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As your child grows older and learns that she was adopted, she will have questions like who am I? Where do I come from? Who are my parents? Why didn’t they want me? Why was I adopted? Until she has answers, these questions will take up much of her thoughts so it is imperative that she have the answers. A lifebook can provide these answers, giving her the valuable sense of self she needs.
What is a Lifebook?
A lifebook is a tangible record of your child’s identity, the answer to who she is. Her lifebook does not have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a photo album containing color copies of her birth certificates, record of adoption and other forms, or a complex, digitally created composition with fancy graphics, images and fonts.
A meaningful lifebook contains pictures, stories and memorabilia, like old plane tickets or her own personal artwork and computer graphics. The lifebook is also your chance, as your daughter’s adoptive parents, to tell her that you respect who she is, her background and where she came from.
At certain stages of her life, she will revisit who she is and why she was adopted. It is during these times that her lifebook will become her touchstone and help her develop her own unique identity.
Make the lifebook for your child just as simple or fancy as you wish. You do not need to have special artistic or computer tech skills. Think about what you want her to learn about her life before you adopted her. This includes her birth parents and birthplace. Gather the items that have this information.
The lifebook can be a simple three ring binder or a photo album with either page protector sleeves or acid free pages that will not discolor the photos and documents you insert. It can be a completely digital creation that you store on a CD or DVD for your child to use and read during those times when she has questions.
Think about what you want to call her lifebook. Give this important book a title that says it belongs to your daughter. Include her name as a part of the title.
Her lifebook is not complete on the day you bring her home. It is a living document, so keep adding to it as your family has new experiences. As she gets older, allow her to participate in creating pages for her lifebook. After all, you both are the authors.
Lifebook as a Tool
Whether you adopted your child through an adoption agency, another country or from foster care, she needs the information in her lifebook so she can establish who she is. Social workers and adoption workers should bring up this subject while you are preparing for adoption.
Think about the questions you have and that she is likely to have as she gets older. Write them down. As you get the answers, write these down and put the pages into her lifebook. Do the same for your child. When she has questions, write them down and look for the answers.
Therapists often use lifebooks as they help their young clients adjust to their new life. Face it, it is not easy for them to close the door on their old lives as they face a whole new life. The same is true of your child. She will have memories of her old life, so make it easier for her to ask her questions and get the answers she needs. Tell your adoptive daughter that her lifebook is her own story. As she gets to know her past and her new life, she will be better equipped to write the beginning chapters for her future.