National Adoption Awareness Month is a wonderful time to think about your children’s Lifebooks. If you have not already started one, it’s a great time to do so and if you do have a Lifebook started, it’s a time to revisit them and catch up. In the 1970’s, Lifebooks began as a therapeutic tool for foster care social workers. During this time period, private adoption agencies did not acknowledge that the children they placed could ever have any attachment or abandonment issues. We have learned a lot since then and today most agencies are openly and emphatically training parents. The Lifebook is certainly an amazing tool to be able to address these issues with your child and promote an ongoing parent /child dialogue.
November 28, 2011
I have been asked by parents adopting internationally, how a Lifebook applies to their child since there could be less information about these children than a child adopted from, for example, foster care. But families adopting internationally can employ the Lifebook even more. Utilizing a Lifebook might mean that you as parents might have to work a little more to get the information, but you probably kinow more than you think you do. The perfect place to start this process is right when you are matched with your child. Remember that a Lifebook begins when your child was born. It is not a chronicle of your own personal adoption adventure.
Those that attended the Lifebook session of the recent CAAC Conference, will recall me regaling the participants with the story of my own biological children asking about their birth story. I informed that even in their late teens, they asked about it and talked about it. Children want to know their birth story. It is a primal need to be attached to where you came from. Those ties that bind are strong and necessary and adoptive children will be privileged to learn their birth story and also their adoptive story.
Recording information in their Lifebook about both their birth story and their adoptive story allows for the essential conversations that will alleviate fears and concerns about abandonment. Securing that information will require parents to ask questions whenever possible. There could be information out there that no one thinks to give you until you asked. It’s easy to be overwhelmed during this process so don’t hesitate to write down a list of the information that you want to know. Even if questions go unanswered, at least you can be assured that you ask and you have secured whatever information there was.
Whether your child is already in your home or not, you can certainly begin the Lifebook process. It will be the tangible proof of birth that your child will need. Kids are by nature tactile learners and the idea of turning the pages of the book with you and on their own will facilitate the learning process. National Adoption Awareness Month is a good time to start or continue a Lifebook. No matter where your child was born or the circumstances surrounding their birth, it’s an undeniably authentic method of normalizing the adoption process for both parents and child.