The Sky is the Limit

July 26, 2019 BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing loss, July 2019 Feature - Craniofacial, microtia, older child adoption, Sensory System 0 Comments

Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to someday get married and to be a mom. I dreamed of having children born from my womb and children born from my heart. After college, I met the man of my dreams and we married in March 2006. A year and half …Read More

A Shining Light: Adopting a Child who is Blind

December 17, 2018 congenital blindness, Family Stories, older child adoption, Sensory System, vision loss 1 Comments

Many people associate blindness with sadness, darkness and inability. But our experience with this need has been the opposite. Adopting our sweet boy who is legally blind has brought our lives so much joy, light and recognition of his amazing abilities. We did not set out to adopt a child who is blind. We sincerely …Read More

Adopting a Deaf Child: The Special Need That Took a New Shape

December 11, 2018 ASL, cochlear implants, December 2018 Feature - Sensory, hearing loss, profound deafness, Sensory System, speech delay 2 Comments

Our story begins when I was in middle school and took a basic sign language class. I loved this manual language, and it’s amazing how the signs stuck with me for the next 25 years. But my husband was the first one of the two of us who had a heart for adoption. Between us, …Read More

Life Isn’t Fair: Parenting Children with Multiple Special Needs

October 29, 2018 adopting later in life, adopting two at once, autism, cochlear implants, developmental delays, Developmental System, epilepsy, hearing loss, large families, October 2018 Feature - Developmental, Sensory Processing Issues, Sensory System, undiagnosed SN, virtual twins 6 Comments

I don’t remember the exact moment when adoption was put on my heart and in my mind. But, I do remember it was all consuming. I tried to get away from it. But, I couldn’t. It was there and it wouldn’t go away. It was 2015. By early 2016 I finally worked the nerve up …Read More

Please Just Be My Sunshine Today: Down Syndrome Adoption and the Attachment Dance

October 25, 2018 Attachment, attachment challenges, congenital blindness, developmental delays, Developmental System, disruption, Down syndrome, Family Stories, October 2018 Feature - Developmental, parent-to-child attachment, profound deafness, rejects mom, TBRI-based therapy, therapy, Trust Based Parenting, undiagnosed SN 2 Comments

The first photo I ever saw of Winnie was so ridiculously cute. She is dressed from head to toe in a hot pink puffy coat with matching pants and black boots. Her edibly adorable face was framed by such a tragically terrible haircut that made me laugh and cry at the same time. She and …Read More

When Fear Turns To Joy

October 23, 2018 22qdeletion syndrome, adopting a boy, adopting again, cognitive delay, developmental delays, Developmental System, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, IEP, older child adoption, speech delay, Tetralogy of Fallot 1 Comments

I remember sitting there staring. Staring at the notes that I had just scribbled down. My mind was racing and yet it was paralyzed. I had just gotten off the phone with the cardiologist who reviewed the file of a girl that my husband, Dan, and I had requested him to review. I was expecting …Read More

More Than I Could See: Adopting a Non-Verbal Child

September 22, 2018 Developmental System, Family Stories, hearing loss, non-verbal, older child adoption, profound deafness, Sensory System 1 Comments

It was sentiment we shared for 15 months: we were way in over our heads with this adoption. We had said “yes” to a seven and a half year old daughter who was deaf and had never received the gift of language. There were no schools available to teach her in her province. Consequently, she …Read More

Meeting Our Girl With Special Eyes: Part 2

May 3, 2018 attachment activities, China trip, congenital blindness, Family Stories, Gotcha Day, micropthalmia, older child adoption, Sensory System, sign language, vision issues, vision loss 5 Comments

In July of 2017, my husband and I adopted a 7 year old girl with micropthalmia. She was born blind. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about what it was like to meet Lydia as well as some of the activities we discovered to help with early bonding. Here is more of our …Read More

Meeting Our Girl With Special Eyes: Part 1

April 19, 2018 attachment activities, congenital blindness, Family Stories, Gotcha Day, micropthalmia, older child adoption, Sensory System, vision issues, vision loss 1 Comments

Lydia is our first adopted child. She is our first girl, and we had never before parented a seven year old. We didn’t have any experience working with visually impaired or even special needs children. We never dreamed we would have a child who was blind. But our hearts changed after learning about this precious, …Read More

Say What? – Six Months Later

April 9, 2018 apraxia of speech, Brandie, early intervention, Education, hearing aids, hearing loss, sign language, speech delay, speech therapy, undiagnosed SN, velopharyngeal Insufficiency 1 Comments

