Families Belong Together

This morning, I packed up two of my kiddos and headed downtown for our local Families Belong Together march. (Matt and the big kids had a prior commitment, or they would have joined us, too.)

As an adoptive mother, I’ve spent a great deal of time in recent years researching trauma and its effects, both short and long term. All adoption is born out of loss and trauma, and in order to be the mother that my children need, I have to understand the implications of that fact. And, of course, that knowledge has also come into play as I’ve parented my first three children through the trauma of witnessing Matt’s heart attack and their subsequent unexpected separation from Matt and me during his hospitalization.

Most people will experience some form of trauma in their lifetimes. But that does not excuse the deliberate infliction of trauma on others, as the Trump administration’s immigration policy has done and is doing. Countless apolitical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have spoken out against this policy and its traumatic effects. News articles are documenting shelters filled with “eerily quiet” toddlers. The only times in my life I’ve been inside buildings full of quiet children have been…when I visited orphanages. Can you imagine, a building full of hundreds of children…quiet? It’s because they learn that no one is coming for them. No matter how much they express their needs, those needs are not going to be met.

I know these things, and I live out, in my parenting journey, the reality of walking through life with children who have experienced separation from their parents and the horror of life in an institution. How can I stay silent, as our own government, in the United States of America, in 2018, enacts practices that separate thousands of children from their parents and caregivers, from their only sources of stability and safety and security in this world?

I won’t stay silent. I call my Senators and Representative. I post on social media. I make financial contributions to organizations doing good work. I pray. I vote. And I march.

approaching our Columbia march gathering place
the Columbia gathering in front of the courthouse
a sweet lady let FangFang and Atticus hold her signs – “Love not hate makes America Great!” and “Stop pretending your racism is patriotism”
sporting my Families Belong Together tank top, courtesy of my friend’s Six Sisters Custom Designs Shop
Marching. “I Really Do Care, Don’t U?”

Citizens

This week we received FangFang’s Certificate of Citizenship, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I’m both thankful that we have it and saddened that, this time around, I have felt much more of a sense of urgency as we waited for its arrival. The current political and cultural climate surrounding immigration is frightening to me. Today we have reports of customs agents checking the identification of every passenger disembarking from a domestic flight. When Miranda was a baby, I flew with her with no thought to any need that might arise for me to prove her citizenship. That will never be the case with my other daughters.¬†Earlier this week there were cautions that those who look like immigrants should make sure not to leave home without their passports. You can argue that these measures are aimed at illegal immigrants.

But it’s not too much of a stretch to think that those currently in power in our country – President Trump, his advisers, and the Republican-controlled Congress – might go a step beyond that. Trump advisers have cited the internment of Japanese Americans – citizens of our country – during World War II as a legal precedent for actions they might consider.

My daughters have some access to my own white privilege at this time – but the fact remains that they are immigrants. Legal immigrants, yes, citizens even, but immigrants nonetheless. I have, twice now, entered a US Consulate in another country, in order to complete the formal application for an immigrant visa for a child whose adoption I had recently finalized.

We now have the document that is the gold standard in proving citizenship for both of our foreign-born children. We’ll be applying for FangFang’s passport soon, so that all 6 of us have passports, should a situation arise in which we’d feel a need to travel abroad quickly. I hope that the coming months and years prove that to be an unwarranted fear – and I think it likely is – but I’m not willing to say that I’m 100% certain of that, so we’re going to take what we believe to be the necessary precautions.

And I would ask that, in the coming months and years, when you hear discussions of policy proposals and recommendations surrounding immigration policy, you remember my children, two of whom are immigrants. Immigration policy is, of course, about politics, but for our family, it is also deeply personal. When you make blanket statements about immigrants and their place in our country, please remember my children. They are immigrants, and they – as well as all other immigrants here in our country – deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.