special need highlight: adopting a child with brain scan issues

March 16, 2014 brain damage syndrome, Central Nervous System, enlarged ventricle, Family Stories 5 Comments

We adopted our son, Jackzhen, in 2012. We met parents on that journey that were already talking about their next adoption, while still in China. I couldn’t fathom returning so soon. Jackzhen was our 4th child and all the adjustments that we were about to endure was all I could handle at that point, especially while still eating rice daily and worrying about someone putting ice in my drink. But thankfully after a short time home, those adjustments were conquered, jet lag wore off, and we could eat ice without fear, yet again!

In August of 2012, 4 months after our first trip, we saw the face of a little girl that would change our family for the better! Her name was Jia Zhao Wei. Her diagnosis perplexed our minds as she had an abnormal brain scan, enlarged ventricle, with delays!!! We were not actively looking for our next munchkin; the file divinely fell in our laps thanks to the love and commitment of the advocacy group that I frequent. So you can imagine seeing a diagnosis like that would make the file easy to dismiss! That is of course, unless your heart was being burdened by a big God who wanted you to listen! We sent the file out to our family doctor friend, in order to get his take on this situation. He gave us the good and bad of this unknown. It ranged from brain surgery, a stent, to nothing.


What is an abnormal brain scan? An abnormal brain scan or brain lesion implies that the cause of the abnormal-appearing area cannot be diagnosed by the image alone, and further evaluation is necessary. This further evaluation can range from many things, review of limb function, vision test, cognition testing, further diagnostic testing, etc.


Oh you don’t know how much I really loved this child from the start! She was almost 4 years old and fit right into our birth order! My arms wanted to hold her and love her as my own daughter, our car had extra seats, our home had room for another bed, but there was this unknown? She will be the youngest of our 5 children; will we be able to handle the potential delays that she has from a possible brain injury? We are also a homeschooling family; could I as mama and teacher handle this? Then we came across more information in her history that was our defining moment of conviction! She had a previous in-country disruption! Yes, I did just write her disruption was our moment of assurance, it made total sense when we found that out! SHE NEEDED US! After we discovered the disruption, the details of her brain issue seemed to fade a bit.

What is a disruption? The interruption of an adoption prior to finalization -sometimes called a “failed adoption” or a “failed placement.” In order to understand why this would give us peace, you have to meet our Jackzhen (pronounced jack-zen)! Jackzhen was adopted in April of 2012 at the age of 3. His special need was limb difference / mild form of CP.


Our Jackz had an in-country disruption in 2011, 2 months before we found his file! We knew about this disruption from the start! Jackzhen has now been home 2 years and he is every bit an awesome kid! He has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy but exceeds our comprehension of his disability every day! He is smart, funny, and loving! He can read and isn’t even in Kindergarten yet! We allowed this to be our catalyst into Jessa’s adoption!

We know that
when man questions, God answers
man denies, God confirms
man doubts, God clarifies!

And this was the truth that we were going to hold onto, abnormal brain scan and all!

Jackzhen had a slight concussion in November of 2012 because of a small fall down our stairs. He was okay, but we had him checked out anyway! I was able to view the CT scan and asked about a shadow spot on the healthy side of his brain, opposite the side from his CP. The doctor pointed to the spot and said, “oh that is just an enlarged ventricle, that isn’t a big deal!”

I got chills immediately!

Enlarged ventricle – Enlarged ventricle – Enlarged ventricle

That is what my Jessa has in China! That is why my Jessa was disrupted! For us, it was reassurance from The Lord! It just goes to show that one measly diagnosis, rendered by unknown physicians, and translated through numerous people, before getting to you, can make for quite an erroneous diagnosis! The same of which can lead to the dismissal of a file because of the unknown! When you are lead to a child, don’t let doubt darken your road to them! Some things will never be understood until those kiddos are home and in your arms. And a lot of those “things” are not as big of a deal as you once thought!

Jessa is five and a half, and has been home for 1 year this month! I assure you that her abnormal brain scan or enlarged ventricle have never been an issue for this beautiful little girl! I can’t help but stare at her some days and wonder how this little gem was over looked for so long? Was it the red flag of disruption that was placed on her file when she was 2, was it the unknown of the abnormal brain scan? I will never know why -But I can tell you how much I just want to shout out loud my love for this little girl, daily! This love is real, this love is forever, and this love is divine! I hope that she does not remember any of those vapors of her past. I am also thankful that “all things work together for good” – Romans 8:28. I understand that we do not live in a perfect world and that things happen out of our control. I hate that she had to endure this, but I know she was meant for our family. Sometimes when I sit and think about dates in her past, I get sad! We were not ready to be Jessa’s parents in 2010. God was at work in our lives, and although I don’t think for a second that her disruptions were part of HIS plan, he did allow them to happen. Without a doubt, He had a better plan for her all along.