Six months ago, I shared about our journey with Caston through his surprise diagnosis of hearing loss and severe speech delay. Six months! Half of a year. It seems like just yesterday that I sat down to write about our experience. Since then, I’ve seen so many parents with questions and concerns relating to speech …Read More

Four Little Heartbeats

February 6, 2018 adopting again, amniotic band syndrome, complex heart defects, developmental delays, February 2018 Feature - Heart, Heart System, Orthopedic, profound deafness, Sensory System, toddler adoption, virtual twins 5 Comments

I’m a mama to four heart babies. And this is our story of becoming a family… our story of going from no children to four children in 15 months. This is our crazy, wonderful life. It was a big day. It was the day my husband messaged me at work and told me that he …Read More

Adopting a Deaf Child: What We’ve Learned So Far

December 2, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting again, ASL, cochlear implants, cued speech, December 2017 Feature - Sensory, hearing aids, hearing loss, profound deafness, Sensory System 6 Comments

We entered the deaf/hoh (hard of hearing) world three years ago when we adopted our first son. He was five years old with severe to profound hearing loss. His file stated that he was hard of hearing but could hear and talk with hearing aids. No big deal, we thought! If he can hear and …Read More

Our Leap of Faith: Adopting Our Son With Bilateral Microtia and Atresia

December 1, 2017 adopting a boy, ASL, BAHA, December 2017 Feature - Sensory, early intervention, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, microtia, Ponto, Sensory System, sign language, speech therapy 0 Comments

About five years ago, my husband and I began considering international adoption. We had two biological daughters, yet we both started feeling like our family wasn’t complete. During that time we researched many countries and decided China’s program would be the best fit for our family. However, the process was daunting and there was still …Read More

Amazing Grace: Was Blind, But Now We See

November 11, 2017 adopting a boy, cataracts, China trip, congenital blindness, cytomegalovirus, IEP, nystagmus, Sensory System, strabismus, vision issues, vision loss 3 Comments

Blind. I immediately recoiled. We had checked a lot of things on our medical conditions checklist, and I remember vision being one of them, but blind? How could we deal with that? I studied art history and archaeology in college, and work in a very visual field. How could I share the most important and …Read More

Say What?

October 9, 2017 attachment activities, Brandie, early intervention, Education, first weeks home, first year home, hearing aids, hearing loss, Newly Home, sign language, speech delay, speech therapy, undiagnosed SN, velopharyngeal Insufficiency 0 Comments

“I don’t get it,” I said to my friend several years ago when she mentioned she was having her toddler evaluated by an early intervention team to assess his speech. “He’s not even two. He’s a late bloomer!” I assured her. I went on with anecdotes about our first born, now 15, who at two …Read More

Seeing Things Differently

September 9, 2017 BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing loss, limb difference, microtia, Orthopedic, Sensory System, September 2017 Feature - Visible Special Needs, visible special need 0 Comments

Recently someone reached out to ask what I would tell a group of Boy Scouts if I could speak to them as a special needs mom. This friend, who works everyday as a speech therapist, had been invited to speak to a local Boy Scout troop about interacting with children with special needs. Upon reading …Read More

Attachment Q & A: Eye Contact and Attachment

August 31, 2017 attachment activities, attachment challenges, August 2017 Feature - Attachment Q & A, congenital blindness, Katie, Sensory System, vision issues, vision loss 3 Comments

Attachment. Not much more could not be packed into one single word, especially in the adoption world. We spent all of July focusing on this most-important topic and decided to continue into August – but with a bit of a twist. This month, we’re answering your attachment questions. Because we all have them – we …Read More

Please Don’t Poke the Bear

July 23, 2017 adopting as first time parents, BAHA, Craniofacial, declining a referral, Family Stories, hearing loss, hemifacial microsomia, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, medical needs checklist, microtia, referral, speech therapy, waiting for referral 1 Comments

I call my daughter baby bear. For my first Mother’s Day, my husband presented us with matching mama bear/baby bear bracelets. SJ saw them and exclaimed: “SJ. Mama. Same!” Though I’ve never considered myself a shrinking violet by any means, this process, this crazy-beautiful, seemingly impossible way of becoming parents, has seemed to draw out …Read More

Cool Hats and Shaggy Haircuts: Adopting a Child with Microtia

July 18, 2017 adopting a boy, BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing loss, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, medical needs checklist, microtia, Sensory System, visible special need 2 Comments

