Saturday, July 5, 2014

Life Books for Adopting Families

Life Books in foster care are important. It's a universal way to keep track of the children's lives, a book of memories that can grow and travel along with them if need be. We haven't actually made one. When the girls were here, they went back home right away, so I just shared pictures with their mom.

At the end of our staffing interview, they asked if we brought a life book with us about our family. That threw me more than any other question. It was a huge, "That wasn't supposed to be on the test" moment! I had never heard anyone mention making a life book for my family. It sure made sense after it was mentioned. After all, what better way to make our family real to the team than through images. But in all the conversations I'd had about the staffing, no one ever asked that we bring one along. We missed the class on life books during licensing, so I wondered if our crash make up course had just skipped that aspect of life booking altogether. I didn't think much more about it. It was water under the bridge. And then we got the call.

I started realizing that I needed something visual and tangible to help the kids feel like they were going to be safe and maybe even happy in our family someday. A introduction to all aspects of our life in a lighthearted, no-pressure package. Then I realized the importance of a life book for adopting families. We wanted to give both kids their own book, but the reality of our time constraints meant that hand scrapbooking was out of the question. To Shutterfly we went. In no time, we had two age and gender appropriate themes chosen (it helps to have the same age and gender sitting next to you!). I laid out pictures on each page:

The front of our home
Our family
Amos and I
A page for each kid (we left two pages with empty frames for pictures of our new arrivals)
Our pets
The inside of our home, especially bedrooms
Our neighborhood and community
Several pages of what we do for fun (we included extended family in this section)

I started to write on each page, and I'm stuck. The words on Little brother's pages come easy. A seven year old isn't ready for a novel and probably isn't concerned about much more than the basics. However, it is extremely difficult to guess what and how much a teenager will want to know about their new home. It's a lot of pressure to put our first impression onto 20 pages! I overanalyze every sentence I type, trying to find the line between too much pressure and too little. I want her to know that we're so ready to make this work, that all five who live here have been praying for her for months, years even, that I'm sad for the loss that it took to get to today, and that I believe with all my heart that healing will come. But... that might be a little heavy for a Shutterfly book.

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