2016 was an amazing year for No Hands But Ours. Hundreds of posts shared. Twelve special topics featured. Guest series. Family stories. Book reviews. Recipes. And advocacy posts written that turned faces across the sea into treasured sons and daughters.
Here is just a glimpse of all we shared…
A Look Back by the Numbers
No Hands But Ours on Instagram
We finally got on Instagram and now have over 1500 followers.
No Hands But Ours on Facebook
Our likes grew from 4980 to 8758. Yay! Thank you to everyone in our NHBO FB community! (If you haven’t liked us yet, please do. It’s an incredibly easy way to keep up with the NHBO content as well as help get the word out about orphan care, adoption, special needs and children who wait.)
No Hands But Ours Blog
466 total posts were published in 2016.
No Hands But Ours was viewed 998,387 times and had 398,948 visitors.
The top three posts of 2016 were:
3. Not the Same
A Look Back at a Few of Our Favorite Guest Posts
January: Worth It
March: The Beginning of Surrender
April: I Never Felt Called to Adopt
July: Her First Smile
December: It’s a boy! And yes, he’s from China.
A Look Back at Our Favorite Contributor Posts
Amy A. – This is Real Life
Amy S. – Knit Together
Andrea O. – Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart be Broken
Andrea Y. – China Trip: When Brother and Sister Travel, Too
Bryson – I am Not a Babysitter, I am a Dad
Courtney – Weaving
Jennifer – Hope for Connection
Katie – Beauty from Ashes
Kelley – We Could Have Missed This
Kelly – Dear Driver…
Randall – What Will This Do To Your Kids
Rebecca – Adopted
Whitney – Not the Same
A Look Back to our Special Features
In 2016 we’ve had shared multi-post series spanning several months and written by one author:
We’ve also had monthly special features.
Each month focusing on a specific topic and containing numerous guest and contributor posts – full of insight and information.
January: Celebrating China
March: Special Circumstances
April: Sensory Processing
May: Large Families
July: Dear Younger Me
August: Sign Language and Adoption
September: Back to School
October: When Mom Works
November: Then and Now
December: Adopting Boys
A Look Back to Advocacy
105 of our 466 posts were advocacy posts. In those 105 posts our advocacy team, headed by Liberty Joy, highlighted over 200 children.
Many of those children are now forever treasured sons and daughters. Here are some of their stories…
The adoption of our son was a whirlwind. We had just switched countries and were trying to catch up on what special needs were typical for China, so we started reading NHBO’s blog every day. Opened up their blog on a Friday night and there staring back at me was this tiny, 2×2, blurry photo of the sweetest little boy. I clicked on his post and just knew… this was our son!
We switched agencies and never looked back! We brought our son home months later and he has been one of the biggest blessing to our family. Our best Yes!
After completing four adoptions over an eight year span, I continued to hear whispers from the Holy Spirit that we’d go back to China. In fact, I thought we’d probably reuse our dossier, and felt like the time was ticking away. During that season of my life, I felt completely drawn to Facebook advocacy sites, and then one day I saw her — the beautiful face that stopped me in my tracks. Lulu. My heart was pounding, and I quickly sent a message to the advocate who was working with her file.
I begged my husband to open his heart and promised I’d fundraise to get her home. Together we prayed for discernment, and God made a great, big way. Lulu marched onto U.S. soil last Mother’s Day, and the rest is history.
Leaping in faith for Lulu introduced us to a new and unfamiliar special need. As the result of a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered as a baby, Lulu has hemiplegia on her left side, but her special need in no way defines her. What does define her is that she is a confident and spunky little girl who sees zero limitations within herself. She is joyfully determined, and we are convinced she will do whatever she sets her mind to in life.
Lulu is a true champion, and we are incredibly blessed to call her our daughter. Thank you, NHBO, for your tireless advocacy efforts!
By Lisa, founder of Open Hearts for Orphans and author of With an Open Heart
I was reading NHBO, as I often do, without any real intentions in January, 2016. We already had seven preteen to teen children in our home, five who were adopted from China; we were done. Then I saw her description: 13 year old girl, aging out, shy, quiet, loves to read – and I instantly felt a connection. I called the agency; her paperwork wasn’t ready as her orphanage was new to international adoption. No background was available other than a verbal report of repaired CL/CP.
