Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Pure, undefiled religion

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When, Grace, our fourth child came along, I was certain I was done with expanding my family. Who wouldn’t be, especially when number four plays the high chair game?

My wife, however, felt God calling her to something more. She had a vision for a better story.

The word “adoption” would occasionally get thrown around our conversations. To me it sounded great for everybody but us, but my wife “seemed” to hear God telling her it was a way for our family to write a better story.

I say “seemed” because I wasn’t hearing the same thing.  It is funny how she heard God say, “You have four kids, but you need one more, and you need one that is orphaned,” because I was quite certain I heard God saying, “You have four kids. You need a vasectomy!”

Which, when you stop to look at it, are not really all that different. God was telling both of us that we did not need to get pregnant again. I just stopped listening once I heard the part I liked.

Then God made me listen to the rest.

photo by Ben Tedder (stock.xchng)

One of our pastors made a decision to leave our church so that he could plant a new church in his hometown of Cleveland. This was a hard decision for him. He wanted to stay where he was. He did not want to leave an established church that he had worked hard to help plant to start over from scratch. He was happy. He was content.

A new story did not seem better to him. It seemed harder.

But he could not quiet the voice of God in his heart.

In his last sermon before setting off on his adventure, he preached on the idea of not pursuing comfort. Like any other pleasure, comfort and safety are fleeting. They are both false illusions that we love to hang on to. Tightly.

God was telling me that I love comfort of a safe, boring story. And comfort will never satisfy like trusting him. Happiness will never be found in doing less for God’s kingdom. Joy will never be found in spending more time and money on myself.

God was telling me to trust him.

He wanted me to choose more sleepless nights instead of Sunday afternoon naps. To choose more tuition payments instead of early retirement. To choose dirty diapers instead of behaved older children. To choose ruckus instead of peace and quiet.

And then I admitted to what my wife tries to tell me all the time. She was right.

In the book The Lost Daughters of China, author Karin Evans describes returning home after adopting her daughter from China and experiencing the fullness of her love for her precious little girl.

On a sunny, midwinter morning not long after our return from China, I was standing in the kitchen holding Kelly, when I was struck by one of those bolts of clear realization that seems to come out of nowhere. As I pressed her chest against mine, her soft cheek brushing my face, I suddenly, absolutely, knew that I could not love this child any more than I did right then. I loved her without condition, without reservation, forever. There simply was no room left in my heart to love her more.

Evans experience helps us to understand why James 1:27 tells us that,Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”

Instead of choosing myself, God was telling me to choose a poor, helpless, beautiful boy from China. A boy who is to become our son.

Now it does not seem like much of a choice at all.

Do you have any experience with adoption? Do you feel like God is telling you to do something else with your life? Tell your story in the comments.

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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14 Replies

  1. Jenny

    Thank you for your heart (and for trusting your wife’s call in her heart).  I did not tell my husband my heart’s cry for adoption for over a year, for fear that he would fall on the ground laughing, or crying.  “We have three great kids!  What more could you want?”  I just knew, and God opened his heart.  Here we are – five years later, now with five kids total.  Adopted twins our of FL foster care – a rugged journey, but the heart of Christ reveals in us our absolute need for His continued reshaping of US.  I never knew how much I liked “easy” until we met our twins. 

  2. Sounds like a great story, Jenny. Twins! Wow. I am both envious and glad it’s not me. You are right about the continuous reshaping. He is making all things new. For some of us the task is difficult and it takes a long time, but he is doing it.

  3. Violet Tse

    I just found your blog through “The Write Practice.” This post caught my eye immediately because of your adopting from China. I was a single missionary in Hong Kong where I met my husband. He had escaped from China after the Cultural Revolution. We married in 1979, had two biological children and adopted two children – one from Beijing and one from Hong Kong.  It has been quite the story, to put it mildly, but with the Lord’s direction step by step, there is nothing to say except “to God be the glory, great things He has done!”

  4. It does sound like a great story. Nice to hear from you Violet.

  5. Hi, I just ‘found’ you through your post about the question everyone is afraid to ask.  I loved it, and it seems to be going viral, at least, making the rounds of adoptive parents.  We started this journey back in 2002, and ten years later, we have nine children…six from China, and now we are praying about moving there to help an already established ministry for those left behind…the ‘unadoptables’.  I can tell you that nothing has brought me more joy, and no one thing has made me more cognizant of my own salvation than the visible gospel of adoption.  I thank God daily that the response to the tragedy of abandonment is so beautiful and full of love and compassion.  I like to consider that if these children are such a blessing and make me so incredibly happy, how much more so is our adoption into His family to Him!

