She Flies!

June 25, 2010 by nohandsbutours 17 Comments

I know. My second post here in week. But it has occurred to me that we are, perhaps, too quick to make judgements about a child’s future based on what we see when they are two or three (or younger).

Yes, dear friends, it was finally upon us. The BIG DAY. The DANCE.

It has loomed large in Cheeky’s mind from the very first moment that she understood that being in ballet meant getting up on stage and dancing in a costume.

And so on Wednesday night my flower and my butterfly had their hair scraped into buns and makeup applied to their faces. We kissed the boys and the husband goodbye and off we went to get ready for their moments.

I think I was more nervous than either of them. Not so much for Sassy. She has a natural grace and confidence beyond her years. Though she is only nine, I know she can handle being on stage. I know that if she makes a mistake, she will keep going and still be proud of herself.

But Cheeky is my baby. My little one. My newly emerged butterfly. She wants nothing more than to please me and her teachers. She wanted, I must say, to be perfect. To have us look at her and say, “Oh, Cheeky, we are so proud.”

And so she pranced and practiced in the big room with the dozens of kids milling around. While her little friends sat and complained about being hot and thirsty and BORED, she straightened her costume and checked her hair. Her teacher had asked if she could dance without glasses, and Cheeky was quite verbal in her desire to do so. I wanted to say, “No. The lights are too bright. You MUST have transitional lenses.”

But I looked into her face and knew I had to let her decide.

And so she went…into line with her friends, and I knew that when she rounded the corner, she’d hand her glasses to an older girl, and she’d step out into the spotlight. No glasses. Just Cheeky and the balance she’s learned from ballet and the heart she brings to all she does.

I followed and stood in the wings, watching as she ran on stage. I was not allowed to take pictures there, but I wish I could have. Because she glowed, my little one. This child who was deemed unadoptable, unacceptable, unlovable. This kid who was so delayed at three years old that I probably would have turned and run from her. I wish all of you could have been standing there beside me. I wish you could have seen what I saw.

Because she was not the most graceful dancer or the most coordinated. Her legs were not straight and her toes did not always point. But, oh, how she danced! How she danced! As if those little wings on her back were not just props but real. As if the sheer joy of being loved, of being alive lifted her up and set her free.

And I thought, “Oh, China, how could you have let this one go? How could you have not seen what you were missing out on? The joy, the creativity, the passion.”

And I thought, “What if I had met her when she was three? What if I had been too scared to see the brightness in her orphanage-dull eyes?”

Would I have walked away?

I can’t know, and it haunts me.

But perhaps that is why Cheeky came into my life now. Perhaps I am simply the voice that will shout to the world – Look how far a child can come! Look how beautiful the future can be?


Because I have seen what happens when a severely delayed three-year-old finds love. I have seen what can happen when she is accepted and encouraged and embraced. She doesn’t just thrive, she grows wings.

And then she flies.

rumors in the SN program

June 8, 2010 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

We’ve recently heard some unconfirmed rumors about the possibility of increased flexibility in the SN program by the CCAA. Specifically, in regards to marital status and financial status for people interested in adopting older children or children with multiple special needs.

This could potentially be wonderful news for many prospective families.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has any information regarding this, please leave a comment or email at nohandsbutours@gmail.

We’ll keep you posted.

Perfect Timing

June 7, 2010 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

When my husband and I were engaged  (and ridiculously young), we talked about our plans for the future and for the family we someday hoped to raise. We mentioned adoption and sure, we agreed,  adoption was great, but to be honest, we viewed it as Option B.  You know, just in case Option A didn’t work out.  And please, we were still in college, for goodness sake.  Option A was several years off anyway.

On our first wedding anniversary, we walked down to the little university hang-out, “The Brick Oven”.  Oh, how I loved The Brick Oven.  On our student budget, though, I usually just enjoyed The Brick Oven through the heavenly aromas that wafted down the street as I walked past after classes.   But on our first anniversary, we splurged.  The funny thing was, that night nothing tasted right.  “Is it just me?” I asked my husband, “Or does your food taste off?”  “It’s just you,” he said, obviously enjoying his lasagna.  It was my first inkling that maybe something else was cooking in the oven.  And it wasn’t just pizza.  Option A was full-steam ahead, and he’d make his arrival just after graduation.

