And wow, do they love it now. Every single one of them. And they haven’t stopped watching it (off and on, a mom does occasionally need a break) ever since.

In fact, even when they are not watching the video, I find them humming or singing the songs on the video and sometimes, even several of them join in together to sing one of the songs from the DVD. None of us are quite sure what, exactly, they are singing, but they most definitely are enjoying themselves. And I love that one of the reasons they enjoy the songs so much is because they are Chinese. I hope they always feel proud to be Chinese. Because although they are American, they are and always will be Chinese, too.

We have also interspersed Asian-inspired art and items purchased in China displayed all around our home. We want them to know that we have not only embraced them as our children, but that we have an admiration and love for China as well. Our daughters, both 6 years old and home for 4 and 5 years respectively, especially love having pieces of China in their every day lives. They enjoy looking over their ‘China pictures’, the gifts we purchased for them in China, and the books, clothes and jewelry we bought for them while there. They have mementos of China safely tucked in special spots around their room. And having access to these items occasionally opens up an opportunity for us to discuss big issues, and to use heavy words like “orphanage” and “birth parents” more naturally, without having to force a conversation. We don’t want our children to hear ‘adopted’ or ‘orphan’ for the first time at school, out of the mouth of another child, and not know what it means or how to respond. We want them to learn about their beginnings softly. Gently. At their own pace. And in the safety of our home, surrounded by people who love them.

Each family needs to decide for themselves how they will seek out ways to help your Chinese child express a connection to their roots, if and when they choose. But I encourage adoptive parents to be intentional about offering at least a few ways that their Chinese child can safely express a connection to China without having to ask. We have been very pleasantly surprised that even at a young age, and even though it was parent-initiated, how excited our children are to embrace their “China”.

I’d love to hear other ways that you encourage this connection in your home!

how do you know?

June 3, 2010 by nohandsbutours 15 Comments

What will my child look like?

Will I recognize my child when I ‘see’ them for the first time?

These are questions that I think all adoptive parents ask at one time or another, especially in the special needs program. If you’re anything like I was, you manage to find sweet little faces, faces that need a mommy and a daddy. And as you pour over the pouty lips, round faces and somber expressions, you wonder, “Is that him?” or “Could that be her?”

There have been several times over the years that I could have sworn I was looking into the eyes of my child. And yet, I was not theirs. They were not mine. And while I’m not certain why this happens, I believe that God uses these children that capture us, if only for a time, as an opportunity to teach us something. To stretch us. To make us consider something bigger and often better than we might have imagined on our own.

Adoption isn’t easy. Adoption through the special needs program definitely isn’t easy.

And one of the hardest things a prospective adoptive parent has to do is determine if indeed a child is meant to be part of their family forever.

As parents to five children through the SN program, my husband and I have experienced the spectrum of referral scenarios. Isabelle, our first daughter, was referred to us after a mid-stream switch from the NSN program to the SN program. This was way back in 2004, when there really wasn’t a line in the SN program… and a wait for a NSN referral from China was only 6 months. Unbelievable, huh?

When we filled out the SN checklist, we had a very specific list of needs we were open to, more than a few, but certainly not the entire list. And we were very specific on the age range we would consider. My husband really wanted to stick with our original 6-12 month age range, despite my best efforts to convince him otherwise. We were backed up against a wall time-wise as well, and knew that if we didn’t receive a SN referral in a short amount of time, our dossier would be too far gone and we’d receive a NSN referral. Which would have been fine, wonderful really, except for the fact that my heart was telling me our daughter was SN.

So when, with just a few weeks to spare, we got ‘the call’, we knew she was ours. Without a doubt. When we finally looked into the eyes of the child we’d waited for… did we ‘know’? No, not really. It was the circumstances that confirmed to our hearts that she was ours.

And indeed she was.


Our second daughter, Sophie, came into our lives in a decidedly different manner. I saw her tiny, angelic referral picture in a newsletter, emailed to me by a small agency. And I fell hard.

Honestly, when I saw her cherubic face my stomach dropped, my hands started sweating… I couldn’t even think straight. It was a very surreal experience, to be sure. We had only been home for a few months with Isabelle, though, and I just could not fathom how she could possibly be ours. But I emailed the SN coordinator anyway… and God worked out every single detail. Even a husband who happened to be deployed to the desert at the time. I traveled to bring her home just 8 months later.


