God’s Call to Single Parenting

 

I have always known that I wanted to adopt. Like many women, I assumed that it would be after I was married. However, God had a different plan for me, and I continue to be blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. I am a single mama of two precious boys, both adopted from China. We are now in the process of adding a little princess to our family. Trusting God to build my family has been one of the most faith-building and awe-inspiring things in my life.

I work in a neonatal intensive care unit. When I was still in training, I came across a picture of my first son. God made it quite clear that he was my son. I am so thankful that God was faithful to speak loudly and clearly enough that even my feeble faith at the time could follow Him. It seemed illogical. I was in training. I was single. I was very stretched financially. And the child he showed me was a 5 year old boy. Weren’t single women supposed to adopt little girls? To top it off, this child was deaf, a special need that I wasn’t prepared for. No one in my family knew sign language and I knew that he NEEDED extended family if I was to adopt him as a single mama. Time after time, God moved mountains. Family members were learning sign language, finances came through at the last minute, and my precious son Samuel has now been home for 4.5 years. Beyond all explanation, this child who had no language for almost 6 years is now a fluent English language speaker.

Within the first year of coming home, Samuel began to pray for a brother. I should have known then what was coming! I wasn’t ready AT ALL. We had just moved to a new state where I knew no one so that Samuel could attend a school for the deaf. But God was moving. One year later, I began the process to adopt again, I thought this time for a little girl. Once again, I had no idea how God was going to do this, financially or otherwise. Three days later, a friend texted me the picture of a little boy, asking if I had seen him on the advocacy websites. On that same day, my agency called with a referral for a little girl, exactly the age and a manageable special need that was on my heart. A few minutes later, I stood at my computer and I saw the most beautiful, perfect little face pop up on my screen. She was a vision and I knew instantly that she wasn’t mine. I sobbed and sobbed. What was wrong with me? My heart kept pulling to the little boy in my text message. Seriously God? TWO BOYS? As a single mama? I thought for sure I was not hearing correctly. I called my agency back and asked for time to pray. Three days later, I called to decline the little girl’s file and accept the little boy’s but my faith-walk wasn’t over yet. This time God didn’t “write on the wall”. This time, it was a still small voice that I really wanted to drowned out. But HE gave me courage to walk forward. That most precious little boy was in my arms in FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS! Start to finish, this was the fastest journey I had ever heard about. God provided social supports and the necessary finances in the way only God can do. Once again, He provided where I saw no way. And my Averey? He is the cuddliest, most affectionate child I have ever met. He is the perfect, funny, light-hearted balance to my serious, determined first son. They are the family only God could build.

Then in September of 2017, Averey started praying for a little sister. It took awhile for his brother to come around, but then they ganged up on me. And here we are, at another cross-roads. I have no more idea what God has in store this time than I did the other times. Samuel has graduated from the school for the deaf and both boys are attending a public school for the first time this year. We were able to move to a smaller community closer to friends and family and things have settled into a nice even pace again.

Like with Samuel and Averey, God led to my daughter. Our precious little girl (“little sister” as we refer to her at home) is waiting for us in China and we are well on our way to bringing her home. God has shown Himself already in a million ways like only He can. It gets harder each time to figure out the finances of adoption. I have expired my retirement, I just bought my first house ever with zero down and am still paying on my college loans. It seems risky at worst, unwise at best, but I have seen HIM through this process more clearly than I ever have before. He has changed me, shaped me, and molded me through the stretching of my faith. He has built a village around us and continues to do so. I continue to pray for His guidance and His provision. It is a scary thing, walking into adoption as a single parent. I watch my boys sleeping at night and am in awe that I get to co-parent them. They love to tell people who ask, “My daddy is God.” I guess that pretty well sums it up.

 

— Amber (Adoptive Mom)

Black History Month is for Everyone

 

As a 46-year-old white woman you may not think I pay much attention to Black History Month. Thankfully adoption has made it an integral part of my life and I’m honored to share what it means to my family. My Afro-Colombian daughter will tell you her race is black but her heritage is Hispanic. This puzzles many African Americans, particularly when she starts speaking Spanish to them. My husband, a white man, is South African and grew up under apartheid rule and was living in Africa when Nelson Mandela, who he calls a hero, became president. We consider our biological children African American even though their race is white. We also have a Hispanic daughter from Mexico. We talk about race in our home. A lot.

