I am curious what most people have done with regards to setting up a life book, or what you might do different if you could do it over again.
I started out to create one book as a baby book and I have it mostly done but as I started trying to add the information I collected about her birth mom it seemed to morph into something else entirely and there was very little about our new family and almost all about her birth parents and her history on her journey to us. Her "baby" book is modified to adjust for gaps. For example I don't know anything about her "firsts" - like first step, first word etc., so I modified it to other firsts - like first tooth lost, first day of school, etc. And it includes things like first visits, her case workers and the adoption hearing, etc. I have very little information on her from ages zero to three, but I have included much of what I know or have been told from birth mom, previous foster moms, therapists and case workers.
And then it occurs to me that a baby book is often shared with lots of people. Is this information something she would want to share with everyone, or maybe just a few close friends? She is only 6 years old now and shares everything with everyone, but I don't know how she'll feel in a few more years. Also the baby book is a digital scrapbook and will be printed up a single time. And the more I think about it, the more I think the life book will be a work in progress. Even if her birth mom never sends another picture or letter, her feelings about it will change and evolve, so maybe a book that is a perpetual work in progress is more appropriate. More like a journal than a scrapbook or photo album?
So now I am thinking about keeping the baby book simple with a page about her adoptive family, one with some general information about her birth family and one with information about her siblings along with everything about her. And then created a second life book with all of the wonderful and gory details.
One thing to note is that I have so few pictures of her before the age of 4 when she came to live with us as our foster daughter, I will be including almost every photo her mom and previous foster parents gave us in the baby book. Many of those same photos would be in the life book, so in some ways it would be a little repetitive for her. But I am starting to get that maybe the life book should be more about words and less about pictures.
So I am curious what others think? Particularly adoptees and what you wish had or had not been included?
I'm also almost finished with my children's books. I don't have the option of going the digital route, so I've basically done scrapbooks. I tried to make it as much like a story that a kid would want to read as possible but I did have to include pretty much everything we know about their histories because there isn't any other place where we can record it and be sure that it will still be findable in 20 years. I have pasted in the key documents as well. It would be handy to have a separate babybook for people who we don't know as well, I suppose, but honestly who is going to look at someone else's baby book? I think we have this idea that people might but it doesn't actually happen very much. I haven't felt the lack. People look at my online picture gallery or things like that but they'd never actually sit down to look at a baby book.
My kids and perhaps their future families will be the only ones who will really look at these books and for them every word I can include of the history may be precious. We are forced into completely closed adoptions in this country. There is no open adoption whatsoever, so what we know is almost certainly all we will know and it isn't too much. I have filled it out with little news clippings about the day and year of birth, so that they can see what was going on. I took as many pictures inside the orphanages as I was allowed (not much in one of them).
It starts out being lots of words and few pictures and then continues on to have more pictures and less words. The one thing is that I am not going to have enough space to devote anywhere close to equal space to each year of their childhood, but I don't think that mattes. It is the pre-adoption, the adoption and the early years that they will be most curious about. Maybe we'll do general scrapbooks later on and those are much more likely to get shared with friends because they'll be about our kids as older kids with more fun pictures for other kids to look at. It seems reasonable that those could be in different volumes.
One thing I thought up was that on the page where most baby books show a family tree, I drew and actual tree and named the various branches for our family and then I put in roots and named the roots for the birth family, so that they have both families in the tree. And when the children are still young I can explain that they have parts of their family that they can see and parts they can't see but are part of them just like the roots are part of a tree but we can't see them.
Oh my gosh! I LOVE your idea about the family tree and the roots. In fact I was teaching the analogy of the fig tree and the oak tree in a ovel study recently.
I'm totally going to do this! What a great idea! You need to hook up with an artist and call some of the adoption baby book co. Truly a good idea ;)
My kids are gonna hate me when they move out. Each child has a scrapbook, a life book, a baby book and multiple photo albums. Eeks. I know. I have WAY TOO MUCH but they are so important to me!! My oldest came to us at 2.5 and by his 3rd birthday he had two HUGE photo albums filled. Scary.