What is an Adoption Lifebook?
Q: What is an Adoption Lifebook?
a) the best gift in the world for a foster/adopted child
b) a simple, powerful tool which promotes trust and attachment
c) proof of one's life story
d) something many adult adoptees wish they had growing up
Answer: All of the above. An Adoption Lifebook is a record of a foster/adoptee’s life that uses words, photos, graphics, the child’s artwork, and memorabilia. An Adoption Lifebook includes information about the child’s birth parents and reason for leaving them. It always starts at the child’s birth. Plus the fun part of when the adopted child first joined the family.
An Adoption Lifebook is more than a life story. It is a unique opportunity for parents to honor every minute of their children’s lives. It is the single most meaningful piece of "paperwork" that any social worker can complete. And foster parents? You can give an adoptee/foster child a sweet childhood memory.
Q: What are some of the benefits of an Adoption Life Book?
Answer: An adoption life book provides:
- A concrete tool for meaningful conversation
- An adoption security blanket
- Attachment rituals
- Structure for difficult material (such as reasons for the relinquishment)
- Ways to normalize adoption language
- Ways to reduce fantasy about birthparents (could this help with paying attention in school?)
- A front-load for adolescence
- Opportunities to create positive identity and ethnic identity
- Space for future events
Q: Why doesn’t everyone know about Adoption Life Books?
Answer: Starting in the 1970s, Lifebooks were used in the public sector for foster children. Then the "crack cocaine epidemic" started in the early 1980s, and social workers no longer had time to do anything but the basics. Adoption or foster Lifebooks were a forgotten tool.
Private agencies placing infants didn’t think their clients had adoption issues, hence no need for Lifebooks. A social worker actually told me this last year and inspired my statement, "Even cute babies have questions."
International adoptions didn’t have any specific information so what was there to discuss in the LifeBook? Lots….
Q: What’s different now?
Answer: With the Internet, information about every aspect of adoption is sweeping the country. Plus with the new adoption law, Adoption and Safe Families Act ( ASFA), foster children are mandated to have families instead of growing up in foster care.
The word is getting out about what an incredible tool Adoption Lifebooks are. The benefits are numerous (see question #1).
Q: What’s the best format for an Adoption Life Book?
Answer: The information should be written in a story format so that it is easy to read to the child in a natural, entertaining fashion. This is one of the differences between a made-from-scratch Lifebook and a memory book. What child doesn't want to hear their story? Again and again?
Foster parents and social workers may only have time to collect facts, save artwork, or dig for old medical records. Save whatever information you can.