How to Make a Lifebook for Your Child
One of the biggest fears that a birth mother may have is whether her children will have questions about her as they are growing up. Many adoptees want to know where they came from, and they crave information about their biological families as they grow older. Particularly in closed adoptions, it can be challenging for them to obtain that type of information. As a result, many birth mothers choose to make a lifebook to share those details with their child whenever their adoptive families feel they are ready to receive it.
A lifebook is a type of scrapbook or photo album that is designed to answer some of your child’s most pressing questions as they age. You might include lots of photos of extended family members, sensitive medical information they need, and other details. The options for what you can put in this type of book are endless, so here are a few ideas to help you get started!
Pictures are perhaps the most important aspect of creating a lifebook for your child. They are a tangible way for your child to see where they came from. Many children want to know whether they resemble their biological family members in any way, and pictures are an excellent way for them to answer that question. You might consider putting pictures of yourself from the time you were an infant all the way until the child was placed for adoption. It can give your child a better sense of completeness when they can see you at all of these different ages.
Don’t forget to include other family members in the lifebook as well. Children will need information on the birth father, extended family members, and close family friends as well. Give them a glimpse at the people they would have been surrounded with if you had chosen to raise them yourself.
Make sure that you include a section for all the important details of your own life story. This can include where you went to school, any important moments from your childhood that shaped you, medical information, and more. You may even include trivia about yourself such as your favorite color, any pets that you have, or your favorite place to vacation. Remember to include some of this information on extended family members as well, particularly for grandparents.
It could be helpful to make a family tree to include in this section of the lifebook as well. Add every relative you can think of and include their full names and birth dates. Try to go as far back as you possibly can with the help of other relatives. This is an easy way for a child to learn where they came from and to place all of the people who are pictured in the book.
One of the most significant things you can include in your lifebook is information on your pregnancy. Children will want to see that you collected little mementos for them while you were carrying them. This is extremely precious information that they might not be able to have outside of the lifebook. Include important records from your doctor, hospital bands, and ultrasound photos if you still have them.
You can also include information about what your pregnancy was like in this section. List the different foods that you craved, anything strange that happened, when you felt the first kick, and whether they were an active baby in the womb. Anecdotes from your pregnancy can be a great way to give your child better insight into their own life.
Letter About Adoption
Most adoptees eventually want to know why they were placed for adoption and how their adoptive family was chosen. Consider including a letter to your child about how you came to make the hard decision to place them for adoption. Explain how many hours you spent debating the merits of raising them versus placing them for adoption. You might include specific details about your life that contributed to your decision to give them a brighter future with another family.
Every birth mother chooses the adoptive family for her baby in a different way. Sometimes, she likes the photos that are included in the book. Other times, she might feel a certain connection with the letter they wrote to send out to prospective birth mothers. Explain what made you feel like your child’s adoptive family was going to be the right fit to raise them. You can give as many details as you want here.
Relationship with the Adoptive Family
It is also a great idea to show that you had a relationship with the adoptive parents before the child was born. Include photos of you guys together, phone records to show that you talked often, and other mementos that you find around the house. This can really cement the information that you included in the letter about them. It lets your child know that you took care to make sure that these were the perfect people to raise them in your place.
If you have an open adoption, it is also a great idea to include pictures of you with the child and the adoptive parents just after placement. The lifebook might be something that you add to regularly over the years with new pictures depending on your relationship with the adoptive family and the degree of openness in your adoption.
A lifebook is a great way to help answer questions for your child and to give them something tangible that lets them know you loved them (and still do). Get creative with the things that you choose to include in the book with items ranging from pictures to hospital bands to paintings that you made for them. All of these items can give your child a better sense of where they came from and who they really are as they grow older. It can be an invaluable resource for them to start taking a closer look at their own history and identity.