Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

5 Ways Adoption Forced My Life to Change

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The greatest obstacle I had to adoption was fear of how my life would change.

I was afraid everything would be more difficult. I was afraid I would have less opportunity to do the things I wanted. I was afraid of what I would need to start doing.

And you know what? My fears came true.

But I have also learned that the changes I once feared are okay. In some ways they are actually better. And I am grateful I didn’t let those fears prevent us from it.

Here are a few of the ways my life has been forced to change.

1. I Travel Less. I love going to new places. I love visiting a city I have never been too. I love going to a new country and exploring. I was afraid adoption would make it almost impossible to travel. I was right.

It is harder to get away with so much going on at home. It is harder to find a babysitter who can handle seven kids. When I do need to go somewhere it isn’t as easy to take my wife with me. And I feel guilty about leaving her at home.

But I was also wrong. Adoption itself presented the opportunity to travel. The two trips we took to China to adopt our kids were incredible. I have spent more time in China than any other country I have visited. We have been to six different cities spread out all over the country. We have seen more of China than I could ever have imagined.

And we had some incredible adventures on all of the trips. We have stories we will tell for the rest of our lives, stories that would not have taken place if we had visiting China as normal tourists.

Better than that we made a few friends as well.

The moment we first met our son. An experience I would not trade for anything.

The moment we first met our son. An experience I would not trade for anything.

2. I Drive a Really Big Van.

When we decided to adopt, I only wanted one child because that is all the extra room we had in our minivan. And I was completely against the idea of driving a megavan. I didn’t want it because of how difficult it would be to drive. And I didn’t want it because of what people would think about me.

But we adopted three kids, and the day came when I reluctantly admitted we needed the big van.

It turns out the van isn’t as bad as I thought. It is comfortable. We have plenty of space for friends. The kids fight less in the big van (but they do still fight.)

And you get used to driving it. You drive differently, but that’s okay. You learn and adjust and eventually you hardly notice.

I look forward to the day when I can down size, but for now, the big van is okay.

3. I Have Less Money.

Adoption is expensive and I understand how some simply don’t have the money to do it. Not only is the process costly, but the daily expenses are substantial too.

We have three teenage boys. I still can’t get over how much food they eat. Most of our kids go to a private school and the tuition is very expensive. And, as you can imagine, the megavan gets horrible gas mileage. Everywhere I look there is some expense.

So we have changed how we view money. We spend less money on the things we want and more on what we need. We tell ourselves “no” more than we used to.

Developing a good financial plan can be hard. After we adopted, the issue was so critical, I was forced into it. And it is good. More and more I realize I can do without.

Money and possessions do not make us happy. The people in our lives and the relationships we develop do.

4. I Have Less Time.

Before we adopted, life was beginning to get good. I was just getting to a place where I would finally have free time to do the things I wanted. Now that we have seven kids, there is no such thing as free time.

We are constantly driving kids somewhere. There is always homework to help with. There is always laundry to do. There are always dirty dishes to clean. Always.

I used to watch a few television shows, keeping up with very episode. I watch nothing now. I gave my golf clubs away last year. I can’t imagine finding 4-5 hours to play 18 holes. My life is nonstop from the time I get up at 4:30am until I go to bed at 9:30pm.

While hobbies and lesure activities can be good for you, they can also eat up your time. We have so little of it, we have to be incredibly time conscious. We are learning how to ask what is really important and what really matters. And then we focus on these things.

Sometimes when you have something in excess, you do not appreciate it as much. And when you do not appreciate it, you never understand how valuable it really is.

5. I Have Children with Medical Problems.

Even though I am in the medical field, the idea of taking on these kinds of problems is scary. I was afraid that having a child with more intense needs would be too much. I was afraid of how much it would demand of us.  I was afraid of having a really sick child.

I was right again. Taking care of our kids is hard work. We have spent more time in doctor’s offices and hospitals than we would have ever wanted.

Our daughter with cerebral palsy spends three house a week in therapy alone. Therapy copays and deductibles for braces add up. I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like to be told our son had cancer.

But I have learned that these medical needs are okay too. We can do this too. We have incredible access to healthcare.  The medical needs eat up time and money and emotional energy. But what else would be doing? Something more important?

Our children would have their medical needs whether or not we adopted them. This difficult road is something they have to walk down regardless. They don’t get a choice.

It is an incredible privilege to walk down that road with them. To hold their hand. To help them to see that it will be okay. To pick them up when they fall. To hold them when it is too much.

This story is harder. All of my fears were warranted. But this hardness is okay. And this story is better.

To be continued…

What fears keep you from living a better story?

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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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