Lifebook Tips

By Wendy Lane

An adoption Lifebook is a handmade scrapbook and keepsake that chronicles and illustrates a child’s journey to his or her adoptive home. It is used as a source of information as well as a way to open up the discussion of adoption with a child.

  • If your child is starting to ask questions about adoption, one of the best ways to help answer those questions is to create a Lifebook. Kids often learn better with something they can see and touch rather then with something they hear.
  • Lifebooks should be factual, so no opinions or guesses. This is your child’s story.
  • Your child’s Lifebook is private. It is up to him/her to decide whom they would like to share it with.
  • Lifebooks can create starting points for conversations about adoption.
  • Make the Lifebook for the age that your child is when he/she starts asking questions. It is great to keep it simple and positive so that your child can always reference it when he/she needs to connect with their birth/adoption story.
  • Lifebooks can be as short or as long as you want.
  • Keep the information short, sweet and relevant to their age. Young children will often want answers to basic questions like: Was I born? What did I do when I was a baby? Whose tummy did I come out of? How did I get in somebody’s tummy?

Pictures that are helpful (not necessary)

  • Picture from the hospital
  • Picture with birth family
  • Picture of the hospital
  • Picture of his/her parent(s) greeting him/her
  • Pictures of him/her with their family as a baby

One of the hardest parts of creating a Lifebook is deciding what to write and what words to use. Here is a list of phrases that might be helpful. They are in no particular order. Feel free to use them or use them as an inspiration for your own words. Either way is fine.

My name is _____________________________. This is the story of my adoption and how it all began.

This is a picture of me when I was a tiny baby.

My life started with my birth parents. I grew in a special place inside of my birthmother’s belly, called a womb.

My birthparents _______ and _______ love me very much. They were sad that they could not raise me. So they chose my Mommy and Daddy to adopt me.

Mommy and Daddy were so excited when they were chosen by __________________ to be my parents.

When it was time to leave the hospital my birthmother ________________ gave me a hug full of love. Then Mommy and Daddy took me home. They were so happy!

When we got home there were so many people who came to visit me. There are so many people who love me.

Mommy and Daddy are my forever parents! We love each other very much.

This is the story of my adoption and how we will always be a family.

We don’t know very much about your birthfather. Many things we will have to guess at.

Raising children takes a lot of love and a good plan Your birthparents had the love and their plan was adoption.

Adoption is when a little girl or boy grows up with a different family then their birth family.

Your birthmother was born in ______________________. She was _______ years old when you were born. She has brown eyes. You have brown eyes just like she does. I wonder if she loves music as much as you do?

Dealing with difficult topics

The following information applies to all difficult parts of your child’s adoption story:

  1. Only use factual information, don’t make anything up
  2. Use any information you have or can find to highlight something positive

You don’t know where your child was born:

Do you know the general area but not the specific place? Then use that, for example:

You were born in Illinois. Illinois’ state flower is the violet, isn’t the violet a beautiful flower?

You have no or very little information about the birth mother/father:

Your birth mother loved you very much and wanted you to have a happy life with a family who loves you.

Your birthfather loves the music of ________________.

Your birthfather was a Buffalo Bills fan.

Another option is the three-page photo story

Three-page photo story has three pictures on the same side of paper printed side-by-side. (developed by Patty Cogen)

  1. page one: picture of child before they were adopted
  2. page two: picture of child’s transition to your family
  3. page three: picture of child with new family

Have fun creating your child’s Lifebook and know that this is one of the best gifts you could give your child!

For additional information on Lifebooks, check out Adoption STAR Private Track Coach and Adoptive Parent Mentor Sue Reardon’s blog post on the subject (from 2013).