Different Beginnings

Yesterday was Pepper’s 15th birthday. For four of our five children, we can’t talk with authority about the day they were born, because we weren’t there. As of yesterday, I have officially decided that this means a lot more to parents than to kids.

Pepper was 3 weeks old when we got her. But we have several scrapbooks of photos, including a few from those first weeks in foster care. On our children’s birthdays, we always get out their photo albums for friends and family to peruse. She has never said, “Tell me about the day I was born.” I don’t think it has ever occurred to her to ask because we talk so much about her as a young child. Instead, she proudly pointed out to her parents the photos of her Entrustment Ceremony and, later, our matching outfits on Adoption Day.

It is part of the loss inherent in adoption, that loss of some of the first story. It is not something I can change for her, but I do think our frequent reminiscing about all of our children as babies helps to fill the gap. We all need a history; it is grounding to know you have been loved from the start.

In a funny coincidence, yesterday the birth mom of our three youngest texted me some photos of our 4- and 3-year-olds as infants and young toddlers. I was thrilled to get these photos as they will be all we have for the first pages of our babies’ books. I have been postponing building scrapbooks for them because there are so many gaps in the early years. Our 2-year-old was in a different home from his siblings, and his foster mother provided a book of photos. These start at birth as he went to her from the hospital.

I think in some ways, the lack of that early photographic record helps make the dialogue about adoption an ongoing one. When I do make books for the Littles, there will be a recounting of their first hours and days with us, and a big spread on their Adoption Day followed by their baptism a week later. In a couple months’ time, we will have a big celebration in honor of the first anniversary of those events. While their start in our lives is different than had we given birth to them, it is still a thrilling start and one we will always celebrate.