08 March, 2007

Precious Photo Gift Idea to Buy for Your Adoptive Mom

A healing dreamscape featuring Liz’s biological mother (upper right as an adult)
and in B/W (as a young woman). Liz's adoptive parents hang on a wall (above the Easter basket).

I have this belief. When adopted kids are all grown-up with kids of their own, I believe true maturity blossoms - maturity that allows them to finally put their teenage angst and abandonment issues behind them and see their adoptive mom for who she really is. Their mom.

These days, the p.c. thing is for adoptive moms to present their child with a scrapbook that traces their adoption journey when their child is deemed "ready" (something that's occurring at an ever more tender age.) I propose doing it the other way around. Why not have the adult daughter or son give their adopted mom a personalized photo collage gift that traces their adoptive mother's love, from before you were even born to the adult child you are today! Give it to her on Mother's Day, when you've been a parent yourself for a couple of years and know what it means to bond with your child.

Not long ago, I created a custom photo collage for a biological mom to give to her daughter, showing her the many things she had in common with her daughter, down to the way they wore their hair, or the many Celtic and Polish connections that flowed through their lives by birth or marriage. The photo collage also paid its respects to the parents who raised Liz. In a 19th century Polish kitchen that anchors the photo collage, I hung a photo of Liz's adoptive parents' from a little peg, highlighting their faces in a warm light.
Since making that custom photomontage, I've thought many times that one day Liz will make her adoptive mom a present as well. For now, the photomontage is seen through the lense of Liz's biological mother. I believe every adoptive mom would relish a photo gift celebrating the sacrifices they made to find you, the love of their life. You might even want to accompany your photo gift with a letter or poem where you can pour out all the feelings you never gave voice to before. The voice that answers those nagging worries of the adoptive mom, like:
  • Am I a good parent?
  • Does my daughter know how much I love her?
  • Am I putting up with her nonsense some days, only because I'm scared of what she's really feeling?

Make Mom a Heroic Photo Collage Gift

Here's how I would get started on a heroic Mother's Day photo gift for your adoptive moms:

  1. Interview your mom about your adoption and the journey to find you. Type while she's talking or turn on a digital tape recorder. Use photographs to help jog her memory. Ask her how she felt, how she fought for you, and where she got the courage to do the things she did.
  2. Collect the photos the agency or orphanage clipped to your file from the very beginning.
  3. Grab any maps to these faraway places. Identify with arrows exactly where she found you. Embellish the page with her plane tickets.
  4. Make a copy of every form Mom personally filled out and tear out the portions where you see her handwriting.
  5. Find the first photos where she holds you in her arms, as well as the best pictures of the two of you at every point in your life up till now.

Now here's the important part. Enlist a talented digital artist to incorporate all these photos into a beautiful non-linear photo collage or dreamscape.

If you have some concerns about how to pull this off, read my FAQs --

Q: What if I don't have a great photograph of the two of us together at that point in time?
A: A really good digital artist can take entirely different photos and seamlessly combine them as if everybody was already there and somebody snapped the picture!

Q: What if I can’t find any pictures of Mom at the orphanage in China or Russia?
A: With amazing picture-sharing sites like Flickr and WebShots, a digital artist can track down photographs from the most obscure spots in the world, and ask permission from the photographer to use them in your custom photo collage for a small fee, or no fee at all!

I promise that as you go through the process of tracing your mother’s love, you will become the Family Historian and Guardian Angel. And when you present your personalized photo gift on Mother’s Day, you’re going to walk on water. But then again, you always did, and always will.

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