  6. Mackenzie

    I just found this blog (I had read and commented on your
    previous blog about “The question everyone is afraid to ask). Like I said,
    we are planning on going through the foster to adopt system and when I read
    your story and all the other stories, I am elated and completely encouraged.
    God never said it was going to be easy, but He does expect us to be fully
    obedient to him…and I feel that adopting and growing our family is His call
    for us. We’re slightly overwhelmed right now with young children, homeschooling
    and building a house, while living in tight quarters but, again, it’s not
    suppose to be easy…and God will get the glory in the end.

    My husband had similar thoughts like you (ahem…vasectomy) about
    our happy little family, but was starting to be open to one more child….obviously,
    we’ll take God’s lead on the number of children, but I’m so thrilled that my
    husband has found his answer in the Lord through a series of small events
    .   He recently read your blog, had been praying
    and then had a very profound bible verse be sent to his phone through a bible
    website and a few more ‘coincidental’ things happen…the other night, he came
    home and said “We are SUPPOSE to adopt through the Foster System”.  Praise the Lord! 

  7. Praise the Lord. I’m excited for you.

    Do you mind sharing the verse that moved your husband with me?

  8. You bring up an important ministry I left out, the unadoptables. Thank you for remembering them. Do you have a website for your ministry?

  9. Holly

    I read both your posts on Undelfiled Religion  and Questions and felt as if I was reading my own stories!  God placed adoption on my heart for about 2 years before my husband felt ready.  I waited, impatiently at times, and it has been such an emotional journey- at first we thought God was calling us to China and were matched, so we prayed about this little boy and God closed that door.  Then He took us in a different direction to adopt from the US.  So far, a year later since we started the US process, we have inquired on over 400 kids, and God has closed the door on all, but I know that our Mighty Father will not lead us into the wildreness and desert us- He will lead us on.  We have 3 beautiful children and were finally reaching a ‘normal’ pace in life- so we have alot of raised eyebrows, rolled eyes, and sighs of stubborn ignorance- because we are adopting and are open to a different race, special needs, and more than 1- heehee- I don’t mind being insane for God’s Cause!! Two scriptures that Yahweh has laid on my heart through this journey are Psalm 25, Jeremiah 6:16, and Micah 6:8.  May you be blessed for sharing your story and thank you.

  10. Thanks Holly. It sounds like you are headed on an incredible journey. 400 inquiries? Wow. Hearing no 400 times, only makes that yes that much better.

  11. Jeremy, thank you for sharing about your adoption journey.  I wanted to offer a bit of encouragement to your reader, Mackenzie and to others who are considering Foster Care Adoptions.  

    We finalized our fourth adoption in 2010, creating our own Brady Bunch, with a total of six children.  I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Foster Care Adoptions, when the idea of growing our family came to mind.  I didn’t realize how many children are without families to call their own, right in our own neighborhoods.  And I didn’t realize that Foster Care Adoptions are free of any expense to the adopting family.  All I knew was that I wanted to grow our family, and I wanted a little girl to nurture and to share the world with. We were told early on that our willingness to ‘foster’ ,while waiting to adopt, would give us the best opportunity to be placed with adoptable children.  A very large percentage of foster children will not be able to return to their family of origin and their foster parents are often the first family considered for their permanent placement.  We were foster parents for approximately 4-5 years, fostered about 30 children, and adopted four.  Even when we said that we had completed our family, we were still getting phone calls regarding more adoptable infants.  We were living in California at the time, so infant availability may vary state-to-state, but there are children in every state waiting for their ‘new’ family to take them home.   

    Everyday I thank God for my beautiful family.  I  now have two adult children and four young children at home.  The youngest four all came home as infants; my daughter is now seven years-old and my little boys are ages 3, 4, and 5.  Our family life is fun, loud, and yes, a little crazy…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I still tear up every time I look at them and realize how blessed I am to have the privilege of being their mommy.

  12. Christine,
    Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I really appreciate that you have chosen to do this. Foster care is critically important. I am sure there is a huge difference between children who spend their entire youth floating from foster home to foster home and those that find stable homes. Foster care is very important.
    Would you be interested in sharing more of your story on my blog? I can send you a list of questions and all you would have to do is answer them. Or if you enjoy writing, you could write the story yourself. What do you think?

  13. I wanted to thank you for writing your two posts about adoption. I have wanted to adopt since I was about 7 and first learned that there are children all over the world who need a home. I have firmly wanted to adopt ever since and have researched adoption on and off my whole life. (In fact, I found this site while researching adopting deaf children.) I especially appreciated your post on the questions you get, since I have heard so many questions about why I would want to adopt.

    But this post really touched my heart. The way you connect adoption with devotion to Christ is something I’ve tried, and failed, to express a few times. 

  14. The entire thing really is a process. My wife and I are in China right now. We picked up our son this past Sunday and will be picking up our daughter this coming Monday. As I hold my son I sometimes wonder how I could have ever considered saying no to the idea of adoption. If you are interested, you can see more about our trip at

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