The first baby, the only baby so far, came to us less than two weeks before Christmas. He was so new, and sweet, and loud, and new-borny, and because we were with family and friends, inevitably the cameras would come out.

Our two biological children would dutifully stand in front of the fireplace, arms around each other, “Just the two of you in this shot,” we’d say when they tried to edge the baby seat closer into the frame. It was hard to explain that maybe this would be our only time with him, a short time before he returned home, and though he was a member of our family right then, we still wanted to have a shot or two where it was just the two of them. At least, I wanted something that I could Instagram without having to think about legal repercussions. When they marched right up to Santa and said, “We want our foster brother in the picture, too!” we compromised and did a handful of shots, printing a copy for his baby book where he lay in Santa’s arms, sleeping the deep sleep of the newly born.

None of it felt right. Leaving the baby out of the frame felt like we were excluding him, when we were trying so hard to give him a home, for whatever time frame that might be. And keeping him out of it was a necessity whenever I wanted to post on my carefully curated social media feeds, since he needs to have his anonymity preserved.

He is visible in our real lives, as I push the stroller into the coffee shop or through Target, and yet, he is not advertised in my online life, and my two biological children are. This became apparent to me when I walked into a recent birthday party carrying his car seat, and half of the parents that I keep up with on social media (apparently ONLY on social media) had no idea what we had been going through.

This baby boy has a series of file folders, both medical and legal, that I keep organized for him in my office. I’ve joked about using Facebook as a baby book for the other two, scrolling through status updates when I actually attempted to fill in the paper copies that live on a stuffed shelf in our bedroom, but that won’t work for this child.

So this is it for now: Each month, we put a sticker on his belly and measure his growth. I keep those pictures on my phone — to show friends when we’re in person, or to send in a text, a proud “mama” moment when he smiles or pushes up, or just is. I keep these important and everyday moments for his biological family and as a record for him as he grows up. Not knowing how his chapter in the story of our family is going to be written is a challenge, but I can at least do this. If anything, I can be the keeper of his individual tale.

Megan Birch-McMichael is a freelance writer. Her work has previously appeared in The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, ESPNw and Runner’s World. She tweets @anatomyofmother.

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