Saying Yes to a Beautiful Mess

January 11, 2016 older child adoption, tethered cord 0 Comments

We started our adoption journey after a mission trip to the Navajo nation in Arizona. Leaving our three children behind, we set out to minister to others.While we were there, we saw the “big picture of life”, as we like to call it. We saw things on our trip that were bigger than ourselves. We …Read More

We’re Not Special

January 5, 2016 complex heart defect, Family Stories, Heart System, HLHS, older child adoption, orphan hosting, single atrium heart disease, single ventricle heart disease, TGA 2 Comments

My husband, Bobby, and I are not special. We keep being told that we are. Ever since starting the adoption process, people keep telling us we are “special”. I don’t always know how to respond. I feel embarrassed and totally unworthy. We don’t belong on that pedestal. Have they seen our very un-special home and …Read More

A Single Image

January 3, 2016 December 2015 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, older child adoption, profound deafness, Sensory System, waiver request 1 Comments

When a single image changes your whole life… We began our adoption process in a way that was, likely, different from many. I was checking my email, and literally, on a whim, I opened up an email I normally wouldn’t have. And there, staring at me, was my son. It rattled me to my core …Read More

Older Children and Incontinence, a Family Story

November 29, 2015 bowel management, Family Stories, imperforate anus, incontinence, lipomyelomeningocele, November 2015 Feature - Urogenital, older child adoption, tethered cord, Urogenital System, VACTERL 0 Comments

Our adoption journey started with two infant adoptions from South Korea, in 2008 and 2010. Our first was a healthy baby boy; our second, a daughter with limb differences. When we considered adding to our family again, we decided to adopt an older child and looked into the China special needs program. We pondered the …Read More

Embracing Her Story: Sarah

November 20, 2015 adoptee perspective, adoptee Q and A, birth family, Jean, November 2015 Feature - Embracing Their Story, older child adoption, telling their life story 0 Comments

We know that God is the only one who can heal hearts and redeem stories. But what of our role as shepherds of their hearts? One powerful, guiding gift we can dig into is the experience of others, young and old, who are willing to share their stories. As part of our Embracing Their Story …Read More

It Is What It Is, Not What it Should Be

November 18, 2015 disruption, failed adoption, November 2015 Feature - Embracing Their Story, older child adoption 3 Comments

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 That’s been my view on most things in life: it is what it is, not what it should be. Our daughter came to us on September 1, 2013, at 8.5 years old. She’d been adopted from China at age 4.5 by another family, …Read More

Every Child is Our Child {the blessing of orphanage updates}

October 28, 2015 Kelly, older child adoption, orphanage realities 3 Comments

It was a 100-page labor of love. For months, in anticipation of my visit back to my daughter’s orphanage, I had been collecting updates. I hoped for 25 families to be a part of the update book. In the end, there were 50. I had asked them specific things: their child’s Chinese name and the …Read More

Dear Parents-To-Be: Advice From the Front Lines

October 22, 2015 adopting two at once, adoption realities, China trip, disruption, Gotcha Day, guest post, older child adoption, orphanage behaviors 13 Comments

There’s been a rash of disruptions lately, both while still in China and shortly after the families are back in America. I’m not here to pass judgment on people, or talk about families who disrupt months or years into the process. I’m here to talk about the beginning, and to give some advice. Real advice. …Read More

A Poster Picture of… The Waiting Child…

September 15, 2015 Jean, older child adoption 5 Comments

Every time I look at this picture I am at a loss for words… It embodies the plight of the older waiting child. A loving family visits their son’s orphanage just days after they meet him. Their daughter (being carried by her mother) has been home for over a year. Their new son is in …Read More

Attachment: What’s Worked For Us

April 15, 2015 April/May 2015 Feature Attachment, Jean, large families, older child adoption 2 Comments

I would say we are experienced in attachment but we are by no means experts. After adopting 13 children we have had quite a bit of “on the job” training! Ten of our adoptions have been with children between the ages of 5-11. Our daughter adopted at 11 years 3 months was not prepared to …Read More

with open arms: adopting from disruption

March 19, 2015 disruption, March 2015 Feature - Disruption, older child adoption 8 Comments

We stood shivering on a strange doorstep sixteen long hours from home. It was nerves mixed with excitement that churned inside me as we raised our hand to knock on the door. A stack of boxes and suitcases greeted us in the foyer when the door opened. We stepped inside and a little boy with …Read More

Recovering a Childhood

March 15, 2015 Jean, older child adoption, orphanage realities 7 Comments

Recently our oldest adopted daughter from China celebrated her 15th birthday. She wasn’t excited about this birthday because she didn’t want to be fifteen. She liked being 14 and to her 15 felt too old. You see she feels a bit cheated… Her childhood began at the age of 8 yrs 8 month and 18 …Read More

Will You Love Me Forever?