The truth is, adoptive parents’ love is not colorblind. When our family walks into a new environment we realize everyone sees a story of family building through adoption. So Black History Month in our family means embracing our daughter’s heritage and her race as she adds her story to the millions of black people in our country. Her story is both dark and brilliant with a future full of hope. And that is what we wish for all black Americans living in this country – hope.

Black History Month is so much more than learning about the history of African diaspora. It is about survival, hardship, victory, stereotypes, truths, music, language, food, fashion, cinema, minority, majority, hair, skincare, shades of brown to black, and all the differences in each and every one of those words across the different black cultures in our country. For instance, when my daughter talks about food from her afro-Colombian community it is quite different than the food I so love from growing up in the deep south. The race is the same but the culture is remarkably distinct.

As a family with four children, our favorite quote is from Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We add to that sentence “equally” since our children are of different races. God created all of our skin tones which gives us enough reason to celebrate our uniqueness every day.

Spectacular Foster Families Needed in Colorado for New Emergency Foster Care Program

We all need a light to find our way in the darkness. When children enter foster care for the first time, it can be a frightening experience. They’re often moved in the middle of the night, taken away from their parents, and all that is familiar to them. They spend hours at a department building while a social worker makes cold calls, desperately seeking a family that will take the child or children in, even if just for the night. When a home is finally found, it may be located hours away and they may be split from their siblings if they cannot find a family able to care for all four of them. This is where Homes for Hope comes in. It is a beacon of hope and light for children, a temporary safe haven to stay in the midst of chaos. It gives the county the time they need to find a more long-term option for the children and allows the child to remain in their school, in their community, and with their siblings.

We are seeking experienced individuals and families interested in being a Home for Hope. The first point of contact for children as they enter foster care, it would be your job to provide a safe, loving, and temporary home for up to five children in need. Two of these families will receive reduced rent in a fully furnished home located on the East side of Adams County.

Responsibilities will include:

*   Live on-site in a Homes for Hope house and provide direct care to up to five at-risk children or youth ages infant to eighteen. Prioritization will be given to children ages 0-10 and keeping sibling groups together when possible, in emergency foster care situations, with an average stay of 30-90 days. This will also be a home for teen mothers in Adams County custody, to be placed with their infants, while alternative longer-term placement options are identified
*   Be an advocate for child’s best interests and next placement move
*   Participate in monthly face-to-face meetings with the Adams County Human Services Department’s placement team, relevant staff, and Nightlight
*   Provide transportation to parenting time/visitation at the Adams County Human Services Department building or an agreed upon community location with parents and/or siblings
*   Must work closely with Adams County and Nightlight to keep each school-aged youth in his or her home school
*   Must be willing to meet and work with bio/adoptive parents and/or kin to assist with reunification with family
*   Provide emotional support to children to build child’s self-confidence and trust
*   Communicate with program manager, therapist, county caseworker, and other members of the team about child’s needs, behaviors, progress, etc. and provide written documentation of these items
*   Document child’s medical needs and appointments
*   Ensure child is taken to Well Child Medical Check within 72 hours of placement with a county-approved, Medicaid provider
*   Available 24/7 for emergency admissions when needed
*   Must be open to training regarding the specific medical/developmental needs of children
*   Must be available for weekly contact with Nightlight
*   Document any critical incidents, accidents or behaviors while child is in the home
*   Participate in any meetings regarding child with program manager and child’s team
*   Manage daily operating schedule of the home; assist with youth transportation needs, and overall household upkeep
*   Plan, participate, and provide opportunities for individual and family activities that are educational and fun
*   Must be culturally responsive to the needs of the children/sibling groups placed in the home (includes language, religious/spiritual, cultural and ethnic traditions)
*   Abide by all Volume 7 licensing regulations

Qualifications:

*   Must be at least 21 years of age
*   Must have a valid driver’s license with good driving record
*   Knowledge of child development at minimum, preference is prior experience working with foster children in therapeutic or school setting, or foster parent capacity
*   Ability to pass a background check and reference verification
*   Flexibility and willingness to work days, evenings, weekends, and holidays
*   High school diploma or equivalent required
*   In order to account for children’s potential allergies, there will be no pets allowed on the properties at any time
*   No more than two biological or adopted children can be residing in the home

Compensation
The foster family will receive approximately $33/per child/per day in placement. With a projected 80% capacity, this equates to $48180. This stipend is tax-free, equating to a salary of $55,682.