We started for Jude before we had a referral. In fact, when we started for Jude, all we knew was that he was going to be a he. My heart had been broken for all the little boys in China, and we agreed that a little guy would be the perfect caboose for our family (yeah, right!).

I had contacted several agencies and filled out as many SN checklists. Several weeks later, out of the blue, one afternoon we received a call: “I have the files of two very little boys. One with a cleft lip and palate, and one with clubfoot.” We asked her to send us the file of the boy with clubfoot… we were so anxious to see his little face!

When the pictures opened up we both. just. sat. there. Please don’t misunderstand, Jude is (and was) darling! It’s just we didn’t recognize him. There wasn’t that immediate familiarity that we had expected. And without the dramatic circumstances to point us toward a yes like we had with Isabelle, we just weren’t sure.

Was his SN manageable? Yes.

Was he cute? Adorable.

Did he need a family? Absolutely.

But was he ours? We just didn’t know.

So we waited and prayed and prayed and waited. I was so conflicted, I insisted my husband make the final decision. He woke up one morning a few days later and, after reading Hebrews 11, said “Let’s bring him home.” And that was it.

Slowly and steadily I fell in love with that referral picture. I slept with it by my bed and carried it in my purse. And now that Jude has been home for three years, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that we didn’t insist on fireworks when we first saw his face. He is our son. We just needed to wait on God to confirm it in our hearts.


Shepherd came to us through a series of events that was undeniably God at work. We had determined that we were open to adopting again, and most of all open to another child with uncorrected clubfoot. Knowing that being stuck on any particular special need might keep us from seeing His plan, we filled out a checklist for Lifeline with lots of ‘yeses’ and ‘maybes’, and ‘either gender’ circled. We were told it would probably be several months until referral, due to the long list of families already waiting.

Imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from the SN coordinator asking me to give her a call. Turned out that all the families, of the 40 in all that were waiting, none were open to boys. And it just so happened that they had an 11 month old little guy with, amazingly, uncorrected clubfoot. Who very much needed a family.

We didn’t even have to think about whether he was ‘ours’ or not, God had already confirmed it by the circumstances, and in our hearts.

r />And the cherry on top? He was the cutest little bug we’d ever seen.


And then there is Vivienne. Who managed to find her way into our hearts before we really even knew it.

I had been doing some research for No Hands But Ours and had been in touch with WACAP about their Promise Child Grants. And, because I just am who I am, I checked in every now and again on their waiting child page.

One day I came across a picture that I sent along to my husband… and the rest is history. He knew she was our daughter from the first moment he saw her. He later told me he was so certain “because she needs us.”

Looking back I’m not sure who needed whom more… Miss Vivienne has certainly found her niche in our besotted family.


So, when I am asked, “How did you know they were yours?” I don’t really have a solid answer. None of our children came to us in the exact same way. What I do know is that God confirmed each child in our hearts as we waited to hear from Him.

Sometimes He speaks in a shout, and sometimes in a whisper. Our job is to be sure we’ve got our mind, our eyes and our hearts open to what He has to say.

“And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

special needs?

April 30, 2010 by nohandsbutours 10 Comments

I am a most ordinary person.

I drink Diet Coke with my McDonald’s French fries. I love Target and People Magazine. I drive a mini-van for goodness sakes.

Back when we were just starting out on our adoption journey, I began to hear bits and pieces about the ‘Waiting Child’ program that the CCAA has in place for children with “special needs”. I assumed that this program was for kids who weren’t ‘normal’. For children that would probably have too many needs for a family like ours to parent. Especially considering our four other children who were already at home. “I don’t have the time or the energy”, I thought.

Plus, I have a real fondness for all things ‘normal’.

What I did not know at the time, but soon learned, is that the children in the waiting child program are normal. Not only normal, but healthy. And wonderful. The more I researched the waiting child program while we were waiting for our non-special needs referral, the more I realized that adopting a child with special needs was something our family could do. Easily.

There were definitely some needs that we felt would be too much for us, but many of the needs seemed very manageable. A few seemed even, dare I say it, easy. It took Chris a few months to come to a place where he was ready to consider taking on the additional responsibility of adopting a child with special needs. He, as the head of our household, had to consider all the logistical aspects of what it might entail. But God calmed our fears and soon we moved forward in faith. We submitted a medical needs checklist and waited to see God’s plan unfold.

On February 7, 2005 I received the call of a lifetime. It was our agency’s Special Needs Program coordinator. And she had a referral for us to consider.