Then Option A, numero dos, came into our lives during my husband’s junior year of dental school.  By Option A, numero tres, my husband was mercifully (and finally) gainfully employed.  His practice was thriving.  We’d moved into what we considered our forever house.  And I felt done.  Complete.

When our youngest was three years-old, I had an impression that someone else needed to come to our family.   Oddly enough though, each time I prayed for confirmation that we should conceive another child, I felt that no, that wasn’t the plan.  I was baffled.  I’d had easy pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, and frankly, we made some darn cute kids.  But the feeling was undeniable.  Another was to come, but not in the same way as our first three.  I shared this with my husband, stumbling over my words as I tried to vocalize the feelings that wouldn’t let go of my heart.  He listened quietly and then said, “I’ve felt the exact same way.”

At this point, I wish I could say we acted on these feelings immediately.  We didn’t.  This sudden change of plans scared us.  It scared us a lot.  So we circled a date on the calendar, a month later, and agreed that we’d both pray and research and talk again.  A month later, we were even more convinced that adoption was now our Option A and furthermore, that this child would come from China.  Now, this would be another great time for me to say that we got right to work and started filling out papers.  We didn’t.  We set a date again.  For a year this continued until I literally felt ill.  I’d felt queasy years before at The Brick Oven, but now I felt truly sick, both in body and soul.

In one of the most spirit-filled conversations I’ve ever had in my marriage, my husband and I tearfully agreed that we could not wait a moment longer.  And in that very instant when we said, Yes, we’re doing this, it was like a strong wind blew through our home, sweeping away with it every last remnant of fear.  In its wake was left joy and peace and hope.

At that time, we didn’t personally know anyone who’d adopted from China, an odd thought today, so I contacted a large agency I’d read about on the internet.  They sent me an information packet that included a contact list. I scanned the list for someone in our home state of Washington and dialed the number.  The woman I spoke to said she’d used this agency for their first adoption, and that they were wonderful, but that for their second adoption, they’d used a smaller agency, one that she felt offered a little more hand-holding.  Then she shared a story, one that would carry me through the months of waiting ahead of us.  “When we were in China, we toured our daughter’s orphanage,” she said.  “As we walked down the rows of cribs, I was struck with such sadness that all of the babies looked somehow the same.  I rationalized this, thinking that they were all baby girls, all from the same area of China, and so of course, they looked similar.  Then my husband said, ‘They have no hope in their eyes.’  And I knew that was it.  That was the similarity that brought me so much sadness.  They had no hope in their eyes.”

I couldn’t call the new agency fast enough.  No hope their eyes!    My child might already be born.   She might already have lost the hope in her eyes.  We started our wait in the Non-Special Needs program.  I didn’t even know anything else existed.  Nine months later, in another tearful conversation, and after more research, we knew our child would be one with special needs.  We e-mailed our agency and the very next day we saw our daughter’s face.  Amazingly, only two months later, she was in our arms.

When we talk to our children, and tell them about their beginnings, I hope each one of them knows that they were absolutely our Option A.  The timing may not have always been perfectly orchestrated, but it was ultimately perfect.  It was perfect because it brought us to them.  Our children.

Life As A House

May 19, 2010 by nohandsbutours 6 Comments

Anyone seen that movie? It was released in 2001 and the premise of the movie was about rebuilding.

Not just a house but about family, faith, relationships, etc.

I often reflect back on that movie.

Because our son Luke’s story is also a story of rebuilding.

But the rebuild was not all about him. Yes, he needed a rebuild. He needed a family, love, medical care, proper nutrition. All those things are a given.

However it was ME that got the biggest upgrade in the process.

Luke came home at the age of 19 months old. His listed special need was cleft lip and palate. We received updates from the orphanage during our wait which described a little boy who was mostly on target….one that was walking, riding a tricycle… doing all the things that a toddler should be doing.

We arrived in China in May 2007 to meet him and bring him home. And our spirits were crushed when we received him at the Civil Affairs office. This little boy was nothing like what we were told. In fact, he was the absolute opposite. He was a 19 month old who was the size and weight of an infant. He was a child who could not hold up his head, sit up, roll over or walk. He was clearly a child that had MANY MORE special needs then what was listed in his documentation. I mean MANY MANY MORE.

And I wanted to run.

I wanted to bolt out of there because I knew it would be difficult. But even though my HEAD wanted to run, my HEART and God’s leading gave me the courage to stay. But it wasn’t pretty for me. And I have been struggling with Luke’s reality ever since. In September 2009 he was diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability. My stomach turned over and over and I wanted to throw up.

