5 Tips on Documenting Your Adoption Journey (Because Remembering Is Important)

Documenting your adoption journey is a special opportunity. Here's how to get started.

Susan Kuligowski May 24, 2018
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Your adoption journey is the story of how your family became a family. Exciting stuff, right? And while some of the earliest, driest, and smallest steps of that journey may not seem very interesting or important, it may someday be what your child needs to see in order to help fit together the puzzle pieces of his life. Like all families, sharing stories of where we’ve come from is important and serves as the bond between us. Some of these memories bring us to tears, while others leave us crying from laughing so hard. Remembering is important. Whether you prefer to pick up a pencil, an electronic, a camera, or an audio recorder, here are five tips for documenting your adoption journey.

Write it Down

Keep a dated journal, a diary, a three-hole-punched binder, or even a spiral-bound notebook from the beginning of your journey. Go all-out fancy or stop by a dollar store, but just be sure to grab one (or more) and make a commitment to fill up the pages. Don’t edit yourself too much, but rather get down those passages about your pre-adoption excitement, fears, anxieties, and tears while you worked your way to being united with your child. Breaking out ye ole pen and ink kit not your thing? Digital or online journaling works fine, too. Just write it down, and don’t spare the details. You can always go back later to fine tune, but what’s more important is that you stay true to yourself and your story.

Picture This

A picture tells a thousand words and can catch moments and hold secrets that sometimes are more difficult to convey with words alone. Capturing the smiles, tears, candid emotions, places visited, and faces of those involved in your adoption journey will be treasure troves to your child. Make sure to identify people in the photos—as much as we’d like to think we’ll remember every single person along the way, that’s a tall order—and trust that your child will ask, “Who is this?” and “Where was that?”

Get Scrappy

If you prefer a blend of words and pictures, scrapbooking may be for you. This way, you can blend important quotes, passages, photos, and small objects such as documentation, cards, and souvenirs from your physical journey into one go-to book. Many people take scrapbooking a step further to create more thorough life-books that kids can turn to for information on all of the important people, places, and things that played a part in their adoption journey.

Moving Pictures

Videos take your story up a notch. What you can’t capture in a still, a short snippet can bring to life with the touch of a button. And while you don’t want to constantly be behind a lens instead of being present in the moment, you’ll know the important ones to catch that will be played back over and over and over again in the future. Make sure not to forget these gems buried on your phone or lost in a box somewhere in the basement. Take time to organize both photos and videos while they’re still fresh in your memory. Instead of your typical Friday family movie night, consider having a family home video night from time to time.

Play Reporter

Make sure you talk to those whom you’re walking the path with—family, friends, adoption facilitators, and even close coworkers. All the people who are supporting you through or helping you through the adoption process. Whether they share a note, a card, or a word of wisdom, hang onto this and save it to share. Consider asking those closest to you to share words of wisdom or to talk about what this adoption means to them. Over the years, you’re bound to lose touch with some of these folks, and you’ll be surprised by the memories sparked by revisiting what they brought to your lives when you were on your way to becoming a family.

Most importantly, make sure you let your child know where your journal, photos, videos, or other stuff lives, so that if and when she is ready to take a look through on her own, she will know where to look. Happy documenting!

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Susan Kuligowski

Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.


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