Dear Donald Trump,
My son thinks you want to deport him.
I’m sorry, did I jump ahead of myself there? That was rude of me. Let’s start over.
Hi there. I’m Rebecca. Yes, yes, nice to meet you, too.
I have an adopted son. He was adopted from China in 2008, when he was three and a half years old. He’s ten now, an American citizen, and I’ll state the obvious: I love my son. A lot. So much. He’s the greatest, Donald, just the greatest.
This son of mine thinks you want to deport him. Literally, Mr. Trump. My kid thinks you and your people want to send him back to China.
I’ve spent a lot of time, a lot of resources, a lot of everything helping this kid feel secure, feel safe, feel permanent. I don’t want to brag, but I think I do an okay job. It’s the most important thing I do, and I work really, really hard at it.
You’re making my job exceptionally difficult.
This morning, while I was cooking breakfast, my son, like he does one gazillion times a day, asked me a question:
“Mom, what’s an immigrant?”
I’ll admit that I was more focused on not burning the toast than I was on my kid so I replied quickly.
“An immigrant is someone who wasn’t born here, but lives here.”
As the words left my mouth, I realized where this was going. I turned to face my son just in time for what came next.
“Can I get sent back to China, Mom? I think people want to send me back to China.”
I knew when I adopted this little boy that there would be a slew of issues I would have to navigate, Mr. Trump. The 2016 Presidential election was not one of them.
It’s a shame that I can’t use this election to teach my son about democracy, about our country, about national pride and history in the making. But I can’t. Instead, I am shielding him from this election. I am keeping him as far away from it as I possibly can. I am hovering over his iPad, ready to shut down YouTube in a hot second – not because of adult language or inappropriate content, but because he has already heard one too many of your loyal supporters proudly say into the face of a news camera, “If you weren’t born here, go back to your own country.”
It’s not hard to see why he’s scared.
Yes, of course, I have tried to explain that there is nothing to worry about, but he’s a little young to grasp the nuances of legal citizenship. And frankly, I don’t think it would make him feel any better if he did. I’m a forty-three year old lawyer who was born in Illinois and I find this election’s rhetoric frightening.
Immigration is a tricky issue. I live in Arizona, I get it. It’s a big topic around these parts. It needs to be talked about, it needs to be discussed. Of course it does. But the way we discuss it matters. Words matter. And your words, Mr. Trump, your staff’s words, your supporters’ words are frightening the smallest and most vulnerable people that you could be, come November, sworn to govern and protect. I usually like a solid example of irony, but I don’t like this one at all.
I’m going to do my best to navigate this with my son. I’m going to do my best to allay his fears, to bring him back to the land of protected and safe, to keep his patriotism intact.
In other words, I am going to do my best to repair the damage that this election has done to a ten year-old American boy. There’s nothing great about this, Mr. Trump. Nothing.
*This post also ran on the Huffington Post.
Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.