Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life Book

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 
John 10:10
Facts and Figures

        In my foster class they talked briefly about life books. I'm going to assume that you my audience don't know what a life book is and for those of you who do I still hope you find this helpful. A life book is basically a book/ photo album/ scrap book that you make for your foster or adopted child. It holds pictures and memories. For foster children it's important because if they are shuffled around a lot (which they don't do as much anymore) it helps them remember their story.
  For adopted children it's a way to tell and show them their story. I've read many blogs about this. I had a month of really battling how I was going to tell my daughter her story. I believe that it's different for foster children then other children who are adopted. Fundamentally their story comes from a place or point of the parents making poor choices. The stories of children adopted from other nations is either birthed out of economic tragedy, natural disasters, or instability in their nation. Those to me are massive issues that effect their entire nation. For foster children I feel (and this maybe wrong) but that their story is more micro then macro if that makes sense.
 I've really been struggling with how to tell my daughter her story. How do I make her feel accepted and loved without tying love to rejection? I love story, I'm in the process of writing a trilogy now but telling this particular story is stumping me. I've really googled all the different thoughts I've had searching for how to explain the beginning. I am grateful to be able to put God in the picture and show her how much from the beginning He pursued her and kept her safe. Still how do I tell her her story? I've looked for children's books on adoption but many of them talk about father and mother, going to another nation, or they couldn't have babies ect but that's not our story.

   I was told life books began because in the 80's the social workers where taught that if a foster family was starting to get too attached to their foster child the child needed to be removed. Now we understand how ludicrous this idea is. This idea actually created many unattached children and because of that behaviors manifested and that got them into trouble later in life. These kids were not staying attached to their past or who they were or what their story was. Story is important it brings us identity, understanding, and value. So, they started telling foster parents to make books or keep photo albums for the kids so as they went from house to house or back into their birth parents home they had their history. It helps them stay attached.
 With adopted children, in the past, parents had hidden that they were adopted. If they looked enough like the adopted parents, they thought it was best they didn't know. Finding out later in life you are adopted has some serious consequences for relationship with your adopted family. Teens or adults would hold major grudges against their adopted family feeling betrayed and lied to. Because of this foster/adoption agencies have adopted (no pun intended) the idea that from the beginning you tell your child they are adopted. All of course based on age appropriate language and understanding level.

 All adopted children are going to be curious about their birth family it's natural. That's why personally I keep as many pictures as I can of Bellas birth family because I know she's going to want to know who she looks like. Even though we don't know birth father we do have pictures that can help.

Here are a couple helpful tips I've read about:

- When telling your child their story never say "Your birth mother loved you but she had to give you up" The child associates love with abandonment. Say something to the effect of "Your birth mother wanted you to have the best life you could so she gave you to us because she knew we would be able to take care of you."( for me though I have a problem slightly with this because foster children aren't really "given up".)

- One thing I heard a speaker say once was explaining to the child that " when we are children we are always learning and as we grow older we start learning big people things but some big people don't learn big people things like how to take care of a baby so they have to give the baby to someone who knows how to take care of babies." I like this explanation because it makes it really innocent and it's truly the reason.

- Of course never make birth parents out to be bad people. Your child will identify with them on some level. Making them out to be bad people will only make your child feel like they are bad and there can be shame introduced.

- Other advice is, start the story of their adoption young. Don't wait till they are older and never use the adoption word as a point of shame but associate it with celebration.

- I plan on celebrating not only birthday but adoption day as well. How special will a child feel if they get 2 days a year where they are celebrated?!

- Always be honest with your child and you don't overload them at the beginning just slowly over the years answer their questions as they come.

- Get adoption books that tell the stories of how your family was formed and even surround yourselves with families that have adopted children. Having a community that celebrates adoption is so valuable!

- Another piece of advice was never tell your child because of economic hardship they were given up for adoption. If anything happens to you as a family financially they will assume they are going to be given up.

- Make it fun for them to hear their story. Read or tell their story often make it a point of great celebration for them.

 These are some of the helpful tips I've heard along the way. I'm sure there are many more. I still don't know how I'm going to tell her her story to be honest. I don't have the security in my story telling abilities to not to want to tell her everything at once. She's still small enough where I can think about it and write it out. A friend of mine suggested doing a Shutterfly album and that might be a great way to keep it in book form.

If you have any experience writing life books or have helpful tips please leave some comments I'm completely open to suggestions!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
March 2012 

    This month was really a good month for us financially. God is so faithful to His word. I look back and can't believe He's brought us this far. I have no doubt in my mind of His eternal faithfulness. I've been waiting to hear back from someone if birth mom filled an appeal. At the end of this month I found out that I had to wait 70 days instead of 60. It always seems like you're waiting forever but I believe I will sign adoption papers next month. It's been really fast actually if I think about it. I've had Bella exactly a year this month so crazy!!

 I was a city wide conference this month called Hollywood the Cry. I only went one night because I had someone volunteer to watch the baby for me. It's so rare for me to go out that I took the opportunity. It was a really powerful session that I went to. When the social justice session came up their was a guy that had just come back from Cambodia and was telling us that he saw babies 6 month olds being sold into sex slavery. Babies!!!!! What the Heck!!!!!! I almost threw up right there. I sobbed so hard my eyes where swollen and blood shot. I just kept seeing Bella in my head at 6 months and everything inside of me wanted to jump on a plane and grab those babies and run. What is this world coming too? The Lord keeps talking to me about saving the one. Loving the one in front of you is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do. As a mother I know that being a good steward of one child can change nations so I will stay here and do the best I can with the baby the Lord has given me.

 This month I've been working really hard on my art getting prints because there's a conference where I'm going to be painting and I hope someone buys some of my art. So when I went to the conference I had spent a lot of money on making prints that didn't turn out right and I didn't sell anything but someone gave me money as I was leaving and it exactly was double what I spent on all the prints and supplies. I had been frustrated by the lack of my knowledge on how to sell my art but God saw my heart and blessed me anyway! Sometimes all He wants from us is to try.

 Bella is growing so quickly and is rapidly shifting into a toddler. I don't know when the shift happens but I can see it. Her personality is coming out she said "ball" for her first word and also "bubble" and is walking everywhere. I really can't believe how big she's getting. I get exhausted watching her run around but it is fun to see how funny she is. I'm just in love with this little girl I'm so glad I get to call her my own so very soon!

I taught her to put things on her head...this is my fault.

All I've ever used is cell phones around her how does she know how to use this phone?

We've been spending too much time in is a star!


  1. Aileen.. I really enjoyed reading this! We have a life book for our adopted son Jeremiah, and he is so proud of it! Every time we have some one new come over he wants to show it to them:) They are great..
    The babies being sold into the sex trade is??? I don't even know the right word to put there??? Seriously! I'm speechless and disgusted on that one:(
    I still would love to connect with you when you are up here.. Just message me on FB when you have time:)
    Sandra Linnell

  2. Thank you Sandra! I can't wait to hang out too! I would love to read Jeremiah's story it might help with making one for Bella that she can be proud of and run around reading for others. I know the sex trade thing was the most horrible thing I heard. I also heard men rent babies for a week or something..My mind can't even comprehend that one. I really need financial breakthrough please keep us in prayer that God would do a miracle for us! many blessings!