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“Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.”– Bethany Hamilton

Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. It’s a mouthful; most people shorten it to Arthrogryposis. Essentially, it means multiple joint contractures that affect two or more body areas. According to the Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center with the National Institutes of Health: “AMC is not a specific diagnosis, but rather a physical symptom that can be found in many different medical conditions. The signs and symptoms associated with AMC can, therefore, vary greatly in range and severity depending on the underlying condition.” This very basic clinical definition is pretty much all we could really get our heads around prior to bringing our daughter Sofia home from China eight months ago. The broad range of presentations for this condition and varied list of associated medical conditions was just too big to master.

We had limited medical information in her adoption file. Our plan was to just get her home and learn about her specific condition and unique needs from her medical team once here.

We were focused on one precious little girl with the sweetest little giggle and a mile-long ponytail. We had fallen in love with her when we met her on two previous adoption trips. She didn’t talk much when we met her in 2015 and again in 2016. She always stayed quietly nearby, sizing us up and occasionally dazzling us with the most brilliant smile.

She was typically on a wiggle cart (also called a plasma car), a little car that can be propelled forward when you rock side to side. We were told that she had difficulty self-propelling in a wheelchair due to weakness and limited mobility of her upper extremities. She appeared very independent and capable. Both of her legs were contracted and her knees were fixed in a bent position at about 90 degree angles.

We were told that she often expressed only one wish in life: to walk.

Once home, we took Sofia to the International Adoption Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia. We learned that the type of Arthrogryposis she has is called Amyoplasia. Amyoplasia is the most common form of Arthrogryposis and is characterized by a lack of muscle development at birth coupled with joint contractures and joint deformities.

At CHOP, Sofia trialed a really cool device called the WREX Arm. It’s an exoskeleton that supports her arm when she moves, thus improving her range of motion and functional ability. We also found out that she has really good hand position and functionality in both upper limbs. She can write, feed herself and manage many self care tasks that are difficult for others with AMC. Sofia would not need surgery on her upper extremities and could achieve improved functionality with therapy and adaptive equipment. This was great news.

Sofia was seen by PT, OT and the seating clinic at Shriners. They lent her a wheelchair that fit like a glove and we discovered that she could, in fact, self-propel with a well made, lightweight and custom fitted chair. We also met with her surgeon at Shriners to discuss options for her legs.

Sofia was ten years old at adoption. She was well beyond the age of serial casting. Her options were to leave her legs as is and utilize therapy modalities to gain maximum functional ability or explore surgical options. Surgical options were presented to us and we all agreed that we needed a few months to think it over. The process to straighten her legs was going to be a big undertaking and we needed to prepare. Most importantly, Sofia needed to make a choice for her life and her body and prepare to follow through. There was much to consider. Surgery would be painful. The process is lengthy. The team would focus on one leg at a time. Learning to walk would be difficult and preventing her legs from contracting again would be a life long endeavor.

My husband and I respect the fact that this is a huge commitment for our very little, very determined girl and we did not feel it appropriate to impose our will on her. Sofia would be the one to endure the procedures and the pain. Sofia would be the one to put in the hard work and Sofia would be the one to decide if surgery was right for her. It did not take long.

A few days after meeting all of Sofia’s doctors, she came downstairs early in the morning. She and I were the only ones awake. She lay her head in my lap and said, “What would you do if your only dream was to walk but you were scared?” I asked her what she was afraid of. She said she was afraid of pain and she felt like it was too much to think about; she didn’t realize there were so many steps to the process and she thought it would be easier. We discussed pain management and how we would make changes around the house and in her life to adapt to her needs. I promised we would support her and get whatever she needed to make the process manageable. I taught her about pain scales and how we medicate when pain is low to prevent it from getting high. She liked this concrete information.

Then, I asked her what was bigger, her fear or her dream? She contemplated the question for a while. A few silent tears fell. She wiped her tears away quickly and told me it was her dream that was bigger and she could conquer her fears. She decided to move forward with surgery.

A few months later we returned to Shriners for our follow up appointment and started working on her plan.

