How to Create an Adoption Lifebook

By Tallulah Philange
A lifebook tells an adopted child about his personal history.
A lifebook tells an adopted child about his personal history.

An adoption lifebook, which tells the story of an adopted child, connects the child to his or her past. The book, which can be created from scratch or by using a kit, provides any available information about the child's birth parents and reason for his or her adoption. Adoptive parents are encouraged to continue adding to the book as the child grows to accomplish a two-fold purpose. First, the book helps adopted children feel connected to their families and provides them with information on their personal history. Second, the book helps adoptive parents more easily explain how the child came into the their family.

Prepare Lifebook Information

Gather all relevant information of the child's birth, including the place, time and date. Note the birth name, if you plan to change the child's name. Ask the hospital and adoption agency, if applicable, for any missing information.

Write down every piece of information you can gather on the birth parents. Note their names, ages, where they come from and if they gave a reason for placing the child up for adoption. Include any known information on the birth parents' extended families.

Collect all adoption records from the agency or social worker. Photocopy the records to include in the lifebook so the child can see the official records. You can retain the original copies.

Write down relevant information on the child's home culture. For instance, if your adopted child comes from another country, note such facts as its language, holiday customs and cuisine. Do this even if you and your child are from the same country but he or she comes from a different region than where you plan to raise him or her.

Make the Lifebook

Purchase a blank book, such as a scrapbook or well-constructed bound book, or an adoption lifebook kit. It should have enough pages to accommodate information from the adopted child's entire childhood.

Create themed pages that start at the earliest point possible in the child's life. For instance, create a "Birth Parents" page with the information you collected. Include a photo of the birth parents, if possible.

Move chronologically through the child's life. After "Birth Parents," create pages such as "Birth Day," "Foster Care," "Adoption Day," "Meeting Your Grandparents," and so forth. Create special pages for childhood firsts, such as "First Step," "First Christmas" or "First Day of School." Write down as much information as you have available, either in story format or as notes on the pages.

Decorate each themed page with photographs, drawings and pictures that relate to the child's adoption, such as her home country's flag. Allow each page to fully dry of glue, paint or other materials that have been used, before turning the page or closing the book.

Add items to the lifebook through the adopted child's childhood. Use school report cards, artwork created by the child or photos taken during visits with birth parents, if applicable. Continue adding themed pages in chronological order to help the child have a continuous life story that connects his or her past with their current and future life.

Things You Will Need

  • Birth records
  • Adoption records
  • Photocopier
  • Blank book
  • Family photographs
  • Glue
  • Markers

Tip

Keep the book focused on the child. Save things like your feelings on the adoption process for another venue, according to Beth O'Mally, an adoption lifebook expert who has written an advice book on the subject. Be honest. If you don't know a particular piece of information, do not lie or sugarcoat it, according to Jennifer Demar, who operates Scrap and Tell, a website about adoption lifebooks. Keep the lifebook in an accessible place for the child so he or she can look at it often. Ask the child to contribute to the book with artwork or memorabilia when they are old enough to understand the concept.

Warning

Some adoptive parents experience overwhelming emotions during the lifebook process. Beth O'Malley, adoption lifebook advice author, recommends that parents do not allow these feelings to stop them from creating the book for their child.

About the Author

Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.