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Find My Forever: Emmett

November 14, 2018 0 Comments

Emmett is an adorable, obedient, and polite boy, born in June of 2010 with Down syndrome. Emmett has the absolute best smile! He has a great foster family who takes him to all of the orphanage events and activities and he has received education through the One Sky Foundation.

Emmett is able to walk, run, and use a spoon to feed himself. He enjoys watching TV, coloring, playing with blocks, and dancing. Emmett focuses well, is able to follow simple instructions from adults, and listens to conversations well. His caretakers say that he sometimes looks like a little adult when he is walking outside.

Emmett knows all the names of his classmates and performs very well in school.



An advocate met Emmett in May of 2018 and said this about him:

“This little boy seemed to be a favorite at the orphanage. The lady that does paperwork at the orphanage knew him very well and he ran up to her as soon as he saw her and they hugged. The teacher bragged about him and I was told his foster mom is very good with him. He lives in a foster family that is very involved with orphanage activities and he often participates in events or field trips.

He has had paperwork for years and they seemed surprised he was still waiting. He attends school with One Sky and has always lived with the same foster family.

They had a computer touch screen at school and he knew his way around it really well. Another boy was looking for a song and he kept pressing a different button and running away to dance to the song he was choosing.

He followed directions well and was obedient to his teacher and polite during class time. They were learning to use a pencil and he had a good grasp. All the kids in his class had Down syndrome and most of them had more delays than him.”

Watch a video of this sweet boy here.



There is a $2,000 agency grant for Emmett’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates and Emmett is eligible for a $5,000 grant with Reece’s Rainbow through December 31st, 2018!

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 are officially matched with a child.

Emmett needs a family with an approved home study to be able to move forward with adopting him. If you have an approved home study or a home study in process and are interested in adopting Emmett, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

Living in the Unknown

November 12, 2018 0 Comments

“Sensitive special need. Hypospadias.

That was the listed special need on the precious child when my husband and I first saw the advocacy post. We had different special needs at the forefront of our minds, but something made us pause. Hypospadias was something we knew and understood. Our first son received a surprise diagnosis of hypospadias shortly after birth.

We requested the file. This (what we were seeing) was not that.

Hypospadias is simply a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. Hypospadias can vary significantly in terms of severity; there are grades assigned based on how far the opening of the urethra is from the tip of the penis. Grade I is mild with very high surgical success, whereas Grade 4 is the most severe, and typically requires multiple surgeries.

Even taking into consideration the most severe forms of hypospadias, that simple diagnosis could not explain the images included in the file. And so we entered the world of DSDs, or Disorders of Sexual Development. Or, as I like to call it, Differences of Sexual Development.

I dove deep, researched everything I could find on different DSDs that presented similarly to the images in his file. I read every single post on NHBO from other families who had children with these special needs. I contacted every mama I could find and begged them to share their story. But, in the end, it became clear that there was absolutely no way that we would know what we were looking at.

We would simply have to make a decision based on the limited knowledge we had.

He was listed as a male, but we knew that that could change. We had to decide if we could deal with that. If we were open to that. We knew that sexual function could be in question. We had to decide if we could deal with that. If we could parent a child through that. We knew that infertility and even sterility were on the table. We had to decide if we could deal with that. If we could support and guide an adult child in the types of decisions available for growing a family.

Ultimately, we decided that male or female was less important than this child’s identity as a precious child of God, a child who was uniquely created and intentionally made. We said yes, submitted LOI, and six months later we met our son.

I won’t lie; it’s been a complicated journey. Not because our son’s special needs are life threatening. Not because of the maintenance or daily routines of his special needs. Truthfully, our daily life looks not one bit different because of his physical differences.

The hard part has been finding answers and navigating through a world of intense and varying opinions on how to treat (or not treat) these physical differences.



Some people feel very confident that surgery should be completed and as soon as possible to help the child look more typically male or female. Others disagree vehemently saying that surgery, unless medically necessary, should be postponed until the child is old enough to decide.

No matter what, these are weighty choices.

The odds are that waiting children with a DSD-related need will not come home with an exact diagnosis. The file might include a karyotype, indicating if the child has a typical set of chromosomes or not. The file might include some photos. But it might not. With DSDs, it is rarely clear what caused the physical differences, so there can be a lot of unknowns.

Might the gender be incorrectly assigned in China? Yes, that’s a possibility.
Might there be more extensive needs discovered once home, like kidney complications? Yes, that’s a possibility.
Might the child identify differently than the assigned gender and wish to transition at some point? Yes, that’s a possibility.

Saying yes to this need likely looks like saying yes to a slim amount of information, and that can be hard.



For our family, the hardest part has been knowing what to share and with whom. You see, this isn’t a special need with its own hashtag. No #zipperclub or #luckyfin. No #heartwarrior or #morealikethandifferent. And for that reason, the community of others walking the same road can be more difficult to find.