After my husband got over the incredulity of my request, he too agreed she would fit into our family. We were unconcerned about the lack of paperwork; we would deal with whatever needed dealing with when she got here.
We sent in our matching request to the agency on February 2 and got very busy on the paper chase. On Sept 12, three days before her 14th birthday, we adopted Serena in Fujian. She joined the eight other children in our home – because God worked another miracle (besides a start to finish adoption of 7.5 months) and opened our hearts to another 13 year – a boy in a wheelchair who joined our family two days after Serena, and who we would have never seen except for our pursuit of our daughter.
We weren’t looking to begin the adoption process for many more months, but one late night in February, I logged into Facebook and saw “Neil’s” sweet face staring back at me from the top of my newsfeed (via his advocacy post), and I knew immediately he was our son.
We started the process to bring him home but were met with a few challenges due to the fact that I wouldn’t turn thirty years old for five and half more months. We were finally able to lock his file a few days later and went on to complete our dossier in record time; we actually had our dossier to China and our log in date before I even turned thirty! We finalized his adoption on Halloween, less than nine months after seeing his picture for the first time.
We are so blessed to call this precious boy our son; we could not possibly love him more!
Though we had been a foster and adoptive family for years, we weren’t looking to adopt again at this time… that is, until we saw his face and heard his story. A NHBO post had been shared by a friend on FB and we were captured – for this 10 year old boy in China, adoption was his chance at life. He had waited for years for a family to come to him, all the while receiving nominal medical care for his thalassemia.
The conviction was clear in both my husband’s and my heart – this child needed a family, we needed to go to him and bring him home as our son. He deserved a long and fulfilling life… snd that was it. We started the process right then and there, and were able to travel to China 7 1/2 months later to adopt our beloved little boy on November 1, 2016 – his 11th birthday.
*watch Oscar’s story here.
As the beginning of 2016 rolled around, my husband and I were discussing adoption once again. We thought we’d take it slowly – sign on with our agency, begin our home study, and wait to be matched – but God had other plans! Since we were taking it slowly, we weren’t looking at advocacy sites, but I was of course subscribed to the NHBO blog, and one day a little face popped up on my screen. Something about her made me pause.
In our marriage, I’m the one whose heart falls for a hundred kiddos and wants to bring them all home, and my husband is the brakes, making sure we think through our family dynamic and ability to parent any given child… but in this case, he felt drawn to her, too. We requested her file and sent it off to doctors, and I began making connections with mamas who had adopted children with her special need, osteogenesis imperfecta.
We prayed that God would bring her a family and prayed for wisdom about whether that was us and prayed that He would provide the best care possible for her in China in the meantime. He was literally, at that very same time, putting the wheels in motion answering that last prayer, and as we gathered information and continued to pray, we believe he was leading us to adopt her, thereby answering our first two prayers for her. We received PA on February 16, and just under 10 months later, on December 12, I met her in an office building in Nanning, China!
As I write these sentences, she is sleeping peacefully in a pack ‘n’ play a few feet away from me in our Nanning hotel room, and while she has been grieving heavily the wonderful nannies at the foster home that has cared for her for the past 9 months, she is also beginning to trust me, and her true personality is emerging. She is beautiful and funny and expressive and delightful, and we are so thankful to have her as part of our family!
I just think of the verse about how God cares for all the wildflowers… there is a sea of orphans, but he took the time to pick just one fragile flower and one unlikely family to show His might works through. Poppy, our precious flower.
Our family is adopting this precious little one from China! Poppy Mae has been diagnosed with MPS VII, or Sly Syndrome, and has had a rough three year start. Since one of our sons has MPS II, we believe God has uniquely qualified us to be her family. And now we are on this beautiful, crazy adventure!
So much to celebrate as we look back at all the ways God used No Hands But Ours made an impact in 2016.
Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, liked, commented and tweeted, we are so grateful for you as we joyfully continue on this mission – His mission – of loving and advocating for the most vulnerable, and supporting and encouraging those families who have been called to love them forever.
May 2017 be a year filled with good things for those who wait!