Say whaaaaattt??

Today marks three years since I began this blog. Three years and 555 posts, to be exact… can you believe it?! In the scope of things, three years isn’t that long… but when I look back, I am amazed at all that has occurred since this little blog made it’s largely completely unnoticed debut.

We started out with a bang: we officially announced that Sophie was joining our family. Isabelle had been home about 7 months and was just recovering from open heart surgery. Chris was deployed to the desert. Total craziness, huh? Well, if you’ve followed us for a while, you know it proved to only get crazier….

We sell our beloved house in Illinois.

I travel, solo, to China for Sophie.

Chris stays home to pack up our house, and we move to Georgia two days later.

We settle in.

Chris deploys again.

He comes home.

We decide to adopt again.

Chris deploys. Again.

Isabelle is diagnosed with autism.

I struggle with that. A lot.

Chris comes home, finally.

My biggest baby graduates high school.

Tori and I travel to China for Jude.

Myself, Jude and our four youngest travel to Iowa for Jude’s clubfoot treatment.

Isabelle starts SN preschool.

The blog goes from the Sophie Makes Six to Ni Hao Y’all.

After much wrestling with God, He melts our hearts to the little boys who wait. Yes, again.

We announce our newest addition: Shepherd.

God encourages us to fundraise for Shepherd’s adoption. And we are incredibly blessed.

Isabelle makes great progress in every way.

Chris and I travel to China for Shepherd.

We sell our house in Georgia, by the grace of God, while we are away in China.

We get home and I head to Iowa with Shepherd for weekly cast changes.

In the midst of this, we move. Ourselves.

My dad died.

I am, at long last, able to let go of my fears over Isabelle. She has come so far.

God nudges us to help fundraise for my sister’s upcoming adoption with $344.

With God receiving ALL the glory, we are able to raise close to $10,000.

The dream God laid on my heart, No Hands But Ours, finally becomes a reality.

I get to travel to China, once again, to help my sister bring home her son, Cole!

Dahuuuuude!!! I am pooped just reading all that stuff! And in just three years??

I have shared my struggle with continuing to blog, rationalizing the time commitment it requires. But I always come back to this: God wants us to remember how He is at work in our lives. He wants us to tell others, to tell our children and to tell our children’s children. And He wants us to write it down so we don’t forget! What an awesome way to know God and to recognize Him at work… and most of all, to GLORIFY Him!! I can look back over these three years and see that God revealed Himself the most when we stepped out the furthest. And when we trusted Him the most.

And I have been so inspired by witnessing God at work in so many of your stories! To Amie, Leslie, Rebecca, Nicole, Andrea, Tish, Diana, Sara, Denise (and so many more, but my memory fails, once again)… all I can say is thank you for blessing me by sharing your journey not only through adoption, but as you walk with God. And Angie and MckMama, who I don’t know personally at all, but I have been amazed nonetheless to witness God at work through their lives and the lives of their children. Thank you to everyone who shares so honestly and openly. You are bringing glory to Him through the story of your life!

Joshua 4:20-24
And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

Thank you so much for allowing me to share our family’s story with y’all. I really mean it. To show my appreciation and to celebrate our big three year blog-iversary, I’m going to be giving away some Dora DVDs I picked up in Nanchang. My girls have a few from our trip to China for Jude, and they love them. I’ll be giving away three kept out of my children’s reach brand new Chinese/English Dora DVDs, and I’ll pick the winners from the comments left on this post. No need to write anything, or even ask to be entered, I’ll just include your name in a shot at the loot if you leave a comment :)



  1. Count me in !

  2. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly on your blog. I know that it has made a difference in a lot of families.
    I am most appreciative for the new site, No Hands But Ours! God has burdened my heart for children with special needs and that is why when we decided to adopt, we naturally chose a waiting child. It is going to be an amazing ministry for these precious children. I can’t wait to hear of the new-formed families that come from that awesome ministry!