(Let me start by saying I are so far from an expert on the topic of microtia and atresia. Just know that I am a loving mother with a son who happens to have this special bonus feature, not an ENT doctor.) When my husband and I filled out a medical checklist in February of …Read More

Hearing Loss: An Almost-Missed Diagnosis

June 5, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting again, Brandie, hearing aids, hearing loss, undiagnosed SN, waiting for referral 4 Comments

In late August 2014, I loaded up my three children and drove an hour to hand deliver our completed dossier to my adoption agency. After the months of meetings, paper chasing, notarizing, and certifying documents, I would only let those precious papers leave the firm grip of my fingers if they were placed directly in …Read More

Weathering Medical Surprises

May 9, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting again, Brandie, hearing aids, hearing loss, heart defect, oral aversion, Sensory Processing Issues, speech delay, undiagnosed SN, VSD 2 Comments

At the first sign of a chilly night in the fall, my husband and daughter take tarps to their little garden to cover her cherished tomato plants, hoping to buy them a little more time before the cold winter claims them. Around the same time, my husband and son begin the preparation for winter. They …Read More

The Little Girl No One Believed In

April 17, 2017 April 2017 Feature - CNS, Central Nervous System, cerebral palsy, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy 3 Comments

I didn’t set out on this journey to become the parent of multiple children with special needs. It’s a funny thing, though, to see a dream evolve. As a young girl, I learned of the gender disparity in China and the preference for sons. In that moment, the seeds were planted in my heart and …Read More

The Miracle of a Familiar Face

December 19, 2016 congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, infertility, micropthalmia, Sensory System 0 Comments

When we began this journey seeking to add another child to our family, I could never have dreamed where God would lead us. I struggled through nine years of heart wrenching infertility wondering why God had not answered my prayers for another child. I simply did not realize that God had a much bigger plan …Read More

Just an Inconvenience

December 15, 2016 congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, older child adoption, Sensory System 4 Comments

J: “Mom, we did four mile repeats today! I ran them all about 6:20.” Me: “Well, can I expect to see a 21 minute 5K on your next race?” J: “Mom, we got to rest five minutes between repeats. You know a race isn’t like that. Oh, and my agricultural instructor wants me to talk …Read More

Research, Reach Out, Advocate: Adopting a Child with Dual-Sensory Loss

December 13, 2016 December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, glaucoma, hearing aids, hearing loss, IEP, public school, Sensory System, vision loss 3 Comments

Princess. Uniquely and wonderfully made. Perfect. One of a kind. (Actually, 1 of 347 in our state and 9,574 in the U.S.*) All words to describe our daughter Lily who joined our family in January of 2013. Her file stated bilateral congenital glaucoma. Fast forward three years… and she is legally blind, wears a sclera …Read More

Love Beyond Sight

December 6, 2016 cataracts, congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, first year home, hypoplasia, medical needs checklist, micropthalmia, Newly Home, prosthetic eye, referral, Sensory System, vision loss 1 Comments

I have always been a planner, always been cautious. I had even been planning this adoption since I was 12! What I hadn’t planned was that China would become a special needs adoption program by the time my husband and I were able to adopt. It was daunting looking over the Medical Checklist. I could …Read More

Then and Now: Deklan

December 3, 2016 adopting a boy, Attachment, attachment activities, attachment challenges, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now, profound deafness, rejects mom 14 Comments

I find myself consistently caught in the deceptive trap of a compare and contrast representation of the last 345 days. Through the lens of retrospection, milestones can be simple to compartmentalize. I quickly disregard the messy tentacles that stretch from each “attained” behavior and stamp it “victorious”. I am learning that adoption carries an oceanic …Read More

Reach for the Stars: Adopting a Child with Vision Impairment

December 1, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, nystagmus, older child adoption, opaque cornea, public school, Sensory System, TVI, vision issues, vision loss 0 Comments

It was the second time in his life to ride on an airplane. The first time was only ten months ago when he traveled the 16 hour flight from China to America. On that first flight he was a scared, angry little fighter whose only concern was protecting himself. Now he was a happy, calm …Read More

Then and Now: Hannah

November 28, 2016 November 2016 Feature - Then and Now, Sensory System, vision issues 1 Comments

November is Adoption Awareness Month. And our focus is Then and Now… glimpses into the lives of children – children who were once orphaned – who are now beloved family members. Daughters, sons, sisters and brothers who are now blossoming in the love of a forever family… ……….. On Sunday morning, February 28, we headed …Read More

His Real Special Need

November 22, 2016 adopting a boy, micropenis, November 2016 Feature - Urogenital, strabismus, Urogenital System, vision issues 0 Comments

