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.

March 24, 2011

There are so many things I want to write about this whole process


My little sister is pregnant with her first child, the first grandchild in my family. I am so over the moon about this, so ready to meet my nephew and to add the role of aunt to wife, daughter, and sister. He’s due to show up at the end of April, and I can already feel the soft heavy warm weight of him in my arms. It’s a sheer miracle to think of looking into his face and seeing my sister’s face, our family face.

My mother and I threw a baby shower a few weeks ago. Eighteen women gathered in the living room, eating cupcakes and passing around the baby gifts as my sister opened them. I handled each one as it came to me, exclaiming over the little pants, the pacifiers, the blankets and bibs. My sister laughed and tugged at her maternity shirt, made a joke about her breastfeeding pump. And I felt no envy. I’ve never had a yearning to be pregnant, to experience what it’s like to carry a baby to term and give birth. I don’t look at pregnant women and wish I were one of them.

I do feel the loss of not creating a child with John. I will never forget our first meeting with our social worker, on a white-sky winter day last year, when she told us that we had to come to terms with that—the fact that our child won’t look like us, won’t inherit our family’s traits, won’t come from me and John. She pointed out that that was a loss, and I guess I’d been so focused on the excitement of starting the adoption process that I hadn’t really thought of it. It brought tears to my eyes then, and every once in awhile, I think of it and still feel that sadness.

When it comes down to it, being pregnant isn’t what I want. Having a child is. For certain health reasons, and because we’ve always had open hearts for adoption, that’s how we’re going to grow our family. At the core of me, it does feel right.

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There are so many things I want to write about this whole process.

I might not envy the state of being pregnant, but sometimes I do envy the simplicity of it. People understand pregnancy and biological children. They don’t have so many questions, whether asked or unasked. John and I still haven’t told many people about our plans. Of course, our families know, and several close friends, but we haven’t announced it at work or said anything about it on Facebook. Most of the people we’ve told have been thrilled and excited and supportive. (The ones who haven’t been that way seem mildly happy for us but also confused, and they haven’t asked us about it much afterward.) Most people have some questions, but nothing that’s odd or rude. They check in with us for updates and ask how the process is going. And maybe it’s just me being overly sensitive (and that’s a very strong possibility), but sometimes I wonder what they’re really thinking. Do they think we’re crazy? Do they think international adoption isn’t a good thing? Do they have preconceived ideas about what adopted kids are like? If our child has any problems whatsoever, will people always point to his adoption?

Obviously, dealing with these types of issues is going to be part of our “new normal.” We knew that going into it, and we know we will handle it. But still, it can feel a little jarring and isolating. Recently I went out to dinner with a few friends, one of whom didn’t know about the adoption, and I told her. She seemed happy for us, asked me a few questions, and that was it. It wasn’t brought up again for the rest of the night. The next day, we all emailed back and forth about how fun the dinner was, and she never mentioned it. I can’t help wondering if it would be the same if I were pregnant.

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It’s not hard for me to get too deeply inside my own head, if that makes sense. On some days I think about how he’s already somewhere out there, crying or sleeping or gurgling, waving his arms around. I see the three of us visiting playgrounds, taking Stella to the beach, reading bedtime stories. I see him dancing while John plays the guitar, all of us laughing. Other days I fear that he won’t attach, he won’t sleep, he’ll have separation anxiety, he’ll be afraid of the playground (I know, right?). That we won’t be good parents; that I’ll be frustrated or confused or desperate or just plain old worried all the time. Logically, I know that parenting is going to contain all of these emotions and experiences in one big messy bundle, that there will be very high highs and very low lows. I suppose I’m just afraid of the unknown sometimes, even though I’m still moving steadily toward it with my arms open wide.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jessamyn said...

I just want you to know I'm out here, very excited and interested to hear anything and everything you have to say about this. You are right about the high highs and low lows, but there is also this, at least for me: once they're in the past, the high highs become a part of you and your memory in a way that the low lows don't. Or, if you're an optimist - and I know you are! - even some of the low lows, once they have passed, become their own sort of high, not only because they are from a phase in your child's life that you will never get back, but also because getting through them demonstrates that you've passed a test just by surviving them. May it be that way for you, too.

11:14 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

"I just want you to know I'm out here, very excited and interested to hear anything and everything you have to say about this."

Ditto.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

Congratulations that you're going to be an aunt soon! How exciting! I hope to have that opportunity one day. :)

I go a bit crazy in my head sometimes too. People ooh and aaah over pregnancy the entire 9 months but I think sometimes people just don't see adoption as "real" - at least until after referral when there is a picture and child attached and it's not an abstract idea. Maybe I'm optimistic but I'm hoping (some) people are a bit more excited after that. The other thing is that it's long so now that we're almost 2 pregnancies in (since starting, not since HSTK) with no picture, people aren't sure what to make of it. Thinking of you!

8:44 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Oh, I feel like I could have written this post (not quite as eloquently of course). I've never wanted to be pregnant either (and medical issues also helped make the decision here)... but I still find myself longing for the simplicity of it. Especially given that I am a planner. A Type A personality. And just a little bit obsessive with the timing of everything. The timing worked out perfectly for S, but man... all the unproductive hours I spent stressing over it! I feel your pain.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

What a heartfelt post. Adopting is an amazing experience, but you're right. It brings with it so many extra emotions and issues. And I think it's impossible not to get wrapped up in all the worry and speculation. But the other side is just so beautiful, and somehow you truly will end up with the child that was meant for you and your husband. And even if he is afraid of the park:), you won't care! I'm excited for you as you continue on your journey, and us bloggy friends are always here to listen!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Pix said...

Amy, we seem to be walking the same path, and you put it so much better than I ever could! I never wanted to be preg, but I do get weepy about not creating a baby with hubby. It became especially painful when SIL got preg (and announced the day after we told fam we were adopting) and everyone says the baby looks like my hubby. That hurts each time they say it.

Who knows if people would treat us differently if we were having a biological child. It's the perceived easiness (perception on my part) of that whole thing that gets me. People seem to know how to respond to a pregnancy (scream, hug) but it's not usually the same response to the adoption announcement. And is that pity I see in some of their eyes? And don't get me started on paid maternity leave. But I do know that the people who get this, really get it, are the people we will hold close in our lives.

As for the attachment fears--scary. Let me know how you deal with those. Makes my knees quake at the thought. Fortunately they are offset by the delirious joy we feel as we anticipate bringing O home.

And finally, KEEP WRITING! I love your posts!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Amy! Checking in on you and your progress. Would love to hear how it's coming along for you, and find out your feelings on recent South Korea news. Hope your agency updates are frequent and positive...
Lisa Doublestein

6:28 PM  

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