  3. Patricia/NYC says:

    Ohhhh…Stefanie…you have inspired me in so many ways…I can only imagine the countless number of others who have been inspired by your selfless & generous heart…you are TRULY doing the Lord's work & it is wonderful to witness…well, you know what you did for me & my spiritual walk! 😉

  4. Me too!

    Chris’ sister (from your Chris’ former sq*adron) :)
    Mom to Lily from China

  5. Amie@HeartSmiles says:

    Wow… that’s ALOT of goings ons in a few years! And I love your last paragraph. So very true. When I think about the people you must have encouraged in your personal blog, and then throw in NO HANDS BUT OURS.. That’s ALOT of inspiring going on! I am so thankful that the blog world brought us together. Two crazy chicks…crazy for Jesus, crazy for our kiddos(the ones home and the ones not yet home. ;), did I mention crazy? And look where he has brought us. Funny to think about, isn’t it? And it began with a testimony.. GO GOD!

    Love you tons girl, but you know that. Blessed to know you… and so excited that you “get” that you are “Blessed to Be a Blessing.”

    p.s. you know not to put my name in the hat.. but just in case..;)

  6. Well someone whose name starts with M loves Dora, so I am in!!

  7. Great walk down memory lane..happy 3 year blog versary…..

    I keep thinking that I was in China in 2003…went back in 2006…no plans to go back this year & it seems a little deflated not having a big China trip to look forward to this year. We'd only be going back to visit….=)


  8. What an awesome journey God has lead you on!

    Your remembrance of it all and how God has worked is why I started blogging and titled my blog
    Setting Up Stones!

    “When your children ask you, “What do these stones mean” tell them…”

    May God continue to bless your journey!

  9. My little one is a Dora fan. Thank you for all of the stories you have sahred over the years. You are much of the reason I began considering SN in the first place. Thank You!

  10. Jen & Rob says:

    Cool. Me likey the contest!
    Wow. You are right. That’s a lot for the last three years. I’m glad you started NHBO. It’s a nice, safe place for prospective families to look and learn and see real families share their decisions.

  11. Mom To Six says:


    I know you said no need to write anything, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your love for orphans. Had I known your story that exhausting evening when my Mom sat next to you on the flight from Toyko to Guangzhou (when we traded pictures of our kiddos), I would have asked for your autograph! You are truly an inspiration but would I love most is how you always glorify our loving Savior for His work!

    God bless you and your precious family always…



  12. Just wanted to let you know what a true inspiration you are to all of us! You ROCK!

  13. Happy 3 years! And here’s to many more! I just love your blog.

  14. Stefanie-We are all the ones who are blessed to be able to share in the ups and downs of your life. You are so inspiring and when I feel like things are getting to crazy or heavy I can get a pick me up reading about your adventures. I found your blog right after we came back from getting our little beauty from Guilin. I haven’t been able to pull myself away since. :)

  15. The Ferrill's says:

    Tears! Tears remembering all those moments. Tears of thankfulness thinking how beautifully God has worked in your life. Tears of gratitude for SHARING that life with us.
    To God be the glory!

  16. adoptionroad says:

    Happy Blogiversary! I love your explanation of why this is important. I also feel my blog is a way of recording and being reminded of God’s faithfulness in our family.

  17. Mom to my China Posse says:

    Girl, I got wore out just read about your last three years in blogland. You always inspire me.

  18. Wow! What a time in just three years!! I remember following your blog while you were waiting for Sophie, while we were just starting the first steps of adoption. 😉 Thank you for your blog! It’s an inspiration!!

  19. You are truely an inspiration and a HUGE asset to the adoption world, particularly SN adoptions.Keep on blogging…..

    Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

  20. I have really enjoyed reading your blog (although I admit- I very rarely comment!) You have such a beautiful family.

  21. Giving you a big ole’ kiss through the screen , My Friend.
    I wish I had been with you from the start…but I will take what I can get.
    You and your family have been such a blessing and encouragement to us.
    I look forward to seeing what God has in store for your NEXT 3 years!
    Whatever it is ..I know it will be awesome…I will be here to cheer you on!