On April 29th Sofia had surgery to begin the process of straightening her left leg. Her surgeon at Shriners released her left knee contracture and applied an external fixator to her left leg. She stayed in the hospital for four days. At home, we clean the external fixator pin sites twice a day. We turn the screw on the fixator four times per day to straighten her leg slowly. Once straightened, the fixator will stay on her leg for a period to hold position and then it will be removed and a full leg cast will be applied and left on for about a month. After the cast is removed she will receive a leg brace for her left leg and we will begin the straightening process with her right leg.

Sofia is stoic and serious about her recovery. She wants to do everything right and she insists on performing as much of the care herself as possible. She can turn the screw and does meticulous pin care independently.

Some days are harder than others. Some days movement feels slow, legs get bumped and anxiety is high. On those days we repeat this conversation:

“Sofia, why are we doing this?”
“To make my dream to walk come true.”

“Does it hurt sometimes?”
“Yes.”

“Is it a little scary?”
“Yes.”

“Is it hard?”
Tears fall. Hers and mine. “Yes.”

“Are you doing it anyway?”
“Yes.”

“Sofia, you’re so brave.”

In eight months, this precious soul left everyone and everything she knew to call a loud, messy bunch of strangers her family. She trusted us to take care of her, help her, teach her and to get her what she needs to make her one and only dream in life come true. How huge is that?

Sofia has the heart of a warrior and we are deeply privileged to stand by and support her on her journey.

– guest post by Holly (emory.holly@gmail.com)

The post A Brave Girl With A Big Dream appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1w ago

Staring at the long list of special needs, trying to decide which boxes to check we were open to, seemed overwhelming.

Researching each medical condition was just as daunting. Did we check the right boxes? How can we “decide” which special need our child will have?

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) first seemed like a big scary word among many other medical conditions on the openness form for special needs adoption. When we first filled out the form, we checked “no” to arthrogryposis, meaning we were not open to a child with this medical condition. Clubfeet also received a “no” on our original form.

But now that form has long been shredded and recycled, the official form replaced with a big “YES!” Why the change, you might ask? We changed our answer because of a person. A very precious three year old who could not walk when we first saw his pictures and videos, but who I could tell was one of the most resilient people I had ever seen… and I couldn’t wait to make him our son.

/////

Rewind six years. When my husband and I were engaged, we decided we wanted adoption to be a part of our story. So we set up an adoption fund for our wedding; any monetary gifts would be set aside for a future adoption. My husband and I are both planners, so naturally we planned out our ideal future family. First, we would have biological children and figure out the whole parenting thing, and then adopt internationally. As the years went by and we couldn’t get pregnant, we decided to change our plans. God had humbled us. We could not plan out our ideal family. And, little did we know, our ideal fell way shorter than God’s marvelous plan for our family.

With the Lord’s guiding we chose to adopt from China and were ready to jump right in to the adoption process. But I was 29 years old…. so we had to wait again as China’s age requirement to adopt is 30. Time went by slowly, but we started the paperwork as my 30th birthday neared. During that time God spoke to my heart. “You are not surrendering to ME the openness form. Trust ME, I know who your child is.”

Almost overnight, my walls of uncertainty came down crashing as I saw my son for the first time on the waiting list. I was captivated by his video, how he was figuring out how to do things differently in spite of the challenges his body faced due to his medical condition. I could not describe the way I felt when I looked at him, day after day… I was drawn to him. I could clearly tell his condition was not one that we were “open” to.

But there were two things I knew: I loved this boy, and he was absolutely the most resilient child I had ever seen.

As days and weeks went by, joy flooded my heart and I began to hope. I prayed the same prayer day after day after day: “Lord, someway, somehow, allow us to adopt this precious boy.” My husband, you can about imagine, was in shock at my sudden heart change. One day I was hardly open to any special needs on the openness form, and the next day I wanted to adopt a boy with not one, but two moderate special needs. He was not ready to commit to adopting a child with arthrogryposis and clubfeet.

As I was quickly becoming defensive mother bear, my husband was weighing the costs of moving forward. We had to ask ourselves big questions if we adopted him: Will this boy who can’t walk at age three, be able to get up our stairs to use the bathroom or go to his room upstairs? Will we have to sell our house and move to a more accessible home? We are very active people, will our son ever ride a bike or play an instrument?

Over several grueling months of waiting, God united our hearts and we were ready to commit to adopting this precious boy, whatever future challenges would come our way.

