Life Book (Glossary)

Lifebook: A pictorial and written representation of the life of a child, which is designed to help the child better understand and make sense of its unique background and history.

An adoption lifebook plays a number of roles, depending on the type of adoption you do. For adopted infants, it plays the same role as a traditional baby book, but for older children or children adopted internationally, it may tell the story of their life before they came to their forever family as well as give history and background or their home of origin.

Typically, lifebooks are formatted in a scrapbook format, with loose pages, created using scrapbook type embellishments and paper.

There are a number of companies that offer online scrapbooking services, where you can simply upload images and photos that you want to use and customize the to your specific needs.

There has been a recent trend in the Foster Care system of creating lifebooks upon a child's entry into the system so that the child has a book of memories that tells their stories and follows them from home to home, if the child moves around.

Lifebooks are an important part of the adoption experience and can include information about preparing for the adoption and all the steps that lead up to the child joining their forever family.

With biological children, baby books are often used to preserve your memories of everything surrounding the child's birth and subsequent milestones. Rolls upon rolls of film are developed and shared with excited family members. However, with internationally adopted children, there is almost never a baby book, only occasionally any photos, and rarely an opportunity to hear personal anecdotes. As your child grows, his "earliest childhood memory" is likely of you!

For the adopted child, it is important to have access to a lifebook containing the images (when available) and story of the life a child has before joining the adoptive family. The lifebook is child-centered and therefore generally starts at the child's birth and continues with pages about:

· the birth mother and father · the place from which they came (town or country) · the reasons leading up to being placed for adoption · the time they spent in foster care or in an orphanage · people that provided care during the transitional time

The lifebook usually ends with placement in the new home. It can also include pages about legal documents or court appearances, referral pictures and medical information, and other events or milestones occurring prior to joining the adopting family. The list is endless!

Creating a lifebook may seem like a daunting task, especially when there is not an abundance of information about your child's life before becoming a part of your family, but it is actually easy and fun. There are numerous books and web sites available with information to get you started, tips for handling the unknown or any sensitive parts of a child's pre-adoption history, and (if the child is old enough) suggestions for ways to include your child in the creation of the lifebook.

If you take the time to do this, your child will thank you many, many times. A lifebook helps fill in the missing pieces, creating "childhood memories" where there were none before.