A Tale of Two Limb Differences

June 17, 2019 0 Comments

Limb difference was one of the boxes we checked for our first China adoption in 2013. So when we received our son’s file, it was relatively easy to say yes. Our soon-to-be son, at 10 months of age, was the youngest child on the shared list that day.

We were open to a boy or a girl, our youngest was about to turn three and we had checked the limb difference box. It all seemed very straight forward.

The “what in the world did we just say yes to?’ came the next day.

Four months later we were on a plane to China. Our son’s file said: flexion deformity of left wrist and deformity of left thumb. Once we got home we learned all about radial aplasia, also known as radial club hand. Since this limb malformation affects the radius, it affects the thumb side of the hand. Opposition, or a thumb that works, is necessary for gripping objects.

Finding an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery of the hand and upper extremities is critical. We found one literally just down the road at the University of Michigan. Other bones and structures of the forearm, wrist and hand can be affected with this malformation. It can be part of a syndrome and/or might be part of a genetic condition. In our son’s case it is not.

We did not know until we got to China that both of his upper limbs are affected. On his right arm he has a short radius and he had a very little thumb. On his left arm his radius is absent and he had a non-working (hypoplastic) or floating thumb. His left middle finger was also fixed in a 90 degree bent position. We saw the hand specialist not long after we got home but we waited 7 months before the first surgery to give us all time to bond as a family. His first surgery was performed on his right hand to deepen the web spacing between his index finger and his small thumb and a tendon was transferred to his thumb from his ring finger to give him opposition on one hand, a bigger working thumb!

We waited until fall for the second and more complex surgery knowing he would be casted and we wanted to enjoy summer cast free. He was 2 1/2 and had been home 14 months before his second surgery. The second surgery was done on his left arm with the absent radius. This surgery was a three in one procedure. First, the surgeon removed the non-working (hypoplastic) thumb. His left thumb was a hazard or accident waiting to happen as it just dangled there and could have been easily caught in a drawer or door. All of the structures it would have been attached to were also absent and it had no useful purpose. Additionally, wrist centralization was done to put his wrist in a more normal position as there is often that classic club hand curving of the forearm toward the thumb side of the hand. Finally, the surgeon also released the tendon in his middle finger that was fixed in a 90 degree bent position. It is hard to get a bent finger into a pocket or mitten!

He recovered from both of his hand surgeries well. There was lots of casting to protect the surgical site and pins as it healed (and recasting as he liked to wriggle out of his casts at night) and then splinting. I wish I had done a better job of keeping track of the exact number but I think he went thru 8 casts over the three months following surgery and then he graduated to a splint which could be removed for meals and bath time. Five years later he still wears a splint at night and we now see his hand surgeon once a year for x-rays and a new splint which he needs as he grows.

The whole process entailed more than a year of more intense care and treatment, including the two surgeries and recoveries. But, looking back, I can honestly say that now five years later his special need is really a non-issue. He received occupational therapy through our state’s Early On program and that transitioned into occupational therapy though our school system once he turned three.

We were blessed to have the same therapist see him throughout all of this. He graduated from occupational therapy and the need for an IEP by the end of kindergarten because he could do everything everyone else could do including being able to tie his shoes, which most of the other kindergartners couldn’t do! He also happens to be one of those naturally athletic kids and, with his nine digits, he regularly outperforms kids a year older and a head taller both on the field and on the court! Indeed his real “special need” was that he was a boy who needed a family. We are so blessed to be his family and meet that special need daily.

In the midst of all of the surgeries, about a year after coming home, I sent my husband a text and told him I didn’t think we were done. We spent a few months praying about doing it all again and by the time our son was recovering from his second surgery we had signed contracts and began the home study process. Again, we checked the boxes for special needs we were open to.

Things had changed in the China program. Our first adoption was completed with a referral coming from the old shared list. Now the partnerships were in place and our second adoption process took longer than the first had and much longer than we had anticipated. The longer we waited, the more we became certain that we wanted another son with a limb difference. Our first adoption experience allowed us to be open to more significant limb differences. So 3 1/2 years after starting the process we again got on a plan to China in 2018 to bring home a four year old boy with really special hands and feet.

