We love our story and feel it is important to talk about our story with our children. That is why I think life books are important and have been wanting to finish my kids Adoption Life Books. I guess Jackie is finally forcing me to do that!
So here goes! My goal is for my two boys to have their life books finished by the end of this month, but I also want to allow them to create the books on their own and spend as much time as they want on each page. That will give us lots of time to dialogue about the topic we are covering on each page.
First of all, I think I should mention that I have gleaned a lot of information from the book “Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child” by Beth O’Malley. This book is a great resource because it gives ideas on how you can write about certain topics. You can check out the website http://www.adoptionlifebooks.com/ for information on ordering this book and also for more information on creating lifebooks. Scrapandtell.com has adoption scrapbooking materials.
- Book pages- I’m using my cricut to cut out circle shaped cards. The cut is from the wildcard cartridge, but I’m making it as big as the paper will allow (5 ¾”). I’m cutting out fourteen circles cards for each kid. You may need more or less pages and of course, you can do the pages however you want. Jackie had a good blog on ideas on how to make books for your kids.
- Stickers, clip art, extra drawing paper, scrapbooking paper, cardstock, scissors, glue, markers, crayons, pencils, paint, cut-out cricket shapes for the seasons my children were born (winter and spring), photographs
Front cover: I’m going to spend a whole day on just the front cover. I thought of letting each boy decorate with the things they like (Nick likes dinosaurs, for example) but decided to keep it neutral since this will be something that they keep for the rest of their lives and their tastes will change. We are just going to put our whole first name (English name) on the front cover. So why is that going to take our whole first day? I want to spend time talking about life books and how neat it will be to tell their story. I want to let them take the time to decorate the book however they want- paint, stickers, etc.
We might also spend a little extra time practicing writing their names on a separate sheet of paper since they need work on this anyway. I should probably mention that my boys are 5 and 6 so that is the developmental level I am working on.
Page 1: The day I was born.On the left circle, we are going to glue a blank calendar and fill in the month and year at the top, write in the dates, and then write a star on the day they were born. On the right circle, we are going to decorate the page to show the season they were born. We will write “I was born on month, day, year.” We will talk about what the weather was probably like on the day they were born. Every time we read their life book together, this will give us an opportunity to discuss what that very special day was like!
Page 2: I was born in God's heart. On the left circle, we are going to cut out a heart ( it will be good practice for my kids) and write in the center “I was born in God’s heart.”
On the right circle, we are going to put together puzzle pieces that make the sentence “You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. Psalm 139:13” This will give us a good opportunity to talk about how special they both are because God created them. It also allows us to talk about their special needs and that God didn’t make a mistake when He created them.
Page 3: I was born in China. On the left circle, I will write the name of the city, province, and country where they were born. I’m going to get a map of China and show them exactly where their birthplace is. We will make a pocket and put a picture of their city or province on the outside and inside the pocket we’ll keep the map to refer to when we read their lifebook. On the right circle, I am going to have them write out their Chinese name- in English characters of course. I guess it would be fun to have them try and write the Chinese symbols. I’m going to have them tape their referral photo on this page also.
Page 4: This is my Chinese mommy and Chinese Daddy. This page will deal with birthparents. Of course, we have no information on birthparents, but I still feel it is important to talk about the fact that they both come from a different set of parents. We are going to use the left circle for the birthmother or Chinese Mommy and the right circle for the Chinese Daddy. I’m going to make a pocket and allow them to draw on the front what they think their birthparent may have looked like. Inside the pocket, I’m going to keep a parent card that has a little information to read to them when we are looking at their life book. Basically, on the birthmothers page, I will put something about how they grew in another women’s tummy or womb. I’ll say you probably get your looks, etc from your birthmother and whatever else I want to share. On the birthfather’s page, I may put something about the fact that you need a man and woman to have a baby and you probably have things in common with your birthfather. Then I thought it would be good to talk about the things they are good at that they may have in common with their birthparents. For example, Nick is really good at singing, so I’m going to have music stickers available for him to add around the outside of the pages. I am also going to label this page “My Chinese Mom” and “My Chinese Dad”.
