Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Field Trip

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Have you ever been on a field trip that you just wanted to be over?

To an amusement park? To an art museum? A family vacation to Uncle Bob’s?

Our saga has officially become a field trip. One that no picture, despite it’s worth of words, could adequately describe what this past Friday was like.

The Field Trip

The day was monumental in many different ways. We traveled from Shenyang to Guangzhou (pronounced “Gwang-Joe”). Singificant since Guangzhou is almost our last stop before heading home. This is the place where every family that adopts from China must visit before coming home.

Here we visit the U.S. Consulate and are issued visas for the kids.

The beginning of a tough day.

We didn’t do well with traveling in China. Out of the four domestic flights, three were delayed, including the flight Friday. But the delay was only the beginning of our issues.

We left our hotel in the early afternoon. As we packed and gathered our things, our daughter, Eva, completely broke down. She began sobbing. Then mixed in some screaming in between the sobs.

We had picked her up four days prior, and over that time she had been holding in all of her feelings. We could tell that she was feeling, but it took this long for them to come out.

I think she new the significance of what was happening. That we were leaving and taking her with us. I think she understood that everything was about to change irreversibly.

Despite knowing little Chinese, she started uttering something through the sobs that we both understood.

“Wo xiang mama.” Loosely translated, “I want my momma.”

Eva wants the field trip to be over.

A Broken Heart and Dirty Shorts

The sobbing continued as we arrived at the airport. It continued as we waited to board the plane. It continued as we board twenty minutes late. It continued while we sat on the tarmac another ninety minutes. She cried the entire time.

Eva’s heart is broken. There is no other way to put it. We have pictures from a party we threw her while she was with her foster family. We pulled them out and it seemed to help. She points to the woman and says, “Mama.” She points to the man and says, “Baba” (Dad). She points to the other 3 kids and calls recites their names.

These moments are tough. It hard for us to see her hurt. Nobody asked her if she wanted to leave her family. Nobody asked her if she wanted to be adopted. Nobody asked her if she wanted to move to America. She is strapped down on a roller coaster of life and orphanhood. The coaster is getting ready to plummet over the top and she is not enjoying the ride.

We are definitely okay with not being the mama and baba of her life right now. But we hate to see her hurt. We hate that we can’t make all of the bad feelings go away. Our hugs do not provide the kind of comfort she is used to. The kind that comes when she falls and scrapes her knee and then there is “mama” to pick her up and wipe away her tears.

She continued to cry after we took off. After two hours of sobbing on the plane, she finally settled down when dinner came. She became distracted from the pain and settled down. We started feeding both her and Jude, our adoptive son. Things seemed to be getting better.

Then Jude threw up all over both him and me.

We arrived at Guangzhou around 10:20pm. Physically tired. Covered in tears and snot. Exhausted emotionally. Reeking of vomit.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am complaining. Well, maybe I am complaining about the vomit. It was awful. I went to the bathroom and washed my shorts in the airplane sink. Wet shorts were better than vomit shorts.

But I am not complaining because these two kids are worth every bit of what we are doing. I would still do this trip again knowing what I know now.


Isn’t this love? That we hang in there despite how hard it is? That we keep giving when the only thing that is given back to us is a lap full of undigested food?

It’s hard to know isn’t it? Our culture doesn’t understand love. Because of our desire to sell books and movies we tell a love stories that make us feel good about ourselves. And we have forgotten what true love is.

When we “love” something, we are referring to a warm, gooey feeling we get on the inside. Like a drug. Or chocolate cake. People don’t go watch the movie when love is about dying to our self.

True love is one that gives despite the hurt. It is one that is always there. True love would still do the trip a thousand times even if it found out that things will get worse. True love is the type of love that God offers us. He gives. Freely. Without any need of us making him feel good. The giving to us is what motivates him.

Have you ever been on a field trip that you wanted to be over?

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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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57 Replies

  1. Jeremy, so glad you are home safe. On the bright side, that insane trip might lead toward quite a few blog posts, right? 🙂

  2. indeed. there was 1 more incident I haven’t told talked about yet.