Well… I DID throw up. But not in the office space.

That would have been disgusting.

Life with Luke…well… God is using Luke to be my teacher. My lessons are: realistic expectations, patience, faith, hope, understanding, perspective, diligence, etc.

In other words….for me it’s been a total rebuild.

Not that I didn’t have those things before. I did.

But it wasn’t at the level they needed to be.

It wasn’t at the level God wanted them to be.

So began a complete renovation. And folks, it hasn’t been gentle… at all. It’s been tough. Lots of tools and nails and lumber.

And in a way I guess I was scared with each adoption that I would be changed. I mean… I knew I would be changed in some ways but… it was the big ways I was scared of. I think no matter how much we prepare to adopt a special needs child- or ANY child for that matter- all adoptive parents are all scared of the changes we will experience: to our schedules, our home life, our relationships, our time and energy, our other kids.

But oh how I have come to learn to embrace how these children have changed me. Especially Luke. And I think that you will find it the same way if you commit to one of these beautiful children. Change is inevitable. How beautiful it is to have the change occur because you have loved and embraced a child with special needs.

-Nicole from

The One Thing Rory Doesn't Have That Her Siblings Do, Still.

May 17, 2010 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments


That’s not entirely accurate–Rory has friends at school, and she has plenty of kids her age who come over often and romp through our house for various family events and family playdates–but she has no friends of her very own, who would invite her and only her over for a playdate or…the ultimate…a birthday party.

Sam goes to birthday parties (he’s 8).

Lily goes to birthday parties (she’s 5).

Wyatt goes to birthday parties, and this is the unkindest cut of all. He is 4, and Rory is 4.

But the only birthday party she’s been to was one that Lily and Wyatt went to also. She has never been the one to come home with her bagful of candy and assorted themed toys and decide whether or not to share. She has never been the one dropped off with a big, glorious present, chosen by her, to a strange house filled with balloons and a pinata. And oh, she wants those things.

Barring that, she wants a playdate. Not a playdate at our house–no, she wants to be dropped off for a playdate all by herself. At Alex’s, or Miles’, or Ann’s or ANYWHERE. I would worry–have worried, in advance–that she would be afraid on some deep level that we wouldn’t come back but we’re almost at the year mark now, and apparently NOT. Last week she cried for 20 full minutes in the car because Lily had a playdate, and Wyatt had a birthday party and she had…nothing. (Not right then, or I would have taken her somewhere fun–these were distant plans that she just couldn’t compete with.)

And she is so sad. She gives us, instead, a regular litany of her friends in China–friends we don’t have, friends that are not ours, friends that would only invite us over if she asked them to: Bethany, Logan, Mitchell, ‘Cilla (Rory was raised at Hidden Treasures, an American-run foster home in Fuzhou, Fujian). But it doesn’t help, I know.

Part of me says, well, most 4-year-olds don’t get dropped off at friend’s houses. It only happens for Wyatt with one particular friend because he is only a week older than one of our neighbors and family friends’ son, and we do a lot of trading off of the boys–but adding Rory to that mix isn’t great, and wouldn’t count anyway. We don’t do the kind where Mom comes to hang out too unless all the kids are there. And we spend most of our time with families we’ve known since Sam was small–I’m not out there making new friends with the parents of kids in her class who don’t already belong to us in some other way. Those are all the normal reasons.

But I suspect there’s another reason, one that lies within her “other”-ness. I think people are hesitant–fearful that they might not understand her, or she might have issues, or a tantrum, or just be unpredictable in some way. And there are plenty of other little girls or boys to invite–“normal” ones, with no difficult speech or history. White ones, too, although I think that’s only a tiny part of the equation. I get that, I do. I think I might feel that way myself. Why not invite over an easier kid? Why not push your kid in a simpler direction–oh, yes, Rory would be nice, but what about so and so, or so and so? Rory’s family is weird, too–so many of them, and the mom works, and the older kid goes to that private school, and hey, why not cultivate a different relationship? Some family more like us.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I don’t think so. I’ve avoided friendships myself on weaker grounds. They’re four–they’ll push us in the direction they really want to go in soon enough. Why not keep things under control as long as you can?

