This is what I know. I am an American. Born & Raised in the Midwest. My ancestors are from Ireland (24%), Germany (61%), Scandinavia (12%), Spain (2%), & Great Britain (1%) according to family knowledge and Ancestry DNA.
Today, America celebrates her 242nd Birthday. She has been around a long time, but still a baby compared to other countries. When the forefathers founded America, they did so Under God. They did so for Independence. Their heart’s desire was to seek something different, live in a different land, than what they were used to – that heart’s desire hasn’t changed in the 242 years – people still seek the American Dream.
If you have ever traveled through Ellis Island, you have seen and heard the stories of those that came to America for a better life, for the American Dream. From 1892 – 1954 it was the busiest immigrant inspection station, you can almost feel their emotions of sadness, hope, fear of the unknown, illness, and relief. And your heart aches and leaps as you stand in the Grand Hall. Welcome to the Land of Liberty.
Have you ever taken the time to listen to an immigrant or refugee’s story and how he or she is now an American Citizen or how they are living in America? Have you taken the time to seek and understand their story? This is what I know. They are precious, persevering, resilient people. One of my dearest friends shared her journey of becoming a US Citizen from India, and all I wanted to do was hug her, and love on her. She did it ‘right’ and it took 15 long years and many resources. It is not easy to become a legal US Citizen. Let me repeat, it is NOT easy to become a legal US Citizen. (Check out The Myth of Legal Immigration |Sheena Koshy on TEDx if you would like to hear her story)
When we adopted our three children, there were several documents to obtain – new birth certificates, social security numbers, and US Citizenship Documentation. Again, for my kiddos to become US Citizens wasn’t easy. It was almost a year long process. Yes, they wanted a family – but they also wanted a better life, and America was calling. If you have experience with Ukrainian orphanages, many of them are 300+ children with little to no hope of finding a forever family outside of their own country – let alone the US. The Intercountry adoption rates are the lowest they have been, down 12% since 2016. The last children’s home as my kids call it was different, there were loving caregivers, amazing cooks, and laughter & love filled the small space. To those of you friends that cared for my kids their last year in Ukraine – thank you, we love you.
Today, I sat at a 4th of July parade in our town, drinking Independence in. Then, out of nowhere – Mia yells, “Hey Mr Seaman!”, Mr Seaman responds with a smile, a wave and a “Hi Mia!” – Mr Seaman was Mia’s 7th Grade Science Teacher, and he remembered my daughter – Mama’s heart burst. Jason Seaman was the Co-GrandMarshall of the 4th of July Parade today. He is our hometown hero as he tackled the school shooter just 41 days ago, in his Science Room at Noblesville West Middle School. When Jason said, “Hi Mia!” I lost it – I couldn’t stop crying – I balled the rest of the parade. With tears streaming down my face I was thankful for our community, a community that has become her community.
This is what I know. It is not easy to become a legal US Citizen. As we know there are many, many, many, many people who have the desire to do so – just like our forefathers, just like my ancestors 200+ years ago. They want a chance at a better life. Have we, as a country become hoarders? After all, our country is blessed in many ways, and blessings should not be hoarded. Hoarding and fear will get us nowhere. I am a better person because of my diverse group of friends; they each bring something special to my life.
This is what I know. I had my kids DNA tested through Ancestry DNA – and guess what? 98-99% Ukrainian, not surprising at all. So, the difference between America and other countries – is this; our cultural background is diverse. That is what America is all about. Depending who they marry, my grandchildren will be a mash up of cultures. Thank you God! I know heaven will be just like this.
People need to be seen as people. People need to be remembered. People need to be welcomed. People need to be invited. We need community. We need tribes. We need each other. The new command from the Bible is Love One Another. Love extravagantly. This, you can do. It starts with you. Don’t be lured into negative conversation. You can be a light. It is just that easy.
Cheers America! Happy 242nd! -Stacy
Originally Written, July 4th 2018