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.



October 20, 2008 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

by Lisa, mom to Grace from China who is HepB+

My goodness. Where to begin. My husband and I were perfectly content with our life and the way our average sized family filled out our average sized home and average sized vehicle….life was sort of just bouncing along and then, there in my contented state, my lulled, rather stagnant state, I began to hear the voice of God whispering to my heart…niggling away at my content and making me question.

My good friend had adopted from China recently and after hearing about the plight of so many orphans in the world, I wondered how I could sit here, in my comfy house, in my comfy life, and ignore what was going on with all these little children. It was hard for me to discern whether God just wanted to pull me out of my bubble and open up my eyes to the needs of His children, or if He was actually pulling me all the way to an orphanage in China to bring one of those children home to be my child. Eventually, both my husband and I became convinced that God had a daughter for us in China. But which one? I felt that He was especially pulling my heart to the little ones with special needs.

I am not a person comfortable or familiar with special needs. I generally am a scaredy-cat and like things to be tidy, and neat, and clean and pretty. I don’t venture too far out of my comfort zone too often. But the idea that so many people would be drawn to the healthy, tiny babies, leaving so many sweet ones overlooked because of supposed imperfections or illnesses absolutely broke my heart. I thought about how it must feel for the older children to see the babies leave time and again, while they remained. I thought about how each time they got gussied up to take a picture, how they must have wondered about the families that would see that picture and hoped for just one to choose them. I thought about my own three, healthy biological kids and how God had blessed our family with so much. We had an abundance of everything in comparison to these special needs orphans, and because of my husband’s military service, we would have health care to cover whatever medical needs they would have. It was never a question for me or for John whether we would go the special needs route…we knew that without a doubt, we would. And I must confess that I felt a certain comfort in getting to see the children’s file and put a face to the file’s information. John felt at the time that he would recognize his daughter when he saw her, and as it turned out, that is how it happened. I had shown him many little children’s files and he would always say, “Nope. She’s beautiful. Looks sweet. But she’s not our daughter.” I don’t know how he had that assurance. I could have brought so many different children home…but when he saw Gracie’s picture, he knew. He just said, “That’s her. That’s our baby.” Maybe that seems ridiculous or shallow to some people, but to John, he had to feel that connection. Hear that assurance from God that this was his daughter.

Gracie’s special need was Hepatitis B. This was something that we felt entirely comfortable with. We had marked on our agency’s special needs checklist what we considered pretty minor special needs. My girlfriend teases me that we were only interested in the “invisible special needs”, or the ones that would be easily corrected. The thing I am learning is that what is “invisible” or “easily corrected” is all relative. Cleft Lip and Palate seemed far too complicated for our family…hearing or vision impairment implied to us that the child would need stability and a military family is anything but stable…we are constantly on the move….so I wrote down that we were open to needs like “Missing fingers or toes”, “heart defects”, “Hepatitis B”, birthmarks…things that most Americans wouldn’t even consider special needs. Once we delved into the process, I started to realize that the very needs that I felt were too complicated didn’t frighten other families at all, although a child would hepatitis B was really a scary prospect for them. It’s amazing to me the way God pulls us each to our child so perfectly.

Since we’ve come home, we’ve discovered that Gracie’s special needs didn’t stop at Hep B. In fact, of all her issues, Hep B has affected our life the least. We visit her Pediatric Hepatologist twice a year for tests to monitor her liver health, but she is healthy, healthy, healthy now. He feels confident that eventually, kids like Grace will be able to be treated successfully and clear the virus. Only one in four kids with her condition actually ever require treatment, so we’re hoping that she is one of the three that don’t. Many parents are very secretive about Hep B and not sharing their child’s condition with anyone…we’ve never felt comfortable with that kind of secrecy. I felt that the very reason there was so much fear associated with Hep B was due to misinformation and people not being willing to share about the condition. We’ve never been met with any sort of hostility or isolation toward Gracie or our family and everyone in our community has been incredibly supportive and the compassion and love poured out on Gracie so abundant. We always share with her caregivers, schools, our church, or friends who have close contact with Gracie about her Hep B status and it has really been a non-issue for us. Because so many people are vaccinated against it, no one is in real danger of contracting it, but we’ve felt that it was only kind to inform people so that they would take that extra step to use the universal precautions that all of us should be using anyway. We have found that educating others about Hep B has taken fear out of the equation and if anything, raised awareness about the need for a cure.

