Creating memories with your kids becomes even more important when your kids don’t have memories of their own.
As a single mom to my two foster sons, I got catapulted into motherhood. Going through the months of training to get licensed to become a foster parent, I felt as though I had prepared myself for the numerous challenges and difficulties that lay ahead of me. I mentally knew there would be behavioral issues, I knew navigating the child welfare system would not be easy (though I had no idea just how difficult), and I anticipated mixed feelings regarding biological family members. However, it had never crossed my mind how difficult it would be to fall in love with two kiddos, whose past I was not a part of.
My boys came to me when they were 3 & 6, and they did not have a single picture of when they were babies. We do not have any pictures of family members outside of their siblings and ones printed from Facebook that I have found. I know part of the horrific trauma that they experienced, but I do not know what their first word was or when they began to walk. They are constantly asking questions about their past, that I do not know the answers to and don’t have a safe connection to find out for them. They have lived in numerous placements over their short lives, that time and memories are difficult to keep straight.
My little one has asked me multiple times why he did not grow in my belly, and I want to burst into tears every time I’m asked. How dearly I wish he would have grown in my tummy because in my heart, he is mine, always will be. Helping my boys work through the memory blanks they have is both difficult and heartbreaking. I was privileged to have family members pass along traditions, tales of my parents’ childhoods, and items passed down through generations. There was a history that helped anchor me to who I was. My boys do not have that, but we are creating it.
During the licensing process, we were encouraged to create ‘Life Books’ for our kiddos. Similar to a scrapbook, it is a book that the boys and I have made since they came to live with me. It holds pictures and keepsakes from our time together. I often walk into my office and find one of the boys slowly flipping through the pages, talking aloud about the memory on the page. While I grieve not having the memories that typically come along with the early stages of a kiddo’s life, my heart fills with gratitude for the time we have had and the lifetime that I hope to share with them.