It’s a special need that can isolate your family a little bit.

For all adoptive parents, navigating how much of our kids’ stories to share and who receives the information is hard. This need just adds a bit of an extra layer to that. Sensitive special need indeed.

As we have yet to complete any surgeries while we are still in the diagnostic phase, we have had to choose how to handle church nurseries, daycare teachers, babysitters, and even our own families because the simple truth is our son looks different. We’re constantly walking a tightrope of protecting our son’s story and sharing enough information that those who are partnering with us can adequately provide and care for our son.

I remember reading a post from a mom parenting children who are HIV+. She described it as “the easiest special need ever”. HIV was on our list of special needs because we agreed with that sentiment, but I might argue that we’ve got a contender here. While there have been buckets of doctor appointments, and out-of-state for specialists and DSD clinics, and lots of learning, at this current juncture of parenting a two year old with an unknown DSD, this is surely the easiest special need ever.



The future may or may not get more complex as we make decisions that will impact our son for the rest of his life, but truly, he is just the best. If you can walk into the unknown, and be open to living in the now while preparing for tomorrow, I encourage you to consider hypospadias and other Differences of Sexual Development.

Learn about DSDs at Accord Alliance

– guest post by an anonymous mama

Meet Elia!

November 11, 2018 4 Comments

Oh my goodness!

Darling Elia is an active, smiley, and loved little girl… and just so darn cute! She was born in February of 2015 with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect – VSD.



Elia has good fine motor skills. She is closest to the caretaker who looks after her and really likes to interact with her. Elia plays and gets along well with the other children. She likes to play with brightly colored toys.

At the time Elia’s file was prepared, Elia could make sounds, sit, crawl, stand while holding onto an object, and take a few steps while her hands were held.



Elia understand the meaning of the word ‘no’ and responds to her name being called. She will share a toy with a friend or caretaker if asked. Elia can follow simple directions and will clap her hands, dance, and shake her head yes/no. A good cuddle helps to calm her down if she gets upset.

What Elia needs most is a forever family to come for her now!



Elia was under the care of Show Hope, where she went by Nadine, up until this summer when she was recalled to her home orphanage.

You can learn more about Elia from those at Show Hope (where she was called Nadine) who knew her and loved her well.



There is a $1,500 agency grant for Elia’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. 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 are officially matched with a child.

Elia needs a family with an approved home study to be able to move forward with adopting her. If you have an approved home study or a home study in process and are interested in adopting Elia, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

A Million Times Yes

November 10, 2018 2 Comments

“That is a need I could never handle, Lord.” It all began with a checklist. You know, the dreaded medical needs checklist we all fill out in the beginning of the China adoption process that kickstarts the journey to our child. The very checklist we dwell over, pour research over, stress over, and pray over. …Read More

Our Simple Yes: Adopting a Son with Hypospadias

November 8, 2018 2 Comments

At the beginning of our adoption process we connected with a PA friend of ours to help us walk through our openness form. When it came to hypospadias, she explained that it’s generally a simple fix with a few minor exceptions. We felt confident with its simplicity so we checked yes. In February 2016 all …Read More

Hand-Picked By God

November 6, 2018 0 Comments

The moment I saw our daughter being carried into the Civil Affairs office where we waited, I knew something wasn’t right. She was 19 months old and couldn’t even hold her head up. We knew she had Down syndrome but, according to her file, she was able to sit up, play with toys, and even …Read More

Ask NHBO: Large Family Size and Orphanage Donation

November 5, 2018 2 Comments

We get asked a lot of questions, both via our website and our Facebook page. And many are excellent questions too, questions we see asked again and again. Questions that deserve an answer. So we decided to try to answer some – as best as we can – in post format, so that others who …Read More

The Other Side of the Mountain: Surviving the Death of a Child

November 4, 2018 3 Comments

It was a horrible stomach flu that took us down one by one. The kids were both sick. Ken and I were horribly sick. It was one of those “fend for yourself and hope to see you on the other side” type of illnesses. When the phone rang that morning, I had no strength to …Read More

A Birthday Celebration Like No Other

November 1, 2018 0 Comments

It’s time to celebrate! No Hands But Ours just turned 10 years old. A decade of advice, orphan advocacy, family stories, special needs awareness, charity highlights, adoptee stories, vulnerable connection over struggles, and all kinds of celebration of prayers answered, kids finding families, and adoptive families steadily finding their way. It’s time to recognize all …Read More

Loving Our “Lifers”

November 1, 2018 5 Comments

Bringing these three home forever was hands down – three of the very best decisions we’ve ever made in our entire 40+ years of marriage! We affectionately refer to these three little girlies of ours as “our lifers” – because we get to keep them for the rest of our lives! I’m sure to some …Read More

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