One more note on the parent cards inside the pockets: As the boys get older and understand more things about where babies come from, I can modify the cards to be more on their level.
Page 5: This was what I was like as a baby. On the left page, I am going to put a picture of their orphanage and once again make a pocket behind that for a parent card. On the right page, I’m going to let them draw a picture of what they might have looked like when they were a baby. We don’t have any baby pictures of Alex, and we only have a very grainy copy of Nick’s finding ad, so I think it will be better to let them draw their own pictures for this page. I’m going to let them decorate that page with baby scrapbooking stickers. The parent cards on these pages will talk about how families are created. When children are born, they either stay with their birthparents or they are taken to an orphanage. I may put something in their about babies being cute and not having done anything wrong and it's never the children’s fault that a mom and dad doesn’t keep their baby.
Page 6: All About China.This is where we are going to focus on their birth country. I’m going to write on the left side “All About China” and let them decorate that page with stickers. Then I’m going to let them tell me all the things they know about China and write those down on the right side of this page.
Page 7: My Finding Spot. We are going to draw two pictures, one of their parents taking them to their finding spot and the other of the orphanage director receiving them. The main point of drawing these pictures is to dialogue or even just to think about what happened. I may let them paint on these pages so we’ll see what happens. I’m going to use the pictures to make pockets for more parent cards.
Left side: China is a very beautiful country. There are many, many people who live there and sometimes it is hard for people to find enough food to eat. China made a rule that families could only have one child and if you broke the rule, you could get in big trouble.Right side: We don’t know why your Chinese mother and father took you to an orphanage. It was probably a very hard decision that they thought and thought about for many days. I believe they wanted you to receive the medical care you needed and wanted good things for you.
Page 8: Memories of My Life in China. I thought it would be good for them to draw some memories of their life in China . Of course, they don’t seem to really remember anything so to help them out…
On the left side, I’m going to suggest they draw a picture of their favorite toy. I would like for them to write “I liked to play with my _________.” Nick always says his favorite toy was a robot toy because he has seen his referral photo when he is holding the toy. I was told Alex liked to play with blocks, so if he can’t think of anything to draw, I will just tell him “well, the nannies at your orphanage told us that you really liked to play with blocks and build things.”
On the right side, I’m going to suggest they draw a picture of a special friend or caretaker. Nick was very close to one of his nannies and will want to draw her pictures. Alex has sometimes mentioned other kids he played with and we have pictures of him with other kids, so I will show him those and see what he wants to draw. I also thought he could draw a picture of his bed where he slept.
Page 9: Gotcha Day
On the left side, we are going to do another calendar like we did on the first page. But this time, I will have them list for the day, month, and year showing the day we met them in China and adopted them. We will label that Gotcha Day!
On the right side, we are going to put a picture of the first time we met them. I think this will be a good day to show them a video of the first time we met each one of them.
Page 10: My Forever Family
On the left side, we are going to put a copy of the adoption decree and talk about what that means. We might write the word Forever on that page or use stickers to spell it out.
On the right side, we are going to put the first picture they took of our new family.
Page 11: Coming Home
On the left side, I am going to have them draw a picture of the airplane we rode in to travel home.
On the right side, we are going to add a picture of when we landed in the airport and met grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
Page 12: Our new country
On the left side, I am going to write “All about the U.S.A. ” and let them add stickers of the United States.
On the right side, I am going to ask them things they know about the United States of America and write them down. We may go back and compare that list to the things we listed about China and talk about the similarities and differences between the two countries.
Page 13: All About Me
On the left side, I am going to let them tape their current school picture.
On the right side, I am going to have them fill out an information sheet on themselves. Such as:
I am _ years old. I am _ tall. I weigh _. I am in the _ grade. I like to play with ___. My favorite subject at school is ___. My teacher’s name is ___.
Finishing up: Instead of taping this page to the last page (back cover), I’m going to leave this part open so we can add a new picture and an updated autobiography every year. (It will be easier to see in the pictures).
Back cover: I’m going to write them a special note telling them how glad we are to have them and how special they are to us and to God!
I’ll add the pictures as we work on our books on each day. Thanks for being patient with me. Jackie, sorry it is so long but thanks for letting me guest blog!