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By Abrielle

PROMPT — I am grateful for …

I have a few old shoeboxes filled with memories from elementary school and middle school. They’re both stuffed with pictures and a few memorable trinkets to remind me of that time my third-grade teacher played his banjo for our class. There’s a beaten up shoebox in my attic from that time I proudly presented for my fourth-grade project on back to school night, with orange paint splattered on the sides and little trees glued to the top.

When I was younger, Santa used to eat cookies and bring carrots to his reindeer out of the shoebox we left for him to open. My sister and I decorated the sides with red and green crayon and sparkles sprinkled all over. The kind that are impossible to wash off. For my 11th birthday, I was given my first iPod wrapped inside of a big box, in another box, and another box, then a shoebox, and then a smaller box after that. We had to take out a lot of cardboard the next day.

As I got into my teenage years, though, shoeboxes meant a great deal to me. A new pair of cleats for soccer, or maybe softball? Or maybe some heels for my freshman year homecoming and some Nike sneakers to go running in. Seeing a shoebox meant little secrets, old birthday cards, a place my parents kept track of bills, and fitting in with the newest styles at the time. Little did anyone know, that a shoebox was the beginning of a new life for me.

I was only a few days old when I was found on the front steps of a busy building in Yongzhou, China, in a dirty, ragged shoebox. It was the middle of January and my parents had no choice but to lay me in a box swaddled in a blanket. I was found the next morning and given to the police.

This was the fate of thousands of babies across the country. Due to their one-child policy at the time, many families were forced to give up their babies. In addition, most often, girls were given up. The orphanage was crowded with babies waiting to be adopted. I passed days in this orphanage with all these other girls unknowingly anticipating being adopted. Shoeboxes have more meaning to me than just a place for storing things and a new pair of classy flats. For some, shoeboxes mean a whole new fate. They represent the different futures of babies put in them from all around the world. A shoebox can be life-changing.

For me, the lone shoebox on the steps of that building in China was the beginning of a bright future in America beyond anything I could have imagined.


Abrielle is a college student in Boston, MA studying Spanish and Communications. Being adopted is a huge part of her identity and she has recently begun to explore more of her heritage and culture. Aside from writing, she has a passion for social issues, painting, and media arts.

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