My daughter Claire protested when I told her we were going to buy a new couch. “But I grew up with that couch. You can’t just get rid of it,” she said. At first I thought it was an unusual attachment to a red corduroy sofa for a 14-year old. But, I could see why she was so upset.
The story really started 13 years ago. We adopted Claire from China when she was a year old. On our last night before leaving China, we perched her on a red couch in the lobby of our hotel for a group picture with four other girls from her orphanage. Taking a group photo on that red couch had become a rite of passage for families adopting children from China.
Claire and the other girls teetered as if perched on a raft, as they sat waiting for the camera to click. They were not only physically wobbly, they were emotionally uncertain. We’d met our new daughters for the first time just a few days before, and removed them from the only home they’d known since being placed for adoption.
We were unsettled as well. We’d traveled across the world to get Claire and we were starting our lives together in a foreign land. The red couch was a springboard as we left China behind and embarked on our journeys as newly formed families.
A few years later, we bought our own red couch. I didn’t think about its color at the time; we just needed a sofa. Over the years, Claire watched cartoons on this couch, unwrapped Christmas presents on it, built forts with its cushions, had her first sleepover and transitioned from toddler to teen.