    I love you,


    I still freak when I think about that funraiser!;)

  22. Hi Stef!!!
    WOW is all I can say!!! Not only does God orchestrate our steps, he gives us the energy to climb the mountains!!!! I love how He has and is using you!!!
    Thank you for including me in your amazing post! I look forward to seeing what God does in our family in 2009!!!

    Thanks for always inspiring me!


  23. a Tonggu Momma says:

    If I win, please pass it along to someone else. But I did want to say – your last three years sounds even more challenging than ours… and that is hard to do! Good-ness. Thanks for blessing all of us so greatly.

  24. The Harlow's says:

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. You keep it real and that is what I appreciate the most.

    Take care,


  25. PletcherFamily says:

    HAPpy blog anniversary! Thanks for all the back post for us to share – that was great!

  26. Wow … busy! I love reading your blog, and it is very inspiring, as is NHBO. You’re fabulous to share so much with so many. Thanks a ton!

    All the best,
    Nicole A. in OH

  27. Heather (Chaos Controller!) says:

    I’ve only had the pleasure of following your blog for about 6 months now, but I plan on sticking around the read it for the NEXT three years!


  28. Ladybugsmom says:

    Oh Stephanie,
    Following you first on “my adoption” then here has helped us thru our first journey and now we are at it again…just hom 7 months it is so true we just have to trust God somehow he will see us thru this journey…thanks so much for all you do…the kiddos are awesome and so are you.

  29. I started folowing you on my I devoured every post with each of your trips.

    Your openess was a big influence on our decision to submitt our MCC with our agency.

    We have been home with Isabella 14 months. We have been through many unknowns, many very scary moments.

    I often seek comfort in your strength, trials, and openess that you live your life.

    Thank you for opening your life to everyone and being an inspiration to so many.

  30. No, thank YOU! You were SO used by God during the time I was wrestling with God myself over adoption…..I had never known anyone who had done it nor had I ever read a blog. I found you through My Adoption Website, and read every word of your story (stories) one night. God truly used your story to grab my heart and my full attention. So, from the bottom of my heart…..thank you!

  31. Stefanie – you must continue your blog. It gives me hope. You remind me that anything can happen through HIM. I find you amazing and am inspired by you and Chris.

  32. Stefanie! Don’t want the loot! Just want to say that I LOVE YOU GIRL!

  33. Stefanie,
    Please don’t enter me in the contest as I have no little girl at this time to enjoy them but I just wanted to say a big resounding YESSSSSSSSSS to your post! Remember the wonders HE has done! Amazing stuff. Simply amazing and simply IMPOSSIBLE apart from Him!
    Keep the bloggin’ sister…His name is receiving much honor and glory!

  34. carolinagirl says:

    Stefanie, I am new here on your blog. I had no idea how much you and your family had been through the past three years! You are truly one to perservere through the love and strength of God.

    I lost my father on April 21st, 2008. He was 56. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.

    Keep on blogging, sister. We all love reading Ni Hao Y’all!

  35. Mom to five says:

    Wow Stefanie, thats alot of stuff. You have inspired so many people.

  36. Stefanie,
    You have blessed so many through your blog, including me. Thanks!!

  37. Nicole A. says:

    (Please do not count me twice for leaving a second comment to this post :-) …)

    Since I saw your blog listed in this post … Always wanted to say that I love your blog title! It is one of my favorites and so creative! I wish I could come up with something that unique.

    All the best,
    Nicole A. in OH

  38. Loved that post, how you took us through your last 3 years was amazing…I clicked almost every link. Oh, and I’m that mama too…the one who plays as long as I have to and then loads the dishwasher. Thanks for the reminder to stay on the floor longer…

  39. Stefanie,

    I don't always comment, but I ALWAYS check in on the ni hao y'all crowd. You have been such an encouragement, from sharing your personal testimony in coming back to Christ, to your struggles as a mama, to your fears, your HOPE. Thank you for listening, for caring – for the orphans of China and for the families that desire to make them theirs.

