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Life story books

(12 Posts)
RaspberrySnowCone Tue 03-Feb-15 16:53:29

I'm reading 'real parents, real children' and the chapter on 'the pregnancy with no due date' and it talks about creating life story books but starting with mine and DHs life story then working it all the way through until the point where LO comes home then build on it from there. Has anyone else done this or do most only start from when you have LO? I sort of think it would be nice to start from our beginnings. It suggests talking through childhood and then meeting partner/marriage and starting a family and the reasons why we chose to adopt. Any thoughts? Would it help a LO?

Italiangreyhound Wed 04-Feb-15 02:44:02

I read that and thought it was a nice idea but we never did it!

I'm in two minds, would be good to hear what others think, so will keep watching.

In some small way our scrap book was that, it was our family as it was, me, dh, dd (then about 8 or 9, now 10) and our cat! But it was very short, just a few pages, then it focused on the child and what they liked and what we hoped we would all do together (Peppa Pig World, Thomas Land, walks in the park etc).

RaspberrySnowCone Wed 04-Feb-15 08:27:31

That's kind of the structure I thought we'd take. A bit about each of our childhoods, when we got together, married, wanted a family then how we came to adopt and learnt about LO, that way we could include as much age appropriate stuff as we can like 'we met your SW and she told us a, b, c.' ' we met your birth mum/dad and they told us this..... then we can just build on it throughout their life and always have it, adding to it in an age appropriate style, like a family story book. I thought perhaps then if further children arrive we can add the new chapters. I'm hoping it'll become a mammouth volume of story books smile

I just want a nice way to document as much as possible, throughout our assessment it became pretty clear that there were some big gaps in my understanding of some stuff from my childhood but my mum kept diaries so I can look back and it helps. So this, along with the lifebook the SWs provide would surely help LO piece together the bits before placement then certainly the bits after?

Kewcumber Wed 04-Feb-15 10:23:50

I must say I've never come across this before. If I'm honest thinking of my now 9yr old I really don't see it helping him process who he is and why he's where he is although I do accept that every child is different.

I think it might help you work out who you are but certainly DS would only be mildly interested in passing about my childhood and how I came to adoption, certainly no more interested in any other child would be in their parents past.

I have always liked the Joy Rees approach which anchors the child story in the present ie who they are now then looks back then looks at the present again then looks to a positive future.q

I know some people are uite happy with the more traditional chronological approach but I know DS was always a bit resistant to a book which starts by telling him he isn't the person he feels but is someone different!

www.iaccenter.com/joyrees.pdf

RaspberrySnowCone Wed 04-Feb-15 10:53:02

That's a good point and a good article Kew, I suppose I'm just not really sure about what LO will come with. During our training the SW talked about life story work but the real adopters who came to speak to us didn't feel they had been given much. But I like the structure that the article has set out, it seems simple and logical!

Kewcumber Wed 04-Feb-15 11:27:23

My LO came with nothing so in some ways easier in some ways harder!

I would assume nothing and anything you get can be incorporated.

Italiangreyhound Wed 04-Feb-15 12:45:28

Our son's life story book is fabulous, it starts now, who he is, looks back to birth family and foster care and comes up to current day, the kind of thing Kew says. It was prepared by social worker and we have not yet shown it to ds. I am worried about upsetting him too much. He is starting school (part-time) this term and quite emotional when at home so I am nervous to further stir thing up!

I think some kids will be interested in how you met etc etc, I can see my birth dd being interested, when she is older and perhaps dating, and maybe my adopted son too (although maybe less as he is a boy rather than because he is adopted - VERY sexist thing to say and may well be untrue!!!) but I am not sure it is relevant to our son being part of our family by adoption.

I am also nervous about the whole, we wanted a child and here you are, because personally I am not sure how much I want to go down the route of you are special because we chose you. My son is special because he is special. And i have heard the 'you are special because we chose you' in adoption circles and it makes me uncomfortable.

Not saying you are saying it raspberry but I hear it sometimes generally. I know you said "...starting a family and the reasons why we chose to adopt." Choosing to adopt is not what I mean, I mean choosing a specific child. It is quite hard to explain because of course unless you are allocated a child as sometimes happens you do choose, and even if allocated you still choose to adopt that child. I guess I mean that in some ways the picture can be that a couple are not a family until the child comes along and in some way the child is seen as an answer to prayer.

Certainly for me I did pray for another child, for years, and pursued IVF etc before adoption. Now he is here I would not talk in the way of him being here because I wanted him to be here in quite the way I might say of a birth child; because he has a whole back story that is relevant to why he is here.

Am I making sense or totally confusing myself!!

