A Lifebook is a book created for a child that tells her story from the very beginning. Older children may benefit from and enjoy helping to create their Lifebook. Ideally, a Lifebook includes information about the child's life before and after the adoption. Documents which provide concrete information about the child's life before the adoption can be especially important.
These may include:
- Original birth certificates.
- Hospital records.
- Adoption decrees.
- Pictures and letters from the child's birth parents or previous caregivers.
For children adopted internationally, the Lifebook may contain information about the child's birth country and culture.
Lifebooks are powerful tools, particularly for children who are adopted when they are old enough to have memories of their earlier life. A Lifebook helps a child place adoption in the context of their life experience. For any child who is adopted, but especially for a child adopted through the child welfare system, a Lifebook includes an explanation of why the child came into placement and what has happened to them before joining your family.
The benefits of creating and having a Lifebook include:
- Relates and preserves history.
- Child feels cared for and important.
- Helps child identify feelings, especially of loss, and understand where they come from.
- Addresses issues of identity and self-esteem.
- Connects child to own history, culture, and traditions.
- Helps build trust and attachment.
- Helps counter misinformation and fantasy.
- Helps child cope with feelings of loss and separation.
Wondering where to start? Check out these great books and resources and start a Lifebook for you adopted child. You can also consider purchasing the course on Lifebooks offered by Adoption Learning Partners.
“LIFEBOOKS: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child”, Beth O'Malley
- Are you looking for guidance in creating a lifebook for your baby or child? This book will inspire you to begin your child's memory book and then walk you through the process, page by page. Learn what you need to record for your child's needs, both now and in twenty-five years. Personal lifebook stories and full-length examples are included. LIFEBOOKS: CREATING A TREASURE FOR THE ADOPTED CHILD is appropriate for any type of adoption and also for foster care. (Tapestry Books)
“The Life Story Book”, Vera I. Fahlberg M.D. www.library.adoption.com/Parenting-and-Families/The-Life-Story-Book/article/584/1.html
- "It is difficult to grow up to be a psychologically-healthy adult without having had to one's own history. Traditionally, the family is the repository of knowledge about the child. Children separated from their families of origin do not have daily access to this source of information about their personal histories. It becomes more difficult for them to develop a strong sense of self and to understand how the past may influence present behaviors. Without this awareness, it will be more difficult for them to make conscious choices and to take responsibility for their own behaviors. For this reason, we believe a Lifebook should be made for each child. It is never too late or too early to make a Lifebook."
Adoption Lifebooks, www.adoption-works.com/
- Information and workshops on creating lifebooks and order forms for books.