Lifebooks: Getting Past the Initial Hurdle

Creating a lifebook may seem like a daunting task, especially when there is not an abundance of information about your childís life before becoming a part of your family. It is actually easy and funÖonce you get past that initial hurdle: "How do I start?"

That question is answered based on how much information you have available. Some adoptive parents (especially with domestic adoptions) have access to volumes of information about their childís early life and may have a relationship with a birthmother that is very open to sharing intimate details. If youíre in this group, consider yourself lucky! You may be asking the question from the standpoint of how you should organize the wealth of information and myriad of photographs you have at your fingertips!

Other adoptive parents donít have very much in the way of information or resources at all. For example, in an international adoption, an adoptive parent may not even know the birthmotherís name, the specific date and time or place of a childís birth or a reason given for the adoption plan. If you fit this category, donít worry! There are ways to address that lack of information.

For example, one of the most important pages in a lifebook is the one that describes the biological mother. Oftentimes several pages are dedicated to this special person in your childís life. Ideally, you would have a full-length, high-quality color photo of her, but you may not even have a grainy, black and white facsimile of her profile from the shoulders up! In that case, you could always write something along the lines of:

"Did you know that something in your body called DNA, given to you by your birthparents, is responsible for the features that you have? Your birthmother passed on some of her physical traits to you. Because you have beautiful, light brown, wavy hair, chances are good that your birthmother did too!"

Where the specific date and time or place of a childís birth is unknown, using maps and historical weather data can provide meaningful content for the lifebook page dealing with the childís birth. Letís say, for instance, that you donít know the exact date and time of birth. One way to address this is to say:

"We think you were born during the summer of 2002 because the orphanage director said that when you came to the orphanage, you were about the same size as other children that were born then. And, although we donít know the specific day, summers in Moscow are typically rather mild, about 70 degrees. Iíll bet the sun was shining extra bright on the day you were born."

If you donít have specifics on the place of birth but want to give a good reference point, download a map from the internet that shows a town or region where your child was likely born, including landmarks or topography, if possible. Kids love maps!

Something else kids love is devotion. Your devotion to starting (and completing) a lifebook will be very much appreciated by your child. Hopefully this article helps you get past the initial hurdle if you were worried about the lack of material suited to such an important endeavor! For more tips, keep an eye out for the next issue of Support Line.


Written by Jennifer Demar, adoptive parent of two and owner of, an online store specializing in adoption scrapbooking supplies and multi-cultural products perfect for lifebooks.