Family Stories

At No Hands But Ours, we love family stories. Since our inception in 2008, we’ve featured a wide variety of family stories – and we continue to add new stories regularly. Please use the links in the right sidebar to click through to stories on specific special needs, or you can scroll down this main page to read all our family stories.

If you are home with your child from China, and would like to have your family story featured here, just use this form to let us know.


The Unlikeliest Gift

December 22, 2018 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

As I sit down and reflect on all the gifts that my Lord has bestowed upon my family and I, there are too many to count. Yet I know that, on so many days, I forget. My mind soars in other directions and I lose sight of these gifts. Or perhaps… as I have realized with our most recent adoption.. sometimes His gift is not one that I first viewed as a gift. It was hidden.

But after pushing back lies, refocusing my eyes on things eternal, I see it.

The gift.

We have adopted two beautiful daughters from China. Our first adoption in 2016 and our second adoption just a few months ago in August. Both of these adoptions I can without a doubt say were a gift to our family.

How has adoption been a gift to our family? The ways are too many to count. But today, I want to highlight a gift that may not be so obvious. A gift from adoption that, if I am being completely honest, is sometimes hard to see as a gift.

The gift of the unknown.

When you start your adoption journey, you may think you know how it will all play out. You envision and pray for your child, and you plan every detail in your mind. But then, as one step leads to another, you start to realize the lack of control you have in this crazy process. You quickly realize it has nothing to do with you or your plan.

But one foot in front of the other – you press on – trusting that the fire that sparked you to first say Yes will continue to blaze. Even when the days seem dark and the day you finally meet your child seems too very far away.

It seems so unknown.

And then your day finally comes… the day you have dreamed of. When you finally get to hold your child. The details of this day are so unique for each family, and so unknown.

Will my child cling to me?
Will she smile?
Will my child shut down in silence?
Will he scream in fear?
Will my child who I have stared at for so long be what I envisioned them to be?
Will she love me?

Unknown. Every detail so unknown until the veil is pulled back and this picture you have been staring at comes alive right before your eyes.

This past August, we adopted our second daughter, Charli Ying. The days leading up to her joining our family were again filled with unknowns. In August, my mother-in-law and I boarded the plane and headed to China to bring our Charli home. This time was very different than our first adoption. The “transition” was very smooth and full of peace and joy. I slowly got to know Charli and reveled in the softness and gentleness that her personality revealed.

But this time, as the days went on in China… my mind began to race more and more. Quite honestly, I was very scared of her health and what all was exactly going on. I just wanted to get her home. I wanted to get her to a doctor and I wanted answers. I told myself that I was going to be OK with whatever the answers were, but I wanted her home and I wanted answers so we could have a plan.

We had a beautiful two weeks in China but I was so glad to be home. We found ourselves in the cardiologist office less than 24 hours and received the best news we could have. Her heart had been repaired beautifully in China and it was strong. Thank you, Jesus.

I remember the relief of that washed over me as I heard the news. I like to go back and remember this day. A day of victory for Charli. You see, her fight didn’t end in that cardiologist’s office. And it is still not over yet. She has a lot of fighting still left to do. The outcomes of this fight – the exact days we will see victories, or when we will see setbacks – are unknown.

So how is a world of unknowns a gift? How is each diagnosis or each appointment that goes by where I hear the words “we just don’t know yet”… how is that a gift?

Because no matter how unknown this world is to us, it is known to Him. He knows every detail. There are no surprises to Him. He knows. He is our constant that doesn’t change.

So these unknowns, though many days may leave me in tears, really should be pushing my eyes back to the Lord. Because I have no other guarantee but Him.

So when I get frustrated that I can’t get answers, when I feel defeated that no one seems to know exactly what the future holds… a gentle voice reminds me to let go. I may not be able to fix everything. I may not get the exact answers I want. I may not get any answers. But one thing remains the same: these unknowns are known to Him. So may I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. May my hope not be in any physician, or any medication. May my hope be Christ Jesus alone.

So where is your Hope? And what will you do with these days we have been given here on earth? If tomorrow is no guarantee, if life for all of us, is really a world of unknowns, what are you going to do with those unknowns?