Sometimes it takes the storms in this life to bring the sunshine! I love the verse, in a song by Laura Story, “What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if trials of this life the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are your mercies in disguise?”


Adoption is a beautiful, beautiful, thing! The redemption of a child’s life is the most precious event that one can experience in their time on this earth!


Humbled that He has allowed us to be a part of his will this side of heaven!

Will you consider a kiddo with an abnormal brain scan or previous disruption today? You just may be blessed beyond measure because of your faithfulness or even just want to pinch yourself every day because it doesn’t seem real!


~Guest post by Mandy

Waiting Children with Brain Scan Issues



This little beauty is Tessa and she just turned two. At the time her file was prepared, it said that she enjoys babbling and playing games. She can sit alone, stand with holding a hand, roll over and pass a toy. Her special need is mild mal-development of bilateral frontal lobe. We are not sure at this time how delayed she is but at the time of the last report in May she was behind. Her agency is working on getting an update. If you would like more information about this child, please contact Children’s House International.



Geoffrey recently turned 6 years old, and is at a wonderful facility, named Little Flower. He is diagnosed with underdevelopment of the brain, yet his file also says he is developing on target with his peers. He loves playing outside and playing with electrical toys. Geoffrey was delayed in learning to walk. He is able to walk, run, and take long walks, but occasionally he will lose his balance when moving too quickly. His speech is on target, and he is also learning some English. His favorite foods are apples and oranges. He is currently listed with CAWLI, contact them for more information.



Piper was born in 2007. She can run to you if call her name in the room and smile at you. She likes to play iwht the other kids and is attached to her caregiver. She likes staying in the nurturer’s arms and playing games with her touching her face.
At present she can call “mom, granny”, and can follow simple instructions. She can eat with a spoon, and she can take off her shoes and socks. She likes dressing herself, also likes showing off her new clothes. Her body is healthy, has normal defecation and urination. She is still using the diaper due to cerebral dysplasia. She has a happy life in the institute. We hope she will grow up happily and also bless she will find her loving dad and mom soon. She is designated to ATWA, contact them for more information.



Lewis was born May of 2011 prematurely. He is a very handsome little guy. He is smart and has won the hearts of many caregivers. Lewis recognizes people and reaches out his arms to be held by people he knows. His favorite activity is walking down the hallway and playing in his walker. He is a bit strong willed and likes to get his own way. He pays attention to adult’s conversations and it seems like he understands what they are saying. He is designated to ATWA, contact them for more information.

For more information on beginning the journey of adoption, please contact the Advocacy Team.

5 responses to “special need highlight: adopting a child with brain scan issues”

  1. Pat says:

    For those of us who work with children with neurological issues, we know the CAT scan is not the whole story. Often a child with a very abnormal Scan will do very well. There is so much neural plasticity and rerouting that goes in developing brains. Look at the Functional outcomes and more about the child’s interests. A lot of the story is there. How are they doing, who are they as a child helps tell us about how they are functioning.

  2. One of our daughters also had a failed China adoption. We are so blessed because of it! I can’t imagine our life without her!

  3. Shecki says:

    And sometime these kids don’t do so well. Our family has been negatively impacted by the profound delays our youngest adopted child has, and by the dozens of appointments, specialists, and therapists that requires. I would NOT do it all over again. We were very lucky with 2 of our adopted kids, and they’re doing well, with manageable special needs.

  4. Tim Stowell says:

    I can not begin to fathom the plan of The Almighty nor understand why the children we have, of all the possibilities, we became parents to. Yet having witnessed and experienced heartbreak, coming out the other side of those experiences has been richly educational either for our benefit or others. This continues daily with missteps by both the children and us.

    I do not believe we have another adoption in our future unless such is a miracle across the board. Yet for those who are willing to take that leap into the unknown, I pray you educate yourselves beyond the required training, into the what ifs.

  5. Rachel says:

    Wow! This sounds so harsh!

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