Whether big or small, we all have our own, personal story to share. These life stories begin the minute we are born and grow as we grow. Every moment, every experience, every person that we encounter becomes a part of that story in some shape or form. While everyone’s story is unique, yours and your child’s story are especially exceptional. Why? You both have been touched by adoption.
Adoption is what makes your story, and your child’s story, extraordinary. As you begin your journey as an adoptive parent, it is important to help your child recognize just how special he or she is. You can do this by talking to your child about adoption and telling his or her story every day. An adoption lifebook can help guide this conversation.
What is a Life Book?
A lifebook tells the story of your child’s life, starting the minute he or she was born. An adoption life book tells your child’s story from the time you decided to build your family through adoption. Like a traditional “baby book,” adoption lifebooks typically contain photos, drawings, letters, documents, and other personal mementos or memories of the first years of an adopted child’s life. These precious moments are preserved in a binder, photo album, or book and organized in the form of a story.
A lifebook is a keepsake written for the child, by the child’s parents. Adoptive parents, sometimes together with the birth parents, gather all of the pieces of their child’s life – past, present, and future – and bring them together in an honest way that he or she can understand. This is where adoptive parents become more than parents. They become storytellers, too.
Your story as an adoptive parent began when you made the decision to build or expand your family through adoption. Your journey continues from the day you met your child. Your child’s story began long before that day when his or her birth parents decided to explore making an adoption plan. A lifebook can help your child make sense of his or her story. Your child’s life book is much more than a story put on paper. It gives a child a sense of security, meaning, and purpose. It is a positive, everyday story.
What are the benefits of an adoption lifebook?
Lifebooks are treasured resources that can be very beneficial for adopted children. They:
- Normalize adoption language and make the adoption conversation more approachable
- Show adopted children that they were cared about before and from birth
- Give children a clearer sense of their life story and life events
- Offer details into a child’s birth family, genealogy, and ethnicity
- Provide opportunities to create a positive identity
- Build a child’s self-esteem and self-awareness by recording the child’s growth over the years
- Serve as a vehicle for children to appreciate and share their life histories and adoption story
What should an adoption lifebook contain?
As you begin to create an adoption lifebook for your child, think about what you want it to contain. Think about what your child will want to know about his or her birthday, birth family, and about growing up with you. As a general guide, Adoptions With Love has put together a list of materials that you may consider including in your child’s lifebook:
- Birth: Even though you were not pregnant, it is important to help your child understand that he or she did grow inside another woman’s tummy. On the birth page of your lifebook, you may include:
- A birth certificate
- Ultrasound photos
- Footprints from the hospital
- Photos of his or her birth family
- Reason for adoption: In age-appropriate language, answer the inevitable question, “Why was I placed for adoption?”. It is important to express to your child that he or she was not given up, but rather, loved very much. If you are in an open adoption arrangement, you can ask your child’s birth mother to help you tell the story. Include photos and information about meetings you may have had with his or her biological family before, around the time of birth and immediately after discharge from the hospital.
- Identifying details: Including details of childhood, such as your child’s favorite food or color growing up, are fun facts that children love to hear about. Compliment these details with photos of the house, neighborhood, pets, schools, even Halloween costumes, that your child had growing up.
The components of a lifebook vary person to person. As you put together the pieces of your child’s story, try to think about the adoption questions he or she will want answered later down the road:
- Why was I placed for adoption?
- What do my birth parents look like?
- What did I look like as a baby?
- Do I have any siblings?
- Does my birth mother love me?
An adoption lifebook provides the opportunity for discovery, celebration, and unity. It can bring you and your child together, as you tell the story of how your lives came together as a family. To learn more about your creating an adoption lifebook for your child, call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731.