In the corner of my living room, beside our stereo, there are a cluster of picture frames. Each hold a different picture, a favorite picture of each of my kids. One of Potato with our dog when he was just six months old- his smile in that picture could solve any worldly problems. There is one of Girlie when she was just teeny and brand new, wrapped in this pink blanket, and placed in a basket for pictures. She looks small, so helpless, and you can even smell the new baby smell coming off the picture. There is a picture of The Hubby and I, together, when we were newly engaged. He has this sexy smirk, and I have this look of contentedness that I rarely see in myself. We were in love, we were smitten, and I like to remind myself of that when I’m picking up his dirty socks.
Of course, there is a picture of The Kiddo. The only one I have displayed in my house. It’s a really old one now. I don’t have the heart to change it, but the idea of placing more photos of him in my home seems foreign and out of place. I guess I’m not quite there yet. In this picture, he’s about two, almost three, surrounded by stuffed animals, and he’s smiling the exact smile that Potato is smiling in the picture beside him. It makes me smile even thinking about it.
Most of the time, I don’t notice these pictures. They are there to make our home warm, and inviting, to show people that we live here, that love lives here, and that we have grown. But then there are times, like last night while I was ushering the kids into the bathroom to get their teeth brushed that I notice it out of the corner of my eye and it catches me off guard. It’s position had moved, and I wondered if Potato had been playing with it earlier in the day.
A couple weeks ago, I caught him talking to the picture of The Kiddo, telling him a story about his “friend” Dolphin (Potato’s invisible friend). He was asking the picture if they could play together, all of them. He told the picture how he really likes him, and thinks he’d really like him too. I left the room before I could burst into a full on ugly cry in front of him. Upon telling The Hubby about this incident, he admitted that he’d seen Potato do it more than once himself. That made my heart hurt in the strangest way. When I asked Potato about it later, he looked panicked, as if he knew that talking about The Kiddo hurt me, and I might get angry for it. I explained to him that he was allowed to play with the picture, but I would love it if he talked to me too, if he needed to, about The Kiddo. So he asked, again, for what seems like the zillionth time, why The Kiddo doesn’t live with us, and if we will ever get to see him again. I explained simply, and we moved on.
So it goes. This is the life in a semi-open adoption. Explaining, and expressing, both to yourself and your present family. Photographs that stare into the rooms of our homes, memories hanging on our walls, and surprisingly, providing a gateway for more memories to be made. Right now, that simple photograph is the only tangible evidence that The Kiddo exists, and for Potato it’s the only thing he is able to make memories with, process his feelings about his brother, and understand what adoption has meant for his mom, for him, and for his unknown, unseen brother.
A photo that holds so much memory for me, pain, sadness, sometimes some happy thoughts, also holds new conversations, new feelings and more memories for my little family now.
A picture really does say a thousand words.
And so much more, it seems.