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Life story book - help with tricky bit please!

(9 Posts)
pipppopin Fri 02-Sep-16 09:50:34

We are working on my ds's life story book. Don't have much info about birth mother or family (international adoption) but the little info available is difficult stuff... Any tips/thoughts about how to include this in the life story book? We are waiting for the results of a birth family tracing service which could take many months. Should we press on and create a book with the info available even though some very significant details may be revealed at a later date? Using the Joy Rees book for guidance but it does not seem to cover theses circumstances... My ds is asking lots of questions so need to get a wiggle on with this important job smileconfusedsmile

PoppyStellar Fri 02-Sep-16 12:42:31

I'm by no means an expert, but had to make one from scratch because the utter tosh that came from SS which purported to be LOs life story work was useless. Luckily I had lots of info from CPR which meant I had the chronology of events and experiences and I know you don't have quite the same.

My advice would be write it in the third person eg X was born on xxxx. X' birth parents are called xxxx etc. I can't remember the reasoning behind this but I know it came from a sound and reputable adoption expert.

I'd also suggest writing what you do know now and leaving space to add in extra info as and when you get it. In my experience the earlier you can introduce the life story book and therefore your child's adoption story the more useful and less scary the whole thing seems for them. I don't know if a scrapbook or something like a ring binder would you give you the best option for flexibility and being able to add things as you find them out.

My other advice would be to not try and gloss over the difficult experiences your child has gone through, include them but keep them very age appropriate, so for example DV could be explained when they are very little as lots of fights that were very scary. Focus on the positives, foster carers who they had good rapport with etc, you as the parents who went through lots of checks to make sure you would be the right family for them etc.

In my DDs book we have gone beyond the circumstances that brought us together so that it is truly a life story book, it has photos of key life events with me like starting school, birthday parties, family gatherings etc. When DD looks at her book it is this part, and the photos of her as a baby which I was lucky to have, that she is most interested in. All the angst and stress I went through trying to word the stuff about BPs and the photos of BPs aren't of huge interest to her at the moment although the book has been very helpful in reinforcing that they do exist and helping to have some understanding of adoption.

PotofGold1186 Fri 02-Sep-16 21:08:44

I thought social workers do the life story book along with the later life letter? I keep being told the life story book is heading our way...does it depend on who you adopted through?

PoppyStellar Fri 02-Sep-16 21:47:12

I'm not sure whether it depends who you adopt with. I was through an LA and they did make a life story book for DD but it was completely inappropriate as in it had no story just lots of photos of extended birth family with no explanation of who anyone was or why LO was in care. I also got it about 7 months after LO was placed so it was fairly useless as by then LO had already been asking questions and wanted to know how I came to be her mummy.

I think its usefulness (or otherwise) depends on the skill of the person putting it together. My DDs SW was perfectly pleasant but completely snowed under due to ridiculous case loads and quite frankly, with hindsight, I would say that putting LOs life story book together was never top of her priority list. I can understand why when she was running across the country almost daily dealing with CP cases but it doesn't make it any easier for the child who misses out on having a useful life story book from when they are first placed.

I did a whole load of research on the internet about life story books when I was making DDs. I nicked the ideas and bits I thought were useful and relevant and added in the extra stuff I though would be useful / would appeal to her and engage her. I'm quite artistic / crafty so doing the whole collage scrapbook thing was something I enjoyed doing and now DD is a bit older we add things in together and cut and stick photos, postcards mementos etc.

A couple of years ago I went on an adoption uk life story course run by Joy Rees. It was very good and I'd heartily recommend it if one comes up in your area. There was lots I felt I'd done 'right' but also a few things I wish I'd done differently when I listened to Joy.

I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do life story books. I think the essential bit is enabling LOs to understand adoption, how they came to be in their family and to feel confident to ask questions as and when they want.

It would be lovely if SWs had the time and resources to really devote their energies to making life story work a priority but IME they don't and its up to us to do it as best as we can.

As for a later life letter I have been asking for it for years. Still no sign...

Clockworklemon Sat 03-Sep-16 18:35:49

Recommend that you follow the Joy Rees methodology. She runs courses in the UK specifically around Life Story Work (1 day workshops etc), but also has written guidance on the subject:

www.emkpress.com/pdffiles/joy%20rees.pdf

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1843109530/?tag=hydra0b-21&hvadid=9550949589&ref=asc_df_1843109530

Somewhere (I will hunt for it but if anyone has a link to hand, please share), there are some very useful Joy Rees examples for LSB's. We used them as a template for our own AD's LSB (LA one was worse than rubbish)

PotofGold1186 Sat 03-Sep-16 18:59:58

Thanks! I will see how my book turns out, they got someone in especially over the summer to catch up with them apparently. A university student so could be a good piece of lifestory work.

Clockworklemon Sat 03-Sep-16 19:38:16

Sorry just realised that you said you were already using Joy Rees.. Please ignore

Italiangreyhound Sun 04-Sep-16 01:34:54

pipppopin our life story book is brilliant, sadly DS is not that interested in it at the moment.

Just for the record, our son's book is a collection of photos and bits of text addressed to our son by name. It starts with the present day, his family now (us) some photos and a bit about what he did when he first came to us. Including our pet names for each other related to cartoon characters (which we do not use anymore, it was made about 6 months after he joined us).

The book then progresses to his origins, birth family and the reasons he cannot live with them. It contains photos of the family and some generic pictures too.

I think it then goes back to his life with us, but I would need to check. Will try and do that tomorrow as it is the top of the wardrobe and I might fall on top of DH if I tried to get it out now (which he may not mind but it could be painful for us both!) grin Good luck.

PotofGold1186 in UK adoptions a life story book is usually done by the social workers; the OP had an international adoption.

pipppopin Mon 05-Sep-16 14:14:54

Thanks for all the really helpful tips & posts. I thought I had responded a few days back but it seems not...hmmUsing the MN app which is mysterious & never links/postsconfused I am not a natural scrap booker so need to summon up some craftyness for this project grin I was over thinking the fact that we may/may not get additional birth family info in the future. As someone suggested, use something like a ring binder & add those pages as /when. Btw - ours is an inter-country adoption, so no Life Story book prepared by social worker when ds was placed.

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