Creating a lifebook is a wonderful way to positively affect the life of a foster or adopted child. Getting started may be the hardest part, here’s how.
Getting started on your child’s lifebook is the hardest part. Once you begin, you may find it hard to stop because it’s so much fun!
There are many websites online where you can purchase ready-made lifebooks with fill-in-the-blank pages, similar to a baby book. The problem with using these type of books for a lifebook is that they are one-size-fits-all. Since every adoption and foster care situation is unique, many parents find that they can make very nice lifebooks with a few inexpensive supplies.
First you will need a 3-ring binder, approximately two or three inches thick to allow room to grow over the years. A binder with a clear pocket on the front will allow you to make a cover for the lifebook that is personalized. If you have an older child that you are creating a lifebook with, let him design the cover, making it even more special to him.Second, you will need a few more supplies:
- Blank paper—typing paper will work; however, many find that cardstock works better and gives you a nice sturdy page.
- Clear pages protectors- to keep the pages spot free and for easy loading into the binder.
Next, here is where the fun begins! A lifebook is as individual as the person creating it. You can scrapbook, design and print pages from the computer, or use various mediums to create pages such as: markers, stickers, paint, colored pencils and so forth. Use your imagination and do what you enjoy doing.
The other point to keep in mind is that there are no set rules for lifebooks. They can be as simple or as extravagant as you want to make them. The important thing is to put lots of love into it.
Pages to Include
Lifebooks begin at the beginning of the child’s life- birth. Start by creating pages to tell about his birth parents, such as: names, birth dates, and places of residence. Also, children love to read about the day they were born. Along with the traditional information, include fun details such as the weather on the day they were born, the name of the president and other political figures, titles of popular songs, names of celebrities, and so forth.
More Page Ideas
Once you get started you will find that page ideas come more easily. A few additional page ideas are:
- Adoption Day
- The story about why you decided to adopt
- Where his name comes from and what it means
- A list of other names you considered
- Travel information and photos (if you traveled to get him)
- A local newspaper from the day he was born/ adopted
- Baby showers, adoption party, or ceremony photos and details
- Political and Current Affairs
- Pages for each year of his life
How to Word Delicate Subjects
Handling difficult subjects, such as why the child was placed for adoption or how he came into foster care can be tricky, but should not cause you to shy away from adding this type of information to his lifebook.
The key to answering these types of questions on the pages of the lifebook is to keep it simple and keep it on the child’s level. For instance, if the child was the product of a rape, don’t state it as such. This sort of detail is best left for a one-on-one conversation when he is much older and can understand it, and adequately cope with it. Simply say that his birth mother and birth father were unable to take care of him and wanted him to have a family who could take care of him and love him.
Similarly, a child who has suffered abuse and maltreatment does not need all the gory details. A matter-of-fact explanation that his birth parents were unable to take care of him will suffice until he is old enough to handle the information.
Keep It Going
Some choose to end the lifebook with the child’s arrival into the adoptive family; however, life doesn’t stop with the adoption. Consider adding to your child’s lifebook year after year and create a treasure that will be cherished forever.
Ron Huxley’s Review: I am getting ready to teach a class on Adoption Clinical Skills and doing a little online research. Came across this excellent article on creating life books. If you and your adoptive children have NOT done this yet, I would encourage you to do so. It is healing for all members of the adoption constellation.