A flyer from K's school came home the other day.
I guess I knew this day would eventually come, but honestly I didn't see it coming.
I shouldn't be this upset. It was a simple request, really.
In preparation for the sixth grade graduation ceremony in May, the teachers have requested a few things — not entirely out-of-the-ordinary things.
The list on the flyer read:
1.) Current photos of your child - throughout the school year, doing fun things, especially if you have any with other sixth grade students included.
2.) A baby picture.
I got instantly flush.
My heart raced.
I could feel my face get red as my eyes filled with tears.
A baby picture. A baby picture? A baby picture!
My baby was ten when we met.
The earliest photo I have is a keychain her former foster mother gave me — the date imprinted on the photo says 2008. She would have been nine.
My baby, as far as I can prove, has never been a baby.
I know in my mind there is no way the teachers thought about K as they typed the letter to parents.
I know there's no way it crossed their minds that some people don't have photos of their child as an infant or toddler.
And there's no reason they would think like that — most adopted children at K's school have been with their adoptive parents since birth or infancy.
The request is so normal.
But it served as a reminder that our family is not.
It served to remind me there is still one thing I cannot give my daughter — a past.
We can imagine what she looked like. We can laugh about how she might have acted. We can joke and guess about how old she was when she learned to walk. We can look at photos of premies to see how small she would have been.
But it still doesn't change the fact that I can't give my daughter something as simple as a baby picture.
And for a mother, knowing I can't give my child something to make her normal just breaks my heart.
I wiped away my tears before she could see me. My burdened heart doesn't need to be her trouble as well.
We had a choice — we could do any one of the following, so I asked for her input.
1.) Not submit anything — explain that prior to the age of nine we have no photos.
2.) Draw a picture of what she might have looked like.
3.) Use one of my baby pictures (one where you can't tell it's the late 70s)
4.) "Borrow" a baby picture from a friend or relative who might have looked like K at that age.
5.) "Borrow" one off the internet.
Her past matters. Her history matters. Her life before us matters.
It's the one thing I don't know enough about.
But here's what I do know.
As much as her past matters, her future matters more.
As much as her history matters, the history she's making matters more.
And as much as her life before us matters, she wasn't really living her best life before us.