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The Presence of Absence

Adoption LifeBooks: Getting Past the Initial Fears

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  Written by Jennifer Demar on 02 Jan 2008

Creating a lifebook may seem like a daunting task, especially when there is not an abundance of information about your child's life before becoming a part of your family. You may be a single-parent or couple just beginning this journey, or perhaps you've put off this necessary task until things 'calm down', only now to realize it's well past time to create your child's lifebook.

January is a great time to start a 12-Step-Program to creating your adopted child's lifebook. RainbowKids.com will start you out with your first assignment this month, and carry you through to a finished project in December. This month's assignment is all about getting things started. It is actually easy and funonce you get past that initial hurdle:

"How do I start?"

That question is answered based on how much information you have available. Most international adoptive parents don't have very much in the way of information or resources about birth-families. For example, adoptive parent may not know the birthmother's name, the specific date and time or place of a child's birth or a reason given for the adoption plan. If you fit this category, don't worry! There are ways to address that lack of information. But again, remember the assignment for January is to simply start thinking and considering your child's birth situation. Later we will move onto foster families/orphanages, culural origin, and pre-adoptive life. For now, let's focus on simply considering how to present your child's pre-adoptive biological information and family.


For example, one of the most important pages in a lifebook is the one that describes the biological mother. Oftentimes several pages are dedicated to this special person in your child's life. Ideally, you would have a full-length, high-quality color photo of her, but you may not even have a grainy, black and white facsimile of her profile from the shoulders up! In that case, you could always write something along the lines of:

"Did you know that something in your body called DNA, given to you by your birthparents, is responsible for the features that you have? Your birth-family passed on many of thier physical traits to you. Because you have beautiful, light brown, wavy hair, chances are good that someone in your birth-family did too!"

Where the specific date and time or place of a child's birth is unknown, using maps and historical weather data can provide meaningful content for the lifebook page dealing with the child's birth. Let's say, for instance, that you don't know the exact date and time of birth. One way to address this is to say:

"We think you were born during the summer of 2002 because the orphanage director said that when you came to the orphanage, you were about the same size as other children that were born then. And, although we don't know the specific day, summers in Moscow are typically rather mild, about 70 degrees. I'll bet the sun was shining extra bright on the day you were born."

If you don't have specifics on the place of birth but want to give a good reference point, download a map from the internet that shows a town or region where your child was likely born, including landmarks or topography, if possible. Kids love maps!

Something else kids love is devotion. Your devotion to starting (and completing) a lifebook will be very much appreciated by your child. After reading this article, write down a few notes on exactly what you know about your child's birth-situation and early life. These notes will be used in our future projects to create a complete LifeBook by the end of December 2008.

Next Month's Lifebook Feature: Online or traditional scrapbook? How to choose, and how to proceed if you are not quite ready to make that choice.

Jennifer Demar is an adoptive parent of two and owner of www.scrapandtell.com , an online store specializing in adoption scrapbooking supplies and multi-cultural products perfect for lifebooks.

 




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