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The Power of The Life Book

There is a power to the story of how the child came to enter a family that is mythical and magical.  It doesn’t matter how old the child is when they enter the family, the energy and excitement is in the story telling.  Each family has their own mythology, their stories of how the parents got together, where they met, the first kiss, becoming an “us”, moving into the “family home”, getting married or the commitment ceremony.  As stories go, each one has common elements, no matter who tells the tale and the children can recite those tales by the time they are in school.  The family stories give a depth and breadth to the child’s experience of family, grounding them in the very foundation of the family tree, complete with grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts and, of course, cousins.  The magic of family is centered in the stories, not the differences but the connections.  That is also the magic of the Life Book.

lifebook exampleLike the evolution of the family, the child comes with his or her very own story.  No matter where that story began or what happened to bring that child into your family, those stories are a precious part of what makes that child tick.  Bring in all those pieces that you have access to.  Not all children come complete with baby pictures or photos of birth parents, orphanage workers, or past foster families.  Just start with what you have.  Purchase a book that can be expanded just in case you can later access something from the child’s past.  If your child is four or older, this is a great activity to do with them.  If they are younger, start the book and then bring the child into your lap and tell them their story with the pictures you have.  Don’t be afraid of the tough questions.  Answer them as honestly and age appropriately as possible and move on to the next part of the story.  Keep in mind, your child will ask to hear their story many times because each time, they will feel more grounded in your family history.

Older children love to help with their life book and it is a great family activity that can include stories and laughter and family history.  Often, children who come to a family through foster care bring to the adoptive home a life book that has been compiled since they entered foster care.  Bring that life book into your home and add it to the life book you are creating.  That is part of the child’s past as well.  If possible, ask the child placing agency to help locate the child’s life book as it belongs to the child, not the child’s file.

A note about creating a life book in this day of scrap-booking: Be selective with the embellishments you purchase for your child’s life book as you can spend a lot of money without realizing it.  Of course, it is fun to look at all the ideas and choices.  Those little stickers and add-ons help complete the look.  Don’t forget to write in the book the story itself.  After all, it is the story that sticks with the generations.  These are stories your children will tell their children and grandchildren, keeping the tale going for years to come.

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