Isabelle at referral

That referral was a tiny 7 month old girl with a minor heart defect. We knew immediately that she was our daughter and accepted her referral. We have never looked back at the traditional non-special needs program.

Adopting a waiting child has been such a multi-faceted blessing for us and for our whole family. We didn’t start out on our adoption journey as a rescue mission, but indeed we did rescue a child. A tiny girl with a hole in her heart that needed to be repaired. And we were, with the help of our insurance and a wonderful children’s hospital, able to have her heart repaired to normal. Now we can watch our ‘normal’ child grow up with the love and safety of a family she might have never had in China.

Luke 6:38
“If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.”

Since bringing home Isabelle in 2005, we have brought home her sisters Sophie and Vivienne, and her brothers Jude and Shepherd. All waiting children. All with differing special needs. And we have been blessed exponentially by being able to provide each of them with the medical attention they need while watching them grow and flourish as they find their place in their forever family.

Every night as I go to bed, I am grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to parent these children. I have been blessed. We have all been blessed. Our children have learned that children with medical issues or disabilities are more than their ‘needs’. Each and every one is precious. And, above all, every bit as deserving of love and a family as a ‘normal’ child. We have all been forever changed by our decision to step out of the boat and follow God’s prompting to consider special needs adoption.

Isabelle today

Certainly not every family is cut out for the waiting child program. And for those that feel lead to stay in the non-special needs program most definitely should. It’s a decision each family must make thoughtfully and carefully, it is a lifetime commitment to parent any child.

But for our family, the blessings have far outweighed the risks. We can’t wait to bring home our next waiting child. Whoever they might be, whatever their special need, we are certain of one thing. We will be blessed to be their family.

1 Corinthians 2:9
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

**I wrote this post when we were waiting to bring Jude home in 2007. But our story is as true today as it was back then. So I thought I’d update it and share it here. I hope you enjoy it.

a visit to the orthotist

March 25, 2010 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

Our daughter Vivienne was born with bilateral clubfoot.

Her feet were successfully casted, using the Ponseti Method, while she was still in China.


But she has a condition that is a relatively common sequela of clubfoot, known as foot drop.


She is missing the muscles on the top of her foot that help her to lift her toes. So she has to work really hard to lift her foot and swing her toes through as she walks.


For now, there is no correction for this condition. And, without intervention, she would probably continue to develop her own method of walking.

But we really don’t want that. We want to help her, now while she is still young, to learn how to walk properly, and to walk without having to work her hips and knees and ankles so hard with every step.


So the best option for Vivi are AFOs. Or ankle-foot orthoses.

These are custom made, so a trip to the orthotist for a set of Vivi-sized molds was required.


Once they are finished, these AFOs will help lift her toes as she goes to walk and should help her to walk more easily, with less stumbling.

So that’s great.


But she has to wear them, in theory, forever. And anyone whose ever spent a hot afternoon in uber-hot tube socks can imagine the misery of having to wear plastic boots year round.

So that’s bad.


But, as we’ve done with all our children’s special needs, we will take this new adventure one step at a time.

Whatever medical needs she has, we’re ready.

After all, she is the bravest of us all.

first words

February 25, 2010 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

Adoption is a roller coaster.

And meeting and spending those first few day getting to know your child can be one of the most wonderful times of your life.

It can also be pretty tough.

One of the issues we’ve encountered with almost all of our adoptions is difficultly in the department of communication. Obviously, when you adopt from China, your new child speaks and understands a completely different language. And even if your child isn’t verbal yet, they definitely have wants and needs. And a need to express those wants and needs. So, regardless of your new child’s age, communication is certain to be an issue.

One thing that has been a huge help to us as we have navigated those days, weeks and sometimes months of not quite understanding each other is ASL. American Sign Language. We learned about ASL and it’s benefits as we were seeking out answers for speech issues with our oldest biological son, over ten years ago. We were intrigued and so invested some time and a few dollars in this book:


And we were not disappointed. The signs were easy to learn, logical and easy to remember and use. And they covered basics: “mama”, “daddy”, “more”, “eat”, “drink”, “bottle”, “bath”, “play”, “boo boo”, “outside”, and the very necessary “no no”.

When we traveled to adopt our daughter Isabelle, we used these same words we had learned to use with our son years before. And although she was only 11 months at adoption, it didn’t take her long to catch on to a few signs and begin signing herself. Some of her first “words” were the signs: “more” and “mama”. And yes, it is definitely just as sweet seeing a first word as it is hearing it.

