This week's #WASO theme is 'Treasured Moments'. Seriously, I could write about these all day! I've written before about some of our successes and moments to remember (here and here) and recently we've had a plethora of memorable times with Final Hearing and then Celebratory Hearing and all the related celebrations.
All of that was amply documented and recorded via literally hundreds of photographs and in other ways, including several blog posts. So today, I want to take a slightly different tack on the subject . . . .
Unlike many adoptive parents, I have been lucky enough to have experienced many of OB's treasured moments, achievements and 'firsts'. It was me who saw him roll over, sit, stand and walk for the first time. I nursed him through his teething, gave him his first solid food, took him for his first haircut and first shoes (with his birth mother on that occasion). I took photos and made videos, filled in his red book and baby book, and recorded our daily doings in my foster carer's diary.
In fact, due to our daily diary, I probably have a more complete record of OB's first two years than most birth parents would have of their own child's!
Throughout his period in foster care with me, I made meticulous records, either in writing, or in photos and videos, of nearly everything that happened. But I made them for someone else.
'What's the difference?' you might think. 'At least you've got all of those memories recorded now.'
So true. And I'm grateful for them. But I must admit there's a part of me that wishes that I could go back and relive those wonderful moments knowing what I know now - that one day I would be OB's forever mummy and all these memories and moments would belong to the two of us together and not just to him alone.
I took hundreds of photos of OB - OB eating, sleeping, walking, playing; OB at the park, in the pool, in France, Switzerland, Germany; OB on his own in so many places. There are very few photos of OB with his adoptive mummy. If you browsed through his photo album, you'd be forgiven for wondering where I was! Since I made the decision to adopt, I've been collecting photos of the two of us together from family and friends to try to put myself in the picture.
When OB would do something clever, or new, my thoughts would be that I must record it and tell his birth mother about it. Everything was about working with birth mum, supporting and visiting birth mum, encouraging the bond between OB and birth mum. When we took his birth mum with us to buy his first shoes, I only took photos of her and him, not me and him. When he was rehabilitated to his birth mum, I sent those shoes, the hair from his first haircut, many beloved toys and clothes. I never saw any of those things again. When he returned a few short weeks later, he came in slippers and borrowed clothes. Very little came after. Much is lost.
Caring for a child temporarily means that you can never, never let yourself think about the future. If you see some personality trait in him, or some budding skill, you must not allow yourself to imagine nurturing that to fruition. You can't say "Next year we'll . . . " or "When he's older, we'll . . . . ". However strong a bond you make with the child (and I do tend to go for super-strong bonding!), there's always a part of you that must be held back, or else it would be unbearable.
So, now I have permission to have all those thoughts and make all those plans, I'm making up for lost time! I'm going back through our memories together and trying to create a story of a mummy and her son, rather than a temporary carer and her charge. Of course, OB will know the truth about how he came to be my son, but he will hopefully also see that we shared many treasured moments together along the way.
We're also working hard to make sure that every new, unexpected, wonderful moment is treasured and cherished as well! Those treasurable moments sometimes come along when least expected; they can be surprising, poignant or hysterically funny, taking your breath away, filling your heart to bursting with love and joy, or brimming your eyes with tears.
And now those moments are all mine. And I'm glad.