I've been sick this past week, and with no energy to do anything but sit on the couch and watch Lord of the Rings (Extended Edition) for the upteenth time, I decided to finally finish Lily and Daniel's "baby books". Yes, they do make them for adoptees!
I bought this beautiful one a couple of years ago, and when we were matched with two kids, I promptly went out and bought another one. Although it is written with infant adoption in mind, it's flexible enough (just) for older children. A few asterisks and insertions are all that are needed to adapt it. For example, in the section for first words I simple wrote in "English" for Daniel. First steps... well, we know Lily took hers just days before we came to pick them up. (Damn!) For Daniel we wrote details about his first bicycle and first scooter. There were plenty of "firsts" in our first year as a family to fill up both books!
My favorite page is a simple one that prompts, "Our hopes and dreams for you." It helped to clarify and simplify all the many hopes we have for our children: to be happy, to be proud of their dual heritage, to be independent, to seek out and to give love.
Much care was taken by the authors to respectfully include birthfamilies. Several pages ask for details about the children's birth history, what is known about their birthdays, how we were matched and the day we first met. On the last page, there are two family trees to complete.
In future I hope that our children treasure these books, and the words we wrote for them. (Provided they can read my chicken scratch handwriting.) I remember pouring over my own baby book throughout childhood. This morning I showed the kids their finished books. Lily in particular loves to look at photos of "baby Nini". Daniel looked through his without much comment. I know he'll ask to look at it again, and ask me to read every word. His life, I think, sometimes seems very surreal to him, even now. It helps to have to written down in black and white.
Big girl Lily is still struggling to nap in her toddler bed (although night time is getting much easier, thank goodness!) I'm doing lots and lots of laundry now that she is wearing underwear all day. These are firsts I happily excluded from her baby book. May all the tearful, screaming evenings and all the soiled clothing be lost to the dust of history please.
This memory we'll hold on to.