    As for "No Hands But Ours", there aren't even words. I join you in prayer for the many who will "stumble" across it & be moved to question God as to what He might have planned for them. I join you in prayer for the families that have already been there and are living the dream of being obedient to God and the beauty of holding that child! I join you in prayer for those who are grappling with what "special needs" means..may they find some answers through this site!

    Blessed, blessed, blessed to have been taken along for the ride. Are WE really 3 years older??????


  40. Chad and Tara says:

    Wow! and I thought I was busy. Thanks for sharing, especially for reminding of us God’s provision and plan.

  41. Stefanie….

    You have been such a blessing to me. I’m always excited when I see a new post at “Ni Hao Y’all”!! I always check in and if I’ve missed some posts I’m most likely always to back up and read them all. :o)

    Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do! What an incredible inspiration you are to me and to countless others. I love how the Lord is using you! You are a reflection of Him! Woo Hoo! To God be the glory!


    PS…I need to work on something to add for “No Hands But Ours”. I want to add my darling girl’s info. Such a precious girl she is–I praise my God for having me go the SN route!!

  42. Stephanie,

    Your blog has been such a blessing to me. Thank you for taking the time to keep it up. You rock!


  43. Mrs. Stringer says:

    Wow, that is a lot in three years. I am about to start our family blog. My girls are 4 and 7 and I feel I don’t document enough of their cuteness, and I am forgetting the things they have done. I want to have a blog to keep those memories. Thanks for sharing your life with so many people.

  44. Stephanie~
    Thank you for allowing so much of your journey to be an open book. It is through your journaling and others like you, that God is able to touch so many hearts, just where He needs them to be ministered to. So many of us have never met you in person, yet we feel as though you are truly a part of our lives…and you are, because of your blogs and open heart for adoption and waiting special needs children. I recently sent you a personal email inquiring about your agency and thoughts you had to offer. I understand how busy you are, and have also found some answers to those questions in your "No Hands But Ours!" blog. Thanks again for your commitment to this mission and sharing your lives with us! May God continue to bless you richly for the faithfulness you have shown! <><

  45. wow you are one amazing women. An inspiration. It would be fun to have the videos for my new little one.

  46. Three years…yes…but look at your family! WHAT A BLESSING! HUH?? God is so cool isn’t he??

  47. Miss Ashley says:

    3 years, wow!

  48. Stefanie, Your family has become so special to us through your stories. What an inspiration! And what a reminder about God’s power in all of our lives! Julia

  49. Jen@KerrnalJournal says:

    LOL!!! Wow! I can’t believe what has happened in your life in 3 short years!!!!

    I know that God has used you BIG TIME!!! “Blessed to be a blessing”—couldn’t put it any better!

  50. Shelly and Family says:

    Wow…you have been through so much in that three year span! The moving along would have "put me over the edge" lol! I so love reading your blog (I stated around the time you were getting ready to leave for China with your sister). Thank you for letting us all in & sharing.

  51. Anonymous says:

    I find your blog very inspiring…thank you for starting No Hands but ours!
    mom to eight so far!

  52. Stefanie,

    I first found your story on the Jen’s adoption web-site shortly after we decided to adopt Mylee. It was Jude’s story that struck close to home because Mylee too had or was at least diagnosed with club feet. I contacted you several times about taking Mylee to Iowa. I am incredibly touched at how open and willing you are to help complete strangers.
    I continue to follow your blog and am so proud of you for what you are doing with No Hands But Ours. I too have been struggling with the fact that I feel like I am supposed to do something more with adoption and helping to advocate. I just don’t know what. Not a day goes by that I don’t think to myself “what more can I do?”
    So thank you for all you have helped me with along with so many others.
    And I am working on getting our story together for NHBO.

  53. I would be very sad if your blog went away. I have been following from the beginning as you know. Now Carrington even reads with me and we look at all the pictures of her “chinese friends” as she puts it.

