Most likely you have a number of books in your home related to adoption—age appropriate stories, information aboutyour child’s birth country and culture (if applicable), adoptive parenting books, and parenting books. But there is another book you should have: a lifebook.
A lifebook is an actual book that you create. Of course, the best lifebook is one that you create with your child. It does not need to be fancy, but it does need to be interactive, kid-proof, and kid-friendly. A lifebook differs from a scrapbook in that it isn’t an art project—mostly pictures—as it is a story with words, about your child.
A lifebook is “special.” Unlike other books and albums a lifebook is not meant to be shared with everyone. The information within the book contains the details of your child’s personal and private story. Lifebooks also need to cover three topics: information about your child’s birth, birth parents details, and why your child was adopted. You can add other information, but keep it positive and simple.
Lifebooks are a process; they aren’t completed in one sitting. Take the time to focus on your child, to find the right words to anchor the memories for him or her. You may well discover that writing the lifebook is challenging because you will be experiencing feelings, possibly revisiting your and child’s losses. Embrace and process those feelings and move on. Be careful not to write about your experience within your child’s story. This lifebook is not about you, but your child.
Lifebooks are important because they can help your child make sense about what has happened and have more awareness and, hopefully, more pride in who they are. The books can also be therapeutic in that they provide tangible memories that your child can own and encourage discussion between you and your child. Adoption can sting because often the facts have pain laced within them. Discussing adoption answers questions, helping to normalize it and related feelings.
Parents: Have you created a lifebook for your child? Here are some terrific resources to get you started or provide more ideas: LifeBooks : Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child and Adoption Lifebook: A Bridge to Your Childs Beginnings.