When parents are preparing to welcome a child into their family, they spend a lot of time gathering all the things they’ll need to keep the child safe and comfortable. The list seems endless — bed, car seat, clothes, toys, etc. And of course, they need to make sure the cameras are ready to record every moment. All of these memories are usually recorded in a baby book.
When families are adopting, they will likely need the same things that biological parents need when preparing for a new child. Their cameras will capture many of the same moments, but using a typical baby book to record these memories may not make sense. Adoptive families need a different way to document the milestones that are exclusive to adoption.
Adoption memory books, or adoption “lifebooks”, can be purchased and filled in as you go throughout your adoption journey. They are similar to a traditional baby book in that they have pre-made templates that make them easy for parents to complete. But just as every birth story is unique, every adoption story is unique. Making your own adoption memory book may be the best way to accurately document your journey to becoming a family.
If you choose to create your own adoption lifebook, here are some lifebook ideas to consider including:
Start your adoption memory books with information and photos of your family before the child arrived. Perhaps include a narrative about why you pursued adoption. Be sure to keep the text at a developmentally appropriate level for your child. This can be changed and added to as your child gets older. If applicable, include information about past foster families or caregivers, assuming these were positive relationships in your child’s life.
Meeting the birth parents
Include pictures or stories from when you met your child’s birth parents, if applicable. Write about their love for your child and why they chose you as the perfect family for them. Depending on your relationship with the birth parents, you may want to ask them if they could include a letter for your child, or even a family tree, should your child want to research their ancestry in the future.
Document your child’s vital statistics from their birth day — height, weight, time of birth. If you were present when your child was born, include pictures and memories from the day. Keep yours and your child’s hospital ID bands. Be sure to include photos of the birth parents in the adoption lifebook.
This section could look like it came from a typical baby book. This is where you want to record the excitement of bringing your child home from the hospital. Who visited those first few days or weeks? What gifts did you receive? As your child gets older, include developmental milestone information — height and weight at doctor visits, sleeping habits, likes and dislikes. Be sure to print some of the many pictures you’ll take!
This event must be documented in your child’s adoption memory book! Make note of when and where this took place, as well as who was present. Hopefully you had your camera to snap a photo or two. How did you celebrate afterwards?
If your child was older when adopted and came from foster care, some of the sections mentioned above won’t apply in their lifebook. You do not want to include any information about abuse or other traumatizing events from their past. Focus on the day they arrived in your home and their life moving forward.
Here are some adoption lifebook examples and how-to books for creating your own adoption memory book: