Thursday, November 18, 2010

Their Story Needs Telling

I was one of those parents who didn’t do a baby book for my son – I did a baby box! Well, actually several boxes. I think I am up to 4 boxes and he is now 20 years old. So many things were precious to me, and I had to save them. I want my son to have the mementos of the earliest moment of his life, and all the important things that have come since that beginning.

I have a recording of the first time I heard his heartbeat in utero. I have ultrasound pictures. I have all the cards from the baby shower my co-workers gave me, and I have the first stuffed animal he ever stared at. I have his first kindergarten registration form, and his awards for winning first place in the PTA Reflections photography contest. I have his first T-ball uniform, and his scrapbook from his trip to Space Camp in Florida. The list goes on and on.

I remember my dear mother-in-law presenting me with my ex-husband’s memory boxes when we were first married, and I plan to share my son’s boxes with the special person he chooses to spend his life with.

Sadly, I don’t have all those things for the children I have adopted.

Most of my children came with a few memory items – a random picture, a first outfit, maybe some early school photos. While I cannot recreate all the special moments from their birth until they joined my family, I can create a life book for them. I found this wonderful explanation about life books and what can be included in them from the Adoption Blog at Forever Parents. The information was compiled by Joanne Greco:

Your childs lifebook is their story. It’s their past, present and future. It’s a record of their life though words, photographs, memorabilia, artwork and more. There is no wrong way to do a lifebook. It’s really more of a concept. If your child is old enough to participate in helping to put together their lifebook, encourage them to do so. It is great way for open up lines of communication about how they feel about having been adopted, feelings they may have about their birthfamily, etc. Plus, it is a fun thing to do as a family.

For those of you who are starting the process, start early and plan it out. Invest in a journal or notebook where you can make notes of things you want to include in the lifebook. Be sure to include your feelings. When you actually sit down to do your lifebook pages, then your journaling information will be already put together and you can use it as a reference. Save mementos & pictures that you may want to use.
Here are some page ideas to get you started. Some may apply to your adoption, some may not.
~ Why you decided to adopt
~ Why you chose a specific country
~ The process you went thru
~ Those who helped you with the process
~ Copies of paperwork that you might want to include
~ Agency letterhead
~ The referral call & what you did when you got it
~ Referral photos & other photos you receive (be sure to write down all those emotions you felt when you saw the photos)
~ Medical exam info
~ What you did during the wait to keep busy
~ Your child’s name – who named them, significance, how decided upon, etc
~ Their room you fixed up for them
~ Preparing your home
~ Family trees (both your family tree and birthfamily info & pictures, if any is known). If you want to wait before sharing more detailed birthfamily info with your child you could put these pages in a separate private album and let your child decide if they want to add them to their album, etc or you add them once you have discussed these issues with your child. Whatever you and your child are most comfortable with.
~ Pictures of your child that you received during the process.
~ Information about their birth place during this timeframe – significant events, stats on what life was like at the time of their adoption, relevant articles, etc
~ A newspaper from the date they were born
~Picture of you ready to embark on your journey to meet or bring your child home.
~ Travel itinerary
~ Ticket stubs
~ Brochures of places you visited
~ Something from the hotels you stayed at, etc.
~ Notable events & people from your trip
~ Pictures from your trip
~ Pictures of the orphanage, caretakers, foster family, foster family home, birth location
~ adoption quotes
~ adoption poems
~ Your first family picture.
~ Your feelings on finally meeting your child.
~ Information your child’s foster family or caretakers share about your child.
~ Your court appearances or visa appointments.
~ First day in their new home.
~ Adoption timeline.
~ Copies of any adoption announcements you placed.
copyright 2007 Joanne Greco

Again, because I have decided to save so many things, my children don't have life books, they have life boxes, and they enjoy looking through them every bit as much as my birth son likes looking through his!

Make sure your children - all your children - have access to their special stories. It will help ground them in so many positive ways, trust me!

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