But during the waiting, his file had been picked up by another adoption agency who was advocating for him and another family was considering adopting him. “Lord, what is happening? Why are you putting my heart through so much anguish?” I cried out to God and clung to His Word, especially Psalm 37: 5-6 “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the sun, and your justice as the noonday.” The Lord did act and brought about justice for this little orphan, and for my anguished heart. We were soon matched with our son and finished up paperwork to get to China as soon as possible.

In November 2018, we got on a plane to China to bring our precious son home. During our wait, he had received physical therapy in China and learned to walk. We chose the English name “Jadon” for him, because it means “God has heard” and “thankful.”

He bonded very easily with us and was clearly very well cared for at his orphanage. As soon as he was home he began physical and occupational therapy. We didn’t sell our house… he learned how to go up the stairs on his second day home. And within two months of being home he started riding a specialized bike. I cried when the therapist said we could take the bike home to keep.

Prayer after prayer had been answered. God had heard.

Jadon is not defined by AMC or clubfeet, but neither are we ashamed of his special needs. Our resilient boy continues to surprise us and others with the leaps and bounds he makes physically.

He brings joy to so many people, but none more than his parents. We are the ones who are blessed.

Blessed to have a son with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita and clubfeet.

Blessed to have a son who won’t give up and continues to prove his resiliency day by day.

– guest post by Angie

The post Our Plan vs. God’s Plan appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 2w ago

Kevin is a wonderful little boy, born in October of 2011. He likes playing on the slide, riding the wooden horse on the playground, and playing tag and other games with the other children.

He has normal gross motor skills and is independent in his care- eating with a spoon, washing hands after meals, going to the bathroom, etc. Kevin is attending school – as of our last report, he had been in kindergarten. In the morning, he can brush his teeth, wash his face, eat breakfast, and pack his bag himself. Kevin has learned a lot at school. He can say the names of daily used objects, knows differences in size, understands opposites, can recognize simple shapes, and can count from 1 to 20. He is getting a lot of practice with drawing and coloring as well.

Kevin is an active participant in class and is praised by his teachers. Kevin’s caretakers describe him as a lovely boy who is talkative, friendly, bright, and happy! He almost always has a smile on his face! Kevin is good at following instructions and likes to help do some housework that he is capable of doing. He gets along well with others and participates in dancing, singing, and poetry activities.

Kevin was diagnosed as having a lymph-vessel tumor- lymphatic malformation in the right maxillofacial region and is a Hepatitis B carrier (3/5 positives). He had right facial lymph-vessel deformity image-guided percutaneous sclerosis under general anesthesia in December of 2013, May of 2014, August of 2014, April of 2015, and November of 2015. He recovered well after each surgery. In May of 2016, he had right facial, tongue lymph-vessel deformity image-guided percutaneous sclerosis.

May 2019 written update:

  1. How is his mental ability compared to peers of the same age?
    It is similar to other kids of the same age.
  2. How does the special need affect his health?
    He has a lymphatic malformation on the right maxillofacial and oral hemangioma (right tongue).
  3. Please describe his personality in details.
    He has a good personality. He is outgoing. In daily life, he talks a lot and expresses himself clearly. He likes singing, dancing, painting, and skipping ropes.
  4. Is he well behaved and obedient?
    Yes, he is.
  5. How are his gross motor skills? Can he walk, run, jump, and walk upstairs and downstairs by himself? Can he kick a ball? Can he pick up a ball? Any limited functions?
    Yes, he can do this without limited functions.
  6. How are his fine motor skills? Can he draw or scribble on paper? Can he pick up little things with his fingers?
    Yes, he can do this without limited functions.
  7. Is he in any kind of school? If so, what school? Can he catch up in school?
    He is studying at XX Elementary School, XX District, which is a public school. He is in grade one now. He was behind other kids of the same age at the beginning.
  8. How is his emotional development? Is the child attached to anyone? Who is he close to? Does he care for other people?
    Normal. He is not attached to anyone else in the orphanage. PXD is his closest friend. He knows to care for others.
  9. How are his social skills? Does he get along well with other children and adults?
    Good. He gets along well with others.
  10. Is he under foster care or living in the orphanage?
    He lives in the orphanage.
  11. Updated Measurements:
    Height: 123 cm; weight: 21 kg; head circ.:53 cm; Chest circ.: 59 cm; Foot length: 19.5 cm; Number of teeth: 21

Kevin is from a former Madison partnership orphanage. Everyone who has met and spent time with Kevin adores him and has nothing but good things to say about him, including our sweet friends at the Sparrow Fund.