Yes, I could make some calls–approach another mother, explain. I could invite a different kid over and hope the parent would reciprocate for Rory, and not for the others. I could try to fix this, and maybe I could put a band-aid over it for the time being…and that would help for now. But really, things are still new. There’s lots more change ahead in her classroom. New kids will come, Lily will be in elementary school next year and Rory, still in the preschool classroom she’s been sharing with her sister, will be four months older and clearer and more ordinary in everyone’s eyes, and even one of “the big kids.” The other kids like her at school. She gets along well when there are kids here at home–better every day. There was a time when half an hour of different voices and chaos would overwhelm her, and that’s gone. She’s still changing; we’re still changing. I think I’ll let this grow away on its own. For now.

Cross-posted on


April 7, 2010 by nohandsbutours 11 Comments

When I was pregnant with our third child, our second daughter, I made a mistake not uncommon to mothers who encourage free thinking in their children, free thinking in principle at least. I asked the kids what they’d like to name their sister.
At ages 8 and 5, they were short in stature, short in temper, but not short in creativity or determination.
“Chrysanthemum!” they both shouted.
I should have seen it coming. The title of Most Requested Book in our house that year belonged to Chrysanthemum, written by the immensely talented Kevin Henkes. In the story, the little mouse, Chrysanthemum loved her name. She loved it, that is, until she started school. Teased by the other children, the name she once thought was absolutely perfect, was now absolutely dreadful. Poor Chrysanthemum wilted. But with lots of hugs and kisses and Parcheesi (not to mention a sympathetic music teacher, Delphinium Twinkle), Chrysanthemum finally blooms.
Despite my insistence that Chrysanthemum (It scarcely fits on a name tag!) would not be gracing their sister’s birth certificate, my son and daughter patted my belly and whispered, “Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum.” They went at me tag-team style. “It’s absolutely perfect,” one would say. And then the other would finish the quote. “And precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome.”
In the final weeks of pregnancy, sensing my determination, they suggested a last minute alternate name, the equally unique moniker of Blossom Sprout. I’m embarrassed to say that my husband and I caved. Well, we compromised. The kids were so enamored with floral names, that when their sister was born, we agreed that she was as beautiful as a Rose. It was absolutely perfect. Just like our baby.
Five years later, we all stared at the computer in awe of the stunning baby girl whose picture graced the screen. Our new daughter. Their new sister.
Her name was Jin Qiu Ju. The paperwork said, “Jin is the name of all babies from our institution and means gold.” The name “Qiu,” it said, “is for Autumn, the season when she was found.” That was it. Nothing about Ju.
We called my brother-in-law, who happens to be fluent in Mandarin. He asked us to scan the name onto our computer and send it to him so he could check the character to be sure. We waited together for him to call us back.
The phone rang. “It’s a very popular name in China,” he said. “An auspicious character. It means Chrysanthemum.”
Tears came to my eyes. I announced it to the children, “Her name is Chrysanthemum!”
“Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum,” they all chanted.
They finally had their sister, Chrysanthemum. It was absolutely perfect.
Just like our baby.
And oh yes, we’ve found that she’s also precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome.

Grandfathered I-600As

March 3, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

News from The Center for Adoption Policy regarding grandfathered I-600As.

Posted on March 2, 2010.

March 2, 2010. Limitations on Grandfathered I-600As. CIS has posted on its website a Q and A detailing the rules pertaining to grandfathered I-600As. This is relevant for families who were in the adoption process prior to April 1, 2008 and wish to use the orphan processing program for Hague Convention countries. We urge all ASPs and families to read this document to see which changes they can make to their I-600As in Hague countries and still retain grandfathered status. In particular we would like to point out that potential adoptive parents can change the country that they sought to adopt from but they may not use the new I-600 to bring home more children than the number approved by the original I-600A unless they are bringing biological siblings home. Therefore if a family with a grandfathered I-600A was approved for one child and now they wish to bring home a second child simultaneously, the family must file an I-800/A for the second child.

Read more HERE.

How Can I Adopt A Precious – Maggie, Josie Love, Abe, or Liam ?

