"Who is that, papa?" "He was a King, baby, he was a true King. One that did so much for his people." "And I'm a princess." "Yes, honey, you are. And you too will change the world."
This was the conversation that took place this past October when we visited the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, two days after it opened. As we entered from Independence Avenue, his Vision of America is captured in his carved messages of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America's true strength lies in its diversity of talents. These two inscription walls, lay in between the Mountain of Despair, and lead you in a trance to the Stone of Hope. As we made our way towards the towering symbolic stone, Kensington skipped in between each quote, stomping on the covered lights that reflect upward. Just past 10pm, the monument was rather quite… the perfect time for seeing some of the most iconic images of our Nation. As we came around the marbled landscaped “kidney” (which host Yoshino cherry trees and crape myrtles) which Kensington was using as a balance beam, I pulled her down and walked toward the statue, tears streaming in absolute awe. With her little pointer finger in the air, she asked the question, "Who is that, papa?”
Around this timeframe, the media was still covering the life – and heartrending passing – of Steve Jobs. For many, there was a fascination with the well-known in the world of adoption and foster care: actors, entertainers, athletes, politicians, and others. Well, I guess there always has been, dating back to when Joseph the carpenter adopted Jesus. Since then, the picture of the typical or "normal" family - with a father, mother, 2.5 kids, a camel… all living in a manger surrounded by a white-picket fence, has become less and less familiar over time. These days, families are "blended" (or I would like to say, “Modern”), and more than a little creative in terms of structure.
What bothered me the most about the stories of Steve Jobs and his bio- and adoptive-parents were the editorial comments that stated that even though he was adopted, it “he clearly didn't let that set him back.” Being adopted isn’t a set-back, but a step forward. A step in a direction along a journey that must be looked at as a gift, for everyone involved.
When I told K-Grace that she too will change the world, just like Martin Luther King, Jr. has, I know deep down inside me that she will. Will she find a cure for cancer, AIDS or autism? Well, hopefully we don’t have to wait twenty more years before we can find the answers we need for these diseases, viruses and development disorders. Will she be the first female president? Well, we’re optimistic that there will be a 2016 ticket for Hillary and we don’t have to wait until Kensington finishes up her second senatorial term before she makes up her mind if she wants to run for the Oval Office or not. Let’s face it, no one is predestined for greatness (well, except those adoptive individuals like Jesus… oh, and Prince William and our future daughter/son-in-law that he and Kate will soon have).
But as I type this, I remember that the next day after we went to the monument, we went to the National Souvenir Store to buy a piece of the Stone of Hope… an actual piece of granite from the stone that they chisled MLK Jr. out of, that they mounted to a beautiful walnut finished plaque. With only 5000 in existence, we were able to purchase #931. While we were in the store, Kensington asked us if she could pick out something for herself. Thinking she was going to select one of the chotchkies that they had displayed at the register, she told her to pick something out. She turned around and went over to the bookshelf. Without the slightest hesitation on what she wanted, she reached out her little hand, selected the book that she wanted and brought it over to the counter. Without even looking at the book, we paid for it and into a bag it went. On the way home, Kensi asked if she could have her book. We gave it to her, knowing that she would probably be easily bored with it as it didn’t have pictures.
For an hour, she pretended to read it. It wasn’t until we were unpacking the car did we see what the book actually was: Mary America. First girl President of the United States… who happened to be an orphan. I take it back, Hillary shouldn’t run for office again. My girl’s gonna make history.