Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

When Saying No isn’t an Option

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What We Don’t Want

Next week we are taking our adopted son to Indianapolis to have the first of two surgeries.

He underwent a diagnostic procedure 6 weeks ago to develop the specific plan for the next surgery. When the surgeon was finished, he came out to sit down and talk to us and tell us what he found and what he needed to do next. He gave us details of the plan and the potential complications.

The conversation was intense. You can add it to a long list of difficult conversations we have take part in since deciding to adopt.

This conversation and the surgery are not something we have wanted for our family. We don’t want our son to have to deal with any of this. We don’t want him to feel the pain. We don’t want him to face the potential complications.

Jude. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

We want him to be okay. We want him to laugh and smile and play. We want him to be happy. We want to feel the warmth of his body as we hold him close. We want to know the delight of his laughter that we feel in our souls.

Making a Decision

As a parent, one of the things you hope for most is for your children to be healthy. During that conversation we had become the parents we never wanted to be. In a hospital two hours away from home, surrounded by other families with sick kids, having a surgeon tell us he was sorry about what our son was going to have to undergo.

If you had proposed this same scenario to me before we made the decision to adopt, before we met our son, chances are I probably would have given in to logic and walked away from it all.

When our surgeon finished explaining everything, he told us he was sorry. And then he paused as if waiting for us to make a decision. As if there was a decision to make

We expressed appreciation for his words and time and his care. And then responded in one simple way.

We are all in.

Two Options

When we choose to live better stories we will face this tension. The road will be bumpy. While we hope for a smooth ride, our lives will be tossed around by the turbulence of difficult realities and impossible decisions.

  • We will be asked to do more than we ever have.
  • We will be asked to give more than we possess.
  • We will be asked to go places we never wanted to be.
  • We will be asked to pay a price so high that we can never be the same again.

When we arrive at this fork in the road, we have two options. We can quit or we can keep moving forward.

The Only Real Option

When I think about my son, the only thing I could possibly have done to avoid what he is facing is to not adopt him. To leave him in China where he might not even receive the are he needs. Even worse, to leave him to face this tough part of his life alone.

The only other option would have been to choose to not love him, and I can’t not do that.

I can’t wish for all of this to go away because that option is simply not an option.

We are in the place of not-being-able-to-say-no. Not because someone forces us to say yes, but because we love him and we want to give everything for him.

And this is one of the best places to be if your goal is to live a better story.

Not-being-able-to-say-no is the place that normal people avoid. Knowing that the moment will come when saying no isn’t an option, some say no much earlier while they still can.

Before they see the smile. Before they hear the laugh. Before they feel the hug. Before they give themselves over to love.

If you overcome all of the logic of the world telling you to say no now, then one day the moment will come when you won’t be able to, and you’ll never regret it.

Have you ever not been able to say no?

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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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13 Replies

  1. I got goosebumps when I read “We are all in.” :) This is insightful, heartfelt, and there is such truth in what you have written. Thank you for sharing your story. I will keep your son in my prayers.

  2. David Morris

    Thank you for this, Jeremy. 5 years ago, my daughter had to go through exploratory surgery for her food intolerances. It was painful and, in some ways, demeaning for her, but as parents we could not say ‘No’. Today, she is a an amazing, healthy teenager, with an incredible love for God, and an incredible story to tell.

  3. Your stories are so encouraging. To see you loving your adopted children and moving forward in that love. Man, you have my respect. Keep loving on the kids.

  4. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story.

  5. It is good to be able to encourage as well as be encouraged.

  6. As I thought through this story I realized that love often takes us to the place where we cant say no.
    Jesus didn’t say no, he was all in. And for my story to count I have to be too.

  7. This is what unconditional love looks like. Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

  8. Stephanie

    Beautiful! Yes, we are living that now. Earlier this year we lost our youngest of 3 children, our 18 month old son to heaven. He was born with a very severe heart defect and had already undergone 3 open heart surgeries and numerous other surgeries when he left our arms for his forever home. He was such an incredible blessing and he drastically changed our lives for the better. We had talked about adoption before we ever had children and I thought that we would wait until our youngest was older and didn’t need my 24 hour a day attention. After he passed away, we started talking about it again, but this time we started talking about adopting a child with special needs since we know just how much joy they bring to a family. So, a few months ago we went to Ukraine to adopt our little boy with Down Syndrome. While at our son’s orphanage, we met another little boy that we fell in love with. We decided to adopt that little boy, too, and we just recently brought both boys home. The second little boy was born with a pretty severe heart defect and we are about to go down the road of heart caths and open heart surgery again, which if you had told us this earlier this year we would have thought you were crazy…..perhaps we are, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  9. As a parent of adopted child from overseas, I loved reading “we’re all in.” I can’t imagine the place you and your family find yourselves in, but I appreciate you sharing your lessons learned, your fears, and your resolve.

  10. Thanks, DS. Glad to hear you have embarked on this same crazy journey.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. I’m sorry about your son. It is encouraging to see that despite the pain, you are choosing that road again.

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