February 9, 2010 by nohandsbutours 18 Comments

This post has been written in my head for over a year and it is just time to write it … The problem is I am truly writing it to the choir, but my heart has been aching lately and I need to cleanse my heart …

I will never forget bringing Emily home (our first adopted angel) … She was breathe taking, smiling, happy, attached easily, and simply adjusted with ease … The following were comments that I received daily …. “Oh, if I could adopt an EMILY, then I would adopt tomorrow,” “If I knew I could get an EMILY then I would start the paperwork,” “Why don’t you just give me her and you can go back and adopt again,” or “If could adopt one that looked just like EMILY then I would do it.”  … I don’t think any of these people were trying to be cruel or insensitive, but the words are exactly what is wrong with our culture … Adopting is not a beauty contest, a status symbol, or something to do – Adoption is a call from the Lord  …

My precious Maggie came home with more than one issue to deal with and I have aged, gained weight, lost hundreds of hours of sleep, and been drained of every ounce of grace in my body, but the joy of obeying the Lord is priceless … The miracle of watching her heal … The joy of being called this precious angel’s mother is a gift from the Lord because I was obedient … Maggie has been the one to draw our family closer to the FATHER because she helps us to focus on His will for our life and not people expectations of us, societies pressures to fit in, or the crazy media standards… She may not smile at a stranger, run into your arms and make you feel all warm and fuzzy or even look you in the eye, but if you take the time to get to know her and understand her journey, then you will grow as a person, you will learn more about the Lord, and you will receive the true gift of trust that you hear in her laugh and giggle !!!

I know many people right now considering adopting a SN angel and I want to encourage you to look deep into the FATHER’s heart and find His will for you … In the beginning, I was the one time trying to figure out what SN could I handle and that is seriously a joke … I can’t handle anything, but with the Lord’s strength, grace, and love, I CAN DO ALL THINGS !!!

When we started the adoption process again to Uganda for a son and a daughter we marked the box healthy because again we felt our hands were full with all that Maggie needed (and honestly scared) and when the call came and our precious son was almost completely deaf and very delayed, the answer came quick… He said in His quiet still voice “Will you do this WITH ME” …. God was calling us again to walk with Him … How could we say no … Now we are literally overjoyed to be CHOSEN again to parent a SN angel … We are falling in love daily with our son and daughter waiting for us in Uganda !

I tell you today that some of our most precious prayer time is spent praying for the special needs angels in our life … Josie Love (HIV +, just learned to walk, and can’t see very well @ 4 yrs old), Abe (missing his frontal brain lobe and can barely move or communicate),  and Liam (trapped within himself and struggling daily to cope ) … These are just a few of the children, who bless us … If you think their days are easy or a picnic then think again, but they understand the honor it is to parent their children … Our children teach us of the Father’s love … Our children teach us of the Father’s creative powers … Our chidren teach us of the Father’s healing !!! THEY ARE SURVIVORS and we could learn a lot about who our heavenly Father is by loving them, getting to know them, praying for them, and showing others that this is not a sacrifice, but our privilege … Remember a sacrifice is giving up something you need for NO gain  !!! I receive more each day than I deserve from my precious daughter … Just the look in her eyes that she now knows she is safe and loved is sometimes more than my heart can handle … Thank You Maggie !!!

So my prayer is that more people will find their path to a SN angel and see into the face of  God !!!

Blessings, Gwen

Choosing Your Child…SN Adoption…My Thoughts and Experiences

January 23, 2010 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments

This post originally ran on my blog last August. The response to it was so strong that I felt I should post it here as well.

I am writing this post because I have been contacted by several Moms who were in this place in their journey. The place where you are looking at the file of a child and you have to tell your agency whether or not you accept him or her by 5pm tomorrow. Sometimes you don’t even get that much time. Sometimes you are being pressured that if you don’t accept this referral, it may be a long time before you get another.
You are looking at the face of a beautiful child. You were so sure you would know instantly when you saw your child’s face…but you don’t know for sure with this one…you look for any clue, any sign that this is the one.
You read every word in the referral over and over. You forward the referral package to your pediatrician and any specialist you can find. You are typing medical conditions into google search that you cannot even pronounce.
The little face is tattooed in your brain. This is a child living somewhere in the world who needs a family and their fate is in your hands. You could be their mother. All you have to do is say ok.
The anxiety creeps in. Is the file accurate? Can I handle this SN? How will this condition work with our family?
You cannot eat, your stomach is in knots. You cannot sleep…you toss and turn all night long. Is this my child? What should I do?
You pray…literally fall on your face before God begging Him to tell you…give you a sign.

