"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.
Right before Thanksgiving, Kensington came home from school and informed us that ‘Christmas’ would be bringing her a pink kitchen. Chris and I chuckled, and thought nothing of it. Santa had already been informed that Kensington should be on his Nice list and was slated for tons of toys, including a green and white kitchen set that came with its own pop-up cottage. Santa had been storing this cottage kitchen set for two years now in his attic, waiting for Kensington to be the right age to use it. Then, on a daily, if not hourly basis we were told that ‘Santa’ would be bringing her a pink kitchen. Sometimes it would be a whisper, sometimes in a normal tone, and once in Texas from a car window came a “I want a pink kitchen, please!!!!” shout when there was a drive-by Santa sighting.
Needless to say, Santa’s elves started working double-time to find the picture-perfect kitchen. Since there wasn’t enough time to make one, they had to search (NY, NJ, PA, TX, MD, VA and D.C.) and found one along the Mid-Atlantic coast.
When Kensington finally had the chance to share this single desire with Old Saint Nicholas, she didn’t waste the opportunity to captivate him with her charm. She leaned into his chest, looked up with her big blue eyes, and told him her wish. With a, “I’ll see what I can do”, and a pat on the back, she knew deep down that she had him where she wanted him. Then, came a quick costume change. You see… this Halloween Chris and I rifled the internet for a flawless costume for our K-Grace . We found one at our favorite boutique, chasing-fireflies.com. We had such a build up for the holiday, with our little lavender fairy ready to go trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, we had snow on Halloween. It was way too cold to go outside and even attempt to collect sugary treats, so we hunkered down at the house and hid candy around the house like it was Easter, sans the cheap plastic eggs.
So, since Santa brought us snow in October, we brought him a fairy in December. With everything we went through to get the costume and all of the accessories, we were going to get full use of it. You should have seen the looks we got while walking around the mall.
Christmas morning came [for us, it happened to be on Dec 26th because we were out of the state on the 25th], Kensington walked down the stairs and entered her play room. With a gasp that seemed to last forever, she reached for her pink apron, opened up her refrigerator, took out her play food and went to work. It was the best Christmas breakfast we’ve ever had. Chris and I were able to get second helpings… regrettably; Fazha was told that he had enough after one serving.