Lifebooks: For Kids From One to Ninety-two

Itís the time of year where some of you might be preparing for Easter by making pysanky, a Ukrainian egg that is sometimes very intricately decorated. The art of making these eggs goes back many years. According to Ukrainian legend, people decorated eggs believing that great powers were embodied in the egg. To them, eggs symbolized the release of the earth from the shackles of winter and the coming of spring with its promises of new hope, new life and prosperity, and that as long as pysanky were decorated, goodness would prevail over evil throughout the world.1

Another source says that among Ukrainians there is a belief that the fate of the world depends upon pysanky. As long as egg decorating continues, the world will exist. Should the custom cease, evil in the guise of an ancient, vicious monster chained to a huge cliff will encompass the world and destroy it. Each year the monster's servants encircle the globe, keeping a record of the number of pysanky made. Should there be too few, the monster's chains loosen, and evil flows through the world. If there are many, the monster's chains hold taut, allowing love to conquer evil. 2

Itís odd that at Easter time, instead of thinking about pysanky, I am recalling lyrics from a Christmas song about roasting chestnuts and pondering the significance and importance of "Merry Christmas" for kids from one to ninety-two. You may be wondering why that tune comes to mindÖ

As part of my daily work, I respond to questions posted to my discussion group. Twice in a recent week I received a question that went something like: "How do I make a lifebook for my two-year old son that will still be significant to him when he is fifteen?" Very good question!

Some people worry that a lifebook, originally written for a two-year old will seem childish and will not be as appropriate when the child is five or ten or fifteen. I don't believe this is necessarily true. While the vocabulary will seem childish years after it was written, the message will remain constant. My advice would be to write the lifebook so that it is uses vocabulary and concepts that are appropriate for the child at the time it is being written. If your child is five when you begin working on the lifebook, use language and imagery that will be understood by a five-year old.

What the lifebook really serves to do is introduce the topic of adoption. A lifebook tells the child when and where they were born, who their birth parents are, and why an adoption choice was made for them. If a young adoptee can begin to hear their story in terms they understand, there will be a strong foundation for future discussion with you. You can always supplement the lifebook with oral communication (and a greater vocabulary) as the child ages and begins to ask more questions.

Also, although the original "wording" will become outgrown, the appreciation of the thought you put into it and the pictures included will be absolutely timeless.

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Written by Jennifer Demar, adoptive parent of two and owner of www.scrapandtell.com, an online store specializing in adoption scrapbooking supplies and multi-cultural products perfect for lifebooks, including a pysanky rubber stamp!

1 Winter/Spring analogy courtesy of http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/5892/Pysanky.html

2 Chained monster story courtesy of http://www.surmastore.com/pysanka.html