The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

November 14, 2010

One year later, some thoughts

Sometimes it happens at odd times. On Sunday afternoon I’m doing the big Seasonal Clothing Switch, carefully folding my short-sleeved shirts into the plastic storage container that lives under my bed, and suddenly I think—when I see this T-shirt again, will I already know his face?

Other times it’s more expected. It’s Halloween, and we’re walking Stella around the neighborhood among the dark hordes of happy kids, and I think—will there be four of us next year, doing this walk? Maybe we’ll dress him as Yoda, or as a little frog. As he gets older, he’s going to love trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, I think, where Halloween is a holiday on par with the Fourth or Christmas.

Will he be here this time next year? Will I have his photo in the spring? Is he born yet? Is his birth mother all right? Where is he now? What is he doing, right this instant, 9:52 p.m. in Chicago, 12:52 p.m. in Seoul?

Question marks are a big part of this process, I’m realizing. Where, when, how, who.


On November 12, it was exactly one year since I mailed our application to our agency. I remember walking to the post office, watching the envelope slide into the mail slot, stepping back outside into the pale autumn sunlight, smiling at no one. It’s hard to comprehend that a whole year has passed since that day. I turned 34, bought a real camera and started learning to use it, trained for and ran a half-marathon, spent two weeks in Italy. There was camping and reunions with friends and long summer afternoons on the deck. It’s been a good year. And of course, peppered throughout it, small adoption mile markers—our joint visit with our social worker. Our individual visits. Her visit to our home. Getting fingerprinted, getting tested for TB. Chasing paper. Visiting the notary. And making the difficult decision to switch our placement agency to one that’s currently experiencing a faster timeline between referral (when you’re matched with your child) and travel to Seoul. Of course, there’s no guarantee that that shorter timeline will stay in place, but for now, it is. We wanted to do whatever we could to bring our child home at as young an age as possible.

In 2011, we will see our child’s face for the very first time, a photograph that will be the most precious photograph I can imagine holding in my hands. We will send him care packages. We will fly across the world to Seoul, our first time in Asia, and we will meet him and hold him and bring him across an ocean to his new home. We’ll start a new life as three that will be hard and scary and the most beautiful, meaningful thing that we’ve ever done in our lives. I am terrified, and I am so excited.


(The not-as-romantic details: Our homestudy is complete and is with the state adoption coordinator for endorsement. Once it’s endorsed, it will be sent to our placement agency. Barring them needing any changes made to it (and all possible limbs are crossed in the hopes that doesn’t happen), it will be sent on to the agency in Korea, and we’ll officially be waiting for our referral. That’s a big milestone that we’re anxiously awaiting. We hope to travel in late summer or early fall, but we know anything is possible.)


This past weekend, we attended a parent education seminar at our agency. It was a fascinating five hours, with a child psychologist presenting and a panel of adoptive parents telling their stories and answering questions. One of the panelists was a woman who brought her Korean son, Will, home in April. He’s 21 months old now, a calm, quiet boy who sat on her lap for almost an hour, thoughtfully chewing his Cheerios and looking at all of the prospective parents as we grinned at him, trying not to stare too much but unable to look away.

After the seminar, John and I went up to the woman to thank her for coming and meet Will. He watched us as we talked, clutching his big yellow Lego, staring at John as his mom talked about how well he’s adjusted to his new home. There was a lull in the conversation, and John reached out and rubbed Will’s back. “He’s so beautiful,” he said to the woman, a tinge of awe in his voice, and something in me welled up and I could not speak. It’s like there’s this whole other dimension of life, a different kind of beauty and humanity and love, and I’m just now starting to glimpse it. Soon, I’m going to get to live it.

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Blogger Christine said...

You get me every time with these posts....

7:50 AM  
Blogger Cori said...

This is lovely. I know I often thought the same things at the most random moments. It didn't seem real somehow.

But it was. And it is.

I can't wait to see your son's face next year!

8:43 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

You have had an amazing year and next year will be even more amazing because you will be sharing it with your child. I hope your referral comes really soon!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Isn't this waiting period funny? Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening and all those happy visions in your head are just dreams. And other times the reality of it all just leaves me speechless. Here's to a speedy referral! And thanks for sharing another lovely bit of writing.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Jessamyn said...

I remain so excited for you, eagerly awaiting posts about your future, and loving being able to share some of this with you, a little bit. Thank you for sharing with us.

8:06 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

What Jessamyn said! This is so awesome.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Kellie said...

Thanks for sharing your journey so openly. Thinking of you.

5:26 PM  

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