Eventually we purchased some signing flash cards that had additional words for her to learn, and she enjoyed looking at and playing with the cards as much as she did learning the new words.


In fact, all her older siblings enjoyed learning the new signs as well. Learning to sign a few basic words was more fun and functional that any of us could have imagined.

Now, as we navigate the weeks and months of being home with our new daughter Vivienne, we find ourselves depending on these signs again to ease the lumps and bumps of communication breakdown. Two at adoption, she has a wonderful grasp of Chinese and even though we’ve been home a month, she isn’t about to let go of her native tongue.

So signing has been a blessed compromise and although Vivienne has yet to spontaneously sign to us, she does love to imitate us when we sign to her. Teaching her to sign “please” was one of the first things she and I worked on in China, for our family this particular sign has been a lifesaver over the years. If Vivienne wanted something, but couldn’t stop crying over it, I’d insist she at least try to sign it (“please” is a circular motion on the chest) and, in order to sign, she’d have to stop crying. Sort of like chewing gum and patting your head at the same time, you can do it, it’s just not very easy. So just like that, our impasse was resolved. She’d stop crying and ask nicely (if even by just making an attempt to imitate the sign) and I would be able to give her what she wanted. Not necessarily rocket science, but it sure has helped us keep our sanity on numerous occasions.

I hope this might be helpful to someone preparing to travel to China for their little one.

If you have a travel tip of your own, please leave a comment, I’d love to compile and post a list to help future travelers :)

adopting SN step two: the paperchase

January 25, 2010 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

This is the second post (read first post here) that attempts to answer the oft asked question:
“How do I get started? We have decided we want to adopt a child from China through the special needs program, but what do we do next?”

Once you’ve chosen an agency, the real work begins.

It’s time to start the mind-numbing process of collecting paperwork for your dossier.

And as ridiculously long winded and painfully difficult it might seem at times, believe me, it’s totally worth it in the end.

Whether you’ve ‘found’ your child yet or not, you still must complete all the necessary paperwork to be approved both by the USCIS and the CCAA to adopt from China. This phase of the adoption is knows as the “paperchase”. Each adoption agency has specific guidelines to follow for compiling this paperwork, which is one of the reasons it’s generally recommended to sign up with an agency before starting your paperchase.

Shortly after applying to and being accepted by an agency, you should receive a very large binder, or something similarly gargantuan, that will spell out in great detail how to compile your dossier. Expect this binder to be the place in which you will spend every spare moment for the next several months.

I’m not gonna lie. This phase of the adoption process is no fun. But, like I said, every ounce of effort is totally worth it when you are holding your newly adopted child.

The *key* component to a dossier is the USCIS approval, also known as the i800A. It is so important because firstly, you can’t adopt an orphan without it. And secondly, it’s generally the most time consuming portion of the dossier compiling process.

The documentation required to apply to USCIS for your i800A is as follows:

1. Proof of U.S. citizenship
2. Proof that you are married and that any previous marriages ended legally (ie. divorce decrees)
3. A complete and current home study
4. Proof that you have complied with the pre-adoption requirements of the state in which you will live with your adopted child, if necessary
5. The required filing fee for your application
6. Fingerprints for all household members over the age of 18, collected by the USCIS
*more information here

Because a homestudy is required to apply for USCIS approval, the best and most expeditious way to get started on your dossier is to get started on your homestudy. Generally, four or more visits with your social worker are necessary. And that takes time. Also required are state clearances, financial information, autobiographies, reference letters, physicals and, depending on the state in which you reside, various and sundry additional information.

Soooo, the sooner you can get started on your homestudy, the sooner you can apply to the USCIS for your i800A.

Typically, a homestudy takes 4-6 weeks to complete, but much depends on your social worker and your homestudy agency. A good question to ask when interviewing a homestudy agency is their timeframe for a completed homestudy. I made the mistake of not asking this question with our first adoption and our homestudy took a ridiculously long four months to complete. Believe me, once you’ve seen your child’s face, four months waiting on your social worker will be way too long.

While your homestudy is in progress, you can begin to collect the other documents required for your dossier.

