I just looked at Jafta’s baby book for the first time since we finalized his adoption. I hadn’t really thought about looking at it – India just pulled it out. But as I sat there flipping the pages, I was flooded with memories of assembling it. Making a baby book is something that should be a labor of love for a mom, especially a first-time mom. Choosing memories for a baby book should be a beautiful thing. But for me, this book was an EXTREMELY painful process. In fact, I could barely finish it, and it took over a year to complete, because I had to walk away from it so many times.
There was so much uncertainty about Jafta’s adoption, and the baby book, to me, seemed like a huge symbol of the potential loss. As I chose the pictures, I couldn’t help but think about his future. I would wonder what I would do with the baby book if he was taken from us. Would I send it with him? Would I keep it? If I gave it to his birthmom, would she even keep it? If I kept it, would I ever be able to look at it again? Every time I tried to work on this book, these thoughts would fill my head.
Making his baby book also brought up other fears. What if he never remembered us? What if all of these memories I had with this child were never known to him? Who would he become apart from our loving family, and what would that seperation do to him? It was even painful looking at family portraits back then. The questions about Jafta’s future lasted well into India’s first year. I used to wonder if, someday, India would look at these pictures and not recognize or remember the boy sitting next to her. I even had the awful thought, during those years, that perhaps we should be taking seperate family portraits without him, just in case. So we would not have a three-year string of photos that had to be stored away in case he wasn’t a permanent member of our family. What a terrible thought for a mom to have.
Looking at his baby book brought back all of these memories for me, and I felt a huge sense of grief for the joys of first-time motherhood I missed out on, for the magnitude of stress I lived under when Jafta was a baby. I found myself sobbing as I thought of the tightness in my chest I felt making that book. But then, I felt relief. I allowed myself to look at all the pictures in a new light. I gazed at the family photos as just a happy, PERMANENT family. I allowed myself to feel grateful that I will be the keeper of this baby book. I will be the one who adds to this catalogue of memories. I will be the one who shows embarrassing baby photos to high school sweethearts. I will be the mother watching these photos in a wedding slide show.
I am glad that I will be the memory keeper for Jafta’s life. I am humbly grateful that his memories will be made with me.