The day I married my American boyfriend, I became an immigrant. Moving indefinitely to the United States was not a huge adjustment for me. I was familiar with the culture, already spoke the language and was very fortunate to have family and friends living nearby.
Although my marriage to an American citizen provided me an imminent path to citizenship, I decided to give myself time to figure out what being an American means.
At the time of my immigration, the country was in the middle of a tumultuous presidential campaign where an African-American candidate had serious possibilities to become the 44th President of the United States. I really liked what I was seeing and secretly wanted him to win for history’s sake.
One evening when I was watching one of the last presidential debates on national television, it occurred to me that the only thing I cared about was foreign policies and how they could affect my home country and the rest of Latin America where socialist models of governments were on the rise.
That was the beginning of a change of paradigms. From that day on, I started paying more attention to the presidential candidates stances on domestic issues that would affect the present and future of my new family.
I thought it was going to be a process to embrace America as part of my identity. But things drastically changed the evening when my oldest child was born. She experienced some health challenges during her first seconds of life that require fast intervention. Thankfully, things went well after the amazing professional care that she was given in the hospital where she was born.
For many weeks I’d look back to that scary experience and wonder if the same outcome would have happened in the Ecuadorian hospital that asked me to schedule a cesarean date on my eight-week appointment visit. The truth is that I’d never know.
With time I learned that being American is bigger than our differences of heritage, wealth, and ambitions. Being an American is a new opportunity for growth. Being American is not superior or inferior than being an Ecuadorian, Colombian, Cuban, etc. We can embrace both heritages without giving away who we were before coming here.
Each immigrant has different motives to move to the United States, but at the end, we all are here for the same reason and working hard for the same reason: the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our families. And that is what being an American means to me.