I got in on the Valentine-making frenzy of this week,too. Inspired by the kids' recent watercolor valentines and Camille's recent drawings (lots of map drawings like above), I made my own watercolor valentines and then sewed them onto cards. My poor sewing machine has been used to sew more paper than fabric recently. We have been binding lots of little blank books and cards with the sewing machine. It has been a collaborative and on-going project with Camille. She tears or cuts bits of paper which I sew onto the hearts and blank cards. And then her work continues as she cuts off each of the little threads on the cards. I love the way the the sewn bits of paper look on the blank cards. And Camille, in addition to the cutting of thread and paper, loves to see the maps of red thread emerge under the needle.
Now that I think about it also ties into some of our recent reads and the Chinese belief in the red threads that bind us to those we are destined to be with forever. It is a popular part of modern adoption stories and culture. It is actually the title of the only Grace Lin book I am not especially fond of, but one that Camille wants me to read over and over to her this week. It is an adoption fairy tale centered around the story of the red thread. The illustrations are lovely and the story is sweet until the very end. The parents complete their long journey in a rural Chinese village where they discover the red threads attached to their hearts are also attached to the ankles of a waiting baby girl. The parents ask the villagers who the child belongs to and an old woman emerges to tell them she is their baby. The parents take the baby and return to their kingdom where they live happily ever after with their new Asian princess.
A sweet ending, right? Except it rubs me the wrong way. It is all just too perfect, too easy, too clean, and too Disney-like for me. Especially the significant absence or even acknowledgment of a birth family. I am sure my reaction is a result of our own adoption experience. We are lucky to have some threads of Camille's early history. We have met her birth family and we continue to send them updates. They requested that we send updates around the time of her birthday and Chinese New Year. And so as we prepare to send photos, drawings, and stories, I can't help but think about the red threads that connect them to her and to us. Although, we have not heard back from them, those invisible threads of connection are still very strong to me. They are forever a part of Camille's life and ours, too.
I didn't mean to ramble on in this direction but I guess that's what happens with matters of the heart. Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine's Day! May you treasure the red threads that weave a tangled map within your heart and connect you to the ones you love.