  54. Tracey in TN says:

    I just wanted to say congrats on your 3yr blog anniversary! I also wanted to say thank you for sharing all your ups & downs. When I was searching special needs for our agencies waiting child application I came across your blog. Your story with Jude is the reason club foot was one of the SN we felt we could handle. We started to become very comfortable with the waiting child process & it settled a lot of our fears. We are going to be traveling in March to bring home our 2 1/2 yr old son from Fushun, Liaoning. He has a repaired cleft lip & Palate. Thanks again for being such a SN advocate!

  55. I have been following you since you went to China for Isabella with My Adoption Website. I have enjoyed every moment. Thanks for sharing you family with us!


  56. I feel SO blessed to have been there since day one… I get nostalgic for the old blog every now and then :O) You guys have lived SO well these last 3 years! And God has worked wonders in your lives.

    Miss you!

  57. nsmorinville says:

    You are an amazing mother and I enjoy reading your thoughts and trials…it is very reassuring:)

  58. Deanna (from Maine!) says:

    I stumbled across your blog through a link on a friend’s site back in October and I’ve been hooked ever since! Love your (commical!) style of writing, and your amazing photography! You have such a beautiful family and it’s been so much fun during the last few months to read about all of your ‘adventures’!

  59. Cathrin O says:

    Hi Stephanie!
    I just found your blog over MckMama’s blog. I’m touched by what God is doing thru you. We are also thinking about adoption. My husband has 4 adopted siblings. It might still be a couple years. wow! Thanks so much for doing this!

    Cathrin (Austria, Europe)

  60. Let me think—Brynn would love these.

    Also, we are leaving in 2 weeks to get our second child–a boy with cl/cp. We can not wait.

  61. Your blog is truly inspiring!
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    (mom to 4 little ones)!!

  62. Mike & Ramona says:

    Me, Me, Me! I’ve been following you since Isabella and just reading of all you’ve done just wears me out! (And makes me feel like I should get off my duff and do something!)

    I love your kids! All 8 of them!

  63. Patricia/NYC says:

    You know…I forgot to add to my post: please pass along my entry for someone else in your giveaway :)…also…didn't sweet, beautiful Sophie have a big birthday, recently?!

    It's been a privilige to have been there with you on this ride since Isabella & before (!) in our original DTC group! :)

    BIG HUGS!!!

  64. Rebecca of "China, Baby!" says:

    Oh my word, I am tired just reading this post!!! I have just one question for you: HOW ON EARTH???? I’m over here exhausted at 8pm every night and you’ve adopted THREE MORE than I have!!!! You are amazing. I so admire your energy, your transparency and your commitment to SN children! As you well know – Owen might not have come home to us, if it weren’t for you and your willingness to share your blog with us.


  65. How inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  66. Anonymous says:

    Your life continues to amaze and inspire! Only God! (and your listening hearts and willingness to follow!) I am looking forward to the next three years!


    ps… the New Year pics were precious!

  67. I have enjoyed following all of your journeys and hearing about your beautiful children as I wait for our own little girl in China!

  68. danaedmisten says:

    I’ve been reading since Isabelle on myadoptionwebsite and have loved every minute of it!

  69. Lindsey's mom says:

    Great Post! You are a very amazing woman! I wondered if I could try again…I would love to “chat” with you. I really need some adoption advice. I have spoken to ANdrea..and then emailed you. If you can can you send me an email? If not, I can say I tried. :-)
    Best wishes
    Kathy in Ak

  70. Stefanie….I didn’t know you were in IL!!!! Where abouts? You know I’m in IL too.
    I want to thank you for all your encouragement regarding Livi. You have been so much help to me. Did you know I have an award for you over at my blog?If not come on by to see what it is : )

  71. Lily's Pad says:

    Happy 3 years blogging. I have really enjoyed your posts and pictures along the way..

  72. Truly Blessed! says:

    Wow, you know how to pack a LOT of living into just three years!

  73. I’ve enjoyed following your blog, since Sophie. We have two sons from China with club feet too:-)and 6 kids. Your blog is a testimony of following the Lord’s will. Thanks for sharing.