Our adoption story started much like everyone’s adoption story… my husband Mark and I decided to grow our family by adopting a baby from China. Our log in year was 2007, just before the Beijing Olympics and a few months before the Hague initiative. We were originally told our adoption would take approximately eighteen months …Read More

Leaps of Faith: Adopting a Child with Micropthalmia

October 27, 2016 Chiari 1 malformation, Developmental System, medical needs checklist, micropthalmia, October 2016 Feature - Developmental, prosthetic eye, referral, Sensory System, vision loss 4 Comments

No two families start exactly the same. In some sense, every decision to have children involves a leap of faith. Nothing in this world is a guarantee; as plenty of parents have learned, there is much that can go wrong during a baby’s formative nine months in the womb and truly, through their entire lives, …Read More

When Mom Works: Infinitely Better Off

October 16, 2016 congenital blindness, Education, non-verbal, October 2016 Feature - Working Moms, orphanage realities, pre-school, Sensory System, vision loss, working mom 1 Comments

Navigating work and being a mom is tough under the best of circumstances, but it can feel even more daunting when you toss in the complex issues that accompany parenting your newly adopted child. So this month on No Hands But Ours, some been-there-done-that working mamas are here to help, with advice on everything from …Read More

Not Really a Special Need: Adopting a Child with Albinism

September 26, 2016 adopting a boy, albinism, Family Stories, nystagmus, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions, TVI, vision issues 1 Comments

No Hands But Ours is focusing on skin conditions this month. My son has albinism, but I hesitated to write our story. Heck, our dermatologist has discharged us. If my son ever has a suspicious mole or a serious burn, we’ll go back. Otherwise, I am capable of – the dermatologist pointed out – totally …Read More

Our Fair-Haired Hero: Adopting a Child with Albinism

September 17, 2016 albinism, Education, Family Stories, older child adoption, public school, September 2016 Feature - Skin Conditions, Skin Conditions, TVI, vision issues 3 Comments

Her name was spoken to us before we even knew who she was…. We had adopted from China in 2011 and just started the process to adopt again. One night I let myself start thinking about names for our new little one and after spending more time than I care to admit looking at baby …Read More

When God Honors Our “Yes”: Our Sign Language Journey, Part Two

August 21, 2016 ASL, Attachment, August 2016 Feature - SIgn Language and Adoption, BAHA, cl/cp, cochlear implants, hearing loss, profound deafness, Sensory System, sign language 4 Comments

In Part one I described how the adoption of our daughter, Ava, born with cleft lip and palate and deafness, set us on a journey to become skilled in sign language. Our desire to support her ability to communicate with others led us on a roller-coaster of experiences and emotions, which culminated in our decision …Read More

When God Honors Our “Yes”: Our Sign Language Journey, Part One

August 10, 2016 adopting as first time parents, ASL, Attachment, August 2016 Feature - SIgn Language and Adoption, cl/cp, cochlear implants, Craniofacial, developmental delays, Family Stories, hearing loss, older child adoption, profound deafness, Sensory System, sign language 10 Comments

In May 2009, I first saw her face. She couldn’t possibly be our daughter; she didn’t “fit” any of the criteria we’d committed to on our Medical Needs Checklist and there was no way my husband would agree to adopting her. True, we’d agreed that caring for a child with cleft lip/palate was something we …Read More

Pondering the “What-Ifs”

July 21, 2016 coloboma, developmental delays, Developmental System, Family Stories, micropthalmia, prosthetic eye, Sensory System, siblings, vision loss 10 Comments

I remember reading all the recommended adoption books, watching all the training videos, stalking all the mom blogs, and talking to other adoptive moms during the time leading up to our own adoption. I got myself familiar with so many new terms and tried to educate myself on any possibility of trouble our future daughter …Read More

A Little Piece of a Big Plan

July 16, 2016 adopting a boy, BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, July 2016 Feature - Craniofacial, microtia, older child adoption, Ponto, Sensory System 0 Comments

“I just spoke to the director. He will call me when they’re about five minutes away.” It’s almost time. My heart is almost uncontainable. Everything. All of this. It’s about to happen. So many months, years, planning for this moment… Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, being a part of and seeing just a tiny …Read More

Sign Language and Adoption: A Reason to Sign

June 2, 2016 ASL, Attachment, attachment activities, August 2016 Feature - SIgn Language and Adoption, autism, China trip, Down syndrome, hearing loss, non-verbal, prepping for China, profound deafness, speech delay 7 Comments