If you’re interested in becoming a Homes for Hope family, please contact Program Director, Meaghan Nally, at mnally@nightlight.org or (518)369-2888.

The Empty Picture Frame: A Foster Family Testimony

 

 

Recently, my dad reminded me that when I was an audacious teenager, I claimed I would never get married or have kids because they would hold me back from living a fun life.  Of course, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby…or three, in a baby carriage.

 

Early in our marriage God had whispered the word “adoption” to both my husband and myself.  Never completely ignoring the nudge, our family grew to five. In 2015, we had a fun year of traveling.  We took trips to Disney World, Huntington Beach, Tennessee, and even a week at the lake in Michigan.  After ten years of marriage and three beautiful healthy daughters, we found ourselves at a crossroads.  That whisper was becoming louder and in spite of there never being a comfortable time to interrupt your life, we couldn’t ignore the call.

 

On our hallway wall we have written, “Our Timeline.”  Under those meaningful words are four frames, each filled with a picture of a milestone in our family.  Do you know what’s uncomfortable?  The fifth frame.  The fifth frame is empty.  That empty picture frame.  On some days I see it and feel sorrow, on other days I feel frustration, but on many days I look at that empty frame and something physical happens.  I get a chill or maybe a flutter in my stomach, because on many days I see that empty frame and I feel hope.

 

The reason the frame is empty is because the Lord has led us to adopt through foster care.  Why foster care?  Foster care because in the U.S. 400,000 kids need a family to love them and care for them.  Foster care because 100,000 of those children are currently waiting for a family to forever love them and care for them.

 

Foster care is a unique outpouring of love.  Children in foster care are orphans of the living. Many people have a passion stirred for orphans.  Its fewer who have hearts stirred to minister to the parents, grandparents, social workers, therapists and anyone else in the game to help kids have a family and heal.

 

Children placed into foster care have had experiences with trauma and neglect.  The truth is they have been hurt in relationships and the subsequent truth is that healing can only take place in relationships.  What we have learned as foster parents is that these children need healing through relationship with us and we pray one day through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We have also seen how much healing their parents need, their grandparents and extended family.

 

We do not know if or when we will get to fill in the frame.  On the days when a glimpse of that empty picture frame gives me a tinge of excitement, it’s because I know God is at work.  He is at work in my life and my husband’s, in my daughters’ lives, in the lives of our foster babies and their family’s…and even though it’s had moments of discomfort, I get to have front row seats for some unbelievable occasions and I can’t help but wonder if my teenage self could ever know what she might have missed out on.

 

For us as a couple, adoption was uncharted territory. We had a destination without any notion of how to get there. By a miracle we will always be grateful for, in came, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. You can’t imagine the varied questions that troubled me at the beginning. From fire extinguishers to legalities, I thought of it all. Nightlight had to get us on course and really supported us in those initial days.

 

There’s no mistaking it, being a foster family is hard work. While we pour out to minister to those around us, Nightlight has come to our side and ministered to us. At every turn, our caseworker has been there with sweet encouragement, invaluable knowledge, practical resources, and honestly, unexpected friendship.

 

 

Equipping Minds of All Ages and Abilities to Reach Their Full Potential

 

 

Autism Spectrum, Anxiety, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Gifted, Learning Challenges, ADD/ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Memory,Comprehension, Down Syndrome, Processing Disorders, Dementia, Executive Functioning, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Communication Disorders, Trauma, Post Concussion Syndrome, Parkinsons, PANDAS, and Neurodevelopment Disorders

Equipping Minds to Reach Their Full Potential 

Join Dr. Carol Brown

FACEBOOK LIVE

NO CHARGE

February 6,13,20,27 – March 6,13,20,27

Wednesday’s 6:30-7:30 PM  EDT

Or Join In Person at Buck Run Baptist Church

1950 Leestown Road, Frankfort, KY

Sessions will be recorded and available to watch later on the Equipping Minds Youtube channel and Facebook page.