Dossier documents you’ll need to collect are:

  • Birth certificates for each parent (less than one year old)
  • Marriage certificate (less than one year old)
  • Physical for each parent
  • Employment verification and, if necessary, non-employment verification
  • Letter of Intent to Adopt written to CCAA
  • Financial Statement
  • Police Clearances for both parents
  • Passports ~ copies of photo pages of each parents’ passport (so if you don’t have a passport yet, apply for one right away)
  • Photos ~ depicting family life, number varies by agency
  • I800A approval from USCIS

Some agencies require a completed dossier before you are allowed to review a child’s file, while others will allow you to review files before you’ve even begun your paperwork. So if you’re committed to bringing home a child from China, even if you haven’t *found* your child, it is the perfect time to start climbing that mountain of paperwork. Yes, now.

I promise, it will be totally worth it in the end :)

Next post up in the series ‘adopting SN: the process’…

Finishing The Paperchase: Authentications, Certifications and Notarizations.

WOOHOO!!

**This post is not, in any way shape or form, intended to be the difinitive guide on compiling your dossier. It was composed under the influence of a faulty memory, mothering many small children, and extreme jet lag. Your opinions, comments and corrections are greatly appreciated.**

Non-recurring Adoption Expense Reimbursements

December 30, 2009 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I know, it’s a mouthful. But it’s worth taking the time to toss around as many families adopting special needs kids from China qualify for up to $2000 back from their state.

Special needs domestic adoptions are eligible in every state for a one time reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses. But many states also reimburse non-recurring adoption expenses for international adoptions. Since each state has discretion over the distribution of funds, not every state will reimburse for international adoptions.

States also vary on when you must apply for reimbursement, most states requiring that the paperwork is initiated before the final adoption occurs. After placement, the paperwork is completed. Typically, proof of the completed adoption and proof of non-recurring adoption expenses (travel expenses, agency costs, homestudy fees, etc) totaling the amount to be reimbursed is required.

The reimbursement amount varies by state and ranges from $500 to $2,000. Certainly enough to be worth investigating. And I recommend thoroughly investigating the laws in your particular state. Make the calls to the person in charge of the unit, don’t assume that what you read on the internet is current. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out your adoption qualifies for reimbursement!

Visit the NACAC site for details on who to contact in your state.

scared.

December 25, 2009 by nohandsbutours 13 Comments

I will be leaving in 2 weeks to bring home our new daughter, Vivienne.

And I am scared.

She is 26 months old, 30 inches and 22 pounds. And she seriously scares me.


This will be our fifth adoption, so you might think I know enough about adoption not to be scared.

The truth is, I know enough to be scared. I know enough to be realistic. I know enough to be prepared.

Our second daughter, Sophie, was 27 months at adoption. And she was, and still is, one smart cookie. One very, very smart cookie. She might have just been a toddler, but she read me like a book from the word “go”.

Our other adopted kiddos were younger and much more delayed than Sophie. Less aware. Less able to peer right into my soul. Less able to chew me up and spit me out like the shell of a sunflower seed.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that our Vivi is much like Sophie. She’s been in a foster family. She’s been loved, she’s been attended to, she’s been part of a family. And I don’t think she’s going to like me coming in and breaking all that up. No, not one little bit.

I don’t think she’s going to like me to help her, feed her, dress her, carry her. But I have every intention of insisting on these things, as I fully believe they are the basis for understanding the difference between care-er and care-ee.

I’ve got two weeks in China to focus completely and totally on her. Little Bitty Miss Thing. And I plan to use every moment of that time to get off on the best foot possible. Even if that means making her really, really mad.

In light of the fact that she is, well… two, is leaving everything she knows, and has most likely been properly spoiled to death by her foster family, you might have an inkling as to why I’m scared.

Why I might not be sleeping so well at night…
wondering how our first meeting will go.
wondering if she’ll be able to see right through me.
wondering how long until she knows she’s got my number.

And I can hardly wait.

giveaway winner: week 5!

November 22, 2009 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

How can it be? It’s already week 5 of our Wild Olive giveaway.

Which means this is our last winner….


Congratulations Amy Jo!

Email me at stefanie@wildolivetees.com and let me know what Wild Olive Tee you’d like!

Be sure to check out our site, we’ve got a brand new design. Just in time for Christmas.


Peace.

adopting SN step one: choosing an agency

November 17, 2009 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

Often I am asked, “How do I get started? We have decided we want to adopt a child from China through the special needs program, but what do we do next?”

So, although I am definitely no expert, I offer my best effort in answering that very question.

