Boxes. I have been thinking alot about boxes these past few weeks. Boxes to transport my food so I won’t lose it with a loss of power. Boxes for toys, diapers and sheets to give to others. Boxes to store my boys’ treasures. Boxes (rather circles) to pick the next President. Been a busy few weeks.
The box that has been staying with me though, has been Pandora’s. Her box has been quite troublesome lately. It is so bittersweet to realize that without the pain, there can be little in the way of true joy and I struggle to make sense of the idea that oftentimes in adoption, this paradox exists time and time again. Opening the adoption box opens up a mine of ills, loss, grief, black holes, unexplainables and endless questions. It can open up the inner workings of our mind that remained dormant for decades, open our eyes to an alternate reality that we cannot ever make sense of and disease our heart with pining. I would love to think that having my birthmother in my life has quelled the pinings, but most of the time, I am reminded of all I missed, quelling little of all of the above.
More personally, my big boy had a school project that involved putting his short history on this earth into a box to show his classmates from whence he came. In the creating of this history box, we went through a bunch of pictures and artifacts for his choosing. I had his birth certificate and was acutely aware that mine was missing in the collective. There are thousands of his baby photos and of mine, there are none. He had a tangible face to view going back three generations that I could not contribute to. And yet, I am grateful for what I was able to give him. I loved doing this project with him. He was making his history box, I was making history for myself along with him.
You see, the history of a child used to be based on a tree concept. A linear concept with roots that an adopted child could not fill and branches that remained nameless. Very frustrating, humiliating and extremely lacking. I am thrilled my son’s school is progressive enough to think out of the box instead. P did a poetic job of choosing photos of his brother, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all to be pasted on the outside of his box. Inside, he saved it for himself – sonogram photo, newborn hat, baby pictures among other things. He surrounded himself with love from family and nestled himself inside. Lovely. I cried. Among the photos were my Umma, my brother, my referral photo and me in Korea way back when. There was one photo he chose to include that stopped me a bit short. It was of me with my orphanage siblings outside of the orphanage in 1976. I don’t know why he chose to include it, but it was amazing to see it there. My history was included, embedded into his.
While Pandora’s box created ills for generations to come, my legacy of loss ends with me but not my history. P honored my past in such a beautiful subtle way, as one of many things that make him HIM. The joy of creating my family has given me immeasurable happiness, something I treasure and never take for granted given the empty box I have been holding onto all these years. P will have his own loss and will grief aplenty in his soon to be full life. I am glad it doesn’t involve loss that undercuts his sense of self too. P’s Korean name means “broad foundation.” In looking at his box, I am grateful I could be a part of giving him that foundation.