Do you have a box?

Lots of dialogue today on my adoption friends Facebook list about our mutual ownership of adoption “boxes”.

Do you have one? How long have you kept it? What is in it? Have you considered just throwing it out? How frequently do you look at the contents?

Share! We want to know more.

Read about mine at this old post The Box. I talk about it here too — Opening Boxes.

8 Thoughts.

  1. Yes, I have a box (basket, to be accurate). In it I have every email I have ever received from my son, copies of any articles with pictures of his a-parents – they are well known in their community and there are a lot of interviews with them in their local paper. I even found a couple of articles where they talked about my (their) son. I have a couple of pictures from his High School yearbook, heart wrenching poems, adoption articles and letters I’ve written him but never sent. During our brief and painful “reunion” I read and re-read every word he’d written. After he told me he did not want to continue communicating with me I used to get that basket out and cry until I’d get sick to my stomach. I did that for a few months and the one day I decided to put the basket on a top shelf in my closet. After a while I looked at it less and less. Now, I rarely go there anymore. I know it’s there but I’m not obsessing over it. My heart still hurts but I’m learning to let go.

  2. Of course after I wrote this comment I had to look in the box (basket). I no longer cried . I felt as though I somehow had been able to transcend the pain and feeling of rejection that i struggled with for months. Maybe I’m learning to accept the rejection.
    I’m just doing the best I can.

  3. The contents of my box originally started in (of all things) a Victoria’s Secret box. I never paid attention to that fact, it was just a box I had on hand. But, my daughter asked to see it early in our reunion and her first reaction was to wrinkle her nose and said “ewww”. After her reaction, I found a plain brown box and it became the new box. After our reunion, I did a lot of things to try to make things “perfect”.

    The box has traveled with me, far and wide, always had a (pardon the pun) “secret” location, usually a closet and I would periodically take it out and peer at the contents. I had a handful of pictures of her and I would study her surroundings and try to figure out clues – where they lived, what books they read, what their lifestyle was like, etc. Before reunion looking through the contents was bittersweet; a definite sadness. But now, post imploded reunion, it is a package of betrayal, dishonesty and manipulation. The contents are hospital wrist bands, her hospital ‘hat’, her footprints (the nurses were nice enough to do that for me), adoption paperwork, copies of all the letters sent and received between me and her adoptive parents and pieces of our reunion. I don’t look in the box anymore. It is buried and I do my best to avoid it at all costs.

    Creating and keeping that box all that time reiterates how deeply invested and expectant I was of our successful reunion. I know that was what kept me together before, during and after relinquishing her. I soothed my pain with the absolute surety our separation was temporary. I’m glad my mind did that for me during those vulnerable years. But now, the reality of all that has transpired, comprehension of all the lies I was fed and how disturbingly manipulated I was, I am catching up on all the pain I “shelved” back then.

    Our reunion abruptly ended 2 ½ years ago and there has been ZERO contact. Annually I have sent an email to her letting her I know I am thinking about her and to wish her a Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday (they are within days of each other) and both years they have gone unacknowledged. I am now considering letting go of all of it. I gave away the Christmas/Birthday gifts I bought for her. I threw or packed away things she gave me. At this very moment I am selling a ring I bought with her birthstone in it. I consider selling the ring the first step in a series I plan to take to try to rid myself of… something (will it ever go away?). I am contemplating getting rid of every shred of evidence she exists, but I wonder if I would regret that in the future. Having it here makes me a little mental, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to throw it all away, after all these years of cultivating it.

    I equally hate the box, but I used to cherish it, so it is hard to know what to do. I want to put myself first for a change, which might mean a nice spot in the landfill.

  4. As you know, I had a box, stowed away in the back of the closet for some time, with all of the letters and then emails I received from my son, along with various memorabilia . It was during a very hard time of our reunion. That box no longer exists. Not just because our relationship has improved, not all at once, but bit by bit, to a wonderful one today. I used those letters and emails to construct my memoir, and now I think they are elsewhere, perhaps still in a box, but more accessible (although I’d have to look for them… I’m no longer obsessed with what happened between us early on).

