We brought our 8-yr-old little girl, Ruchi, into the United States October 2011. In April 2013 she was formally adopted in Montgomery County. Because both my wife and I are US citizens, Ruchi instantly became a citizen on that day at the age of 10. But, at the suggestion of many knowledgeable in the field of international adoption I went ahead and filed for a Certificate of Citizenship to formally document her status. Last week we were notified by USCIS to come in on Friday and Ruchi would take the Oath of Citizenship and receive her documentation.

Despite the horrendous fiascos in the news that USCIS is facing, the people we worked with took their roles to heart and demonstrated it. There were smiles all around as people from around the world gathered to make this country their home. Toddlers were running through the aisles and talking out loud while mothers in burkas chased them down or held and comforted them. I heard African languages and Central American conversations all around us. Most people were dressed up, whatever that meant to them. The staff worked with the attitude that this ceremony was going to happen for everyone in the room, and all the various troubleshooting was taken on with an air of confidence and professional effort. No one who showed up was going to be turned away.

The music was patriotic and spanned operatic performance classics I first heard in elementary school to recent rock anthems. If it was patriotic and upbeat, it was on the song list. Then it came time for the oath. Our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, was sung followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. A sheet was in everyone’s packet with the words. Then the oath itself. It was one of those moments that feels totally ordinary when it is occurring and yet you know something very important is pivoting, and exactly what that that something so important is. People came in as immigrants. Of course, they maintained that honor, but they also added US citizenship to their status in that very moment.

Ruchi’s certificate had the date of April 2013 on it, the exact date of our adoption in Montgomery County. Hers was a symbolic yet official recognition of the event, which had already transpired. Nonetheless, it was a source of great pride and accomplishment for both my wife, Laura, and I. Ruchi was here in a new way, and all three of us were so happy.

The picture on the far end above is Ruchi eating her first bowl of Cheerios in LaGuardia airport after a 14-hour flight from New Delhi. We were all getting a break before getting on our short flight to DC to bring her to our home for the very first time. She was so happy – it was extraordinary. Her joy and ours were palpable on that day. And again on Friday.

I wrote recently that small moments are the most powerful and important to me in life. That said, there are moments of great intent that come to pass and loom large like milestones pointing out the road traveled. That was Friday for me.

When was the last time you experienced a time that defined a personal accomplishment? Can you bring it to mind now and let its spirit lift you as you go into your day?

“Usually, one day in a century rises above the others as an accepted turning point or historic milestone.”
Douglas Brinkley