Doctors discovered in the tests that followed her arrival home that Gracie also has a couple blood disorders that she probably inherited from her mother…G6PD Deficiency and a Platelet disorder that makes it hard for her blood to clot. Neither of them is serious, but they can be inconvenient since it means she has frequent nose bleeds and we have to be careful about what medications she takes. She also has to wear braces on her feet, and that might last a long, long time. She’s in speech therapy, and that will probably not last that long at all. I have to say that by the time we found out about these different issues, we were so in love with Grace that none of them mattered to us, and even if we had known about them, we would never have hesitated to adopt her. Any child we would be blessed to raise comes with a whole host of unknowns…they may be healthy today, but what about tomorrow? They each have their own little list of surprises. And Gracie’s sweet, loving, and hilarious personality has added so much joy and life to our home…we cannot imagine life without her.

I hope that our story will only encourage others to pursue special needs adoption. We don’t see Gracie as our daughter with special needs or our daughter from China or our adopted daughter. She is simply our Grace, whom we love more than we can say.


October 20, 2008 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

by Samantha, mom to Nicholas from China with cleft lip and cleft palate

My son Nicholas is 3 and we adopted him from China at 22 months old. He has a cleft lip and cleft palate. When he was 5 months old, he was transferred from Tianjin SWI to Langfang Children’s Village, part of the Phillip Hayden Institute — a wonderful place which very sadly has been shut down by the Chinese government (probably due to politics surrounding the Olympics).

My dh and I started the adoption process with a NSN baby girl in mind in July 2005. We are one of those families that ended up adopting a SN child mostly because the wait got SO long for healthy baby girls. Actually, a SN was always fine with us, but we had hesitations about adopting an older child and about adopting a boy. We had always pictured bringing home our baby girl from China, and it took us a while to get our minds and hearts around the idea of a different child. During the long wait for our adoption to go through, we named our baby girl Ellie and decorated her room. We told our dd (not adopted) about her and she was very excited about having a baby sister. It was very hard to let go of this dream.

Then God stepped in! Like you say, our dreams and plans are certainly not supreme and I know that for sure now. I was reading my DTC Yahoo bulletin board when I came across someone talking about Small World’s waiting child list and included a link to their website. I don’t know why I looked — we already had an agency and a plan. But I looked at the list and immediately saw my son. He was named Nicholas — that caught my eye because it was the name my dh and I had always planned to name a son one day. He was so beautiful and I felt a pull to him right away. Then, I noticed his birthday — it was the due date of a baby I had lost to miscarriage. I really believe these were little things that God used to grab my attention; to tell me that this is my son.

Through a series of miracles, we were able to have Nicholas transferred from Small World to Holt International, where we had initially started the adoption process. In January 2007 we traveled to China to bring him home. We were blessed to be able to see his finding spot and meet the woman who found him. We also were able to spend a lot of time at his group foster home, talk to his ayis, and we even have pictures of him since he was 5 months old!

Nicholas’ needs have been mostly what we expected: he needs speech therapy and is in a SN preschool. He has dental issues and has had surgery to further repair his lip. He has had ear tubes placed twice. The biggest issues have stemmed from him being almost 2 when he was adopted, and he needed time to adjust and to bond to us. This took extra TLC, some time to learn trust, to learn how to sleep without worrying we would disappear, to learn how to obey the house rules. But these are all really minor issues in comparison to all we have gained. He is a joy to be around – a funny, bright, energetic. happy, spunky little boy! Thank God for him!

Since Nicholas’ adoption, we have been blessed with a surprise (!) pregnancy and birth of another son, and we are now starting the adoption process for Ellie, the little girl from China who I know is my daughter. We will be adopting with Small World — we had such a great experience with them as they selflessly and energetically helped us bring Nicholas home.

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