What You'll Learn This Week
- Why lifebooks are important to the healing process.
- What's important to include in a lifebook.
- Ideas on keeping a child's culture alive.
Why Lifebooks Are Important to the Healing Process
One of our foster sons used to tell wild stories about his birth parents. They were simply amazing. They had the ability, according to this young boy, to jump out of airplanes, without parachutes and land on their feet. They also starred in a reality show together and performed amazing stunts. The reality, his parents did not posses super human abilities, but were absent for the majority of his life. I'm sure he found his version of events to be more comforting.
A lifebook provides answers to questions and helps a child make sense of a time within their lives where little sense can be found. So, many kids turn to making up stories about what really happened.
Lifebooks provide reality without sugar coating the truth, and without being too harsh. It's a balance. But an important balance to try to obtain within a lifebook. A lifebook also chronicles a child's life. Foster children are often bounced from home to home. A lifebook contains important information on birth family as well as each foster home placement.
What's Important to Include in a Lifebook?
All children in foster or adoptive placements need a lifebook and there is no age that is too young or too old. My friend's foster placement just celebrated his first birthday and we were there to help take pictures of the event for his lifebook. She also requested cards from everyone so that they could be added to his lifebook as well.
Consider the following few ideas for lifebooks – remember these are just suggestion and may not be appropriate for your foster child's lifebook.
- A page dedicated to birth mom and birth dad – include their birthparent's date of birth and a space for a child to share a special memory. Allow space for the child to write. If the child is too young to write, can you as a foster parent share an appropriate and special memory of a visit?
- A page for each foster home placement.
- Space for the child to explore their feelings and emotions. They are probably processing a lot of grief and loss.
- Space for a child to write down their favorite people, food, color, music, movies, and more.
- A page that explains a child's placement into foster care or adoption. If it's never explained the child will come up with their own reasons. Seek out information and examples of how to do so in ways that are age appropriate, truthful, but not harsh or scary.
- Add pictures of the child as a baby if available. If not, allow the child space to draw a picture of what they think they looked like as a baby.
- Remember the everyday events as well as the special moments.
- Take a look at baby books and see what information is included – add that information to your child's lifebook if the information is available.
Ideas on Keeping a Child's Culture Alive
Our identity comes in large part from our culture and environment. As foster parents it's important for us to respect those differences and seek out the strengths in each culture that we parent.
- Celebrate a holiday that is a special part of a child's culture.
- Learn a new recipe from the child's culture or family. We had foster sons who loved to make macaroni and cheese for us.
- Try to encourage hobbies or interests that they shared in their birth home. We've had a foster child who collected vacuum cleaners. We tried to nurture his interest, even walking down the vacuum cleaning aisle in department stores.
- Can you encourage appropriate movies, games or music that was a part of their birth family?
These little things will mean a lot to a foster child, while they are separated from their birth home and family.
This Week's Assignment: Create Some Lifebook Pages
This week take some time to learn more about lifebooks. Read our article on the Best Ideas to Complete a Lifebook for Your Adopted or Foster Child. While you're learning about what to put into a lifebook, take some time and learn what not to add to a lifebook.
Take some time and create 3 new pages for your foster child's lifebook, if you already have one started. Remember to work with your foster child on this project; it could be a great time for building a stronger connection.
Good luck as you continue your foster parenting journey.
Recommended Articles in This Week's Lesson
- What Is a Lifebook?
- Best Ideas to Complete a Lifebook for Your Foster Child
- What Not to Put into a Foster Child's Lifebook
- Make a Copy of Your Foster Child's Lifebook
- How to Create a Connection with Your Foster Child
- Adoption Book Review: Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child
- Understanding Grief and Loss