    I realize that this only occurred because I have a good reunion now, something that took us a long time to accomplished. A lot of work, and a lot of changes, on both sides. It wouldn’t have happened if my son wasn’t as dedicated to this as I was. I feel blessed for that.

    I wish for all mothers/fathers to have a positive reunion with their relinquished children. It’s not always possible. I get that. But I always tell those who are struggling with it, don’t give up, because situations do change. People change their minds or their behavior. My roller coaster experience proves it, and I’ve heard many stories along those lines.

    Leave the box where it is, if you have one. But never resist opening it again. Or the door to your child (or mother) if they reopen that door. After what I’ve been through with my son, I’m all about hope.

  5. I had a box that had a sleeper that my daughter had worn, and the few letters and pictures I had received before the open adoption was closed. There were also pictures of when she was “ours” in the box and pictures and letters during our reunion relationship. Lastly there was the open adoption agreement papers that were never honored.

    I burned them all. I felt like a puppet on a string, being told to come love me then being told to go away. Burning it was the end of the insanity for me and my family. It hurt but it needed to be done in my particular circumstance. I thought I might regret it but I have not yet.

  6. I had an old envelope of adoption stuff, that is now in a shoe box. I lost it all for a while, had no idea where the stuff was. Symbolic? It contains my surrender paper, which I had xeroxed and torn up the copy for a collage a long time ago, a heartbreaking letter from the birthfather when I looked him and was searching for our son, some pictures of my son when he was young the adoptive mother had sent me, some old drawings, old poems etc. When I found this stuff in an old desk I do not use, I put it in a shoebox. It is still hard to look at. In another envelope I have copies of my son’s early emails to me when we reconnected.

    But today, no more boxes! My son’s emails are kept in “save” on the computer along with emails from my other kids and relatives. My son’s pictures are all over the house with pics of everyone else in the family. The cuckoo clock he sent me, the latest gift, is on the wall, and the little crystal owl is in front of me on my computer as I type this. It is a relief to have a real relationship and have all this out in the real world, not in that sad old box.

  7. Like so many others, I have a box in the closet. The pre-reunion box contains all the literature I could find relating to search and reunion, and back in the early 70’s the pickings were slim. My hopes for a joyful reunion some day were kept alive by the ALMA newsletters that I regularly received, read, and reread. I was dumb enough to believe that my daughter would “thank” me for my selfless decision that allowed her the “better life” adoption had to offer. Eventually, I discovered Origins and added their newsletters to the box and to this day I remain thankful for the print support that was provided in those newsletters by other mothers, especially to my friend, Maryanne. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the box contained a letter to my daughter which was to be given to her in the event that I died. Since I lived, I gave it her when we met.
    Post-reunion – I had to add another box, so now I have two. The second one contains bits and pieces of our reunion relationship journey since 1985. Some good and some not so good. I’m not sure why I actually hang on to it? Perhaps some day when I retire, I’ll look through it and find something that might, in some small way, be of value to others working on a reunion relationship. Mine is still a work in progress and, like Denise, I hang on to hope.

  8. Thanks for the nice mention, Gail. I donated all the old Origins newsletters along with any CUB stuff I had to the archive at Harvard when Lee Campbell was collecting CUB history for them. Don’t know if they kept, it, don’t care, I was happy to get it out of my cellar where it was mouldering. The CUB archive can also be accessed through the CUB webpage,
    By the way for those who know Lee, or know of her work, she is very ill with cancer and undergoing severe chemo.You can say hi or check her progress at her website,

    On the subject of the adoption box, I went to a workshop at one of the conferences where you made an adoption box, and put in it whatever you wanted. Various materials were provided. I made a mother and baby doll, mom holding the baby, forever together, the box decorated with black and purple, very funereal. I think it is still around somewhere, but it is Addams family creepy! I’ve made several adoption collages too, I find them therapeutic and one step removed from doing my own drawings or paintings which I am never satisfied with.

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