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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is "Mommy/Daddy-to-be" a Pro-Life Phrase?

This is Aaron again sneaking a post in...

To transform the disregarded into the treasured. That's what I love about how embryo adoption demonstrates the Gospel. For most of their lives, our children have been disregarded by most of the world, including our government. We couldn't even file for adoption tax credits this year because our children weren't recognized as being alive when we adopted them. They were merely seen as cells, as property to be transferred, as spare parts, and as research potential.

In contrast to this chilling view of life, I can't wait to tell our precious children (our eight in Heaven and our two on earth) how much I love them and have loved them since I first knew them on the microscopic level. As passionately as I feel about this, embryo adoption has humbled me into repentance regarding how I used to talk about life before birth.

I'm as pro-life as they come and never thought that I could be sending mixed messages about life to a world that doesn't believe the Bible. However listen to some of the things that I used to say to people who were expecting the birth of children:

1) "You're going to have a baby!"
Translation to the world: "You don't have a baby inside you yet."

2) "You're going to make such a good parent."
Translation to the world: "Your baby in the womb doesn't make you a parent already."

3) "Here comes the Mommy-to-be/Daddy-to-be."
Translation to the world: "She's carrying a baby-to-be."

4) "When the baby gets here..."
Translation: "A baby isn't here yet."

5) "You're going to be a grandfather, going to be a big sister, going to be an aunt..".
Translation: Because "going to" is in the future, you're not these things now.

The message of these cliches never weighed on me until we first adopted our children as embryos. Since then, I seem to hear statements like these every day and it makes me cringe every time to know that my language used to effectively "skip over" life before birth.

I've repented for this and am trying hard to rephrase my speech to honor life before birth. Will you join me in communicating the presence of life in this way? As Christians, we need to make sure that the words out of our mouth match those on our bumper stickers and slogans. Here are some ways that I think we can start doing this:

1) Avoid these types of sayings that I've listed above and graciously correct people when they use them. Just as we are careful to gracefully correct racist speech in our families, churches and workplaces, let's do so for non-life-affirming speech.

2) Recognize adopting families (embryo and traditional) as parents before their children arrive in the home or out of the womb. I know from experience how much adopting families care for their children before they ever see them. Let's be vocal in honoring the hard and expensive responsibility of adopting children by recognizing parents as such, even if their kids haven't slept it to their new beds yet.

3) On Mother's and Father's Day, let's recognize all children, including those who have been sent to Heaven through miscarriage or some other death before birth. Mother's Day can be a hard day for the woman who has lost her children. Remembering them as real children (and treating the Mother as a real Mother), doesn't pour salt on the wound. It actually honors the parents and the children.

4) This requires special grace and wisdom, but on Mother's and Father's Day, honor the lives of children who have been lost through abortion. Don't honor the sin of abortion, but use the uniqueness of the day to bring awareness to the fact that after conception, no one can choose not to be a mother or a father. Let non-Christians know of God's forgiveness and the hope of seeing their children in Heaven. Let them know that God uses sin sinlessly and that their children have a marvelous future that they can still be part of. Let Christians who have aborted children in the past be reminded of God's grace and forgiveness and that their children await them with smiles in Heaven.

5) Lastly, let's teach our children on earth about the value of life by always referring to lost children as brothers or sisters who are in Heaven. What a testimony it would be to a teacher to hear a five-year old respond to the question, "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" with "I have a baby sister and another one in Heaven."

I say all this humbly, realizing how I've minimized life in my own speech so often. I'm thankful to my own children in Heaven and my two on earth for teaching me to know better from now on. I love you guys and you are quite precious!



~Liz~ said...

I am blessed to be a biological and an adoptive mommy. I think your view on this is very eye-opening and humbling. I believe we all make these errors without meaning to and you have given us a great example to strive to accomplish. Thank you!

Ashley said...

Great post Aaron! I find myself thinking phrases like that or thinking "when I'm a mommy", when I'm already a mommy with babies in heaven. Thanks for posting!

Jen said...

I agree! I've had many of these same thoughts myself. I hate being told I'm "about" to "become" a mother. I am a mother already! Thanks for this post!

Room for More said...

Great Post Aaron! Well though out and shared with love and grace--so true--and something worthy of passing on to others who don't "think" before speaking.

Stacie said...

You are an incredibly gifted writer Aaron! Your posts are God-centered, thought provoking and a joy to read!! =)

One thing I would add (that you alluded to and I know you would completely agree with) is that we should be careful not to get frustrated/angry when others don't say things just right. When I do that, I'm defeating the whole purpose... my purpose is to glorify God in my thoughts and actions, showing His grace and love to all (including other Christians). I know you agree whole-heartedly that our preference for the use of more thoughtful pro-life phrases does not give us a license to be angry or think we are superior when someone uses a phrase they have not thought through very well.

Most of us use terms and phrases daily that would unknowingly offend someone if the wrong person were to hear us. We should definitely promote proper terminology but, just as importantly, let's promote showing humility and grace when we feel overlooked or mis-categorized by someone (knowingly or unknowingly)... instead of being irked by their (culturally normal) speech. Let's not deem it as unkindness when someone excitedly says: "Yay, there's the mommy-to-be!" We would be robbing ourselves of their affection and robbing them of our appreciation for their love.

But as we keep our own attitudes and legalism in check, we should definitely teach our children and others to value life at conception, as well as encouraging the remembrance of mother's who have lost born or unborn children.

Your post was full of grace and kindness Aaron! =) I did not sense a sinful attitude... just wanted to draw attention as well to the other side of the coin. ^_^

I love reading this blog!! So God-glorifying and humbling!! You two are amazing parents and people! =)

Jess said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing.

BTW, I gave you an award on my blog. :)

Ashley said...

Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for an award as well!