I was in my daughter’s first grade class last week when her teacher read, If I Were the President (Dream Big!), by Thomas Kingsley Troupe. It’s a sweet book about all the cool things a little boy dreams of doing if he were President.
The book also gives the qualifications for becoming President. So in the middle of her first grade buddies, Petunia learned that she was the only person in the room that cannot meet the qualifications to hold the highest office in the land. I had a vague recollection about this from the fuzzy period of my life when I was knee-deep in adoption paperwork. But then I remembered that we had “re-adopted” her in America, giving her an American birth certificate. I hung onto the hope that that might make her eligible, but sadly that appears not to be the case.
When I was working on becoming a parent, this didn’t seem like a big issue. So what if she couldn’t be President? Only a few dozen have ever had that privilege, and what were the chances she’d even want to become President.
But now that I’m a parent, I see that it’s really not about that. It’s about having limitless possibilities. I want her to be able to dream big.
I was told as a child that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be. That’s one of the most wonderful things about America. And now that we have finally had our first African-American President, that dream seems all the more real to millions of children.
I want my daughter and all the sons and daughters who were born abroad but have found their homes and their families in America to have the same chance. If I had a biological child, her dreams wouldn’t be limited, so why should Petunia’s? She has lived here since she was 12 ½ months old. She is as much an American as any kid in her class.
Except she isn’t. Not while she is barred from running for President. I wasn’t sure if she took in what she’d heard, but while doing her Kids Voting assignment last night for school, she very matter-of-factly mentioned that she couldn’t be President. She has already taken it in and seems resigned to a future of limited possibility.
Petunia learned the Pledge of Allegiance at school this year. And one recent afternoon she decided to write it down. It’s full of first grade creative spelling and was written with a heart full of pride by a little girl excited about declaring her allegiance to her country.
Our country is full of bright, hard-working people who love America. And while they share their talents and their labor, not all of them have the privileges that most of us take for granted.
Don’t take yours for granted this election season. Please vote.
And if you agree with me that internationally adopted children should be treated the same as children born abroad to U.S. citizens and automatically granted full rights of citizenship when they’re adopted, please go to Equality for Adopted Children, an organization that lobbies for the rights of adopted children, and join. It’s free!
And if you feel so moved, share this on your Facebook pages and email it to your friends. Your actions will only take a couple of minutes but could help open up a world of possibility to thousands of American citizens.
This is a personal post. The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should they be attributed to, CCAI.
Leslie Sharpe is a former counselor and nonprofit manager who blogs at www.kudzuasheville.blogspot.com. Her dream of being a mother came true when she and her husband journeyed to Chongqing with CCAI’s Group 1111. Petunia is a pseudonym used to protect her daughter’s privacy and because “Petunia for President” has a nice ring to it.