Warning, I'm probably about to do some confessing and maybe even some ranting here. If you're after warm and cuddly you might want to leave now and check back in a couple of days. But for now, writing is one of the ways that I process things best, and so I'm attempting to work through some of the stuff that's been going on lately that I can't seem to get out of my head.
For some reason, it would seem that choosing to adopt a child with special needs means that we're now fair targets for lots of opinions. Usually they start with, "I'm sure you've already thought about this..." or "I'm only thinking of what's best for you (or her), or "I know I must not try to influence you.." or "I'm not going to interfere, but I just have to say this", or "I'm only saying this because I love you" etc..... (Note to self: If you ever feel the need to preface a comment with one of these, think REALLY hard about whether or not you go ahead and say anything.)
It's been really hard. Not so much for Gareth, he seems to be able to let it roll off his back and remain mostly unruffled by it. Me, well, not so much.
When we first began to tell people that we were adopting again, we had several "interesting" conversations with people who didn't necessarily think it was a good idea. And then things kind of died down and there were far more people who were really excited and happy for us. I kind of got over the initial sting of the hurtful comments (or so I thought) and carried on. Then last week, there was another string of less than positive comments about this adoption.
Over the past several days, I've been trying to decide why it is that these phone calls/letters/conversations in passing hurt so much. I'm not sure I've arrived at a complete understanding of it, although I think I know what part of it is. I like to view myself as a mature, responsible, reasonably intelligent person. And Gareth certainly falls into the mature, responsible, and intelligent categories. When I look at our marriage, I believe it to be one of the strongest ones I know. When I think about our little family, I think of how much we love our children and all of the ways we work to intentionally love, train, and care for our children.
So when I hear these comments, what I don't hear is how much we are loved. What I do hear is: You obviously haven't really thought about this. You're really selfish to make your other children bear this burden. You're not really very responsible. You and Gareth aren't capable of making a wise choice and need me to show you all the reasons why your decision is wrong. And so on. And so on. And so on.
See the problem? It's pride. There I've said it. It's an ugly little word and an ugly thing to have to admit. But a big part of why I have been so upset by the "helpful" comments is that I resent the implication that we're not big enough, mature enough, responsible enough, thoughtful enough, and don't love our other children enough to be able to have made this decision without the opinions from people who weren't asked for them but somehow have the "right" to interfere while saying that they're not. Is that their problem? Well, maybe a little bit, but mostly it's mine. I can't control other people's thoughts or comments, but I can, with God's help, control my attitudes and thoughts.
I know that at least some of the comments come from people who love us or at least love our other children. I'm working really hard at trying to hear that, instead of taking it as criticism and an insult to Gareth and me. But, I've obviously still got work to do. It is very humbling to realize just how far I still have to go in this journey to become more Christ-like.
Lord help me, not just to keep my mouth shut,but instead to put a genuine smile on my face, kindness on my tongue, and humility in my heart. Even when I have no doubt that we are making right choices, help me to accept criticism and "help" with a gracefulness and a love that can only come from You. Empty me of me, so that I can be filled with You!