HomeChild CareDid you have life books? Did you find them helpful? or Did you use them with your akids?
Posted in Child Care on 31st March 2012

Did you have life books? Did you find them helpful? or Did you use them with your akids?
I had a lifebook that I used to carry around from foster home to foster home but when I got to be a teenager I thought the thing was ridiculous and burned it. How many homes (lives) was I supposed to keep in that book? And it had questions about my bio-parents that used to piss me off of make me feel worse about my situation.

After I burned the one, I refused any others.

Some people believe that “they help give the child a sense of self” or “allow the child to discuss issues regarding abandonment and issues relating to adoption or foster care” or “help the child understand the process.”

Thoughts?

Best answer(s):

Answer by Randy B
I think that for children in situations like yours where you are moving from home to home it may have a detrimental affect for the reasons you noted. At the same time though, for children who are placed in one home and then either adopted by that family or go right to an adoption situation it has the desired affect of providing some back story and history.

Answer by Richelle78
I am a foster parent, so I am supposed to make life books for all my foster children. I like them, because I think it can help fill in gaps for children. They may not remember were they have been or how they have been with, especially if they were young. I have had many children go home and I don’t know if their parents kept the books or not. I really work hard on the life books, trying to make them something nice for the children. However, I can see where they might make children think about a time in their lives they would like to forget.

I personally think they are a good thing. When the child is old enough to make a decision about whether or not they would like to keep the book, they may decide to do what you did. But I think they should at least have the option. In the books that I have created, we include pictures of friends they have made while with us, significant events, even pictures that have been taken with their bio families while they were with us, if any.

For Christmas this year, I made scrapbooks for our foster daughters. They have been with us for almost 2 years, so we had a lot to work with. They actually loved them. Again, I spent a lot of time on them, so I think they appriciate the work that went into them and the love to look through them.

One suggestion I would make to people who are making the life book is to keep it positive. Don’t put things that are negative about the bio family. They are part of the children’s history, good or bad and whether we like it or not. And by all means, if the child is old enough, let them participate in making the book. Include the pictures and memories that are meaningful to them.

Sorry for rambling, this is just my two sense. Take if for what it is worth. For the people who do decide to make life books for thier foster or adoptive children, try to make it meaningful and add things they will like….

Answer by sunny
Before adoption I had no life.

*snort*

Answer by BOTZ
According to the only ‘book’ I ever had during childhood (which ended at age 32, btw…), I sprang into existence somewhere in the airspace over Colorado…possibly slightly farther east…several weeks after my alleged ‘birth’ (whatever THAT word means).

Like Sunny, I didn’t ‘exist’ before I was handed over to my ‘forever family’ and ‘smiled’ at them in that very moment (yeah, right…I was less than 4 weeks old). I was there. I remember it well. It was gas.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that someone was actually PREGNANT with me. Wow! Imagine how weird it was to sit at the table with my Mom and brothers over Thanksgiving and hear a bunch of “When I was pregnant with you…” stories and find, to my amazement, that someone was looking at ME — little ole me *sob*.

I would have done what you did…heh…actually, I sorta DID do what you did. You should have SEEN my APs hit the roof when they learned I had ‘disposed of’ many of the ‘keepsakes’ of my childhood. They were mine, weren’t they? They have ‘given’ them to me, hadn’t they? Isn’t a GIFT meant to be used (or not) at the exclusive discretion of the recipient?

Who knew my ‘grandma’s’ crystal and china would fetch such a tidy price on e-bay?

Oh…and you should have seen the attempted guilt trips… (Don’t you CARE at all that we worked so hard on/for that? Doesn’t our INTENT mean anything to you? Is that all we mean to you? Are you going to throw US away, too? *Uh, yeah, actually…I am*)

Sorry, Looney, that must have touched a nerve I wasn’t even aware was so ‘raw’. Hmmmm… something new for my head-shrinker to chew on, I guess.

You had every right to do what you did. Good for you!!!

*BOTZ is giving LT a standing ovation!!!* You go, girl!!!

ETA: Don’t you love the “make sure it’s all *positive*” hype? How about honest? I’m for making sure it’s all HONEST…ya know…real? true? factual? I vote for TRUE, for a change.

Answer by Kazi
Like Randy said, for children in foster care who move from home to home, I can see where it would actually do more harm than good as you have clearly illustrated.

Now, we do have life books for our children and they are filled to the hilt and right now my daughter, loves to look at hers and have us read some of it and explain things again. This makes her happy. She brings us the book several times a month. We also have umpteen videos that we shot while we were in China and the moment we all met and even when we received the referral. She asks to watch the video frequently and gets excited when she sees the moment she is placed in my arms. Though at the time, she was anything but excited :))

My son was only with one foster family and they loved him large and did a life book for him, which they kindly gave to us. He is vaguely interested, but would much rather be playing Backyardigans.

Answer by Gaia Raain II
We were told to keep the original in a safe place in case the kids wanted it someday, because they might tear it up, burn it, etc. and later regret it. I think what you did was very empowering. That’s YOUR history, and you have the right to do with it what you please.

*stands beside BOTZ in a standing ovation*

Answer by corcoranfaire
We do foster care but I had never heard about life books. Is it just a scrapbook of pictures, a baby book of firsts, or something else?

I do make sure that we get the children’s pictures taken often so they can give them to family and friends (or to know what they looked like when they get older like I did with my bio children). I also keep as much information and documentation on the child and the children’s parents as I can find and am given so they have it when they want it.

Answer by wynn
I’m not completely sure I know what a lifebook is supposed to be. Each of my children has a book of pictures and letters from their family. I have pictures of what family members I could find, the home where they were born, their villages. I keep the books updated with letters and pictures as we receive them. But these books don’t have any pictures of the orphanage or of us – the adoptive family. I wanted the children to have one book that’s exclusively the family that they were born to.

One of my children treasures her book. The other two aren’t interested, yet. As to your last paragraph – my daughter who does love her scrapbook does not find that it gives her a sense of self. It makes her feel torn. Maybe it does help her to discuss abandonment issues. The other day she came downstairs from looking at her book and told us that the first thing she wants to do when we bring her back to visit her family is smack her dad for sending her away. Then she will hug him.

Answer by Opedial
I think life books give children a history that would otherwise be lost while they are in foster care. This said, if you are in many different foster homes I can see why this would bother you.

We always did a life book for our foster children, to remember their time with us (most liked us, I think we were pretty good foster parents) and it also included pic’s and memories of their parents (we had an inclusive fostering experience, often parents would come to our house).

Usually, in the spirit of anything worth doing is worth overdoing, I would scrapbook most of it, and it was pretty fancy. When they left they got to take it. For my favourite foster child (i know we should not have fav’s but this gal was my fav.!) we did a nice book, she went back home (we had a great goodbye party with hte parents, the social worker etc. etc. etc.), and six months later she was back in care, and alas I had moved provinces so we could not take her. (but call her once a week). No one knows where her life book is, her parents may have lost it in one of their many moves.

My lesson was to always keep a copy and give it to the social workers in case they come back to care.

I am sorry that yours was bad and made you feel bad. I am also sorry that you had to be moved from foster home to foster home, because that is NOT how the system is supposed to work.

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