His file said congenital hand and feet malformations and a year later that is still the extent of what we know. We have seen our hand specialist and are not sure if surgical intervention is possible for his special hands. This was hard to hear because our son does not have opposition on either hand and we know how important having one opposable thumb is.

All the time I hear people say kids are resilient and he truly exemplifies this. This ray of sunshine went off to young 5’s this past year and has amazed us all with language acquisition and all he can do. He has an IEP and works with the same occupational therapist who graduated his older brother from services. There are still things he can’t do. Some things he may never be able to do simply because of the way his hands work.

We spend our days focusing on celebrating what he can do and helping him figure out ways to adapt. We have seen the foot specialist. He had surgery on one of his feet to fix some toes that were really a shoe issue because of rubbing. He was casted and non weight bearing for six weeks and was a total trooper.

We have seen genetics and it is likely that our son’s limb differences are part of a genetic syndrome and even if insurance ever does approve chromosomal analysis it actually changes very little for us. We have ruled out any heart or kidney issues that can be present with genetic conditions that affect hands and feet similar to our son’s hands and feet.

Just like his older brother, his real “special need” was that he was a boy who needed a family and again we are so very blessed to be that family and meet that need and his other needs daily.

I am Tanya and my husband Luman and I have five children; Selah 14, Boaz 12, Simeon 9, Shadrach 7 (adopted in 2013) and Meshach 5 (adopted in 2018). You can reach me by email at

Waiting for You: Leland

June 12, 2019 0 Comments

Leland is a handsome little boy, born October 2011. Leland’s caretakers describe him as beautiful, smart, and adorable. They say that everyone likes him and that he is a great communicator, very fluent with his language abilities.

Leland can quickly grasp the content taught by the teacher in class, but gets nervous easily as he is very serious about his studies. He can count numbers and can do simple hand-craft and painting projects. He is a good eater and sleeper.

Leland has been through a lot without a family by his side. When he was three, he kept complaining that his inguinal tumors/cysts were hurting. He was taken to multiple hospitals and found that they were pushing against his bladder and he could not urinate. Leland was diagnosed as having congenital yolk sac tumor. He underwent many procedures and was given chemotherapy between February 2015 and December 2015. He enjoyed talking to the doctors and the nurses and was cheerful, despite all he had gone through. All of the nurses and doctors loved him.

Leland can sense when he needs to use the toilet most of the time and uses the rail to hold on while going. Sometimes he does not make it in time, so he wears diapers just in case. Leland is diagnosed as being paraplegic as well, but he does walk with assistance. Leland goes to the rehabilitation room daily to practice walking with a walker. He has weakness in his legs and his knees and ankles do not bend normally.

Leland had a hard time adjusting after leaving the hospital and going into the orphanage since he didn’t come into the care of the orphanage until right before he was hospitalized. He has since adjusted to life there. The staff say that he is very smart and is a fast learner. He gets along with his peers and enjoys playing with them. He will smile at acquaintances and be very polite. He is serious when meeting strangers, but warms up to new people quickly.

Leland is a wonderful little boy who has been through a lot. It is our hope that his forever family sees this treasure and brings him home soon!

LOTS of update videos of Leland, click on the links below to watch:

There is a $1,500 agency grant for Leland’s adoption with MAA. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year (January and July) and to families that already matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Leland’s file or in adopting Leland, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

“He’s Our Son!”

June 7, 2019 1 Comments

We recently had a chance to chat with Amy who is in process to bring home a little boy with a vision impairment. Read along and consider joining the adventure in helping to bring this little one home to his forever family!

If you would like your family to be considered for a future post on NHBO, please complete the short form here.

1. Tell us a little about your family.

My husband, Dillon and I have been married for 11 years. We met while attending college in Murfreesboro, TN. We have a mutual love of music and arts and have loved building our life together. We are both the kind to have our hands in several pots! Besides writing and performing music, Dillon works as a coffee educator and I work from home as a virtual assistant.

