No Hands But Ours was the vision of a mother of 9, 4 (and one on the way) from China with special needs, whose passion continues to be finding homes for the children left behind. Stefanie saw the need for a site that would provide education, resources, and encouragement for families considering SN adoption, as well as advocacy for children who still wait for their families.
Collaborating in this effort are 3 additional women, all contributing their gifts and talents to maximize the reach and impact of this site.
"Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?", my 5 year old daughter queried. Without even thinking I replied, "I am what I always wanted to be... a mom."
I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Oh, I went through short stints of wanting to "be" something else, but I always came back to one dream: motherhood. And good thing for me, because I've spent the last 20 years doing just that.
After having four biological children, my husband and I *thought* our family was complete. But God had another, very different, plan for us: adoption. In 2005 we traveled to China for our fifth, and presumably our last, child. Isabelle came to us at 11 months through China's Waiting Child program. She was considered a 'waiting' child or a 'special needs' child because of her medical condition, a minor heart defect. Shortly after bringing her home, her heart issue was corrected. She has done so well she's been released as a cardiac patient, and has no limitations whatsoever. And she manages to blow our collective minds on a regular basis with her sheer beauty, endurance and strength.
Her adoption was the beginning of what I now realize will be a lifelong journey for my husband and me... a journey to do everything in our ability to help special need orphans in China. We have since adopted three more precious little ones through China's Special Needs (SN) program. Sophie is 5, Jude is 3 and Shepherd is 2. And we are expecting to travel to China soon for our new daughter, Vivienne.
But in addition to changing the lives of these five little ones, we strive to do more. Our eyes were once closed to the need for adoptive families for orphans in China, specifically special needs children. And then the term 'special needs' completely terrified us. But this term is quite misleading. Special needs in the China program can range from a birthmark, to a cleft lip or palate, to a missing hand or foot, to a complex heart condition. The majority of those termed 'special needs' by the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) would not be considered special needs by U.S. Standards.
Out of this initial lack of awareness on our part, and the hard-fought knowledge that replaced it, came a desire to inform potential parents about SN adoption. This desire manifested itself in the form of No Hands But Ours. Our hope was to create an all-encompassing website, specifically focused on Special Needs adoption from China. A website where people could come to browse, become more informed, and be encouraged. For all families, whether they are just curious, considering adding a SN child to their family, in process for a SN child, or home with their newly adopted child.
No Hands But Ours has lists of resources, special needs and a listing of participating agencies who are currently seeking families for specific children. We also have 'family stories' sorted according to special needs. These realistic snapshots into a family's life help take away some of the fear commonly held about certain special needs, as well as give a realistic expectation of that parenting a child with a certain SN might look like on a day to day basis. And the No Hands But Ours blog is a fantastic spot to read one, or several, of our contributing blogger posts. We now have 15 adoptive moms who post regularly on just about any and every adoption topic.
So, for anyone even remotely considering adoption from China, No Hands But Ours is a great place to learn more, a lot more, about the China Special Needs program. For our family, and for many families like us, adoption through the SN program has been a blessing for our adopted child, but even more so, it's been a blessing for us.
To learn more visit nohandsbutours.com