Treasure in Darkness

March 27, 2016 Attachment, cocooning, Developmental System, Down syndrome, Family Stories 2 Comments


“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

It has been said that most, and I would say all, adoption journeys begin out of loss. Perhaps that is some form of loss inside of the adoptive family, and certainly there is loss for the orphan that is being adopted.

Our family brought the heartache and loss of sweet ones we had dreamed would be entering our family through pregnancies in 2005 and 2007 that both ended in the stillbirths of two sweet boys. The desire to see our family grow did not fade with these losses, and the idea that our family would biologically increase was not an option any longer.

We had four beautiful children already, and though I had for years spoken about adoption and my desire to pursue it for our family, my husband was uninterested. Through prayer and a time of healing after our boys’ births, my husband not only became interested in adoption but also came to understand our calling to do so.

Our journey toward what we know are treasures of darkness – riches stored in secret places – officially began in January 2009 when we began our first steps toward international adoption from the country of Asia.

In January of 2008, after being in the paper process of the adoption journey for four months, we received the referral of an eighth month old baby girl living halfway around the world. This baby had been released from the hospital after a long stay and had been received by the orphanage just that week. Our sweet Chloe was born in Taiwan, 12 weeks premature, weighing about 1 pound when her birth momma went septic and delivering early was the only option. She had a heart defect requiring immediate surgery, during which her heart stopped twice and her lungs were damaged.

We were told she spent most of the first months of life in a hospital before she was discharged and placed in the orphanage where we would meet her many months later. Her rough beginning to life was not what brought her to the orphanage, it was the extra 21st chromosome she was born with, and because of it we were told her parents were advised to leave her at the hospital.

It was written in her hospital paperwork that staff instructed the parents she was not a “good” baby to keep.

When we began the paperwork journey toward bringing Chloe home, we knew nothing about the special need she had. Down syndrome was not something my husband or I had grown up around or had experience with and it wasn’t something we specifically felt called to pursue when we began our process. In fact, we had told our social worker we were open to a child with a minor, correctable needs, but that we were praying that God would lead us to His child for our family and so we would be open to reviewing files as God led her to present them to us.

When we were given the file of an eight month old baby girl with Down syndrome we began praying with our children over the possibility of this being God’s design for our family. Even after much discussion over what life with a sibling with Down syndrome would look like, three of our four children were ready to move forward and could not have been more excited. Our oldest child had reservations, however. He was supportive of our family adopting and had been ready when we had talked with him about a possible need that was minor or correctable, but the idea of adopting a child with lifelong needs that others might not understand and readily accept, and that he could not ‘fix’ was hard for him to embrace. It took several conversations with him, allowing him to ask whatever he needed and to express how he felt about such a child before he felt he needed time to pray and think on his own.

Connor, who was 12 at that time, came to us after praying one evening telling us that his thoughts about adopting Chloe had changed. He felt she did have the “minor correctable need” that our family had been initially considering. Chloe did not know Jesus yet or the love a family, and our family could do that. The rest of her special needs were how she was made, and he felt sure God would help us with that. His words were what gave us the confidence to move forward, feeling confirmed that it wasn’t what we knew, what we had researched, anything special about us or how equipped we felt with this special need that confirmed this decision.

It wasn’t about us, but where God was leading us and what we know now are treasures He planned to show us in the gift of Down syndrome and two beautiful little girls.

We traveled to Taiwan in September of 2009 to bring Chloe Maekayleigh Cogswell home to her forever family. A friend of mine who had a biological son with Down syndrome had encouraged me to remember that our daughter was a baby first who needed a Momma. She needed love and attention, teaching and guidance, a family and acceptance just like any other baby. This encouragement was greatly appreciated and very helpful to me when Chloe came home.

Instead of being overwhelmed with what a diagnosis meant for our baby and how her needs might be different, I settled into just loving her as her Momma. Still such a baby, so tiny and so behind developmentally, Chloe simply needed a Momma. She needed me to hold her and snuggle her, keep her close and provide for her. Yes, there were many questions about her health and so many doctor appointments that we would take on in that first year, but above all she simply needed the love of a Momma and of a family. And that would be our focus that first year of having Chloe home.