January 30, 2015 amniotic band syndrome, Family Stories, older child adoption 1 Comments

Excitement, curiosity and fear of the unknown filled the eight year old boy’s mind as he entered the cold, stale room. His eyes landed on some smiling faces that looked vaguely familiar. Yes, these were the same faces that had smiled at him from the pages of the photo album he carried in his backpack, …Read More

Even If They Are From A Good Orphanage…

December 16, 2014 adoption realities, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

They need a family… When we adopted Ben we knew he was from a nice orphanage, much different than many of our other children. We also knew he had a foster family for many years. Once he was home we found out he had been with them for 6 of his 7.5 years. From Ben’s …Read More

No Boys?

September 15, 2014 gender as a special need, heart defect, Jean, older child adoption 1 Comments

That’s what we were saying back in 2006. We had 4 biological sons and felt like that was a good number. We had one daughter and felt like the Lord had perfectly planned it… we needed more girls! I had always dreamed of a sister for Katie. Of course not one that was 20 years …Read More

Ready or Not…Kindergarten, Here I Come

September 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 2 Comments

I’m no novice when it comes to parenting. And I’m definitely not a novice when it comes to sending my kids off to Kindergarten. But this year, there was something different about the three times I’d done it previously. This time it was my China babies. Nothing could have fully prepared me for the first …Read More

“Cold Feet”

August 15, 2014 adopting again, heart defect, Jean, large families, older child adoption 5 Comments

After adopting 13 children you would think I have it all down to a science! But I don’t… Once again I have suffered from the feelings of “cold feet”… Am I sure that it will work out adding to this large crew that somehow seems to work well together? Was it just me that thought …Read More

To the Traumatized Family

August 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 9 Comments

A few days ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw a comment on a link for a ministry to traumatized children that broke my heart. An adoptive parent was asking where the ministry was for families who have been traumatized by bringing a traumatized child into their home. This is something I …Read More

Somewhere to Run

July 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 9 Comments

In my adoptions circles, there is a little bit of a running joke about all the things that start going wrong once a paper chase and the commitment to adopt a child (or children) begins. Somewhere along the journey to China, an adoptive parent can guarantee that an appliance…or three…will break, the car will need …Read More

Then and Now

June 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 3 Comments

As an adoptive parent there is definitely one thing that I stress over more than anything else. One might think it would have something to do with doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, surgeries, or something else of that nature. But those things come easily to me. I’m usually sipping my cup of coffee and enjoying my …Read More

The Best Mama

May 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 0 Comments

I’ll never forget the first time it happened. She threw her arms around me and exclaimed, “I love you, Mama! You’re the best mama I’ve ever had!!!” And every time it’s happened since then is carved on my heart as well. Every. Single. Time. The day I met my sweet Cora…just over a year-and-a-half ago…was …Read More


April 15, 2014 adoption realities, heart defect, Jean, older child adoption 1 Comments

We just had our first grandchild! It is so exciting AND such an amazing feeling having her HERE! Our daughter talked to me every day (from Germany) before her delivery. The anticipation was riveting! When would she arrive, how would the delivery go, who would she look like? It was a happy moment when I …Read More

Completely Natural

April 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 1 Comments

My virtual twins are thick as thieves. And they act like an old married couple. The bond they share is amazing to behold. They actually have the same type of relationship that biological twins do. The way God has grafted their two little hearts together is most amazing. With this relationship comes lots and lots …Read More

How To Find Your Child

March 15, 2014 cognitive delay, heart defect, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

At least, this is how we found our children! We started with prayer. Prayers for strength, perseverance, guidance, grace and for the child that HE was leading us too. Once we felt God’s presence we proceeded. This is a good place to start! The NHBO site is filled with information on different special needs, parenting …Read More

