There is only one photo!
Well, there are two, but they are the same photo, basically, just taken from a slightly different angle, snapped seconds apart….it doesn’t count. I will call it one photograph, as though the two images could merge into one, seamlessly, and no one would ever see the difference. See what I mean?
There’s another photo, of a baby’s bottom and a birthmark that you might mistake for a big bruise covering his little left bottom cheek – I can’t really fathom why it was sent to us, for posterity perhaps (kind of like a birthmark)? I cannot say how much I would have preferred to have been sent another image, any other photo of any moment in a short, precious life that showed instead the handsome face of the son who would be ours.
So, so little to savour (to think the first images we received of our Little Yang were grainy, scanned, black and white copies of the above-mentioned originals – apparently government departments can’t invest in colour scanners to send the very first (only) images of future children to their prospective parents).
There is only really one photo. That’s IT. The sum total of 8.5 months.
Of our beautiful daughter, we have a priceless collection of 25 photographs as a young baby, several that are similar, having been taken on the same occasion showing a happy or bemused baby in different poses yet stuck in the same situation – an orphan being cared for by a foster family, looked after yet separate, seemingly alone. She was never snapped with anyone else in the frame – not a carer, nor another child.
She was a baby whose first reaction was to smile a big cheeky grin as though she didn’t know there was little to smile about. She was captured in those images, but was she loved? (We’ve been lucky to have since met Miss Yin’s foster mother and we can only believe she was indeed loved).
The 24 additional photos we have of our Miss Yin taken in her almost 13 months in China before we met her, can’t possibly make up for the four fewer months that we got to spend with her in our lives, when compared to our son.
I grieve those long months. Photos don’t make memories. They capture just a few moments stolen in time – but not lived by us or remembered by her ….the stuff of ether. No wonder the photo album we were given by the orphanage smelled so musty – the memories had already started to fade and mould into so much mildew because there was no-one to treasure them.
And we have NO photos at all of our children’s birth parents, no information. Miss Yin has already started to grieve this, but it’s her loss, her story to tell, so I will say no more.
Soooo – how to explain such lack of history to our children in a modern age when minute, upon moment, upon second is chronicled, analysed, face booked, tweeted? What they eat, for some people, is apparently interesting enough to be shared, at each and every meal!! Where is the room for nothing – for no images, no hashtags, no status updates? Where is the room for (shock horror) IMAGINATION?
“We are not who we may have been perceived to be” – is my made-up quote which basically means that unless someone actually saw you, unless anyone observed your mortifying moment of supreme embarrassment in Grade 5 when you……………..or that time at 7 months old when you…………….but as a baby can’t remember, then it can’t be real – can it? Where is the photographic (or video) proof? Evidence people!
I could bore you with tales, and links to numerous videos, showing the story of moments in time I have frozen still and sweet and true for our daughter and our son.
As though obsessed, I’ve chronicled our daughter’s life, along with the lives of her China Cousins, with our extended family on holiday at Brunswick Heads, with her classmates in Kindy, with other China kids on camp, with her school class visiting the local nursing home, on holidays in Australia, Canada, the United States and China.
My video making obsession has waned somewhat with that thing called ‘crazy busyness’ so that my son is more photographed (iPhone’s make it so easy) but much less of a DVD star, yet still I yearn to tell the story of my children’s lives before time slips through their fingers (and mine of course).
But where is the ether that can’t be captured on film, where are our own individual shining auras and the connected energy between us that is unseen and yet felt? How can I photograph an invisible red thread that connects us to our children’s birthparents? How can you capture goose bumps? There are no images to prove anything let alone everything.
Where is the map of the DNA that is my children’s and not mine? I want to be able to trace the lines of our linked hands as we lock them together in love, but love is really the only connection.
Seven years ago I did up one of my very first videos for my Mum’s 60th birthday. I trawled though old photos, scanned several dozen, and put the video together with as much love and creativity as my novice ability could muster. There were only three photographs of my mother during her entire childhood that I could use to tell the story of how her life began – yet that story was self-evident in the life she lived as an adult, in the love that was so obviously on show in the many photographs I was able to select from later in her life, so many featuring my wonderful Dad and us lucky kids.
In this digital age where a sandwich is sometimes snap-worthy, how will I ever explain that no-one stopped to take photographs of my beautiful baby kids? I mean how will I explain it to THEM?
Perhaps in watching their grandmother’s video my precious children will realise that images are superfluous to the memories that are preserved in our hearts, encoded in everlasting love. Not in DNA maybe, but the love story continues, through the generations just the same.
We are not what others see of us, or even the sum of all that others see in us.
We are (usually) much more than we see of ourselves.
Perhaps if we could photograph love we might come close to capturing who we really are. All the same really, regardless of how we look in photos.
Now check out this montage of our two kids as babies – don’t you reckon they look so much like the siblings they ended up becoming, despite their different biological parents.
Love your comments below – linking up Jess for IBOT…..Kathy X