I hope you all had a wonderful weekend celebrating the birth of our country! Sorry I haven't posted in a while. We've just been busy filling each summer day with fun.
I must share that Daniel thoroughly enjoyed his first 4th of July as an American citizen.
He has pride for his country that far exceeds the six months he's been home.
How grateful I am that this little boy with such potential gets to grow up in the Land of Opportunity.
Although this was Daniel's first Independence Day as an American, he has experienced another kind of independence day in the past. Last December, Daniel and I were living in a hotel trying to get his adoption completed in time to come home for Christmas. (He made it home Christmas Eve!) We picked one day to go back to his orphanage for him to say good-bye to his friends.
He had been away from the orphanage for about 5 weeks. I could tell he was conflicted--missing his friends, yet grateful to no longer be living there. He got a heroes welcome as he came through the gates--all his old buddies calling his name and running up to hug him. He asked me to take photos of him with a few friends and passed out some Christmas cookies we had brought. Then he whispered in my ear that he was ready to go.
I was surprised he was already ready to leave after only an hour. He knew this might be his last visit for a long time and we had planned to spend the day there. I asked again, "Are you sure you're ready to go?" He smiled and nodded.
As we approached the gate to leave, his little hand held by his mom's, the guard said something to me in Spanish and Daniel responded in a very authoritative voice. The guard opened the gate and let us out--our driver witnessed the interaction.
As we drove away, I asked our sweet driver what was said. Victor replied, "The guard said you needed to wait till he got permission for you to leave." Daniel responded with, "We don't need permission. I. DON'T. LIVE. HERE. ANYMORE!"
I fought back tears on the drive back to the hotel. I had witnessed Daniel's first personal Independence Day. Independence from life as an orphan. Released from a past of pain and poverty. Released from a future without hope.
Daniel not only understood what he was leaving last December, he was getting a glimpse at what he was gaining. We had to visit the US Embassy several times during those last weeks of the adoption. We chose a hotel within walking distance and every morning about 6 a.m. people would line up around the building by the hundreds. One day when we were in the waiting area of the USE, Daniel looked around at the sea of Guatemalan faces and asked, "Are they all trying to get adopted?" I couldn't help but laugh--the ages ranged from children to elderly. But I did let him know: "These people are all hoping to get Visas to visit the U.S." It's funny that you have to travel to another country to truly realize how blessed you are.
So this weekend as I watched Daniel proudly waving his American flag, asking questions about what this day celebrates, I became grateful for our freedoms in a different way. Not just for the gift this country has been to me--a privilege I was born into and have been blessed with all my days. But this year, I have a true understanding of the gift my adopted son now has.
I'm grateful for our forefathers--who established a country of life and liberty . . . a nation under God. I'm grateful to our brave men and women in the armed forces--many who have given their lives and all who sacrificially serve to protect our freedom. And I'm grateful for one of America's newest citizens who looks so handsome in red, white, and blue and so eloquently squealed under a fireworks display, "I love America!
Yes, sweet boy, I love America, too!
P.S. It seems playlist.com is undergoing some major changes. Half of the songs on my playlist are no longer there. Oh no! It was a challenge to find a song for this week with the limited selection but found a beautiful rendition of "God Bless America." It credits Celine Dion as the artist, but it doesn't sound like her voice.