The entire China program (NSN and SN) has certain requirements for all adoptive families, based on a set of guidelines set forth by the CCAA. Most of these rules are non-negotiable, as in the CCAA will not even consider a family if they do not fit within the guidelines. But some of these rules are flexible, especially within the context of the special needs program. So if you don’t meet every rule set forth by the CCAA, you should still contact several agencies to ask their stance on a particular rule. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Here is a list of rules, set forth by the CCAA in 2007, that currently applies to all PAPs:

  1. Both adopting parents must be at least 30 years of age and less than 50 years of age.
  2. BUT, for the Waiting Child Program, both adopting parents must be between at least 30 years of age and less than 55 years of age.
  3. Each parent must have graduated from high school.
  4. A couple must be married for at least 2 years. If either parent has been divorced, you must be married for five years. You may have no more than two prior marriages each.
  5. You must be financially stable, with an annual income that exceeds $10,000 per household member (including the child you plan to adopt).
  6. You must have a net worth of at least $80,000.
  7. Families with fewer than 5 children at home are permitted to adopt. BUT, families with 5 or more children in the home are eligible for the Waiting Children Program. The youngest child in the home must be at least 1 year old.
  8. Neither parent can have a criminal history with severe outcomes no less than 10 years ago. No history of alcohol abuse unless it occurred more than 10 years ago.
  9. Both parents must be healthy, without evidence of any mental or physical illness that will affect their life span or ability to parent in any way, including conditions that require permanent medical treatment or medication. No medication for depression or anxiety for the past two years will be allowed. No history of cancer at all will be accepted.
  10. Adopting Parents must have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 40.

Beyond the rules set forth by the CCAA, each agency can interpret the program how they see fit. It’s quite surprising how one agency can vary from another to another. That’s one (of many!) things that surprised us once we were on the ‘other side’ and had already brought our first daughter home: all agencies are NOT alike.

After reviewing the guidelines and establishing that you do, indeed, qualify for the China program, I recommend you sit down and make some calls. A list of agencies that participate in the SN China program can be found on our Agencies page. Many adoptive parents either don’t know or don’t take the time to call around, I didn’t do this our first time around, and I think it’s a very foolish mistake. Agencies vary WIDELY, and it is foolish to assume anything, especially when you’re talking about things as important as wait time for referral and expense.

So, you’re ready to sit down and make calls. Have a list ready. Be sure to cover the basics:

cost?
estimated time until referral?
number of families currently waiting to recieve a referral?
how they ‘assign’ children to families?
do they have access to the shared list as well as an individual list?

Of course, feel free to add your own questions, but be sure to cover those, most basic, questions. Write everything down and organize your notes so you can compare one agency to another. Also, note the following: were able to get someone on the phone quickly? Were they polite and at least attempted to answer all your questions? Did you feel rushed or unimportant? If you weren’t crazy about your initial contact with an agency, you might want to consider crossing them off your list. What you see is often what you get.

Know that there is no ‘best’ agency in the China adoption world. And that’s truly a good thing. Some agencies excel at hand-holding, some are less expensive and some have a very short, or non-existent wait list for a referral. But there are many good agencies. Plenty of agencies to fulfill all the needs of the families who want to adopt.

Just be sure you are aware of the good and bad points of that agency, before you commit. Are you willing to wait longer for a referral? Is $ an issue for your family? Are you comfortable using an agency that does less hand holding than others?

So again, I recommend you do your research. Decide for yourself based on your list of priorities and desires. Don’t just take your cousin’s sister’s advice on which agency is best, do the legwork for yourself. Ask questions. Be informed. You’ll be so glad you did.

Once you’ve settled on an agency, applied and been accepted, then the real work begins.

But that’s a whole ‘nother post :)

Wild Olive winner week #3!

November 7, 2009 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

It’s Saturday.

You know what that means…

a new Wild Olive winner!

Congratulations to Sara at Football and Fried Rice!

Email me at stefanie@wildolivetees.com and let me know what Wild Olive Tee you’d like!

We will be giving away two more tees over the next two weeks, so there is still plenty of time to win!

Wild Olive Tees

Visit the Wild Olive blog for some new holiday buttons, too :)

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.

our first winner!

October 24, 2009 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Congratulations to Jill from Life at Killeny Glen!


You’re our first Wild Olive Tees winner!

Contact me at stefanie@wildolivetees.com and I’ll hook you up with the shirt of your choice.