  3. Gymwork

     Doc J……I can only imagine and spend some time for you with prayer. You are a stronger man than me. I have a hard time dealing with my one adult child…shalom en theos

  4. Beautiful story, and such beautiful little people you have there. You’re right, true love rarely appears in the best of times. It’s in the difficult moments that it shines brightest. And there’s a whole lot of beauty in that idea. I’m so glad real love has more to do with God and less to do with a Hollywood movie.

    Glad you are home! Praying for all the adjustments to come.

  5. So true Jeremy. Love is not easy and we are rarely told that. Thanks for sharing this eventhough it was a less-than-pleasant experience. We need more truth. Glad you guys are finally home.

  6. Marleen

    Such a heart wrenching story.  My younger daughter and I made a similar journey 11 years ago.  I can remember sitting in the bathroom on the airplane with my screaming daughter wondering if her heart could ever heal.  It was a long difficult journey that took several years, but God was and is so faithful to pour out his love and healing.  I will pray for your family.

  7. Jeremy. This is a potent story. The real hard realities of what adoption looks like for each member of this story.  “No one ask them if they wanted to be adopted”.  and how painful is that for everyone. Bless you, vomit and all. Each of you.

  8. Jeramy, thank you for sharing this story. You and your family are in my prayers.   

  9. That was awesome, Jeremy! Thank you for sharing that with us.

    Such a tough experience for everyone involved, I’m sure.

  10. Now thats a tough day 🙁  Thank you for sharing with us. Sending you and your family so many prayers and hope for happier days very quickly.

  11. Kelseyhoak

    Whoa. I am just in tears thinking about her little life and then our little girls and their big transition (not near as tough as yours) and thankful that you posted and let us know how it really is. We’ll keep praying!

  12. It is a strange mixture of incredibleness and tough. But yes, there has been and will be tough. It’s less like a “miracle” and more like a test of endurance.

  13. Thanks for the prayers.

  14. Things are better for her now, but it isn’t easy.

  15. I appreciate the prayers, Maria.

  16. After I washed my shorts off in the bathroom, the smell seemed better. But then once we got off the plane, it seemed just as potent.

  17. Thanks. Your 11 year perspective is greatly appreciated.

  18. Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were.And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

  19. Great quote. I definitely feel every bit of this. In China I asked myself “why” often. Getting home yesterday added a little ray of sunshine to that darkness. Thanks for the encouragement.

  20. wow, Jeremy. What a journey! I have never been on a journey like yours, not even close..though I have puked on my husband in a plane :).

    God bless you and your family. You are in my prayers.

  21. did your husband have to wash his pants in the bathroom?

  22. Diane Rivers

     I love how you brought it back around to the love of God and how “just the giving to us is what motivates Him”.  You are giving those sweet children a wonderful gift; may they make the connection themselves one day to the all-surpassing love of God. 

  23.  No… It was his shirt 🙂 Didn’t wash it. (caught most of it in a bag) 🙂

  24. Christina Quist

    Perfect description for this stage of awful inbetweeness. We moved to South Africa 5 weeks ago to work in township communities decimated by Hiv and AIDS. We left family and friends, took our 5 kids with us. We now live alone, so far from home, waiting to be accepted here, waiting for the dawn to break. Thank you for the reminder, the reason.

  25. Wow, Christina. The dawn will come. Did you read the comment in this post by Jeff Goins? It is really helpful.

  26.  Actually, we had just watched The Two Towers last night, and then I saw his comment! I love when God speaks through Hobbits.

  27. Christina, do you have a blog?  I would LOVE to hear more about your story and experience moving to South Africa with 5 kids!  

  28. Aww!  Just imagining her in tears makes me want to cry.  May God bless you all with hearts filled with peace and and comfort during this tough transition.  It’s so awesome what God has placed in your heart to do and even more awesome that you answered the call.  God Bless!

  29. So glad she had a foster family who loved her and glad she felt loved and known by them.

  30. I am too. I have to keep reminding myself that right now, but I know it’s better in the long run.

  31. Thanks. It continues to be tough. It isn’t a short term project at all.

  32. It is definitely better in the long run even though it’s making it a different kind of hard now. Saying a prayer this minute of today for you and for her little heart grieving her loss, praying God will bring restoration to that heart.

  33. Kristi

    Being a mom, I can’t tell you how my arms wanted to hold this little girl myself while I read your story.  I hurt just imagining her pain.  Someday this will be but a shadow of a memory for her, and she will yearn for yours and your wife’s hugs for comfort.  I pray that “someday” comes sooner rather than later.

