House

[This post is a part of the Letters to an Adopted Child series. Read the series preface here.]

A house is a privileged building to live in. Not everyone has a house. Sometimes this is by choice, and other times it is not. Some people wish they lived in a house, having multiple bedrooms, a basement for storage or for entertainment, a garage for a car or for a workshop, a backyard to enjoy, a garden to cultivate, and all the rights that come with owning rather than renting. We have these things, because the Lord is sovereign, and he has given them to us.

Houses are always an infusion of inanimate and animate things, that is to say an inseparable mixture of nonliving objects—lamps, hardwood flooring, closet doors—and living beings—your mother, myself, Whitman, and Ash. No house has ever been completely inanimate—for even people who build a new house from scratch have chosen it to reflect their inner style. The color of the walls, the shape of the furniture legs, the quantity and steepness of stairs—all these nonliving things bear life’s image.

When we bought our house, the previous owners removed or replaced everything before they sold it to us. They took all their couches and chairs, and bought the house a new fridge, throwing the old one away. They ripped the carpet off from all the floors, and replaced all the windows. And, one time when we visited before the house was ours, we saw them packing into boxes drawings they had made when they were children. All their memories, everything they had, they took. But they could not take away the scratches and bite marks their dog left on the windowsill. They could not take away the neighbors who knew them. The house was, and is, still connected with them. And it can never be separated.

We have three bedrooms in this house, and your mother and I could only fill up two. We put our bed and all our clothes in one, and we put our TV, our desks, and all my books in the other. The third bedroom we left empty, putting in there only an extra dresser to be used later. A couple months after we moved in, I suggested we figure out what to do with the room. Perhaps we could set up a table, make it a game room of some kind. Or perhaps it could be an exercise room. She looked at me, as you would well recognize, and said, “This is our child’s room.”

It took me much longer than Mom to see that the inanimate room was even then connected to you. It has always been your room, at least as long as we’ve been here. And it can be never separated from you.