Thanks for playing, everyone! We’ll have another winner next week…

And the next!

good stuff

October 24, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Amie and I are buds. We’ve partnered up on a few things, God-led things. One is No Hands But Ours, and the other is Wild Olive.

Since she and I both have a passion for both, we came up with a way to combine the two…

For the next five weeks, we’ll be giving away one tee a week. And all you have to do to be entered is click on that little button in the upper left corner and become a ‘follower’.

Amie and I will choose choose our first winner tonight, October 24th, out of the list of ‘followers’, and we’ll continue to do that weekly... with the last winning name being chosen on November 21st.

P.S. Amie and family just brought home their 8th child! Crazy stuff!! His name is Sam, he is 7, adopted through the SN program, and positively charming. Be sure to stop over to Heart Smiles and congratulate them on the newest member of their family!

simplify

October 20, 2009 by nohandsbutours 19 Comments

Are we making adoption too hard? Too overwhelming? Too complicated?

I make an effort to read as much as I can about adoption, specifically trans racial adoption. Being the mom of 4, almost 5, Chinese children, I think it’s part of my job description to be informed and aware. And I’ve been reading a lot lately, specifically articles and blog posts written about the effects of adoption, and how an adopted child might struggle to reconcile their past with their present. The hardships that they might endure. The weight of the losses they might have known. And I can’t even begin to imagine. Many times I get wrapped up in these unknowns as I consider my own children and what their future holds… will they be filled with sorrows? will they feel broken and unloved? will they too struggle with never feeling good enough?

But in reading lately, I’ve been left with this question, “Aren’t we making adoption too complicated? Isn’t it really simpler than all this?”

It’s endless, truly it is. A slippery slope. One fear-filled thought leads to another and another, and you’re left, without answers, mentally exhausted. All for naught. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows how our children will face the knowledge that they were abandoned, adopted and are now not only Chinese, but Chinese-American? Will they embrace it? Or shun it? Or both?

And will any of my worries take away one moment of sorrow for my child? Will walking on eggshells keep their hearts from breaking in two at the realization of what adopted truly means? Will my love for them ever replace the love of their first mother?

I have no answers for my children as to why they were abandoned. Or why their first family could not keep them. And I won’t even make an attempt at creating a list of possibilities for them to consider. No matter the possible scenario, it is too overwhelming for a child to comprehend: not enough money to afford a child? a medical condition that was too complicated? a desire for a son over a daughter? I mean, I’m an adult and the possibilities honestly blow my mind. And for a child, even if they knew why they were abandoned, is there ever a reason good enough to justify their loss?

The truth is, I will tell my children, I have no answers. And chances are that I will never have any of the answers for the questions they might ask surrounding their birth and abandonment. Oh, how I wish I knew something, anything to say to fill that heartbreaking silence when my child asks if they grew in my tummy. All I have to offer my children is the truth, what I do know, what I don’t know. And the promise that they will never be alone to endure sadness or loss or heartbreak again.

We all suffer losses in this life. God doesn’t promise us that there will be no pain and no suffering. In fact, as Christians we are reminded by Jesus Himself that suffering is a part of life, to be expected. And that through our suffering He also grows us, brings us closer to Him, and helps us focus less on ourselves and more on the Big Picture. The picture God intended when He created man: us loving Him with our whole hearts, and us loving others as ourselves.

Is that oversimplifying things? I don’t think so. If we are focused on Him, and His plan, and walking as closely as we can to Him, then we won’t stumble and fall. We may stumble, but He will be there to catch us. And it is through loving Him and being loved by Him in return, that we are able to love others as ourselves… unselfishly, wholly, with abandon.


That is the best I can do for my children. Reflect God’s love for them in all I do. Love them, care for them, be there for them. With abandon. Without thoughts of myself. And I think that’s enough, because God told me so.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
~ Matthew 22:38-40

More (and his are really good) thoughts on this topic here.

contributing blogger mommas!

October 4, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

If you haven’t noticed yet, take a look to the left and check out all our new contributors! We’ve asked some fellow blogging moms to join us here at the No Hands But Ours blog to share their thoughts on the journey of being a mom. I can. not. wait. to read all the posts that will be heading this way… they are going to be good!!

We hope that by sharing many versions of what the ‘journey’ of adoption may look like, you will get a multifaceted glimpse into what parenting a special needs child looks like. And you’ll see, that beyond having special needs, our children are so so much more.