Please help us spread the word about this sweet boy so that he will soon have a forever family of his own!

There is a $3,000 agency grant with Madison Adoption Associates for Kevin’s adoption. 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 and to families that already have their letter of approval from China.

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

The post Find My Family: Kevin appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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Limb difference was one of the boxes we checked for our first China adoption in 2013. So when we received our son’s file, it was relatively easy to say yes. Our soon-to-be son, at 10 months of age, was the youngest child on the shared list that day.

We were open to a boy or a girl, our youngest was about to turn three and we had checked the limb difference box. It all seemed very straight forward.

The “what in the world did we just say yes to?’ came the next day.

Four months later we were on a plane to China. Our son’s file said: flexion deformity of left wrist and deformity of left thumb. Once we got home we learned all about radial aplasia, also known as radial club hand. Since this limb malformation affects the radius, it affects the thumb side of the hand. Opposition, or a thumb that works, is necessary for gripping objects.

Finding an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery of the hand and upper extremities is critical. We found one literally just down the road at the University of Michigan. Other bones and structures of the forearm, wrist and hand can be affected with this malformation. It can be part of a syndrome and/or might be part of a genetic condition. In our son’s case it is not.

We did not know until we got to China that both of his upper limbs are affected. On his right arm he has a short radius and he had a very little thumb. On his left arm his radius is absent and he had a non-working (hypoplastic) or floating thumb. His left middle finger was also fixed in a 90 degree bent position. We saw the hand specialist not long after we got home but we waited 7 months before the first surgery to give us all time to bond as a family. His first surgery was performed on his right hand to deepen the web spacing between his index finger and his small thumb and a tendon was transferred to his thumb from his ring finger to give him opposition on one hand, a bigger working thumb!

We waited until fall for the second and more complex surgery knowing he would be casted and we wanted to enjoy summer cast free. He was 2 1/2 and had been home 14 months before his second surgery. The second surgery was done on his left arm with the absent radius. This surgery was a three in one procedure. First, the surgeon removed the non-working (hypoplastic) thumb. His left thumb was a hazard or accident waiting to happen as it just dangled there and could have been easily caught in a drawer or door. All of the structures it would have been attached to were also absent and it had no useful purpose. Additionally, wrist centralization was done to put his wrist in a more normal position as there is often that classic club hand curving of the forearm toward the thumb side of the hand. Finally, the surgeon also released the tendon in his middle finger that was fixed in a 90 degree bent position. It is hard to get a bent finger into a pocket or mitten!

He recovered from both of his hand surgeries well. There was lots of casting to protect the surgical site and pins as it healed (and recasting as he liked to wriggle out of his casts at night) and then splinting. I wish I had done a better job of keeping track of the exact number but I think he went thru 8 casts over the three months following surgery and then he graduated to a splint which could be removed for meals and bath time. Five years later he still wears a splint at night and we now see his hand surgeon once a year for x-rays and a new splint which he needs as he grows.

The whole process entailed more than a year of more intense care and treatment, including the two surgeries and recoveries. But, looking back, I can honestly say that now five years later his special need is really a non-issue. He received occupational therapy through our state’s Early On program and that transitioned into occupational therapy though our school system once he turned three.

We were blessed to have the same therapist see him throughout all of this. He graduated from occupational therapy and the need for an IEP by the end of kindergarten because he could do everything everyone else could do including being able to tie his shoes, which most of the other kindergartners couldn’t do! He also happens to be one of those naturally athletic kids and, with his nine digits, he regularly outperforms kids a year older and a head taller both on the field and on the court! Indeed his real “special need” was that he was a boy who needed a family. We are so blessed to be his family and meet that special need daily.

In the midst of all of the surgeries, about a year after coming home, I sent my husband a text and told him I didn’t think we were done. We spent a few months praying about doing it all again and by the time our son was recovering from his second surgery we had signed contracts and began the home study process. Again, we checked the boxes for special needs we were open to.

