Thursday, October 14, 2010

In need of a lifebook?

Baby books are not exactly adoption friendly. One of the suggestions given by many adoption experts is to create a lifebook for your child instead of a baby book so that he/she can understand and appreciate the journey to becoming part of a forever family. A fellow adoptive mom gave me a adoption friendly baby book to use for Paul, but it is rather intense and requires that I actually keep track of minor details that slip past us with little fanfare. I know there are moms out there that write down the dates of every tooth appearance and the first 100 words their child uttered. I am lucky that my son's have easy birthdays to remember. So yeah, the lifebook. I figured that because I am not much of a scrapbooker and more of a writer, I would keep journals for the boys instead. I started Paul's during the adoption process; back when I used to have a whole lot more idle time on my hands. But even with all that time I started to procrastinate and did not keep a very good record of how I was feeling during the stages of the process. And I didn't bring it with me to the airport where I could have killed the many hours of waiting with writing. Instead I tried to go back after the fact and write down key events that happened within the months leading up to and immediately following his arrival. (Thankfully I kept the calendar for that year!) But it seemed contrived and not very honest, and I wondered what Paul would think when he read it. I vowed to do a better job with our second child's journal. Unfortunately the first few entries were all about how we wanted a girl, and when we got the referral for John I ripped them out. Nothing like setting your child up with a complex. When I went to fill in the details of our journey, I couldn't find the 2008 calendar and was stuck trying to remember the order of events. I did manage to bring the journal to the airport this time and wrote a nice entry on the day of his arrival. I wrote it part way into the journal hoping I would go back and fill in the missing pieces. I promised myself I would be better this time and mark down important events of his first few months at home. I did neither. Yesterday I was cleaning out the shelves in our den, mostly because John regularly opens the cupboards and dumps out the contents and I needed a more baby proof system of organization, and I found the journals. Waves of guilt crashed over me as I flipped through them and then stuffed them into a box along with Paul's baby book and the calendars for 2007 and 2009 (still looking for 2008). I convinced myself that it would all be okay because I maintain this blog pretty regularly and it's a pretty good record of what has happened to my boys since April 2008. Would it be cheating to print out entries and just paste them in the journals? How horrible am I for not maintaining an actual lifebook for my sons? Paul is very familiar with his adoption story (a little too familiar perhaps as at one point he was convinced that all babies arrive on a plane from South Korea), but I think he is also the type that would appreciate it all in book form. I recently picked up a kid-friendly baby book and we worked on it together, but I felt horrible when it asked for "firsts" and he had either experienced them before joining our family, or I had forgotten when they happened. I honestly thought this would help me stay motivated in writing more down for John. It hasn't.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I know exactly what you mean! I did a toddler lifebook for Emma and gave it to her on her third birthday. I think of a lifebook as the story of the child, so I started it with what we know about her birth and first year in China, what adoption means, the story of her coming into our family, etc. I finished it with the photo of her at home with us. It's been a great way to encourage discussion of her adoption story, and it helped me get more comfortable talking with her about some of the tough subjects. I bought a couple great books about writing lifebooks and relied heavily on them! (I haven't done Will's yet, but I need to get going on it.) Then I do a little scrapbook at the end of each year to highlight what happened for them during the year. . . stats from the pediatrician, favorite artwork, photos, etc. I try to keep up with the blog because that's where I get most of my info for the album. (obviously I'm failing in that department lately!) Good luck!