Years passed and the doctor appointments continued to increase instead of lessen. Chloe’s health continues to be hard for the doctors to find the right treatment plan for. Outside of her diagnosis of Down syndrome she has several complicated GI issues, protein losing enteropathy, failure to thrive due to lack of growth and weight gain, and developmentally she struggles to move forward due to lack of feeling well on a regular basis. Our hearts’ desire had been to adopt again shortly after returning home from our first adoption, but Chloe’s health required us to stay vigilant and involved with her and God pushed pause for several years on our next adoption process.

It was during this time that a friend of mine introduced me to a foster home in China for children with special needs that advocated for their children on social media. We would pour over blog posts filled with pictures and details of the children who were living in the foster home, but it was always one sweet one that stuck out to each of our family members. This beautiful little one, with the same diagnosis of Down syndrome as our Chloe, was three years old at the time and had just recently arrived at the foster home from the orphanage in Hohhot where she had lived for the first three years of her life.

We watched as in the posts we saw this little girl that had arrived slightly withdrawn and shy begin to blossom in her new environment. We were obsessed with checking to see if there were new posts about her – watching for that smile that just seemed to take over her sweet face causing her almond shaped eyes to almost completely disappear. We were in love.

I had contacted the foster home and our adoption agency… we knew that her file had not been prepared yet, and we were also confident that God had still placed us in a season of waiting before adopting again. As we waited to see if her file would be prepared and continued to focus on our children and Chloe’s health, we also prayed that if it was God’s will He might allow this sweet one to become paper ready and allow us to adopt her…or that He would release us from this overwhelming love we had developed for her.

In April of 2014, our prayers were answered. I began receiving email after email and message after message on Facebook from friends, who knew of our love for this little girl, alerting us that her file had been prepared and she was being officially listed and ready for adoption. Without even asking my husband who happened to be out of town at the time, I called the adoption agency she was listed with and asked for her file. On that day in April (after an eventual call to my husband where I shared what I had done and received his support and excitement ☺), we submitted paperwork to begin the adoption process of the one God had led us to years prior and given us such a love for.

In His perfect timing He allowed her file to be made ready and for us to be chosen to be her family. In March of 2015, one year ago today as I write this, we traveled to China to bring six year old Cora Jo Cogswell home to our family.

The last year has been a year of bonding and transition, of growth and stretching, at times of loneliness and frustration, but also of pure joy and blessing. We are blessed to have in our home beautiful vessels of life change. Sweet girls who God has used to show us treasures hidden in what the world often sees as a dark diagnosis.

We have slowed down and been given the opportunity to see what really is important. We’ve been given the chance to linger longer in moments with our little girls that otherwise we are sure we would have have missed. We would have passed these moments by too quickly in our normal pace of life.


We have seen 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 come alive in our home:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are.”

The diagnosis of Down syndrome is something that many times the world sees as lowly and as weak. We have witnessed situations where they are almost despised because they are viewed as different. But it is this treasure in darkness, the way our girls are beautifully and wonderfully made, that God has used to change us. To shame us at times and to open our hearts and eyes to what we didn’t see before.


We better see now what beauty is, what redemption is – our daughters and our own redemption in Christ – and what God has called our family to in ministry. To say we are thankful for what God has given us and shown us through adoption and our little girls is an understatement.

We are grateful. We are changed.

– guest post by Amy

2 responses to “Treasure in Darkness”

  1. love this….what an amazing challenge

  2. Marta Joy says:

    Wow! I would love to get in contact with you somehow. How can that be possible? Throughout our adoption process we also feel this draw to DS girls. Yet. It’s so unknown, so different, so hard. Yet the Lord stirs! This really touched my heart…your faith has surely been stretched and grown. I am in awe how the Lord does this to us. Little by little taking us into deeper water. Always changing us.

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