Things had changed in the China program. Our first adoption was completed with a referral coming from the old shared list. Now the partnerships were in place and our second adoption process took longer than the first had and much longer than we had anticipated. The longer we waited, the more we became certain that we wanted another son with a limb difference. Our first adoption experience allowed us to be open to more significant limb differences. So 3 1/2 years after starting the process we again got on a plan to China in 2018 to bring home a four year old boy with really special hands and feet.

His file said congenital hand and feet malformations and a year later that is still the extent of what we know. We have seen our hand specialist and are not sure if surgical intervention is possible for his special hands. This was hard to hear because our son does not have opposition on either hand and we know how important having one opposable thumb is.

All the time I hear people say kids are resilient and he truly exemplifies this. This ray of sunshine went off to young 5’s this past year and has amazed us all with language acquisition and all he can do. He has an IEP and works with the same occupational therapist who graduated his older brother from services. There are still things he can’t do. Some things he may never be able to do simply because of the way his hands work.

We spend our days focusing on celebrating what he can do and helping him figure out ways to adapt. We have seen the foot specialist. He had surgery on one of his feet to fix some toes that were really a shoe issue because of rubbing. He was casted and non weight bearing for six weeks and was a total trooper.

We have seen genetics and it is likely that our son’s limb differences are part of a genetic syndrome and even if insurance ever does approve chromosomal analysis it actually changes very little for us. We have ruled out any heart or kidney issues that can be present with genetic conditions that affect hands and feet similar to our son’s hands and feet.

Just like his older brother, his real “special need” was that he was a boy who needed a family and again we are so very blessed to be that family and meet that need and his other needs daily.

I am Tanya and my husband Luman and I have five children; Selah 14, Boaz 12, Simeon 9, Shadrach 7 (adopted in 2013) and Meshach 5 (adopted in 2018). You can reach me by email at tanyainkorea@yahoo.com.

The post A Tale of Two Limb Differences appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1M ago

Leland is a handsome little boy, born October 2011. Leland’s caretakers describe him as beautiful, smart, and adorable. They say that everyone likes him and that he is a great communicator, very fluent with his language abilities.

Leland can quickly grasp the content taught by the teacher in class, but gets nervous easily as he is very serious about his studies. He can count numbers and can do simple hand-craft and painting projects. He is a good eater and sleeper.

Leland has been through a lot without a family by his side. When he was three, he kept complaining that his inguinal tumors/cysts were hurting. He was taken to multiple hospitals and found that they were pushing against his bladder and he could not urinate. Leland was diagnosed as having congenital yolk sac tumor. He underwent many procedures and was given chemotherapy between February 2015 and December 2015. He enjoyed talking to the doctors and the nurses and was cheerful, despite all he had gone through. All of the nurses and doctors loved him.

Leland can sense when he needs to use the toilet most of the time and uses the rail to hold on while going. Sometimes he does not make it in time, so he wears diapers just in case. Leland is diagnosed as being paraplegic as well, but he does walk with assistance. Leland goes to the rehabilitation room daily to practice walking with a walker. He has weakness in his legs and his knees and ankles do not bend normally.

Leland had a hard time adjusting after leaving the hospital and going into the orphanage since he didn’t come into the care of the orphanage until right before he was hospitalized. He has since adjusted to life there. The staff say that he is very smart and is a fast learner. He gets along with his peers and enjoys playing with them. He will smile at acquaintances and be very polite. He is serious when meeting strangers, but warms up to new people quickly.

Leland is a wonderful little boy who has been through a lot. It is our hope that his forever family sees this treasure and brings him home soon!

LOTS of update videos of Leland, click on the links below to watch:

There is a $1,500 agency grant for Leland’s adoption with MAA. 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 already matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Leland’s file or in adopting Leland, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

The post Waiting for You: Leland appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1M ago

We recently had a chance to chat with Amy who is in process to bring home a little boy with a vision impairment. Read along and consider joining the adventure in helping to bring this little one home to his forever family!

If you would like your family to be considered for a future post on NHBO, please complete the short form here.

1. Tell us a little about your family.

My husband, Dillon and I have been married for 11 years. We met while attending college in Murfreesboro, TN. We have a mutual love of music and arts and have loved building our life together. We are both the kind to have our hands in several pots! Besides writing and performing music, Dillon works as a coffee educator and I work from home as a virtual assistant.

