Nolan Needs a Champion

Holt adoptive mom Mary Leigh Brown has adopted twice — both times coming home from Korea with a child who has a special need.  To help advocate for other children who need families, she regularly blogs about the children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting (at This week, Mary Leigh has written a special guest post for us about Nolan, our featured waiting child. This is a special treat to have an adoptive mom write about waiting children, as she also reflects on her own experience adopting children with special medical needs. Enjoy!

Update: As of February 2012, Nolan has a family! Congratulations Nolan!

Born April 23, 2007, China

I have a passion for waiting children, but I didn’t start out feeling that way. Just a few years ago, I would often look at the children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting and think, ‘Aw, I hope they find their family, but that family isn’t mine.’ We always said we would adopt children one day. When that day came sooner than we thought, we knew we wanted to adopt a child as young and healthy as possible.

When we started the process to adopt in June of 2008, we were led to the Korea program. I was a tad hesitant – well, maybe “terrified” better describes my emotions. Because we didn’t live in one of Holt’s branch states, we would have to be in the “waiting child/special needs” part of the program – a requirement of Korea’s central authority, which oversees all international adoption from Korea. To me, at that time, a “special needs” child meant a child in a wheelchair, who might not be cognitively or physically able to do “normal” activities.

That was a lot to swallow, especially for first-time parents dreaming of a “perfect” child.

But the Lord, in his faithfulness, put a family in our path to calm our fears. This family told us their story of adopting two children with special needs. Our agency is GREAT, but sometimes a momma just needs to hear from another momma. When the mother of this family told me about her son’s special need, my fears were calmed.  We really just needed to hear someone say, “It’s okay to adopt a child with special needs. ‘Special needs’ just means special needs, not broken or defective or never able. Just SPECIAL.”

I knew we could handle “special needs.”

I marvel at the way God opened our hearts and our minds and then led us to our Bates on Holt’s waiting child photolisting!

Mary Leigh and Nick Brown with their two adopted sons, Bates and Brodie.

Now, three years and two special needs adoptions later, I know of no other way to grow our family than by adopting a waiting child.

My husband has jokingly (I think) banished me from the photolistings! I could spend hours pouring over those children’s

pictures, reading their bios, and praying for them. Some of these children simply need a voice, someone to be their champion…

Meet Nolan*. Nolan means “champion.” From what I’ve read and seen of Nolan, this kid is a born champion. All he needs is a mom and a dad who will always cheer him on.

Nolan is described as a “cute, resilient preschooler who is smart and a well-behaved child.”  “Cute” doesn’t do this kiddo justice.  He’s got dimples that will just make your heart melt! Nolan has some physical delays due to his limb differences, which include a missing right hand and forearm, missing/webbed fingers on his left hand, and left clubfoot.  I’ve seen Nolan in action on video and he doesn’t let anything slow him down. Just by watching that short video, I can tell that whoever is holding that camera wants to show the viewer how well Nolan is doing. He asks him to walk around, ride a scooter, and put a vest on and off.

I imagine that caregiver praying as they recorded that video, praying for a champion for Nolan.

Nolan likes basketball. Nolan needs a family to believe in him. He needs a loving parent to coach his peewee basketball team while others cheers for him on the sidelines. He needs a family to go out to ice cream with after the game.

Nolan’s smile lights up his entire face. I can just imagine his face lighting up the first time his family takes him to a basketball game!

Nolan will more than likely need corrective surgery on his foot. I think of my son Bates, who was born at 2 lbs with a hole in his heart. He needed surgery at one week old, and again after he came home to us. I picture my son in those very cute hospital scrubs when he had surgery. I feel the warm tears on my cheek as they took him back, and I remember not breathing until they told us we could see him. It was all I could do not to run past that nurse in recovery and scoop up my son. I pray that when that day of surgery comes, Nolan will have a mother and father by his side. Parents who are his champions.

One thing I was afraid of missing by adopting an “older child” was missing the firsts – first steps, first words, first everything. You know what, with Nolan, you will get to experience so many firsts. His first basketball game. His first steps on his corrected foot. His first campout.  And you get to experience them all while looking at those bright brown eyes, those round cheeks, and indescribable dimples!!!

I know it’s a scary step, waiting children. Trust me, I was there once. But there are hundreds of thousands of children – children like Nolan – waiting for families. Just waiting for someone to be their champion.

For more information about Nolan, please contact Erin Mower at

Bates and Brodie Brown.


One Reply to “Nolan Needs a Champion”

  1. Mary Leigh, thank you so much for being an advocate for these children. And thank you for sharing your story. You are so right on all the firsts you still get to experience. The firsts never end, no matter how old a child is when they are brought home.

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