 

Host a group at your home, church, or school.We will be playing games to build cognitive, social, emotional, sensory, and motor skills.  These games are used to find the specific areas in which the brain struggles such as working memory, processing speed, perceptual reasoning, and comprehension. Parents, teachers, and therapists are implementing at home, in the classroom, and in their centers improving reading, math, writing, language, social skills, and behavior.

 

We will have 8 sessions to equip you to work with your own children.

 

What separates Equipping Minds from other programs is its holistic approach. The Equipping Minds program uses nutritional therapy, primitive reflex exercises, sound therapy, vestibular therapy, and vision exercises in addition to Equipping Minds cognitive exercises.

 

Scientists are excited about your brain’s abilities to keep growing, learning, changing,and healing, ALL THROUGH LIFE! Equipping Minds will give you the practical exercises and games to do just that. You will be equipped to build memory, processing, comprehension, language, social, and reasoning skills in learners of all ages and abilities. It is based on a biblical view of human development that believes the brain can change.

 

Equipping Minds also differs from other programs, in that, these brain strengthening exercises use what the student already knows. Equipping Minds ingeniously sets aside academic skills allowing us to get to the foundational roots and cognitive functions, quickly and accurately. Working memory and processing speed are two of the most common weaknesses we see in students with learning challenges. They often get labeled with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disorders when what they really need is a holistic approach to address the neurodevelopmental and cognitive foundations.

 

I am excited to see how God will use this course. Please share with those you feel would benefit.

 

Blessings,

Carol 

Dr. Carol Brown has over 35 years of experience as a principal, teacher, cognitive developmental therapist, social worker, reading and learning specialist, speaker, HSLDA special needs consultant, and mother.  Carol has completed her Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She received her M.A. in Social Services from Southwestern Seminary and B.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Marshall University. She is a contributing author in the book, Neuroscience and Christian Formation, Human Development: Equipping Minds with Cognitive Development , and the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum. 

She has served as a learning specialist, teacher, principal, and head of school  in classical Christian schools in North Carolina, Georgia, Northern Virginia, and Lyon, France. Carol trains public, private, and homeschool educators in the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum which she created. She has conducted professional development workshops for Kentucky Association of School Councils (KASC), Toyota, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Kentucky Parks and Recreation, Kentucky Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Centre College,Society of Professors in Christian Education (SPCE), National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI),  homeschool conferences, and civic organizations. 

   

Human Trafficking: What Part Can You Play in Prevention & Spreading Awareness?

 

Saroo was lost. He panicked at first and then started to wander through India by himself at just five-years old. In the 2016 film Lion, Saroo is depicted as hungry, disheveled, with a blank stare behind his big-brown eyes. He’s completely alone and vulnerable. At one point, a group of men try to kidnap him along with other children living on the street. Later, Saroo senses that a woman and another man trying to befriend him are not safe either. He manages to escape them too.

It’s a heart-wrenching story, and a reminder that the human trafficking industry preys on the most vulnerable. People who have adverse childhood experiences, who experience homelessness, and undocumented immigrants are the most vulnerable to exploitation. Human trafficking can seem like an overwhelming and distant problem, but awareness can make a difference. January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Right now is a great time to consider a few simple steps we can take to stop human trafficking. Steps that can make an impact.

Begin to understand the problem.

The United States Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It’s estimated that there are over 40 million men, women, and children from all over the globe – including the United States – who are currently trapped in modern-day slavery. It can take the form of sex trafficking, forced labor, forced marriage, child soldiers, or debt bondage.

Learn the warning signs.

There can be warning signs that someone is trapped. Victims might experience poor living conditions, poor mental health, poor physical health, or lack of control. Are they fearful or submissive? Do they have visible marks or bruising? Are they living with their employer? Are they not in possession of identification documents or lacking access to them? Are they unable to speak for themselves when asked questions? Do they have tattoos or branding that signify ownership? When we think something is wrong, we can make a report to social services. The National Human Trafficking hotline is 1-888-373-7888. Help is available.