2. How did adoption become part of your family’s story?

After college, we moved back to Nashville where I am from and have watched as the city has exploded in growth. We have two adorable miniature schnauzers and an old house cat. We love to spend our spare time bike riding and visiting other coffee shops. Our lives are full, and yet, we have felt for a while that there was someone missing. We have wanted to grow our family for some time and we were not quite sure what that was going to look like.

There came a time in December of 2017 where I had been reading someone’s adoption journey online. I started to feel the call like many others have felt when it comes to contemplating adoption. I wasn’t quite sure where to start or if my husband would be on board. But much to my delight, when I asked him about considering adoption, he was immediately on board.

3. Have you been matched with a child?

We started working with our agency in September of 2018. A few short months later, we saw our son’s face for the first time. He was being advocated for by Bethel China and jumped out immediately and grabbed our hearts.

He is an absolutely beautiful boy who has just turned 3 years old with such a bright smile and spirit. He has a visual impairment though, it does not seem to slow him down. He loves to run all over the play room at Bethel and play with his toys. He is doing wonderful there and in the care of his foster family. There were many other families who inquired about him and we were so scared that he would be matched before we could move forward.

Once our home study was complete, we asked about him and to our surprise and joy, he had not been matched. I remember thinking, “He’s our son, he’s supposed to be our son!” You know him as “Liam”, we plan to name him Harrison Tyler-Cai.

4. How are you fundraising to bring your little one home?

We have fundraised since day one. We launched a gofundme the same month we started with our agency, we hosted a trivia night, planned a Valentine’s Day themed concert, sold whole bean coffee online featuring our story and we have trimmed budgets and saved wherever possible.

We have recently applied for about 13 grants and are just simply waiting to hear if we will receive any. We have been able to pay for all of our fees and expenses up until recently and it seems our fundraising has hit a bit of a lull. We would so appreciate any help in getting Harrison home.

We have a new crowdfunding site that was organized by Connected Hearts Ministry making all donations tax deductible. We cannot wait to meet our little boy and bring him home. We think about him every day and just pray for his well being until we can all be together. Please help us become a family of three! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The post “He’s Our Son!” appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1M ago

We recently had a chance to chat with Amy who is in process to bring home a little boy with a vision impairment. Read along and consider joining the adventure in helping to bring this little one home to his forever family!

If you would like your family to be considered for a future post on NHBO, please complete the short form here.

1. Tell us a little about your family.

My husband, Dillon and I have been married for 11 years. We met while attending college in Murfreesboro, TN. We have a mutual love of music and arts and have loved building our life together. We are both the kind to have our hands in several pots! Besides writing and performing music, Dillon works as a coffee educator and I work from home as a virtual assistant.

2. How did adoption become part of your family’s story?

After college, we moved back to Nashville where I am from and have watched as the city has exploded in growth. We have two adorable miniature schnauzers and an old house cat. We love to spend our spare time bike riding and visiting other coffee shops. Our lives are full, and yet, we have felt for a while that there was someone missing. We have wanted to grow our family for some time and we were not quite sure what that was going to look like.

There came a time in December of 2017 where I had been reading someone’s adoption journey online. I started to feel the call like many others have felt when it comes to contemplating adoption. I wasn’t quite sure where to start or if my husband would be on board. But much to my delight, when I asked him about considering adoption, he was immediately on board.

3. Have you been matched with a child?

We started working with our agency in September of 2018. A few short months later, we saw our son’s face for the first time. He was being advocated for by Bethel China and jumped out immediately and grabbed our hearts.

He is an absolutely beautiful boy who has just turned 3 years old with such a bright smile and spirit. He has a visual impairment though, it does not seem to slow him down. He loves to run all over the play room at Bethel and play with his toys. He is doing wonderful there and in the care of his foster family. There were many other families who inquired about him and we were so scared that he would be matched before we could move forward.

Once our home study was complete, we asked about him and to our surprise and joy, he had not been matched. I remember thinking, “He’s our son, he’s supposed to be our son!” You know him as “Liam”, we plan to name him Harrison Tyler-Cai.

4. How are you fundraising to bring your little one home?

We have fundraised since day one. We launched a gofundme the same month we started with our agency, we hosted a trivia night, planned a Valentine’s Day themed concert, sold whole bean coffee online featuring our story and we have trimmed budgets and saved wherever possible.