Timing is everything

March 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 0 Comments

There’s an old saying that “timing is everything.” And it’s true. The moment at which something enters our lives does make a difference in how it is received. For better or for worse. My “baby” just celebrated his fifth birthday, which is his fourth birthday with us. This one was bittersweet to me. After nearly …Read More

Bonding Goes Both Ways

February 15, 2014 Attachment, Jean, older child adoption 3 Comments

The literature on children bonding to their new parents is plentiful but it falls short when it comes to the parents bonding with the child. With our first adoption I didn’t even consider it an issue. After all she was 16 months old and completely helpless. I had bonded to her before I had ever …Read More

Holidays and Celebrations

February 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 3 Comments

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “holiday” person. I know people who have decorations ranging from Christmas trees to pumpkins to shamrocks to pink and red hearts that they put up as the seasons rotate. Bu I’m not one of them. I’m a minimalist. The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas and that’s …Read More

My Reflection

January 15, 2014 Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

God works in mysterious ways… Sometimes I don’t always understand why HE does the things HE does BUT I do know how much HE loves me and just knowing that makes me want to trust HIM even more. In the summer of 2010 God gave us a gift. It was an unexpected gift but nevertheless …Read More

One Giant Leap Forward

January 5, 2014 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 1 Comments

It’s been three years and one month since I stood in the Civil Affairs building in Zhengzhou and took the sweetest boy into my arms. It was the end of 13 long months of waiting, and the love I felt for my son during all those agonizing months was nothing compared to the explosion that …Read More

waiting child highlight: older girls

January 4, 2014 Family Stories, girls, large families, older child adoption, shared list 5 Comments

To open your heart to a child who may or may not remember her biological parents. Or is attached to an auntie. To be bringing home a child who has already developed a personality and habits. To be bringing home a child whom you may have chosen to name after yourself (Ruthi) only to have …Read More

Who Do They Love More?

December 15, 2013 Jean, older child adoption 10 Comments

I have been a mom for 30 years. Yes, our oldest son just turned 30! It is hard to believe how fast the time has gone. It was just yesterday our dear baby boy was born. We spent our time… just staring at him, in awe, completely amazed at this tiny miracle that God created! …Read More

Her New Forever

December 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 0 Comments

One of the hardest things…for me, at least…about being an adoptive parent is knowing that I missed out on my child(ren)’s life in China. And I’ve found that the older the child is when they join our family, the harder it is to deal with that loss of knowledge about my child’s past. Our early …Read More

Loving Children… That Are Hard to Love

November 15, 2013 Attachment, Jean, older child adoption, parent-to-child attachment 6 Comments

Many adopted children are so easy to love. They may have a vibrant personality, a good sense of humor, a smile that lights up the room, a positive attitude or other characteristics that attractive! They may remind you of yourself, your beloved husband or siblings or someone else you love. It is easy to love …Read More

Sickness and Snuggles

November 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 0 Comments

There’s been some kind of virus floating through our house for the past week or so. And as I predicted it would, the illness is slowly making its rounds through the family. Last night we got hit with a “double whammy”. As my husband and I were tucking our sweet China babies into bed we …Read More


October 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 0 Comments

I am the proud mama of four-year-old virtual twins, both adopted from China. And while they were adopted in two separate adoptions, 23 months apart, they are every bit as much of brother and sister as they can be. This has its benefits. The two of them always have a built-in playmate. As their mother, …Read More

Free to Dream

September 15, 2013 Jean, older child adoption 5 Comments

What a joyful noise it is when we hear our children tell us what they want to be when they grow up! It was only a few months to a few years ago when words like that would have been completely futile. There was no future and there were no dreams. Life was purely an …Read More

Dealing With Grief

September 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 6 Comments

As pre-adoptive parents prepare to bring our children home, we go through hours upon hours of parent training. Not to mention meetings with our social worker, and any reading we may do on our own to help prepare for the day our new son or daughter joins their forever family. One of the topics that …Read More

A Few of My Favorite Things

August 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 3 Comments

It all started nearly three years ago. As soon as we brought our first son home from China, I began scheduling appointments at our local children’s hospital to have specialists review the needs listed in his file. Initially there were four doctors we were working with…then three…and finally we were left only with two as …Read More

We Can’t Do That

July 15, 2013 cognitive delay, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

When Hubby and I first began our adoption journeys we talked about which special needs we could do and which ones we felt that we couldn’t do. Of course as time went on we changed our minds and brought home children with needs that we had previously said no to. There was one need in …Read More