2. How did adoption become part of your family’s story?

After college, we moved back to Nashville where I am from and have watched as the city has exploded in growth. We have two adorable miniature schnauzers and an old house cat. We love to spend our spare time bike riding and visiting other coffee shops. Our lives are full, and yet, we have felt for a while that there was someone missing. We have wanted to grow our family for some time and we were not quite sure what that was going to look like.

There came a time in December of 2017 where I had been reading someone’s adoption journey online. I started to feel the call like many others have felt when it comes to contemplating adoption. I wasn’t quite sure where to start or if my husband would be on board. But much to my delight, when I asked him about considering adoption, he was immediately on board.

3. Have you been matched with a child?

We started working with our agency in September of 2018. A few short months later, we saw our son’s face for the first time. He was being advocated for by Bethel China and jumped out immediately and grabbed our hearts.

He is an absolutely beautiful boy who has just turned 3 years old with such a bright smile and spirit. He has a visual impairment though, it does not seem to slow him down. He loves to run all over the play room at Bethel and play with his toys. He is doing wonderful there and in the care of his foster family. There were many other families who inquired about him and we were so scared that he would be matched before we could move forward.

Once our home study was complete, we asked about him and to our surprise and joy, he had not been matched. I remember thinking, “He’s our son, he’s supposed to be our son!” You know him as “Liam”, we plan to name him Harrison Tyler-Cai.

4. How are you fundraising to bring your little one home?

We have fundraised since day one. We launched a gofundme the same month we started with our agency, we hosted a trivia night, planned a Valentine’s Day themed concert, sold whole bean coffee online featuring our story and we have trimmed budgets and saved wherever possible.

We have recently applied for about 13 grants and are just simply waiting to hear if we will receive any. We have been able to pay for all of our fees and expenses up until recently and it seems our fundraising has hit a bit of a lull. We would so appreciate any help in getting Harrison home.

We have a new crowdfunding site that was organized by Connected Hearts Ministry making all donations tax deductible. We cannot wait to meet our little boy and bring him home. We think about him every day and just pray for his well being until we can all be together. Please help us become a family of three! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Aging Out Child: Hudson

June 2, 2019 0 Comments

Hudson is a great kid who is all boy. Born in October of 2006, his special need is HIV (read more about parenting a child with HIV here). He spent about two years in the local orphanage, where he was taken care of by a blind couple who worked at the orphanage before being moved …Read More

Meet Miles!

May 26, 2019 0 Comments

Miles is an adorable little guy, born in February of 2017. His caretakers describe him as cute and smiley. At one year of age, Miles could call “mom” or “grandmother” clearly. Sometimes he could speak a series of words loudly, but could not be heard clearly. He could also walk stably and liked putting on …Read More

More Than We Ever Expected…

May 18, 2019 4 Comments

We entered into this adoption full of hopes and dreams just like most people. However, we also understood the realities, especially when adopting from China. We knew the gambles, had read all the blogs and books and articles we could get our hands on. We knew to expect the unexpected… or so we thought. We …Read More

Find My Family: Minnie

May 10, 2019 0 Comments

Minnie is an adorable little girl, born in October of 2011, who is full of joy and determination. She has been diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, which has caused high muscular tension of her lower limbs. She also has an astigmatism. Minnie can walk on her tip toes with the support of a walker. She …Read More

Waiting to be Chosen: Journey

April 25, 2019 0 Comments

Are you ready for the cuteness that is Journey? Journey, born in January of 2013 with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect (PDA), is a beautiful little girl with a spectacular smile! Journey is not a picky eater and can feed herself, but won’t necessarily eat as much as she should so she does …Read More

Adoption. Ready or Not?

April 22, 2019 2 Comments

“Don’t wait for more revelation; be obedient to the amount of revelation God has given you.” – Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle I remember hunkering in my hiding spot as a child, my heart beating wildly. Whichever friend was “it” in our game of hide and seek would be counting to ten, just seconds away …Read More

Find My Family: Shaw

April 19, 2019 1 Comments

Shaw is a precious little boy born in January of 2015 with Down syndrome and congenital heart defects – ASD and PFO. In June of 2016, he underwent surgery to repair his ASD. Shaw came into care at the approximate age of one. At that time, he could stand and walk against the rails, and …Read More

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