We have recently applied for about 13 grants and are just simply waiting to hear if we will receive any. We have been able to pay for all of our fees and expenses up until recently and it seems our fundraising has hit a bit of a lull. We would so appreciate any help in getting Harrison home.

We have a new crowdfunding site that was organized by Connected Hearts Ministry making all donations tax deductible. We cannot wait to meet our little boy and bring him home. We think about him every day and just pray for his well being until we can all be together. Please help us become a family of three! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The post “He’s Our Son!” appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1M ago

Hudson is a great kid who is all boy. Born in October of 2006, his special need is HIV (read more about parenting a child with HIV here).

He spent about two years in the local orphanage, where he was taken care of by a blind couple who worked at the orphanage before being moved to a group home with other children who also have HIV.

Hudson is described as an active and talkative boy who likes to play games with his peers. He is sometimes impatient, but gets along well with other children and communicates easily with adults. He is close to three specific staff members at the group home.

Though it’s not his favorite thing to do, Hudson does attend school where he is in 4th grade and his academic performance is average. His gross and fine motor skills are all normal – he can run, jump on one foot, catch a ball, and use chop sticks. Hudson enjoys playing with toys, listening to music, and playing video games.

He is said to have a passion for computers and video games. The staff members say that if he is given the right supports and a chance, he could have a good chance to make big achievements in this field. Hudson is also a nature lover and enjoys being outdoors. He is very observant. Hudson is a little afraid of water and heights.

Hudson’s care center hopes he can find a loving family who will love him for who he is, help him with his education, encourage him to pursue his passion, and give him the attention that only a forever family can.

Hudson is getting closer and closer to aging out and we just can’t let that happen!

There is a $3,000 agency grant for Hudson’s adoption with MAA. 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 already matched with a child. Hudson also has a Reece’s Rainbow account here.

Hudson 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 Hudson, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

The post Aging Out Child: Hudson appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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No Hands But Ours by Nohandsbutours - 1M ago

Miles is an adorable little guy, born in February of 2017. His caretakers describe him as cute and smiley.

At one year of age, Miles could call “mom” or “grandmother” clearly. Sometimes he could speak a series of words loudly, but could not be heard clearly. He could also walk stably and liked putting on shoes. Miles likes playing with the older children outside. He is cooperative when dressed and is not a picky eater.

Miles likes listening music and playing with colorful toys. Miles is a typical two-year-old with tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. Being cuddled by his caretakers helps calm him down when he’s upset.

Miles was born with muscular dystrophy. We hope precious Miles finds a family while he’s still so young!

A video of Miles can be found here.

There is a $500 agency grant for Miles’ adoption with MAA. 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 already matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Mile’s file or in adopting Miles, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

The post Meet Miles! appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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We entered into this adoption full of hopes and dreams just like most people. However, we also understood the realities, especially when adopting from China. We knew the gambles, had read all the blogs and books and articles we could get our hands on.

We knew to expect the unexpected… or so we thought.

We had considered adoption many years before, but being a military family that moved around a lot we decided it was maybe not a good scenario for a child who may need solid ground for a while. So we put it on the back burner.

But in February of 2016, as we completed retirement paperwork for my husband to retire from the Marine Corps, God gently tapped us on the shoulder and reminded us that adoption was still in His plans! After prayer, talks with friends who had adopted, and more prayer, we officially submitted an application in April 2016.

We completed the medical checklist and were open to a good many conditions. The one thing we didn’t feel sure of was taking on a child who would need lifelong care or was severely medically fragile. So in August of 2016, when we were presented with a file of a six year old little girl whose medical condition was albinism, we were almost relieved. This condition didn’t seem too scary. We researched albinism and contacted an IAC doctor to review her file.

For all intents and purposes, she seemed to be fairly healthy. Yes, she had albinism which meant the accompanying low vision, photophobia and nystagmus. We knew the risk of skin conditions. The need we would have for constant sun protection, etc. We were prepared to deal with that and felt comfortable saying Yes. That first photo of our little girl showed this fair little angel, Sitting on the steps of the orphanage with a buzz hair cut and mismatched clothing. Her eyes were sad but she was rocking a smile that melted my heart.

