Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Swimming in the Deep End

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The Deep End

A friend is in China right now adopting her son. As she made final preparations to leave, she sent me an email telling me a little bit about the challenges she was experiencing. Specifically someone important to her felt like she was making a mistake.

My friend is single. She is a doctor. She is still training. She is a neonatal intensive care unit fellow, and she is incredibly busy.

As the time drew near for her to leave, this person met with her to discuss this enormous undertaking. She tried to convince her to back off. It wasn’t that she didn’t think adoption was a good thing. Or that she didn’t support my friend adopting some day. She was concerned that right now was the not the best time.

Her words were spoken out of genuine concern. She worried that taking on too much, even if it was something good, would turn into regret.

She did not want to see her dive head first into the deep end of the pool where the water might be so far over her head she could drown.

photo by

photo by Ethan Hickerson (creative commons license)

What I Can’t Do

When my friend told me about this, I wanted badly to tell her that this person was wrong. I wanted to say she was not taking on too much. I wanted to tell her that everyone would be perfect.

But I didn’t. I didn’t because it wouldn’t be true. She is getting way in over her head.

This will be more than what she has time for. It will challenge her in ways she has never been challenged before. There are going to be times when it feels impossible. There are going to be times when it will feel like she has “ruined” her life. She is going to make mistakes. She is going to fail.

I know this because I have felt all of these things. There are many days when the water is over my head. I struggle to breathe but can’t. Many days I feel like I am drowning.

There are days when all I can say is, “I can’t do this.”

Learning to Swim

For those of who you know how to swim, at some point in your life you didn’t. When you went to the pool, the deep end was scary. In the deep end, you knew that the safety of being able to touch the bottom would be gone.

The deep end was dangerous. The deep end was unpredictable. The deep end was too much.

There are times when you need to play it safe. But there also comes a time when you have to remove the safety restraints. As long as you stay where you can touch, as long as you keep a floaty strapped on, you will never become a good swimmer.

At some point you have to dive into the deep end with nothing strapped to your back.

What I Choose to Do

All of us are asking ourselves the wrong question. Instead of wondering what we can do or what we would like to do, we need to ask ourselves what needs to be done.

Everyone I meet agrees that adoption is a good thing. When I tell people the stories of my three adopted children it melts their heart. But most people walk away from that conversation unchanged. They believe adoption is worth doing, but they can’t imagine doing it themselves.

The reason? They worry it would be too much for them.

The truth is adoption is too much for everyone who chooses to do it. Everyone encounters problems they can’t fix. Everyone is overwhelmed. Everyone meets the limit of their patience. Nobody has enough money for it.

Better stories are not about what we feel we can do, but about choosing to do something that truly matters, no matter how impossible it may seem. 

Head First

My friend saw a little boy that needed a momma. And it broke her heart. She, like all of us, has asked herself if she can do this. And she realizes it is probably too much. But that answer didn’t work for her.

The only answer she could give was, “Yes,” because it is the only answer that will help this boy.

My friend does not know how deep the water is in this pool. She doesn’t know what is under the surface. She hasn’t solved every problem. She doesn’t know if she can do this.

But she dove in head first anyways. Because her son is worth whatever it takes.

While I know this is too much for her, I also know something else to be true. She has made a life-changing difference for one. And no matter what it costs her, she will never regret it.

If you want to read more about my friend’s adoption journey, you can read her blog here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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11 Replies

  1. It is messy, but it is a beautiful mess.

  2. Bunny

    great way to say it…a beautiful mess LOL!

  3. Amy Young

    Hi Jeremy, I can’t remember my discuss pword 🙂 … so am posting as a guest. I really appreciate the ways in which you consistently point us not to the “richer” life materially, but to the richer life as human beings. You are good about not sugar coating it, but also your posts are infused with hope. Thank you!

  4. Telling me that what I write gives hope is a compliment I really appreciate. If there are ways I could do better, let me know that as well.

  5. KaraSwims

    We leave in 17 days to pick up our 7-year-old son from China. We are a unique family as my husband and I are both proud people with disabilities and full-time wheelchair users. We know China will not be easy (from both an emotional perspective but also the physical inaccessibility). It’s so terrifying that it sometimes takes my breath away. Loved ones have also expressed the worries of the friend you mention-“Why now?” “But it’s so expensive…” “What about your daughter?” When there’s SO much doubt for something you know to be your path, it can feel impossible to express even a sliver of the vulnerability that you DO feel in quiet, alone moments. You’ve done that here-for your friend, for me, and I’m sure others. Thank-you:) This was exactly what I needed to read before we DIVE IN. If you’d like to follow our journey, I blog at

  6. Sherri Bowman

    Thank you for sharing your friends blog. My heart is lifted and I am thankful to read of an adoption experience so like our own. Love always wins! Our story includes sadness but NO regrets, no not one. Thanksgiving wells up in my heart and overflows every time I think of our sweet China boy! (which is all the time :)) Our story at

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. I agree, love always wins.

  8. Sarah B.

    YES! I always explain parenting a child from a hard place in terms of a swimming analogy. Right now we are barely keeping our heads above water. It is too much for all of us to do alone. That’s when we have to ask for God’s help. Only He can handle this. Praise God that your friend listened to her heart!

  9. Ashlin

    I love this! I too am a single physician. I have been home 6m with my 2yr old son from China. It is definitely not easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Thank you so much for sharing your heart…

  10. Thank you for taking the dive!

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