Sophia was the fifth file we reviewed. I had no peace and God was quiet while I suffered through the first four files and let the little girls move on to their forever families. It was hell. That is the only way to describe what I went through. Emotional hell. I questioned my faith, had I not been strong enough to accept the child meant for me? Had I missed a sign from God and let my daughter pass through my fingers?

File Number 1: Beautiful little girl with repaired spina bifida. Her birthday was my Grandfather’s birthday and she had the double cowlick that runs in our family. We thought for certain that this was our girl. Many people fear spina bifida children, but I know through my relationship with Amanda at Starfish that these children can be healed and live wonderful lives and they deserve families. We sent the referral packet off to our pediatrician and he thought some things needed clarification.

The file stated she was standing and walking. He wanted to know if she had bowel control and if she could walk unaided. We contacted our agency and asked them to call the orphanage and ask these questions. They did. IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ANSWERED IN ORDER FOR YOU TO FEEL COMFORTABLE ACCEPTING A REFERRAL, HAVE YOUR AGENCY CALL THE ORPHANAGE. THEY CAN AND THEY SHOULD.
We found out that this little girl was completely paralyzed from the waist down. The information in our referral packet was incorrect. We sadly turned down the referral. We had decided early on what SN’s we could handle positively and at what severity and this was too severe for us. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELVES ABOUT WHAT SN’S YOU CAN HANDLE.

File Number 2: Almost the same situation as file number one, except we could not get the information we needed to feel comfortable accepting the referral back from the orphanage. They would not cooperate with us enough for us to feel comfortable moving forward, so we turned down the file. IF YOU CANNOT GET ENOUGH INFORMATION TO FEEL COMFORTABLE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE ADOPTION, IT IS OK TO SAY NO AND LET IT GO. All of the children whose files we reviewed found their true forever families. It was never us.

File Number 3: This one was the most difficult. Absolutely darling little girl with a heart condition. Thank you thank you to my friend Kelly who gave me the name of a fabulous cardiologist. We believed with all of our hearts that this was our daughter. I will always carry her with me. I sent the referral to my pediatrician who said that she would definitely need a second surgery (she had already had one in China), but that he thought it looked ok. I also sent the file to a pediatric cardiologist who called me within an hour to tell me that this little girls situation was grave, she wouldn’t live past her teens. I have an excellent pediatrician, but he is not a heart specialist. FIND A SPECIALIST WHENEVER YOU CAN TO REVIEW YOUR REFERRAL. If we had not sent our file to a specialist, we would be the parents of a child who would pass away much sooner than we would be ready for her to.

File Number 4: This file never seemed right to me. I got the call from our agency and they sent over the file of a little girl with an eye condition. Her eye would need to be removed. We had asked for the referral of a little girl younger than Eli. We did not wish to adopt out of birth order. Our agency misread this little one’s birthdate and thought she was a year younger than she actually was, she was truly older than Eli. I just knew in the pit of my stomach that this wasn’t my daughter. We turned down the file.

Sophia’s File: I got the call from my SW. She sent the file. I opened it up and refused to fall in love. I just didn’t have it in me. I was afraid of investing in another little girl, I was afraid of the anguish again. I sent the file to Tim. He was instantly smitten. I sent the file to our pediatrician and to the same cardiologist who had given us the terrible news about the other little heart girl whose file we had received. It was 2:30pm and I was told I had until 5pm to decide on whether or not I would accept this little girl and that they had other families who they knew would take her. Thank goodness the cardiologist’s office called back within an hour. They told me that this little girl’s condition was much better than the last and that they thought she looked good and that if they were in our shoes, they would accept the referral.
I had been praying to God to please help me, to please give me a sign. I didn’t need a burning bush (although that would be great). And then I noticed the red maryjanes. I know it sounds random, but it was not random to me. I knew it was God and that He had heard me all of those times before and that His silence was my answer regarding the first 4 files. Those girls were not mine.
But this girl was meant for me. I had peace. I had no sleepless nights. There were no knots in my stomach. Every obstacle in our path was removed. Our daughter came home.

IF I CAN GIVE ANY WOMAN WHO IS GOING THROUGH THIS COMFORT, PLEASE FIND IT IN THIS: I do not believe that God will allow you to miss your child. It’s too big. It just is. He will let you screw up a lot of things in your life, but I do not believe this is one of them. God has a purpose and plan for your life and for the life of your child. He is not going to let you adopt the wrong child who was intended for another family and He is not going to allow another family to adopt the child meant for you. I truly believe this. It’s just too big.

