One of the funnier stories of our adoption process - especially our time spent in country - comes from the "misdiagnosis" we were given about Silas. We were initially told he was completely/profoundly deaf...he would not be able to hear us nor would he ever be able to hear us. So our family spent the 8 1/2 months of waiting for our travel date learning sign language (ASL) through a DVD series called Signing Times (ah-MAZ-ing!!) and Learn & Master ASL. We worked hard and had fun, but we were nowhere near fluent when it was time to meet our boy.
And then...he could hear. And we'd spent exactly zero minutes learning Spanish. And somehow the thought never occurred to us that it would've been helpful to have a little Spanish as we made our way around Colombia. We had a translator for our major meetings and we just didn't get past that. Google Translate became a best friend.
So what do we do now that our son can hear and will be starting speech therapy soon and should receive his hearing aids in the next couple of weeks?
We sign.Yes, he can hear us. But he understands us better when we sign. Yes, he's learning words. But he can communicate and express his needs better to us when he signs. And he loves Signing Times. And there's a need for people who know ASL.
I can't pretend that I don't know what I've been made so clearly aware of over the last year.
I know what it's like to be that mom who tells her family her son can't hear...and see the fear in their eyes of learning a foreign language just to communicate with their new family member.
I know what it's like to be the mom who worries night after night how her son will have friends - when they'd be required to learn a foreign language to have a true friendship with him.
I know what it's like to be the mom who fears the church and Sunday School situation when there's not an ASL interpreter.
I know what it's like to be the mom who is terrified her son will be isolated because of a lack of communication.
But I also know what it's like to be the mom whose family fearlessly says they will learn sign language, no matter how long it takes them and how far out of their comfort zone it leads them.
And I know what it's like to be the mom who has friends and neighbors asking how to teach their children sign language so they can play and be friends with her son.
And I know what it's like to be the mom whose Preschool Director says, "What do we need to do so he can be a full part of this ministry?" And to have his future Sunday School teachers ask if I could teach them sign language or for resources so they can effectively teach him each Sunday morning.
And I know what it's like to be the mom who knows there's a Deaf culture that is beautiful and that we can be a bridge between the hearing and Deaf world.
I can't pretend I don't know these things. And because I know these things...
Yes...we will still sign. We're still learning. I want to be fluent. I want my kids to be fluent. I never want to encounter a mama or daddy or child who has these fears around me or my children.
So, we will sign. It will take a while to be fluent. But we have resources and we will use them.
And we will sign...because we know the need for it. And we can't pretend we don't.
Finally, we will sign because the Deaf culture is the 3rd most unreached people group in the world.
Yes...we will sign. We will sign because of the fears we faced. We will sign for all the moms and dads of deaf children. We will sign for all of the deaf children.
We will sign for Jesus.