Adrienne Rogers – Thread Spools Vermont


Initiator Artist: Adrienne Rogers
Artwork Title: Thread Spools Vermont
Medium: Watercolor
Price: $500

Responder Author: Stephanie Denman
Writing Title: The Red Thread
Size: 11″x17″


My two-year-old was slurping Chow Mein when the phone rang. The noodles, which I’d lined up on Claire’s highchair tray as our little game, looked like beige strands of yarn. She giggled as she chewed, releasing a thin line of drool from her plump, pink lips. 


“Mrs. Denman? This is the adoption agency. Is this a good time to talk? We have the perfect baby for you.”

“What? Yes, please go ahead!” I jumped up and stepped away to hear better. 

“We have a healthy infant boy. His birth mother is young and unmarried. Her family said they’d cut her off unless she placed the baby for adoption.” 

Looking out the window, I watched the white contrails of an airplane passing overhead. We’d be on a plane painting the sky to Taiwan soon. I looked back at Claire. She was scrunching her nose like she smelled something bad. The kitchen, which I’d kept tidy before becoming a mom, was a jumble of toys, onesies drying on a rack and half-empty cups scattered on the counters with coffee gone cold. It felt chaotic. It felt like home. Hard to believe how tightly knit we’d become in the year and a half since bringing her home from China. 

Our agent continued. “The birth mother spent her pregnancy at the convent hospital and moved back with her family shortly after having the baby. The boy is quiet, easy-going and the doctors and staff adore him. What do you think?”  

“Absolutely! Yes!” I spun around and saw Claire swatting and rubbing her nose.  Scooting closer to her, I could see a beige speck lodged in her left nostril. Cradling the phone in the crook of my neck, I grabbed a tissue and started wiping. When that didn’t work, I pulled. 

Like a magician’s handkerchief trick, the speck became a strand that kept unraveling. I gagged before realizing it was a noodle. But because I adored her with every fiber of my being, I just had to laugh. And now, we were about to add more magic to our family. 

“Hello?” the agent shouted. “Are you there?” 

“Yes, sorry.” 

“Great. I’ll confirm with the agency and then you’ll start the court proceedings.” 

“Wonderful. And oh, one last question. What’s his name?”  

I couldn’t believe I’d waited the entire conversation to ask. 

“Right, of course. His name is Tang, Li Ko. It’s customary for the last name to come first.” We knew the Asian custom from Claire’s adoption. 

“I’m sorry, can you say that again? Did you say Tang?” I felt goosebumps on my arms.  “My daughter, who was born in China, was named Tang, Si Lan.” 

“Gracious,” the agent whispered. “I just got a shiver up my spine. It’s just like the Chinese proverb, ‘We are all tied together by a red thread.’” 

Red thread, or destiny. Our lives were intertwined. Forever.


Copyright © 2024 by Stephanie Denman