  74. I have really enjoyed your blog getting to know you and your wonderful family its has been such amazing things you have done in such a short amount of time…..

    oh and dont worry about putting my name in the hat/bowl

    I just wanted to send my love!

  75. Table for Six says:

    Stefani, count us in :O)
    happy blog-iversary! time flies when your on a mission and being obedient.
    thanks for the chance at a dvd.. of course i mean for the kiddos :O)
    jill shelton

  76. Well if there’s loot involved I’ll have to come out of lurker status! My daughter would *flip* if she got a Dora chinese/english video!!
    Thanks for the great blog. I have lived vicariously through you with your adoptions, thinking we could not adopt from China again………yet the adventure continues and it seems we are going back. God constantly amazes me!

  77. Mike and Barb says:

    While I hardly ever comment, I just want you to know that your life is such an inspiration!
    Thank you for sharing your journey, your joys, your struggles, and your ultimate victories in following HIM!

  78. Wow! I started following along when you announced you were adopting Jude. I can’t believe how much our families have changed. You’ve been a blessing to me with your honesty and your cheerful spirit. Glad the blog is staying, at least for now:)


  79. Thank you for the inspiration that you are!

  80. It’s funny how I remember each story you linked! I didn’t even have to go back and re-read them…they are etched in my mind.

    God has been good to us, hasn’t He? Your post reminds me of Psalm 145.

  81. Jennifer O'Cain says:

    The thanks should be to you. For opening your life and telling your story! It is people like you (and God of course) that has led us to our daughter, Lily. We are going to China in March to bring her home. You and many others have been a great inspiration to me.

  82. Love your story…

    Love your perspective…

    Love your sense of humor…

    Love your blog…

  83. I’m so glad you’ve been blogging for the past 3 years – thanks for sharing your journey!


  84. Where in IL did you live?? Where are you moving to now??

  85. I’ve enjoyed your blog for so long now. It truly is time consuming, but along with SO many others…I love your blog tremendously. Your words are comforting, real and inspirational. Aside from that, it’s beautiful too!!

  86. Hi Stefanie,

    I happened upon your blog – a few times actually . . . this last post has really inspired me. . . . I need to inscribe the vision – that the one who reads it may run!

    (oh and my 2 year old home for 10 months LOVES Dora :)

  87. Susan Smith-Alltop says:

    Thank you for sharing your life journey through your blog. Go to my blog to get your prize. God bless, Susan

  88. May God continue to bless you!!

  89. Count me in- I have a Dora obsessed child!

  90. The Gang's Momma says:

    I love your blog. I’m so glad I found it – though I can’t for the life of me remember how!

    Thanks for the give-away.

  91. God Bless You! It is inspiring to see God work in each of our lives through adoption into His family and our little ones into ours!

    Thanks for all you do,

  92. Congratulations to you on a wonderful 3 years and many more wonderful years to come.

  93. Elizabeth says:

    You wrote this over a year ago, but I wanted to leave you a comment anyway. I just happened upon your blog a couple of days ago (I already can't remember how) and I've been pouring over its history ever since. I had NO idea that it was possible to adopt from China (NSN or SN) with more than five children in your home. We have STRUGGLED with this for a long time because we KNOW there is a least one child of ours who will come home from China. We didn't want to have 'too many' biologically and/or adopt 'too many' before we adopt from China. After reading your blog, that is no longer a fear of mine. He is confirming that we CAN adopt right now…locally…AND later from China.

    Anyway…I just wanted to let you know…so that if you start feeling like you are 'wasting' too much time blogging, you may think about me…and others…who are being so blessed by your writings.

  94. Hi I love reading your blog, it really helps as we try to navigate the waters of chinese adoption. We just received our LOA yesterday and my husband is going to have to travel alone. I'm concerned about bonding issues I might have with our new child because I won't be there in China. I read in your post that you traveled without your husband and I'm wondering if you have any tips (or had any troubles) that I can try to avoid when she finally arrives.

    I know you are a busy mom, but if you could spare some advice I would SO appreciate it! Thanks so much, Sharyn

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