Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Picture is worth a thousand words

I admit that I am on a bit of a rant here today.  You see, I have recently started organizing all my pictures. Trying to put together a chronological account of each child's life.  For some of my kids, this is fairly easy.  For some of my kids that joined our family a little later in life...it is proving to be impossible.

K1, K2 and K3 have it pretty easy.  They have been with me since they were born, so I have hundreds of pictures to document their lives.  Even K7 will have the majority of his life documented since he came to us at age 4 and we have the orphanage pictures, referral pictures and a few pictures from the 3 years he lived with his first adoptive family.  For K4, K5 and K6, it is much more complex.  K4 was 14 when she joined our family and we have worked very hard to locate her pictures.  My husband even had the nerve to walk up to K4's biological family's front door and knock once!  He happened to be on a business trip in that city and took a chance that they would answer the door.  They did and he asked for pictures of K4.  We got a baby picture, a couple pictures from when she was about 5, and her 3rd grade school picture.  We felt like we had hit the jackpot with that baby picture!  K5 has no baby pictures.  Since she came to us at age 11, we will have hundreds of pictures to use for her high school graduation of growing up in middle school and high school, but nothing of babyhood or the elementary years.  K6 had brought with her a newborn hospital picture and what looks to be her kindergarten or 1st grade picture.  She was 18 when we adopted her and those are the only two pictures we have.

As I began working on organizing all these photos, I really wanted to try to fill some holes for my "later in life" kids.  I had the brilliant idea of contacting the schools and asking for pictures from teachers.  One counselor tracked down one elementary class photo.  sigh  Not exactly what I was hoping to achieve.  So I once again hit the phone and the internet in search of ways to get old photographs.  It seemed to me that archived pictures from photography studios for the schools were the way to go!  I immediately contacted Life Touch, the only studio I knew of that did school photos only to find out that they purge their images annually.  REALLY???  With the ease of digital pictures and ability to archive WHY would any company do this?  I truly do not see a reason to not archive school pictures for 10-15 years.  I just bought a large external drive to archive my entire life and have barely made a dent in it's capacity so I know this is not an unreasonable idea.  I did track down another company, Inter-state, which does school photographs and they apparently purge after 2-3 years.  Still not great, but better.  In fact, I was able to order K5's 4th grade picture!  She doesn't know yet and I am hoping that it will be a wonderful surprise for her.  Of course, what she wants more than anything is her baby pictures.  If only hospitals would archive baby pictures...  Well, maybe they do!  Perhaps I should call the hospital were she was born...
There is now a big push for foster families and adoptive families to maintain "LifeBooks" for children in foster care.  I think this is a wonderful idea...but is doomed to fail simply because not everybody is willing to put one together...and as I am finding out, it is nearly impossible to track down those important childhood photographs.  For instance, K5 lived with a foster family that intended to adopt her for 5 years...and we were only able to get 3 pictures of her, and to be honest, they aren't that great and look like they were all taken in the same year, maybe even the same month.  Perhaps the 1st month she was with them and they were all still in the "honeymoon" stage.  My next step is to visit individual schools, pray they have a yearbook and take a picture of whatever I can find.

So today...I am thankful for my camera.  The camera I use nearly every day to document just about every moment of my children's lives.  I might not be able to replace their early childhood photos...but I can make sure that from the moment they cross my door, they have hundreds of photographs to look back on and remember...

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