  34. Thanks. I agree. she may barely remember these days. our job is to keep giving the hugs.

  35.  Sure, it’s Not professional, so please lower your expectations before clicking;)

  36. Life isn’t always pretty, and neither is love–at least not now. But both will some day be more beautiful than we can imagine. I’m touched by your story and by the depth of love you have for your sweet babes. I pray He makes your path smooth from here on out, in Jesus’ name.

    (clicking over from Jeff Goins’ RSS feed)

  37. Thanks for sharing, Christina

  38. Thanks for the encouragement. We really need it right now. I feel way in over my head.

  39. Jeremy –  Making a middle-aged man cry at his workstation should be a crime.  I am trying to imagine my wife and I doing what you and your wife did.  But truly cannot even begin to fathom it. 

    And with all the crying, sobbing and vomiting, I think I might have become the “jerk on the plane” you recently wrote about.  I pray not, but … I just don’t know how I would have reacted.

    I pray that things have settled down (at least a little bit) for you and your family.

    My head is still spinning from reading your story.  Wow.

    God bless you and your wife for the love you have for these kids. 

  40. I traveled with the African Children’s Choir for three years, and one of our trips was to Italy. Our flight was delayed, and after two days with barely any sleep, we finally landed in Rome with twenty five exhausted little Africans.

    When we landed, we discovered that the airline had lost 24 of our bags. Yup. TWENTY FOUR. We had about 80 bags total, but still. It was agony trying to communicate to the airline (who luckily spoke English) that we had lost that many bags, when all we wanted to do was find a bed and crash.

    We finally sorted that out, picked up the sleeping children that were scattered all over the floor, and ventured out to find the bus that would take us to our next destination. The driver didn’t speak a lick of English and was trying to ask me where we were going, which I didn’t have a clue. I can’t remember ever being more tired and when that Italian bus driver started talking to me, I just wanted to burst into tears and crumple onto the cement. But I had twenty five little blessings behind me, so I held it in and we got through it. And proceeded to perform at several concerts throughout the country and bless everyone who saw them.

  41. Great story Jamie. I can only imagine how challenging that would be.

  42. Yay! (Clap, clap, clap!) I applaud your love and faithfulness. It’s good to be encouraged when we’re running a race, and you and Amanda are running a marathon of love. I hope you both feel the pleasure of Jesus as you step out of your comfort zone, vomit shorts are the absolute worst, and into the flow of his powerful love! I’m looking forward to reading those posts that will come in time about the sweetness of bonding with your children, of speaking the same language, of being called Mama and Daddy.

  43. Well, doesn’t that put my day into perspective! Applause for keeping your sanity and your perspective. And that remarkable God-love that powers you through it enough to say you’d do it again… so glad I stumbled upon your site. Blessings!

  44. Micky Wolf

    Great post Jeremy. (Here by way of Jeff Goins.) The ‘real deal’ for my Monday morning. Inspiring, encouraging, and a wonderful object lesson in what is truly important. God bless you!

  45. Heidi Olson

    Thank you for sharing this. What a blessing your story is!

  46. What a beautiful story!…smelly…but beautiful 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  47. Dubem Menakaya

    Here via Goinsy – and I’m so glad that I am! Such vivid writing with such meaning and feeling….I’m here to stay!

  48. After washing my shorts out on the plane, the smell didn’t seem as bad. But once we landed and were waiting to get our luggage, I completely grossed myself out. That was 2 years ago now and it is fun to laugh at it.

  49. Well, we did do it again. We adopted a 13 year old boy this past winter. No vomit on that trip, though.

  50. Loved your post. Transparent, real. Loved it.

  51. Suzanne Tobin

    Thanks for sharing from the heart. Whenever I think the Internet is the bane of our existence, I happen across a post that touches my heart. I followed a link from Jeff Goins), and because I am in the process of recovering, I hope, from a life-threatening brain condition, which is MOST DEFINITELY a field trip I would like to be over, I am also so grateful to so many people who have helped me, from friends and family to healthcare workers to paratransit drivers and, yes, even to the health insurance companies whose voice mail trees make me NUTS! I hope your family continues to flourish.

  52. Thanks Suzanne. I wish you well.

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