I am in the process of making a photobook. It is time-consuming and emotional. There are a thousand pictures of him, but I will probably only include a couple of hundred. Jumping in waves. A look of pride from the top of the slide. Blowing out candles. World Book Day dressing up. Icing biscuits. Flying a kite. Feeding fish. Bursting a balloon. Wearing that new hat. Skidding in the snow. Chatting to Grandma. Scoring a goal. Happy moments, and yet my tears flow as I carefully choose, compose, and caption each one. Finally when I have finished I will order two copies – one for him, one for me.
It is therapeutic for me in a way. This is my way of saying goodbye to a child I have loved as a son for the past nine months. My way of telling him how much I love him, and wishing him the best as he moves on to his special ‘forever’ family. I hope it will be therapeutic for him too, one day. When he no longer remembers the time he spent here – when he wonders what ‘being in foster care’ meant for him – perhaps he will browse the book and know at least that he was loved and cared for, and see evidence that he was often really happy in what will probably be the hardest nine months of his life.
I have a collection of photobooks in my lounge on the shelf beneath the television. Each of them tells the story of a child who was part of our family on their unorthodox route to adulthood. Each book has a duplicate elsewhere in the world and one day, I hope, those duplicates may cross paths again. I imagine in a decade or so getting a knock on the door and a smiling face holding a photobook asking me – do you remember? And I can get my copy out and say – how could I forget?
Nobody else will see these photos. I can’t show them off on Facebook or Instagram. I can’t attach them to this blog. I fiercely protect the privacy of the children I care for, and so they must remain invisible. But 6,000 children waiting in foster care for adoptive families is not just an invisible problem or a statistic. Each of those children has a life-story and someone, somewhere will be privileged to be part of that journey. Lets hope they have a camera!
Could you take portraits of a child bursting with pride as they take their first steps after being told they would never walk? Could you capture a child’s reaction at seeing the sea for the first time? Could you print out that selfie from the airport? Could you record that annual reunion between brother and sister?
If fostering and adoption is not the path for you, could you at least take a photo of something that encapsulates motherhood as part of a campaign to make fostering and adoption less invisible? You could win a professional family photo shoot. Find out more at www.homeforgood.org.uk/mumsforgood
Miriam Kandiah is a mum, an adopter and a foster parent. She has co-authored 10 books, including Home for Good: making a difference for vulnerable children.
DISCLAIMER: I have not received payment for this post.