The One

July 6, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 1 Comments

It’s hardly been a month since we finalized our son’s adoption. We’re still in the getting settled in and trying to discover our “new normal” phase. The jetlag has passed, we’ve had our first post placement visit with our social worker, and bonding through movies and board games is a key focus of mine. Our …Read More

Gotcha Day

June 5, 2013 heart defect, older child adoption, Tara 12 Comments

It was two-and-a-half years ago that I approached the very same building and found a precious baby boy already inside waiting for me. That was the moment I had dreamed of for so many years…I was finally adopting from China. Today was a different scenario. I found myself waiting (not so patiently) in that room …Read More

Your Waiting Child?

April 16, 2013 adopting two at once, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

Welcome to Jean – our newest contributor at No Hands But Ours! Jean and her husband have been married for 31 years and have raised 5 biological children. In 2006 God called them to adopt and he hasn’t stopped calling them. They now have 11 treasures home from China in addition to their 5 older …Read More

Dragons and Snakes

February 17, 2013 Chinese Culture, Chinese Holidays, Chinese New Year, foster family, Kelley, older child adoption, Post-Adoption contact 1 Comments

Xin nian kuai le! Happy Chinese New Year! A week ago today, we rang in the Year of the Snake with our kiddos. I hung up our paper lanterns, decorated the table with Lunar New Year plates and cups, pulled out our fanciest chopsticks purchased in Guangzhou, and gobbled up delicious authentic fair from a …Read More

Identity Crisis

November 17, 2012 embracing their story, Kelley, older child adoption, telling their life story 6 Comments

Last night, my husband and I joined about 180 folks from our city of Birmingham to view the documentary Somewhere in Between, a film that follows four Chinese girls adopted into American families. The movie articulates their challenges with feeling neither completely Chinese, nor totally American. The girls, now in their teens, conclude that they …Read More

Let’s Talk Communication

October 17, 2012 Attachment, attachment activities, attachment challenges, first year home, Kelley, Newly Home, older child adoption, parent-to-child attachment 0 Comments

One of the most common questions we are asked about the adoption of our older child is whether she spoke any English when we brought her home and/or how we’ve dealt with the language barrier. There are many ways to communicate in those first days, weeks, and months. From playing charades (which didn’t work so …Read More

Between a Fork and a Chopstick

October 5, 2012 heart defect, older child adoption, Sonia 21 Comments

That’s where I find myself. Between a fork and a chopstick. And that’s where I come to you today asking for some momma advice. I love the way these boys eat. ok in truth….I could do without the slurping…..gag but other than that I have no problem with it. But here’s where I am stuck… …Read More

Keeping the Past in the Present

September 27, 2012 heart defect, older child adoption, Wife of the Prez 5 Comments

“It is kind of almost like a pseudo-open adoption,” the adoption professional said to me as I shared with her about our reunion with our 12-year-old son’s foster family. Absence may not have made their hearts grow stronger—I don’t think the love could be much stronger than it already was—but absence definitely made the hearts …Read More

The Myth of the "New Normal"

September 3, 2012 heart defect, older child adoption, Sonia 28 Comments

That’s what it feels like to me. A myth. “New” normal? Normal? Whaaa? I’m completely unfamiliar with that word at the moment. The feeling of being normal is elusive to me. Does “the new normal” really even exist? I wonder this because I cannot, for the life of me, find it. Nothing about our life …Read More

The Surgery That Wasn't

August 27, 2012 cl/cp, heart defect, older child adoption, Wife of the Prez 2 Comments

At 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, August 21, I was preparing trying to prepare for surgery #14, which was scheduled for the following day, Wednesday, August 22. Yes, that is not a typo. Fourteen surgeries since we brought Li’l Miss home and waited during her six-hour, open-heart surgery on September 30, 2008. Tomorrow was to be the …Read More

Spread Your Wings… But Don’t Fly Too Far

August 17, 2012 Education, Kelley, older child adoption, public school 2 Comments

On Monday, Caroline (our adopted 13-year-old) will experience her first day of middle school. While she’s admitted to being nervous once before, she now seems confident and ready. She’s decorated her locker, memorized her schedule, and organized her school supplies. We’re fortunate to be carpooling with another family (who incidentally has an adopted daughter Caroline’s …Read More

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