Now that the cat’s out of the bag on my adoption, I often wonder what the heck I’ll blog about. To be honest, between appointments with my caseworker and rushing to meet document deadlines, dating has been the last thing on my mind. But I can’t see myself becoming just another mom blogger, even though many of them make millions writing up creative ways to trick kids into eating vegetables. Who knew you could hide kale in so many things? Today, however, it was painfully obvious to me exactly what I should write about – the power of words.
Someone tried to talk me out of adoption this week.
Before you freak out and click comment and promise to punch someone in the face on my behalf, let me explain. (Picturing you all as Screech Powers right about now: “Hold me back, Zack! Hold me back!”)
Part of the adoption process includes a whole lot of training. Classes, books, seminars – how to help a disengaged child socialize, how to bond with your child, how to handle being a mixed-race family, medical issues with international adoption . . . and the list goes on. And there’s even a special part to help adoptive parents deal with the inappropriate questions and comments they are bound to hear once they announce their decision to adopt. Truth be told, when I went through this section of the training, I sort of laughed. I mean, who would say these things? The curriculum had to be really outdated. It was probably from the fifties or something, right?
Even to this day, people say stupid, stupid things.
From my brief experience being a pre-adoptive parent, I’ve realized people have a hard time simply being silent and supportive. For some strange reason, many feel the need to share horrible, devastating stories they’ve heard on the subject. The second I mention adopting, they verbally vomit about that one family from church whose child had an unknown serious illness, or that other family they saw on Dateline whose child had severe attachment issues, or that other family whose child [insert terribly sad and unfortunate story here].
I’ve learned to just nod and say, “Wow, that’s so sad,” all the while in my head screaming at the top of my lungs, “Why are you telling me this? Are you trying to scare me? Are you trying to convince me to change my mind?!”
To be clear, I did not decide to adopt a couple weeks ago when I wrote my last blog post. I didn’t decide to adopt on a whim. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Golly gee, I want an orphan all my own!” This has been a long, long process for me. Years of praying and believing and learning and research. I’m a 35-year-old woman who is making a rational, committed life decision with wisdom and support from my family and close friends. And no spur-of-the-moment, tip-of-the-tongue comments from naysayers are going to change my mind.
But as much as I know this to be true, I still went to bed in tears after hearing that one person’s comments this past week. It hurt. I’m only human. I prayed right there in my bed and gave it all up to God, and felt a real peace as I finally fell asleep that night. But the situation got me thinking about the power of words. What do we use our words for?
To uplift or to put down?
To encourage or to despair?
To comfort or to condemn?
Ephesians 4:29 says:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
I’m learning to think before I speak, to pause before I blurt out something I’ll regret. That’s not easy for this opinionated Jersey girl, but even God can work miracles. From experience, I know it feels terrible to be on the receiving end of a misplaced, hurftul comment. I never want to cause that pain.
Especially not to my children.
I remember seeing this piece of art a while back and it still brings me to tears today.
Lord, please help me speak into my children words of life, that they may grow strong and healthy.
May I speak words of joy, that they may feel happiness.
May I speak words of forgiveness, that they may know Your mercy.
And may I speak words of love, that they may never feel unsafe or unloved again.