Wednesday, January 21, 2009


On this very special Inauguration Day, I find myself reflective like perhaps so many others. As I made my way around town doing errands at lunch, everywhere I went where there was a television there were large groups of people gather around them listening in attentive silence. I too listened to now President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech several times and read it through as well and wished that I could have watched the entire thing, unfortunately I had to work -- fortunately I still have a job to be working at.

My eldest daughter, eight years old, came home very excited to tell me about watching the inauguration on TV at school and did I know how very important this day was to our history? Her enthusiasm and zeal put me in a wistful mood and made me think about how this tiny individual, left on a busy city sidewalk in China with a hope that she’d be found and rescued, is now part of a family half a world away and a living testament to the optimism of both China and the USA. She is now a citizen of The United States; a tiny flame of joy, hope and determination. My daughter sees no hindrance to her dreams due to her sex, her heritage or place of birth. She is bright and creative, stubborn and kind, resolute and joyful. My family has been made through adoption and my daughters are the fulfillment of one of my greatest dreams: to become a mother. That I would choose to become a parent in this way I did not even imagine when I was a child, yet here we are. I and my children envision so much promise for ourselves and our future because we live in a country that encourages the formation of families through international adoption as well as by conventional means. A country not perfect, but with the freedom to say so. A nation made up of individuals of great worth, talent, generosity and grit, to which my two young daughters now belong and to which they add their own indomitable spirits.

Since her adoption, I have taken my eldest with me to vote and within a few short months of coming to this country, my youngest was brought to her first presidential election as well. Our wait on November 4, 2008 was relatively short compared with other parts of the country, which was a relief since attempting to wait in any line with two small children can be a challenge at the best of times.

The line that chilly morning snaked out the door and across the parking lot of the local fire department hall. So I put my youngest in her stroller and handed her a granola bar which kept her contented, but left a trail of crumbs throughout the line. My eldest was not contained, physically or mentally, she remained in constant movement and non-stop conversation the entire wait. That’s my girl alright. ‘I’m cold. I’m hungry. Hey, what’s that on that guy’s shirt? Sister, watch me do this. Sister, make a face like this. Sister, you are getting crumbs everywhere! Mom, sister is getting crumbs everywhere!” All at full volume of course.

I had reminded her about the voting “rules” before we ever left the house since we have done this many times before and have discussed that she must remain silent and just watch and not get in the way and NOT touch the screen. She assured me that she remembered the rules. So when we finally got our turn at the designated “booth” what’s the first thing she does? touch the screen of course. Fortunately, her fingers didn’t hit any critical spots.

‘Baby! Don’t touch! I’m the one voting.

‘Oh, sorry Mama.’

The choices for president come up…

‘Mom! Vote for Barack Obama! Vote for Barack Obama! (she pronounces this ‘A Rock Obama’). 100 sets of queued up eyes turn our way.

‘Lily, remember what I told you.’

‘Oh right, sorry Mom.’

I check the box of my choice.

‘Yeah! You voted for Barack Obama! Good job Mama! That’s who I wanted you to vote for!’ So much for the anonymity of the polling booth. But she came away with an appreciation for the civic responsibilities and rights that she had so recently been studying in school. In fact, her class took a field trip mere weeks before the election to Washington D. C. and she came home greatly impressed by what she had seen; the statues and memorials, the monuments and museums, but what seemed to impress her the most was the Vietnam Memorial and what it represented with all of its inscribed names; the polished black granite reflecting back her young, contemplative face. As she described to me what she had seen she paused in her dialogue suddenly, and then said, “I’m really lucky to live in the United States, huh Mama?” “Yes, dear one, I’m lucky too and blessed to have you here with me.”

So what does this inauguration mean to me? It means that my children, who have started life so precariously half a world away, can witness the fulfillment of a dream and know, with certainty, that theirs are within reach as well.

©KKW 2009

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