As any adoptive parent will tell you... the photos you receive of your child's "pre-you" days are priceless. I think we all covet those for many reasons... but for me, it's because it's a visual link to their past. A way to show them where they were before they came to you. It helps build their history, if you will. And let's be honest here. It's the only tangible thing we have between the referral and when we travel. It's the only thing we can point to and say, "I have a son!" I may not have a round belly to let the world know I'm expecting, and I may not have one of those cute little infants to show off. But I have pictures, people. And you better believe I'm going to share them if I run into you! (Scared yet?!) With our Korean agency, you get a lot of photos with your referral. We received a clear envelope filled with snapshots of both boys. We received 21 for Spencer, and 23 for Milo. We were very, very lucky. A couple of years ago, it became known that there may be newborn photos of your child on file at the agency, you just needed to email a request. I'm sure that our poor agency was flooded with requests. Ours being one of them. Unfortunately, there were no photos in Spencer's file. I hadn't realized how badly I wanted them until I was told they didn't exist. I'll be honest, I mourned the lack of photos... more than I expected too. But, as with all disappointments, you pick yourself up... and move on. I honestly forgot about that whole thing.
Until Milo's referral. When our SW was going over the details of the referral, she mentioned that she had "many more" not included in the pdf. Since I'm kind of a photo-obsessed gal, I asked her to ballpark how many was "many more." She said two dozen. She then paused, and went on to say, "And there's a newborn photo here too." I asked her to repeat that, which she did, and all I could do was whisper, "oh my god." She responded with a whispered "I know." (That is extremely rare, to receive a newborn photo with your referral.)
I think giddy was the only way to describe how I felt. I couldn't believe that we would have a newborn photo in hand of Milo. It was, of course, tainted with a sadness that—already—our boys would not have the "same-same." And we had no control or power over that. But for the most part, I was rejoicing. And then...
It got better.
Adoptive parents are a pretty close knit group. We have online forums, private facebook groups, and many of us could probably play the "six degrees of separation" game. So the night we received Milo's referral, I went onto one of the facebook groups, and looked to see if there were any nursery photos while he was there. (Many families who travel try to take photos of the nursery while they are there. It's a way to "pay it forward" so to speak.) I wasn't hopeful since he was there for such a short period of time, when not very many families were traveling. My heart started beating a little faster when I stumbled upon an album that was taken about halfway through his time there. My heart then jumped to my throat as I stumbled upon a series of a five month old little one. In one of the photos he was looking directly into the camera, and that's when my belly flipped. I was shaking as I dashed off emails to two close friends, also adoptive parents with our agency, asking them what they thought. In my heart, I think I already knew it was him... but I didn't allow myself to truly believe it until they both responded, "DEFINITELY!"
One of them said, "You have won the lottery! You received a newborn photo AND you've found nursery photos!" It's true... I do feel like I have won the photo lottery. It's more than I ever could have hoped for... more than I ever knew I wanted.
So, while I show one son his "pre-me" photos, I stare at my other son's "pre-me" photos. I can't wait until I'm sandwiched between them, looking over their shoulders as they each browse through their packets. But for now, I'm more than happy to flip through them—wondering, daydreaming, planning.