I've argued with myself on professional family photos now and then.
I'm not a person who needs family photos to send at Christmas every year. But I do like to have them every few years. When we became foster parents, that became more complicated. We could include foster children, but some stayed briefly and wouldn't be included. It would feel strange to have Crocodile in a family photo session but not Cricket, or Pterodactyl but not Beetle. While we've done an amateur family photo with each foster child, to do a full session with each placement would have been impractical.
But at the same time, we've been fostering over three years. I wanted some family photos during that time. One session happened because we were out of town visiting family and Pterodactyl was in respite, so a family member did a session for us. But even that was three years ago now. And it does feel uncomfortable and wrong to have family photos that don't include children that we view as part of our family, and that our kids view as part of our family. I figured we would do a photo session once Crocodile moved, but I felt half-hearted about it. It doesn't feel right to wait for a child to leave so you can cut him out of the photos.
Then it hit me today. The handprints. We have each child make a handprint on a small canvas square painted in a solid color. The first three are in this post. We would have a picture of us holding the handprints. We could line up, holding the canvasses in our hands, like we still hold on to these children as a part of our family.
Because we do. Today at Bible study a woman prayed a prayer about the pain of separation from those we love. Cricket popped into my mind and I was instantly in tears.
I love the idea of this photo, and I love that I'm looking forward to it. We miss out a lot on the excitement of looking forward in foster care because of all the uncertainty. But this, this I think we can manage.