What is a lifebook? A lifebook brings together a child’s past, present, and future. It is a book to document a child’s history, celebrate accomplishments, and allow his or her talents to shine. It is a record of a child’s life in his or her own words using photos, artwork, and things picked up along the way. It allows a child to honor life, one day and one event at a time. A lifebook may also be your child's adoption story, whether International or domestic.
With older child adoption, working together on a lifebook can bring a parent and child closer together. It creates a natural opportunity to talk about the circumstances of the foster care and/or adoptive placement. A lifebook can also be something that spurns your chat with your child about adoption and their story when you have adopted an infant or a much younger child.
We all love to hear our story. I know my kids do and they LOVE looking at their baby books and the accordion files of their past school work and certificates. Through pictures they also embrace connections we have to loved ones and remember special moments that have passed. It is important. It is important for children to see how far they have come, what they have achieved and to know there are loving arms there to support them and people they are connected to. But what of children that have come from care who did not have someone carefully tucking those papers and pictures away all of these years so they can see how far they have come? What of children who may not have a baby picture of themselves, much less a baby book? I know I have nothing from prior to leaving care and going to my forever family at 14 months old but there are some that have gone years without that. What can we do for these children, whether they are in your care as a foster child or they are an older child you have adopted? You can create a LIFEBOOK.
A LIFEBOOK can be whatever you need it to be. It can include many different kinds of pages about the child, using whatever pictures you may have of him or her, of people they love and want to keep a connection with, of their birthfamily **if that is something the child wants as they bridge to their adoptive family or if they are a foster child, as they wait for possible reunification. It can include school or activity certificates of accomplishment, report cards they are proud of, information about their favorite things, contact information for people they do not want to lose touch with. Looking through their lifebook should help a child to see how far they have come, who has been there supporting them and how much further they can go because they are strong and they are supported. Lifebooks can play a very important role, as according to the Department of Child Welfare, they “may help the children integrate past experiences with their present circumstances in a healthy, constructive manner.” And who among us does not want that for them?
(If you are a FOSTER PARENT you can also create a book that welcomes children to your home, includes your house rules and general information.)
DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
If your child came to you through Domestic or International adoption at a younger age, a lifebook can still be a part of sharing your child’s adoption story with them. If you adopted domestically through an agency and had to create an adoption portfolio to be considered by expectant parents that can be the “beginning” of your lifebook. If you traveled abroad to bring your child home you will have lots of interesting information and pictures you can share about the country they were born in, its culture, their life there, etc. Click here for more information on making BIRTHCOUNTRY CONNECTIONS-
Here's a list of just a few of the things you may include in a child’s lifebook:
- Pictures/info about birthparents and family (if applicable)
- Pictures about country of birth (if applicable) as well as information about the culture, their life there, the foods, the land and who took care of them
- Pictures of the child as far back as you can go
- The story of the first time you met or saw them
- Their adoption day story
- Your journey to them
- Pictures of their foster families or orphanage caregivers (if applicable)
- Special award or achievement certificates
- Lists of things they say or do
- Report cards or notes from teachers that they are proud of
- Contact information for people they are close to and care about
- Pictures and information about friends
- Teachers and schools they attended
- Trips they may have taken
- Favorites: activities, toys,seasons, holidays etc
You can easily begin any kind of lifebook at Shutterfly.com. Whether it is for foster adoption and you leave some pages blank so you can glue in certificates, etc or it is an International adoption and you create a book with pictures from your trip and with lots of information about the birth country or it is a domestic infant adoption and you create a book that is a continuation of the Adoption Profile you created at Shutterfly or you want to create an ABC book about your child's story - you can easily do it with the wide aray of backgrounds and embellishments you can find there.
Whatever you do and however your child came to you, do not judge yourself on your Lifebook creating skills. It is wonderful that you are making one and anything you create out of love and with honesty will be just perfect!