I also want to say that I am here if anyone needs someone to talk to. You don’t need to worry about how well you know me or whatever. If you are going through this time in your journey and you need someone to talk to, e-mail me and I’ll get you my phone number

Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Vivi!

January 11, 2010 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Miss Vivi is finally right where she belongs, in her mama’s arms!
If you haven’t already, please run on over to Stefanie’s blog and leave them some love.
 And check out the video of Miss Vivi while you are there! It will make your heart smile!

A Promise Received

December 14, 2009 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Another little one is an orphan no more.

Miss Jubilee Promise is finally with her forever family!!

If you don’t know Linny(a contributing writer for No Hands but Ours), and the story of their Journey to Miss Jubilee Promise, I beg of you to head on over to A Place Called Simplicity and take some time to get to know this Amazing family. You will be blessed.

Happy “Gotcha Day” Saunders Family!  
We Love You, Miss Jubilee!! :)

One of Millions

December 7, 2009 by nohandsbutours 4 Comments

When my oldest was in kindergarten, each child in his class was assigned a number and asked to show that amount. If they had the number 50, they could bring in 50 M&M’s or 50 marshmallows, or 50 whatever. Somehow we landed the big kahuna–one thousand. My son hopped with excitement, waving his paper in the air, but his excitement soon waned as we spent what felt like an entire Saturday afternoon stringing one thousand pastel-colored beads onto a very, very long rope. We came away realizing that a thousand is a lot. A whole lot. So when I think of a number up in the millions, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it.
Here are some numbers that boggle me–350 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B worldwide, with an estimated 130 million in China alone. Just as a basis for comparison, the population of Japan is 127 million. If a photo-taking satellite zoomed in on that super power country, and every man, woman, and child stepped outside and waved for a massive group photo, they would still be outnumbered by Hepatitis B carriers in China.
I’ve heard that there’s safety in numbers, and to a certain degree, this number gives me a strange sense of comfort. My daughter is hardly alone and the great majority of those 130 million Chinese with Hepatitis B will live long lives, but I’ll be honest; more than providing comfort, that number infuriates me. For well over 20 years an effective vaccine has been available for Hepatitis B, but not until very recently has this pandemic been taken seriously in China. Instead of education, there has been shame and denial and discrimination. My daughter’s birth mother probably never knew that in 95% of cases, a series of shots given to her baby in her first 24 hours of life would have saved her forever from the virus. But then again, my daughter’s birth mother may not have even known she had the virus herself.
I recently spoke to a Chinese immigrant to the U.S. who was shocked to learn after she’d donated blood that she tested positive for Hepatitis B. She immediately phoned her mother in China, assuming she’d be shocked as well. Instead, her mother said simply, “Oh, yes. Liver problems run in our family.” China has failed to educate their population on the causes, the dangers, and the prevention of hepatitis. As a result, one of the most common special needs on any agency’s Waiting Child List is Hepatitis B.
There are so many things I could say about hepatitis; that these kids aren’t slowed down by it, that parenting a child with hepatitis is like parenting any other child, that these children will most likely live long lives and die of something unrelated to their livers, but what I keep coming back to is this: When it relates to my daughter, I feel hesitant to talk about any of it. I am in no way ashamed of her; she fills us with pride, but I know that the stigma of HBV is not restricted to China’s borders. Universally, people are afraid of what they don’t understand and can easily dehumanize a disease without a face.
When we first brought our daughter home, we kept a vow of complete silence and the word hepatitis was never uttered outside the walls of our home. Cholita’s own grandparents thought she was a non special needs adoption. Soon after her arrival in the United States, we learned that she wasn’t a typical child with Hep B and that she’d require treatment. We wanted the support and prayers of our extended family and as we would have guessed, they were unfailingly understanding and loving. End of disclosure.
Then one Sunday morning, Cholita was asked to give the opening prayer in her church primary class. Among other things, she said quite clearly, “please bless my liver.” The teachers raised their eyebrows and looked at me. I laughed nervously and stammered, “probably next week she’ll be praying for her heart….maybe her spleen….” It wasn’t the smoothest recovery.
In a play group, Cholita picked up a doctor kit and proceeded to give her friend’s mom a very professional blood draw, complete with an imaginary tourniquet. “Wow,” said the mom, “She knows what she’s doing.” Cholita held out her own arm. “Here’s where I got my blood test yesterday,” she said. “Do you see the dot?” I pushed her arm down and offered her gum.
A neighbor once asked Cholita how she was doing. He wasn’t asking about her health; he had no idea there was anything health-wise to ask her about, it was just a casual question. Cholita said, “Good! No Neupogen this week, just Interferon.” Our neighbor looked at me for translation and I felt my cheeks burn hot. “Umm. I didn’t quite catch that either.” Cholita squinted her eyes at me in a confused expression; obviously her mother had become hard of hearing. She took a deep breath and yelled, “I SAID NO NEUPOGEN THIS WEEK! JUST INTERFERON!”
So people started asking questions–not nosy, rude questions, just concerned questions, “Is Cholita O.K.?” “Is there anything you need to talk about?” My twelve year-old daughter came home from school one day with worry in her eyes. “Mom,” she said, her voice shaky. “I’m so sorry. Mrs. H. asked me why I needed a ride home yesterday and I said you were with Cholita at the hospital. Then she asked me why Cholita was at the hospital and I didn’t know what to say. I’m so sorry!” She was near tears.
It was clear to us that in our situation, with a chatty little girl getting at least two needle pokes a week, our non-disclosure policy was weighing on the whole family. That night we role-played. We still didn’t plan to introduce our daughter with, “This is Cholita; she has hepatitis,” but in certain situations and with certain people, we began to talk. And as we did, our family let out a collective sigh of relief. As it turns out, we’d been underestimating people. All around us, we felt love and support.
The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that I was shocked when a friend called me one evening in a panic. I was making dinner, at the stove breaking apart ground beef with a wooden spatula. My friend’s words tumbled out faster than I could even process what she was saying. She’d just heard about Cholita’s hepatitis. Since she hadn’t known, she’d held Cholita on her lap the day before and read her a story. She’d already left a message with her doctor. She told him it was urgent. She’d heard there was some sort of shot she should get after an exposure……
I signaled to my son to take over the ground beef. As my friend ranted, I went upstairs to my closet where I have a two door barrier between myself and my kids. Sitting on the floor with my back against the dresser, I had one of the most awkward conversations of my life. I’m sure it stands out in my friend’s memory as well. She was so misinformed. Thinking about it now, she was laughably misinformed, but at the time it wasn’t funny at all. She didn’t know that Hep B isn’t transmitted casually and that our daughter couldn’t cough it at her. She didn’t know that HBV is spread through blood to blood contact, and not spread like the flu. She didn’t know that HBV is a vaccine preventable disease. So we talked and she cried; her tears a mixture of relief and embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s just that I’ve never met anyone

