I finally did it. I completed TM's lifebook after saying I was going to do it for the past 1 1/2 years. It was a surprisingly difficult thing to do. Not the putting together part...putting pictures and text on a page isn't that difficult...but the emotional part. I knew everything that went in it; there was no new information about TM's early life that was surprising to me. But I also hadn't visited all this information in a conscious way for quite a while. There were two things that struck me. First, TM is now more my son than he was the last time I really thought about his background in more than a cursory way. All those early events didn't just happen to some child, they happened to my son. Looking at his (very cute) baby pictures, I'm overwhelmed with the desire to go back in time and scoop him up and save him from so much. But I can't. It's his history and I can't go back and change it no matter how much I want to.
Second, I am struck once again with how hard those first few weeks were with him. In order to get dates and events right I have been reading old blog posts as well as combing through pictures to add to the book. Seeing the pictures and reading the posts brought back, in a very visceral way, the emotions I had at the time. Sometimes I wonder how on earth we all survived. (I know how we survived...only by God's grace and support. It's nothing I could have done on my own.) In the pictures, I see expressions on TM's face that I'm very familiar with. Expressions which mean trouble is brewing, and indicate TM is feeling life is out of control and very unfair. One glance at the pictures of him at our first meeting and from what I know of him now, I see our future weeks very clearly. All written on his face. But then... he was a stranger to us. I had no way to 'read' him. With a baby, parents and child all learn together, and while the first weeks can be hard, there is only so much a new baby can do... pretty much cry. But this suddenly having to parent a three year old is parenting blindly. It's all trial and error, and with our case it felt as if it were mostly error. The selective amnesia of memory had begun to dull the difficulties we had faced those first weeks, but doing the lifebook plunged me right back into the midst of all those emotions. Take heart, those of you still waiting to bring your child home. Though it was hard, J. and I both came to the conclusion that we would do it all again if it meant TM would be our son.
TM loves his book and thinks it's great that I made a special book all about him and for him. I'm relieved to have it done and to be able to check something off my list. Now I'm down to three things to complete before May.