"Why are they hurting those kids?"
The timing couldn't have been worse. Dawit walked in just as news footage came on the screen showing crying children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at America's southern border.
In my house, this isn't just another news story. Dawit knows the sting of being separated from his parent. I pray every day that the memory has faded and that the pain has gone with it.
As a sick and malnourished 3-year-old, his mother had to make a difficult choice to let an orphanage care for him to save his life. But Dawit was three. He didn't understand geo-political economics well enough to keep from being furious with his mother for abandoning him. After we took custody and before we brought him back to America, we let his birth mother meet with him. She was glad he would have a big loving family. All she really wanted from the meeting was a hug good-bye.
Dawit wanted nothing of the sort.
He refused to look at her without a vicious scowl. He wouldn't touch her. When she touched him, he screamed as though her touch burned his skin.
He was angry, hurt and confused.
In America in 2018, this scenario is being carried out dozens of times a day - not by single mothers who can no longer care for their children, but by a government hell-bent on punishing impoverished immigrants for seeking asylum in a country that just celebrated the placement of the Statue of Liberty. The White House and those it has empowered do not welcome these huddled masses.
Many evangelical Christian churches are planning mission trips to help people in third world countries when they could find plenty of people in need of assistance along our southern border.
I think Dawit's question should be the question we all ask, "Why are they hurting those kids?"
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he wondered why Democrats didn't give him the votes to fix "the world's worst immigration laws." He also went to his standard cries about illegal immigration and the MS-13 gang —- members of which Trump likes to call animals.
If MS-13 gang members had kidnapped hundreds of children and separated them from their parents, Americans would be outraged. But MS-13 didn't do that. Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the advice of Stephen Miller did that.
All three have discussed their own policy in televised interviews. There is no confusion. No President has handled immigration policy overly astutely. But this policy is new - and its enforcement is the perhaps the most outrageous act by the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave since we put Japanese citizens in internment camps during World War II.
We aren't at war today. This is a choice. This is a strategy. The children of immigrants and asylum seekers are being used as political pawns to create leverage to force Congress to pay for a xenophobic President's dream project.
A southern border wall would be a multi-billion dollar monument to ignorance.
On the campaign trail, Trump had his sheeply followers fawning over the belief that he could not only get the wall built, but force Mexico to pay for it. Two years into his term, Trump has no wall, no plans for a wall and certainly no foreign payments to cover the cost.
That's why children are being ripped from their mother's arms and taken to holding cells and camps.
Trust me when I tell you, children are affected by the loss of their parents. I see it every day in my own home. If an 11-year-old still feels the effects of a benevolent act that separated him from his mother eight years ago, how much more will older children be affected by a traumatic event that pulled them from their parents' arms.
President Trump created this policy with the stroke of a pen. He could end it just as easily.
To quote Jacob Soboroff, a reporter on the scene of many of these atrocities in McAllen, Texas., "There are only four licensed social workers to deal with hundreds of affected children. This policy is causing a stress not only for the families but for the agencies carrying them out."
Soboroff has been inside the facilities where adults and children are held in cages.
"It makes you sick, honestly," he said. "You see children sitting there and you can not fathom what these children are going through and what it means for the rest of their lives."
Soboroff also dispelled the idea that this is anyone's fault other than the current administration.
"These facilities are not new. They were here during previous administrations. There were controversies inside them," Soboroff said. "But the act of separating children from their parents as a systematic policy is a direct result of something Donald Trump wants to have happen in this country right now, and it just not true when anyone from this administration says otherwise.'
The answer to Dawit's question is very simple and mind-boggling complex.
"Why are they hurting those kids?"
Because the President and the people who work for him want to. That's the simple answer. The complexity comes in determining why they would do it. They are pawns in a game bigger than themselves. A border wall would be a win for Trump and if it takes traumatizing a few thousand immigrant children to get there, he seems very willing to utilize that strategy.
In a tweet this weekend, Trump blamed Democrats for his own family separation policy and offered to stop it if his demands are met.
"Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!" he said.
While the President is playing to win, children are being caged and institutionalized at the worst possible time in their mental and emotional development.
Are we willing to let this define us as a country? The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor 133 years ago. If this policy continues, we need to extinguish her torch of enlightenment.
Her book of law can be closed and the Date of July 4th will no longer bring cause for celebration.
America has long been a beacon of freedom lighting the world. History won't be kind to the generation that allows that light to be eclipsed by the shadow of fear and hatred.