Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Because You Never Know

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Why should you reach out to those who are less fortunate you? Why should you sacrifice and give to others? Why should you let go of the things you enjoy so that you can give more of yourself and time and money to those without?

Because you never know.

I have heard a well known preacher say over and over again that you simply don’t know what hangs in the balance. The decisions we make and the good we try to do seem insignificant. Maybe even pointless.

His point is that the surface we can see may not be the limit of our words and actions. Even the smallest sacrifices can have a huge influence. The smallest bit of good we do may end up having an effect well beyond ourselves.

When my wife and I chose to adopt our son, it didn’t seem like a simple one. I now know that it is. The question of “Why would we do this?” easily turned into, “Why wouldn’t we do this?”

A simple act, but one that carried more consequence than we could have imagined.

Knowing what I know now, I would do it a thousand times over. I would do it as much I could. I would do it until there was nothing left of me.

My son. Two days after we met him. Before we knew.

My son. Two days after we met him. Before we knew.

What We Did Know

Before we adopted him we knew that he had some health issues. This is the reason he was an orphan. We believe he was abandoned because his parents did not have the resources to get him the medical care he needed.

This is the reason we get to be his parents.

Once we arrived home we began the process of doctor visits and diagnostic tests and decision making. Last December he underwent a surgery to correct and repair. To restore.

During the surgery tissue was removed. Tissue that wasn’t necessarily abnormal, but wasn’t necessarily okay. There was no immediate concern, just precaution. As a routine process, the tissue was sent to the pathologist. We received the final report 2 weeks after the surgery.

It was cancer.

Nobody knew or suspected he had cancer. Yes, the doctors told us it was possible, but we also felt it was unlikely. When the surgeon skillfully used his scalpel to remove it, he did not necessarily suspect it. He was as surprised by the outcome as us.

I’ve written about the adoption process, specifically our struggles to adjust, with vulnerability and openness. But I have yet to tell you about our son’s cancer because I didn’t know what to say. At times it is too much to process.

His prognosis is excellent. All of the cancer, as far as modern medical science can tell, was completely removed. There is no further need for surgery or chemotherapy or radiation. The plan is to obtain yearly tumor marker studies. A simple blood test.

Our doctors reassure us that there is no reason to think the cancer will ever come back.

What If?

I can’t help but think through all of the things that happened and all of the decisions that were made that could have led to a different outcome.

What if he hadn’t had an obvious medical problem? Would he have been abandoned? Did his biologic parents realize they weren’t simply getting him medical care, but saving his life?

What if the best surgeon in the world for his kind of problem didn’t work two hours away? Would we have gotten such excellent, experienced care? Would the cancer have even been discovered?

What if the surgeon had decided that the tissue looked okay and left it?

What if there had been a delay? What if he hadn’t been adopted until he was four or five? Would the cancer have started spreading?

What if we had been scared away by what we did know? What if we had felt his medical problems were too much and we had passed on adopting him?

What I Didn’t Know

There is another question I ask myself, one that hits me hard in the very core of my being about who I am and what is important in life.

What if I had kept saying no to adoption?

Because initially I did.

When my wife first proposed the idea I did say no. I resisted. I avoided the subject. I came up with reasons why it should be somebody else. Smart, careful, reasons. Ones full of discretion and sound logic and wisdom.

I came up with reasons why I could never do that.

We already had four kids. More interfere with our ability to parent them. We were already busy. How much more could we do?

When we adopted we were only beginning to get to a place in life that was a little easier for us. Our children were getting bigger and less demanding of our time and energy. My job was beginning to pay better and give me more free time.

And I kept saying no to adoption because I knew it would ruin what was beginning to be good. I knew adoption would be messy. I knew it would make life harder. I knew it would force me to put things I wanted on hold for a time, if not forever.

I knew adoption would hurt, but I didn’t know how much. It is easily the hardest thing I have done.

And I almost let what I knew prevent me from doing something good.

Of course if I had known about Jude’s cancer, I would have said yes immediately. If I had now how incredible he would be, I would have raced to be the first in line. If I had known how much I love him, I would have done everything.

But I didn’t know.

And because I didn’t know, I tried my hardest to say no. And we almost didn’t get to his parents. And we almost didn’t get to be a part of his story and his life. A story of an orphan who now has a family. A story of a child who is cured of cancer.

Because You Never Know

You don’t know either. None of us do. No one can predict what will happen. No one can understand the potential consequences of their decisions.

  • Why should you do hard things?
  • Why should you sacrifice?
  • Why should you give your life to something good, even when you know it will come at a cost?
  • Why should you love?

Because you never know.

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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15 Replies

  1. What a beautiful post, Jeremy. Your story, your journey and your willingness to step out into the scary and say yes is so very inspiring to me. Thank you.

  2. DDF

    Terrific, Jeremy. Indeed, none of us knows. We do live by faith, not by sight.

  3. Christine Niles

    Wow, Jeremy. One of our daughters (adopted from Ukraine at age 12) has been through 4 surgeries over the past 7 years to remove enlarged lymph nodes. The doctors assure us each time that there’s no cancer, but we’ve asked a lot of these same questions.

    Thanks so much for sharing this and reminding me that the hardest things are the ones most worth doing.

  4. Really good stuff Jeremy. Praying for your son. Any time we find ourselves being critical of someone, my wife and I try and remind each other that we don’t know what’s going on with them. It’s better to start with grace and go from there.

  5. Thankful there is grace for the “you never know” situations or else we’d live paralyzed and looking over our shoulder. Glad to hear Jude is doing well and to see God’s compassion in his little life!

  6. I didn’t know that about you and finding out is an added bonus of telling people about our son. Thanks for sharing.

  7. We often limit faith to thinks like going to church or praying, but it really is about these little things we can’t see isn’t it?

  8. Thanks Eileen. Loved meeting you a few weeks ago.

  9. Thanks, Beck. I think of the kids in Serbia you serve. You never know what will become of only a little bit of help.

  10. DDF

    Yep, we all have to try and be present all the time … certainly at church and when we’re praying (which is very hard for some people, quite frankly) but no less so through the day in the little things that often seem of little consequence. No, things do matter! Thus, I think it’s good to always be asking ourselves, “Lord, what are you and I about to do in this very situation?” We can’t know if we are not committed to be present.

  11. Bunny

    Thanks Jeremy…we have had “surprises” with all 6 of our adopted kids. But birth parents get “surprises” too. I have learned to take them in stride…God’s grace is sufficient and the kids are precious. I appreciate your posts.

  12. It was so nice meeting you and Mrs. Statton too!

  13. Tara (Evans) Dembowczyk

    What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Jeremy. So, so thankful your son is doing well!!
    (I notice you’re an orthopedic surgeon. Our daughter is a patient at Shriners Hospital. She was born with Fibular Hemimelia in both her legs – completely missing her lower right leg. You can read about our journey at – Tara (Evans) Dembowczyk

  14. Thanks, Tara. I hope your daughter is doing well.

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