Little things can make a big difference.
We see this throughout Scripture—whether it is the use of a teenager to take down a giant, a child’s generosity used to feed 500 people, or the comparison of a tongue to the rudder of a ship.
For good, or for bad, the little things make a big difference. This is why the way we choose to speak matters. As members of adoptive communities, speaking with love and encouragement is especially important.
So, in this blog, we want to look at a little thing (that makes a big difference).
Many families make the decision to adopt a child who has physical, emotional and/or cognitive challenges. These are “children who have special needs” rather than “special needs children.”
Did you catch the difference? It’s a little thing, but it makes a big difference in affirming dignity and worth.
Using language that honors a child’s human dignity by identifying them first and foremost as a child is crucial. Otherwise, we run the risk of causing (often unintentional) emotional harm with our words by identifying a child by his or her struggles.
No one should be labeled or defined by disabilities or limitations. Everyone is first and foremost human, loved, valuable, and indisputably unique. We are empowered to see every single person in that way, regardless of our limitations or abilities, because it is how Christ sees us.
Most of us do not mean to cause harm, and we all fall short at times, despite our determined efforts. That’s why open and honest conversations about the ways in which we choose to speak are so important. Adoptive parents can help these conversations by graciously explaining why some comments can cause hurt or shame, and we, as members of the adoption community, can be open to better understanding the impact of our words.
It’s a little thing, and it is easy to brush off. But the way we speak matters.
Scriptures tell us that what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart. Let us reveal the love in our heart by being intentional and considerate about the way we use words. Let us honor everyone’s human dignity.
Let us be loving, encouraging, hope-showing members of adoption communities.