Our daughters came home from China more than a decade ago. The first time their tiny feet touched American soil, we made a big deal of it. We were so happy about everything they’d inherit as newly minted Americans—our already head-over-heels love for them, every opportunity we could afford, and freedom from China’s oppressive government and its controversial (and now somewhat lifted) one-child policy. The same policy that was, most likely, the very reason they were available to join our family half a world away.
But now I worry that we made a tragic mistake.
I pulled those two beautiful babies away from a rising power and into a damaged democracy. I brought two girls of color into a society where it’s clear that their word and their bodies are worth less than a man’s—and where open, overt racism has become even more likely now than it was a decade ago. And unfortunately, my worries aren’t exactly tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoia.
Two years ago, I brought my daughters to the voting booth with me, expecting that they’d witness the election of the very first woman president. Instead, we got a guy with multiple sexual allegations made against him, who backs candidates for the highest posts in the land who also have assault and molestation claims against them. #MeToo may have brought the conversation about sexual assault out into the open and helped clear the entertainment industry of some of the worst offenders, but the current administration seems far more willing to promote than prosecute the accused.
Trump promised during his campaign that he would roll back Roe v. Wade, and new Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh’s conservative judicial record makes it seem like he’d be just the man to help do it—no matter his protestations that he considers it “settled law.” The idea that my daughters may lose the right to control what happens to their bodies—especially if they end up with a pregnancy that’s the result of a sexual assault, or one that could do serious damage to their health—keeps me up at night.
I am thinking of stockpiling of Plan B pills, just in case my daughters’ right to choose what happens to their bodies disappears. And the irony isn’t lost on me that just as China started to loosen up its one-child policy and allow women there more control over their decision to become a mother, my daughters may lose that right to choose here.
We are only two years into Trump’s administration, and even in our bright blue corner of the country, Asian people are accosted on the street by white people telling them to “go back to your own country.” Trump's remarks against their birth country, China, grow ever angrier as the trade war continues. And as part of the Trump administration's war on brown and black people, every few weeks, there’s another news story about an international adoptee being deported back to a country they don’t remember, without a family or a safety net.
And so I fight and protest. I plan and protect. Like many of my fellow adoptive parents, I ordered a passport card for my teen, so she could prove her citizenship wherever she went. I double and triple checked our paperwork, and started hunting for a lawyer to do pricey readoptions so we could add a security-blanket layer of paper proof for our girls. And then I worry that a sheaf of papers can be invalidated with a stroke of a pen—and the government’s brutal separation of child immigrants from their parents isn’t exactly inspiring confidence.
I skip my daughter’s soccer games to march and spend my nights volunteering to get out the vote. I divert money from their college funds toward campaigns that might help save our democracy. And on the very worst days, I start to look at what it would take to leave the country that I love, permanently. And my heart breaks just a little more.
I’d sacrifice everything for the sake of my daughters. I just never thought it would come to this.
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