Once you have been matched with a child and you have made the decision that this is the child for your family, how do you begin the introduction? Scrapbooks are a good way to do this. If your adoption worker does not require this already, make one to give to your child.
Include photos of your home (inside and out), family, any pets, your church, and places where Mommy and Daddy work (if applicable). View this scrapbook as if you were moving to a foreign country into a home you have never seen. What information would you want to know when you moved? What would make you feel more comfortable or at home?
Do not include too much to make your child feel overwhelmed. At this point, include information on people that will be involved in your child’s life on a regular basis. You do not need to include ALL family members. Immediate members of the household, or children that your child would interact with on a regular basis, are a good place to start. A large family or a lot of pictures of YOUR friends can be frightening. Remember the K.I.S.S. theory: “Keep It Simple Sweetie.”
Other things to include are what you like to do as a family. Are any of you active in any sports? Do any of you have a favorite hobby you like to do? What are your family’s favorite foods?
Allow your child to keep this book. It will give them a chance to look through when they are comfortable with it and can look at as many pages as they are comfortable with.
You will also want to create a lifebook for your child, if one has not already been created. Whether we like it or not, a child’s biological family and previous foster parents are part of their life and deserve be honored and represented. The more you try to ignore these parts of your child’s past, the more they will resent you.
There are some wonderful books to help you gather all the information. Try checking out this website.
Be sure to gather any photos from former foster parents, or, if at all possible, from the child’s birth family. These may be hard to get, but get them if at all possible. If the photos are unavailable, have your child draw pictures to add to their book.
What do you put in a lifebook? Dates and names of each foster home (if known), members of each foster family, or people from that family that were important to your child.
If you don’t have all the information, create a timeline with your child. Include significant events in his or her life, and memories he or she may have.
A lifebook does not have to be completely positive, but keep the main tone of it positive. You don’t want your child to view his life as negative. Creating this together will also provide wonderful bonding time with your child, as well as the ability to show that you honor his past.