When adopting internationally, almost every waiting parent worries, “How will I communicate with my new child?” Whether your new child is a year old or thirteen years old, if your child was not born in an English-speaking country, there will be some type of language barrier. This is even more true if you are adopting …Read More

Lifers

April 19, 2016 adoption realities, congenital blindness, Katie, Sensory System, vision loss 5 Comments

I was once afraid of what my reality has become. I hear it voiced in so many others taking the risk of adopting a child with possible cognitive delays. What if this child can never live independently? What if they need to live with me for the rest of my life? What if their need …Read More

A Tribute to Primrose

February 25, 2016 adoption realities, first weeks home, glaucoma, Newly Home, Sensory System, vision issues, vision loss 4 Comments

Eryn is married to Chris and they have two bio kids – Madelyn and River – in addition to their new daughter, Primrose, who just came home from China. This was Eryn’s tribute to adoption on Primrose’s 2nd birthday. ………. These are mama eyes that only shut for 4 hours last night. And hands that …Read More

Victories from the Valley: An Unexpected Journey in Adopting a Child with NF1

February 18, 2016 adoption realities, cocooning, Family Stories, first weeks home, glaucoma, neurofibromatosis, NF1, older child adoption, parent-to-child attachment 2 Comments

We had been home from China with our first daughter almost five months when we saw her picture: a sweet face with a deep downcast shown in her eyes. She was six years old. Her file had been passed over by a few families already because of the uncertainties of her medical condition. One eye …Read More

Undiagnosed Hearing Loss: Wisdom from the Journey

January 28, 2016 BAHA, Education, Family Stories, hearing aids, hearing loss, Nager Syndrome, speech therapy, undiagnosed SN 1 Comments

We always knew there were unknowns, as all adoptive parents do. But the moment we saw their faces we knew they were ours. This is important to always remember. Most of us who adopt realize that the medical records we receive are not always accurate or trustworthy. But sometimes, you just don’t know the right …Read More

Worth It

January 13, 2016 brain damage syndrome, Developmental System, estropia, Family Stories, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, low muscle tone, oral-motor delays, speech delay 2 Comments

The words in Miao’s file were daunting. “Soften lesion of posterior horn” and “softening of bilateral ventricle” and “HIE”. I wasn’t sure how to pronounce them, let alone what they meant. And my trusty sidekick, Google, was having trouble explaining them as well.   I had come across a picture and short description of Miao …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

Adopting a Child with “Low Vision”

December 31, 2015 albinism, December 2015 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, nystagmus, Sensory System, Skin Conditions, vision issues 4 Comments

For 2015 the NHBO team set a goal to focus on all eleven special needs systems, featuring a different system each month. We wanted to not only spotlight the needs within that system, but simultaneously grow the content here on No Hands But Ours. And with the help of the amazing adoption community, we succeeded. …Read More

Love is a Universal Language

December 27, 2015 ASL, cochlear implants, December 2015 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, hearing loss, Sensory System 0 Comments

Like nearly every adoptive parent in today’s international adoption realm, my husband and I began our adoption process with the (dreaded) Medical Conditions Checklist – a list of conditions that we felt prepared for and would be willing to review files for. Birthmarks, check. Missing digits, check. Sensory processing needs, check. As an autism specialist, …Read More

Hearing Zachary

December 22, 2015 December 2015 Feature - Sensory, hearing aids, hearing loss, Sensory System 1 Comments

Continuing to focus on sensory special needs, we have a special guest contributor. Sister to regular contributor Katie, Emily adopted a son from the Philippines, and today shares her story of discovering his undiagnosed need of hearing impairment. ………. I will never forget the moment I first saw his picture. We had no intention of …Read More

Blind

December 10, 2015 congenital blindness, December 2015 Feature - Sensory, Katie, Sensory System, septo optic dysplasia, vision loss 10 Comments

Fear. I can see it in the eyes of everyone who asks the question, “Can they see anything?” Then I see the frozen look of shock when I say, “Nope, not a thing, and they never will.” I see the hundred questions that they are afraid to ask. Ten months ago I did something everyone …Read More

New Ears For Ellie Kate

December 1, 2015 ASL, attachment activities, cochlear implants, December 2015 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, hearing loss, profound deafness, sedated ABR, Sensory System 0 Comments

When we started the adoption process for the second time, we knew things would look differently. Adopting a child through the Special Needs program in China was a huge step of faith for us and we had no idea what the next few months or even years would look for our family. While we were …Read More

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