My husband and I are not yet adoptive parents, but we are parents and step-parents.
We are in the early stages of our journey to add to our family once again, this time through the slightly less conventional method which we know as adoption. We are doing this by choice, and we are excited.
Anyone who is familiar with my family life stories blog will know that I have two passions – photography and nostalgia. These two things are inextricably linked, for it is our photographic images which capture our memories, and thereby become sources of nostalgia in their own right. And there’s the rub.
We live in the age of social media. Our lives are shared online with friends and family, and the pride and love we feel for our birth children is displayed with regularity and gusto in the form of photographic images across our profile pages. The birthday parties, the sandcastles, the football matches and the first day of school. Brown eyes peeping through ruffled hair in the early morning, maternal kisses and the joy on their faces as they win the egg and spoon race.
And yet the parents of adopted children are unable to indulge in such liberal exhibitions of their joy. The need to protect the identities of their babies must trump the desire to show them off.
And so my instinctive yearning as a photographer and professional maker of life stories must be suppressed.
I wonder how it must feel for an adoptive parent to resist the temptation to share the faces which inspire them, when every other blogger on the web is brandishing their angelic offspring without a care? Will I simply learn to accept their faces must remain hidden, or will this separate them from the children whose faces are freely visible? I suspect I will struggle with this, but time will tell.
My family have many challenges ahead. We need to integrate a third incoming branch into the already-integrated family unit; we must learn to parent our adopted children in new ways, without creating inequality, and we must become accustomed to using caution in our photography and how it is shared. Let us hope that the pixelated faces will understand.
Helen Spencer is the 46 year old mother and step-mother to four children between the ages of 25 and 6 years old. She is also the Founder of family life stories website, www.SaveEveryStep.com