We Can’t Do That

July 15, 2013 cognitive delay, Jean, older child adoption 2 Comments

When Hubby and I first began our adoption journeys we talked about which special needs we could do and which ones we felt that we couldn’t do. Of course as time went on we changed our minds and brought home children with needs that we had previously said no to.

There was one need in particular that we could do BUT we didn’t want to do and we both agreed. Of course we still kept it under that heading of “we can’t do that one”…

It felt safer that way. No one would question us and no one would judge as long as it was safely tucked away under that heading.

Well, God had other plans and He was not going to allow us to continue the charade for long. He knew our capabilities and He knew HIS desires for us.

In July of 2010 we brought home bio sisters from China – Emma and Ellie. It was a bit of a novelty because siblings from China were almost unheard of. They are seldom on the waiting child lists. An acquaintance of ours who lives near us brought home sibling girls from China about 4 years prior. We had been in contact with her previously discussing older child adoption. When we saw our daughters on the waiting child list and when our agency said we could move forward, we were thrilled! It felt like God had placed them there just for us! And just like our other adoptions – they were our daughters!

Their file had conflicting information in it. It would list a concern the orphanage had regarding the girls, (such as their speech or their voice) then after the concern it would say that it was resolved and was no longer a problem.

With the urging of our social worker we asked for an IQ test to be done. The results came back low (around 80) but not too low. Given their circumstances we felt like we could work with the girls and help them with their education. Since we considered them to already be our daughters we did not ask more questions or for clarity regarding the conflicting information in their file..

We knew our GOD would handle the details and it was our job to be obedient and joyfully serve HIM.


Meeting our girls and our time in China with them… was an event to say the least. We were not prepared for the behaviors that occurred and the feelings we felt.

You see, our girls both had the one special need hubby and I said, “we couldn’t do”.

I think of the quote —

“If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

In China, our heads were spinning and we had feelings that we never anticipated having. Our new daughters were completely out of control and had no intentions of listening to us. We were after all strangers to them.


BUT GOD had this all planned out. HE knew exactly what HE was doing. In His eyes it was a perfect plan, we just didn’t know it yet…

When you are a Christian and your head is spinning and you have feelings you never wanted to have and you are confused — what do you do?

You Pray…


And that is exactly what we did.

We were in China with Anna (3), Sarah (10) and our older daughter Katie (24).


In everyway God heard our prayers, He heard our pleas for help. He comforted us as much as we would allow Him to. He guided us every step of the way, every day! Our girls were from the vacation spot of China – Guilin. The sights were magnificent and despite our challenges we truly enjoyed our time there. He gave us a sense of humor during serious times to lighten our load and ease us into our situation. He brought us support through others — friends that emailed consistently and extra personal attention from our agency. The other adoptive families were kind and supportive.

Our girls’ behavior in China was extreme and atypical. At time we were being physically hurt and they were screaming at us in Chinese or running away from us. We needed all the support that we could get and God so wonderfully provided. At one point we considered the “D” word for one of the girls – which means disruption and that is when a family decides not to continue with the adoption and the child returns to the orphanage. However, the Lord impressed upon my heart that was not part of HIS plan.

We made it through our time in China with actually many good memories and we made it home with only moderate challenges as we traveled.

Once home God’s peace came over both of the girls the moment they stepped into the house. We knew they were where they were supposed to be and we knew who was in control of this journey… not us! Praise the Lord.


Our girls have been home for 3 years now. They have made tremendous progress. They behave beautifully and are always willing to help at home! They are a joy to us and we can see how very happy they both are! Our whole family has grown from this experience in ways that we otherwise would have never been able to.

Our experience was extreme and challenging BUT God had a purpose and He taught us the lesson He wanted to teach us. Most children are not as severely cognitively disabled and their cognitive delay is not as challenging to the family while in China. Children with cognitive delays are often joyful, sweet and trusting and that is exactly what our girls have become! It took the grace of GOD and the love of a family for them to blossom!

Our girls behaved the way they did because they were scared to death and they had no coping mechanisms to deal with all that was happening to them. Truly, I should have prayed more for them than for myself but I didn’t understand what was happening at that time, either.

We have found out that their cognitive levels are in the 40’s and 50’s (not the 80’s as we were told). We have found out that “we can do this” because “GOD can do this”.


We feel blessed to have been chosen as their parents. We are so humbled and grateful to GOD! There was no reason for us to be afraid of this special need – HE was with us every step of the way!

2 responses to “We Can’t Do That”

  1. Chris says:

    I get it!!!
    we were sure we weren’t supposed to do this sn too-BUT God…
    I still have to ponder why FOUR Lord? This is HARD!!!
    Really hard, BUT, God, He is in it, and it will be ok, someday!!!!

  2. Sarah says:

    I love your heart, Jean! ALL of your children are beautiful and precious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 No Hands But Ours

The content found on the No Hands But Ours website is not approved, endorsed, curated or edited by medical professionals. Consult a doctor with expertise in the special needs of interest to you.