So we said Yes. This was our girl.

In her file and the subsequent updates we received over the next year, it stated that she was slightly delayed and because of her age did not yet attend school. We asked specifically about her eye sight and they sent us a video showing how she could walk across the room and pick up a small apple off the table with ease. It also showed her going down the stairs of the orphanage (much too quick for this momma’s heart I might add!) on her own, using the hand rail. Again, it appeared that her vision was not too horribly bad and she was very mobile!

Maybe we were the ones blinded and only seeing what we wanted to see, but I don’t think so. I have reviewed the three videos over and over again and still barely see the signs: the signs that there was much more to her “delays” then her file stated.

August of 2017 arrived and it was finally time. Time to fly to China and get our precious girl! We received our daughter on day 5 of the trip. We traveled to the Children’s Welfare Center with our travel group where we would all be brought our children. One by one, each family received their child. Each child having a different reaction to being handed over to their new parents and commencing their new life.

At long last it was our turn (our daughter was the last to arrive). In walked our girl with her orphanage director. She was smiling ear to ear and gave us big hugs. She then proceeded to run around the room playing with all the toys. Not a single tear shed from her, no panic or melt down. She was just joyful.

By the time we got back to the hotel, my husband and I both knew there was something “wrong”. Something different. The lack of emotion (other than joy) from her was because she truly had no understanding of what was happening.

She was frenzied and wild. Didn’t seem to understand our gentle commands (which we stated in Mandarin) and it was obvious that even the simplest of tasks (turning on a light switch) were beyond her. Just after lunch we attempted to lay her down for a nap, as was her routine in the orphanage. She laid there literally shaking. Not out of fear, but out of excitement (or adrenaline, we aren’t sure which).

Within the first couple of days, we felt like the rug had been pulled out from under us. This child was not the child we’d read about. She was much more delayed and almost, dare I say, mentally challenged. Even our guide noticed it and asked if we knew ahead of time. When I stated that we did not and had only expected “typical” orphanage delays (she was now 7 years old and had been in the orphanage for 3 ½ years, so we assumed she would function around a 5 year old level), the guide took it upon herself to call the director. The response we got was that the children at that orphanage are not worked with…. essentially they are fed and clothed and that is about it.

My mommy gut said it was more, but we let it go. As shocked and upset as we were, this was our daughter and we were not going to turn our backs on her now! She had already lost one family in her young life, we would not have that happen again. We just prayed, leaned on the support of our fellow travel group and relied on our guides to assist when they could. It was a long 2 ½ weeks in country. I was anxious to get home with her where we could start a routine and start figuring out who our girly really was.

Fast forward to today. She has now been home 19 months. Our sweet girl – who is still to this day just full of joy – is now 9 years old but functions at the level of a 2-3 year old. She does not speak in clear sentences and speaks only in rudimentary two word groupings with lots of babble in between. She has no concept of math or numbers or counting. She can’t read but can recognize the letters of the alphabet! She can’t do zippers, buttons or snaps. She is truly a toddler in a 9 year old’s body.

After numerous medical appointments – and a fabulous developmental pediatrician who agreed that there was more to her delays than just neglect/institutionalization – we were able to get extensive genetic testing done. My momma gut was on target as usual! There indeed was more to her medical story. It turned out that our sweet girl has a rare and fairly “new” genetic neuro developmental disorder called FBXO11 disorder (it doesn’t even have a fun name). It explains so many of her delays and behaviors.

We still do not know what her future holds. Our reality is that she may very likely live with us forever. One of our “fears” when we completed that medical check sheet back in 2016 is now a possibility. But God knew what he was doing. This child has rocked our world, turned it upside down. There are days that bedtime can not come soon enough… but the joy she exudes on a daily basis is just amazing. Everyone who spends even just a few minutes with her proclaims that she has so much joy and is a blessing to be around.

We refer to her as our beautiful little earthquake… she shook our world up in a beautiful way.

Our unexpected was truly unexpected. It rocked us to the core. I wouldn’t change a single thing though. Not a single minute. Take that leap of faith, beyond the unexpected, and trust your Momma gut when things seem amiss. Fight for these beautiful children and the rewards will come back ten fold.

– guest post by Jennifer: || facebook

The post More Than We Ever Expected… appeared first on No Hands But Ours.

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