with Hepatitis.” I assured her that she had; she just didn’t know it.

For my friend, the turn-around was instantaneous. She’s no longer afraid. She hugs Cholita. She kisses her. She can never again dehumanize hepatitis because for her it’s now more than just a word or a mind boggling number. This virus has a face. As a matter of fact it has hundreds of millions of them. But for me, it all comes down to one. One happy face that I get to see every morning at the breakfast table. One face that will always be imprinted on my heart.

a few ideas

December 2, 2009 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

I’ve spent the last month working up a Christmas list. Not of my own ideas, but of ideas from other moms. It’s been really fun, and even more than that, it’s been really interesting.

I’ve found some things I had no idea were out there: some I just had to have… and some others I was glad I’d missed ;)

But here are a few that I thought I’d mention. As we all hustle and bustle to get ready for Christmas, these are a few things I think are worth checking out.

Paper Lantern Personalized Necklace

If you’d like more ideas, check out the full list here.

Giveaway Winner!

November 15, 2009 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

This weeks Giveaway winner is The Womble Times!

Head on over to and pick out a tee. Then email with your design choice, fit, size as well as your mailing address.

If you would like to get in on the action too, become a follower of the No Hands But Ours blog, and you will be entered for a chance to win a tee from Wild Olive tees. We will draw another winner next Saturday!


Wild Olive Tees

new lists

August 30, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

The Children Who Wait page has been updated HERE.

Wasatch has received a new private list and CHSFS has added some additional profiles to their list.

Holt International

August 25, 2009 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Holt has over 75 kiddos on their “East Asia” (which means China) Waiting Child page.

Some are new referrals and some have been waiting a long time, all need to find their forever families!

Check out Holt’s website, which has a photolisting and a small bio on each child, HERE.