This Christmas, I am thankful for the gift of unknowns. May this road of uncertainty draw me closer to the Lord than I could ever imagine.

And, though so many answers to questions I have are unknown, I do know one thing. Charli is loved. That is one thing I can promise her. I can promise her my love. And – more than that – I can promise her that she was fearfully and wonderfully made perfect by a God who loves her more than I will ever be able to.

Thank you Lord for this hidden gift. The one tucked back behind the Christmas tree, not visible to all. May this little hidden gift light a fire in my heart for You.

And may it burn so brightly that all the world will see the goodness of Your love.

– guest post by Ashley: email || blog

A Shining Light: Adopting a Child who is Blind

December 17, 2018 by nohandsbutours 0 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 thought a child who could not see would be very difficult to raise. But over the past two years we have found quite the opposite is true.

From the very first day we met our seven year old son in the capital of his province in China, he engaged us with a gentle hug to get a “feel” for us. We brought him a light up car and he loved getting it so close to his eyes so he could see the light. His orphanage had prepared him well for his new family, and he was happy to go with us. He immediately began learning English. I would count the steps as I held his hand and we went up or down.

Within a few days, he was counting with me. We listened to music and he would dance and begin to sing the English words. He learned English at lightning speed and refused to even listen to anything in Mandarin because he wanted to learn to communicate with us. Since learning English, he has talked non-stop. He is curious to learn about everything around him and how it works. He has such a creative mind and wants to be an inventor one day!

While in China, we were able to go back to his orphanage to say good bye. He was able to say good bye to his best friend. Earlier this year we were able to visit his friend who was adopted by a family here in the US. It was a sweet reunion!

The first weeks home were wonderful and tiring all at the same time, as he transitioned into our family and we were all exhausted from jetlag. We were prepared for the transition to be difficult, but he fit right into our family from day one! I was able to stay home with him for several weeks and we spent lots of time bonding over Christmas music, baking cookies, and playing toys.

After about six weeks home, with some trepidation on my part, he went to his first day at school. Our area has one of the absolute best programs for the visually impaired and he began to learn Braille and orientation and mobility skills immediately. This has been amazing for him and he is picking up on both Braille and cane skills quickly. Learning to read and get around independently has opened up a whole new world for our son and he has flourished in his new independence.

I am thankful every day for his wonderful vision team who loves him and pushes him to do everything to the best of his ability. They set high standards and he works hard every day to reach those goals. He doesn’t love school (because he would rather be home with mom), but he goes every day and puts in his best effort. In just two years, he has almost caught up to his third grade level in all areas.

Many people are concerned about how a child who is blind can keep up the pace with others in the same class. We have learned about so much new technology for those who are blind. Our son is learning to use refreshable Braille, which connects to a tablet and he can read what is on the internet. There is audio description for movies and voice over on many devices. The possibilities are endless, and it helps that our son loves technology of any sort!

We know that adoption is not always easy, but the adoption of our son has been nothing short of beautiful. We have worked through some difficult days, including sensory issues and overwhelming feelings at times, but most days with our son are wonderful. We sometimes even forget he is blind. He is a normal boy who loves to ride his bike, ride his scooter, and ride horses all at a fast speed!

He loves to climb up high on the playground equipment and swing as high as he can. He loves to play video games and we often hear him laughing as he plays. He loves Christmas more than anyone I know. He loves the lights, the music, and especially the gifts. His favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone 2, and hearing him laugh while watching it will undoubtedly light up your day.

Our son is light and joy to anyone who meets him and gives smiles that will melt your heart. He is happy, smart and funny. He is generous and kind to others. He has a heart that is filled with joy, despite his circumstances. He is definitely a treasure and we feel so blessed to call him son.

I often look at the faces of other kids who are waiting for families and wonder what other treasures are just waiting to be found. Children with visual impairments or who are blind are often overlooked because of the stigma of blindness.

Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from stepping out. Our lives and the lives of those around us have been changed by adopting this precious little boy, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

– guest post by Jenna

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