His tough start in life was potentially crushing, for him, so for me to think of it in some way as an answer to my prayers is somewhat mixed up. I prefer a more 'it is what it is' route. We wanted another child, his birth family could not look after him, the social workers thought we could look after him, we agreed, we can, we are, we are his forever family, we love him etc etc but somehow in some way how we got to that point is much less key than how he got to that point. If that makes sense.

As I say, I read about it in the book you mentioned, and I can see as a family a 'who we all are' album etc is a nice idea but I am not sure it will make more sense for any child joining a family by adoption.

But I want to be open and genuinely see what others say too. So please ignore me if my comments are unhelpful raspberry.

RaspberrySnowCone Wed 04-Feb-15 13:13:16

No it's fine Itslian and I completely understand what You mean. I hadn't given it a huge amount of thought up until now and until I read that chapter yesterday hadn't even thought about the life book in that sense, more in the way the that SW and you and Kew had. We were given stuff during training that I'll have another read through.

Italiangreyhound Wed 04-Feb-15 17:48:12

smile

poppystellar Thu 05-Feb-15 19:12:25

Hi all, hope you don't mind me butting in but wanted to let you know my experience of life story work and what I've done for my daughter, as it seems to suit her and she certainly enjoys looking at what she calls her 'if I'm ever worried' book. I adopted as a single person so was very aware that as well as questions about adoption I would have questions of 'why haven't I got a daddy?' My daughter was 2 and a half when she came to me. (She is 4 now). She remembers foster carers and this has actually been really helpful in terms of helping her to understand her life so far (inasmuch as a 4 yr old can).

The life story stuff I got from her social worker was crap just lots of smiling photos of birth family with no explanation of why she was in care. Luckily both sets of foster carers had taken lots of photos from birth onwards and I had these to help. I found a really useful sample life story book online. Will try and find it again and post link, anyway, I used this as a starting point for making my own book for my little one. Best advice I found was to write it in the third person, apparently this helps the child, and it certainly seems to work for my daughter. I started with a very simple family tree of our family (including her) so that she could visually get a sense of who's who, even included the pets. I made a big fuss (nice lettering, bright colours, heart shaped paper etc) of the fact this was her adoption story but consciously used her full adopted name to reinforce that she was part of our family and had been since birth (even though she knows she didn't grow in my tummy we talk a lot about how she grew in my heart - possibly a bit naff I know but seems to work for us!)

I agonised about how much emphasis to put on her life before adoption and settled on brief mention of birth mum and dad using first names and a photo of them with her, a child appropriate explanation of why SWs put her in care from birth, and a bigger focus on the people who had cared for her - her 2 sets of foster carers. Again, luckily for us, her foster care was extremely positive and she lived with families that had lots of children of all ages through to adult and were a mix of fostered, adopted and birth children. I was conscious however, that as she wasn't going to see these people again I would include photos of her on her own with foster carers and explain in child friendly terms how she lived with very special people called foster carers, who looked after her until the SWs could find her her new family.

I've included photos from our intros week, and majored on this part of her story onwards. There are photos from her adoption hearing day at court and then loads and loads of pictures and captions of our life together so far. I keep adding to it with key events from her life eg school photos from nursery and reception as well as hand and footprints - I was lucky to have some foot and hand prints from her very first carers and she loves looking back at how she's grown.

The other thing I included was a great document I found online about what parents are expected to do - very simple just using some clip art type pictures (could have made it myself but was glad not to have to!). I put this in her book after the page about why birth parents couldn't look after her and she likes to look at this bit and hear all the things that parents have to do. This doc came from the good example I mentioned earlier, hard to do it justice in words but it's been really useful to give some understanding in a positive way of why her birth parents couldn't meet her needs.

She doesn't look at her book that often but she likes to look at it from time to time and I introduced it to her by saying everyone has a story and this was hers and if she ever felt worried about things (she used to stress about how long she would be staying with me for) she could look at her book to reassure her that this was her life and she was here for ever.

What works for one isn't going to work for all but my advice is keep it simple, keep it honest and use it as something positive. My daughter's life story book is basically our version of a baby scrapbook but more interesting!

Hope that helps

Oh, and I worried that she would be obsessed with the birth parent photo and constantly be asking about them. Ironically this is the bit she's least interested in so far and usually skips over (know it won't be like this forever so am endeavouring to enjoy it while it lasts!)

poppystellar Thu 05-Feb-15 22:56:17

I've been trying to find the example online that I talked about. It seems to have been removed - it was about 2 years ago I was looking at it. Sorry.

HappySunflower Fri 06-Feb-15 21:34:24

Poppy I think you might be referring to an example that I've printed off to use when I do my daughter's book.

Think I found it on

Www. Lifestoryworks.org

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