I keep meaning to post more information about Ro and Ree’s lifebook, and then, well, life just gets crazy. It’s actually finished (at least for now), and the girls tote it all over the place. They like to say "It tells the story of how we were born in China and how we became a family," which pretty much nails it. And they frequently look through the binder, point out fave areas, and ask new questions, which is exactly what we hoped.
Ro and Ree’s lifebook is just under 50 pages now. After procrastinating on this project for four years, I just had to do it already and stop obsessing about design choices and how to make it look perfect. So I wrote it in Microsoft Word and printed the pages out on our computer. And the funny thing is that it ended up being absolutely perfect for us. Each page is in a plastic sheet protector, so Ro and Ree can enjoy the book, girlhandle it, spill on it, take it outside, basically do whatever they want with it. If any page gets ruined or they want additional information added, I just print that one out again.
Hey I’m by no means a lifebook expert, but when you’re writing this kind of book don’t forget:
- This is your kiddo’s story, so start it with his/her birth, not your adoption process
- Make sure this is the story of your child, not the story of your adoption experience (Eg: Say what your child was doing/wearing/saying/ eating/holding on family day, don’t just say how you felt about becoming a family)
- Include at least one picture or graphic on each page (trust me, the text-only pages will be totally ignored)
- Include interactive items and questions throughout the book (questions about maps, calendars, or photographs are fun)
Here are some close-up pages from our book, in case anyone needs some ideas. Feel free to use any of this wording, the folks who shared lifebooks with me and the forums I joined were so helpful and I appreciated every single person who said “Use this, it works.” The pages aren’t consecutive (they’re just a few highlights):
Here’s the outline I ended up with. The girls love scanning the TOC to find what they’re looking for and then flipping to the right page:
Another adoptive parent sent me the wording for this page and it was so simple and perfect for this age:
We have a world map page and also this country page:
This is Ree’s favorite page. She brought the lifebook to school for sharing, showed everyone this page and explained about Hubei, then passed out sesame treats:
One of my favorite blog comments ever was when I was asking how to approach this subject and one commenter said something like “The first time I ever used the term birthmother I almost fainted, but it gets easier, I promise.” And boy was she right.
You can google any date and find a calendar image to use like this one. The girls get a kick out of it:
We were so lucky that the disposable camera we sent to China came back filled with pictures from the foster family. Priceless:
I didn’t have a photo for this page and thought sticky-note images would jazz up an otherwise text-heavy page. Now it’s one of the girls’ faves:
If you’re stuck on making a lifebook for your kiddo, hopefully these sample pages, or some of this wording, or even the idea that you can do a binder instead of a daunting graphical book will help. Thanks to everyone who helped in this project by sharing your lifebooks and your words with me – your help was invaluable.
PS: If you’d like to see more posts on this, click Lifebooks in the menu bar at the top of this page. Also, this is an extremely personal book, so if you don’t like our wording, our layout, or our content choices, please keep your opinions to yourself and just use them to make your own lifebook wonderful.
Post #30. Holy moly, I actually did 30 posts in 30 days!!!!! Thank you so much for checking in on us this month and for all the wonderful comments. This spring fling has gotten me out of my blog funk and I will definitely be posting more often now. Thank you also to the other rockin’ spring fling bloggers who joined me in this quest. If I’d been doing this on my own there is no way I would have hit 30 posts: And babies make four…, Another Journey, Birdie and the Queen Bee, Catherine’s Chatter, Diary of a Nouveau Soccer Mom, Dragonflies, Journey to Motherhood, Koprowski Kids, Life with L and M (julialaine.net), Love and a Little Craziness, Mindful of Mine, Moments with Maisie, No Ordinary Family, One Plus One Equals Four, Our Boy and His Cricket, Searching for Sophie, Spectacular S, Three Kids = Chaos, To Vietnam and China, We’re Here.