Decrease demand.

When it comes to forced labor, we can buy less and buy from second-hand retailers which is more than your local thrift shop these days. This decreases the demand for quickly produced, cheap goods. We can also support ethical brands, brands that employ survivors, and look for the fair trade label on products we purchase. There are even companies like DoneGood which recommend ethical shops to empower consumers or apps like Good On You to help us find what we need while following our convictions. What we spend money on is an indication of our values.

Seek justice.

We can promote, make donations, and volunteer for organizations that are making a real difference in local communities and around the world. Just one example is International Justice Mission (IJM) which combats slavery, trafficking, other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, holding perpetrators accountable, and transforming broken public justice systems. We have a voice. At the government level, there is legislation that can protect victims and hold traffickers accountable. A resource for learning more about current legislation related to human trafficking is Polaris Project.

Participate in awareness campaigns.

Wear Blue Day is on Friday, January 11th when people can simply wear blue in acknowledgment of human trafficking victims and survivors. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center asks participants to post pictures on social media with the meaning behind this act of solidarity for them. Dressember is a campaign when advocates wear a dress every day during the month of December to raise awareness and funds for several organizations in the fight against human trafficking.

Adopt.

We know that stressful or traumatic childhood events including abuse or neglect, and homelessness create more vulnerability to exploitation. Youth in group homes are actively recruited, and social workers are trained to recognize the signs of recruitment. At-risk children long for family. Adoption can protect children and young people who are the most vulnerable to human trafficking.

Like all stories of adoption Saroo’s story is emotional and layered. A couple from Australia adopt Saroo from an orphanage, and as a young adult he begins to explore his origins. The movie walks us through an incredible, inspiring, positive healing process with closure – which we know is not always the case for everyone. But it also shows how one life could have taken a very, very dark turn if not for the investment of the man who noticed him on the street and took him to authorities, the people who prepared him for adoption, and the couple who adopted him into their family.

Called To Adoption: Where To Start?

 

It’s the start of a brand new year, and among your other goals, adoption comes up. Many couples feel called to adopt, either from discussing it for years, because of an infertility journey, or sometimes after hearing a touching story about a child and their forever family. Since this is a common time of year for planning, adoption may be something you are wanting to consider more seriously.

 

Talking about adoption, and starting an adoption process are two very different things. So how do other people go from dreaming, to achieving their goals?

 

Step 1: Research the different types of adoption

If you haven’t looked into it yet, there are many different avenues for adoption. Each one unique with different pro’s, con’s, costs, and timelines. You may want to get a basic overview (hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCg7-2WPoOM&t) about each of the options before further researching. It may help to start with simple questions like what age of child you are hoping to adopt, or whether or not you will be available to travel for an adoption process.

 

Step 2: Pick up your phone and call for more information

While it’s tempting to try to gather as much information as you can through the internet, it can also take a lot of time and lead to misinformation. Agencies have trained staff who are available to answer your questions, and help you decide if an adoption program may be the right fit. Chances are there might even be some questions you haven’t thought of yet that they can catch you up on.

 

Step 3: Pray together and narrow your options down

With a basic understanding of the types of adoption you could consider, and your questions answered, you are now in a place to discuss and pray about what program may be right for your family. This can be a vital stage in the process that you won’t want to skip over. Seeking God and making sure that everyone is on the same page will save a lot of stress down the road. It’s natural to feel nervous about starting such an important journey, but make sure you also have peace about it.

 

Step 4: Get started

This can look different from program to program, usually it means filling out an application. Adoption can be a paper intensive process, so it helps to stick your toe in the water before jumping in. You will have plenty of work ahead, but the end result is an incredibly important little person that is waiting to meet you. They are worth every step of the process.

 

If you would like more information about different adoption programs, talk through your questions with our trained staff at (502)423-5780, or fill out our inquiry form. (hyperlink: https://nightlight.mysamdb.com/SAM/Fm/ApplicationForm_Preliminary_NL_Edt.aspx)

New Year Resolutions

 

As we approach a New Year, thoughts and conversations around resolutions are inevitable. Whether we resolve to go to the gym more, worry less or finally plant that garden, most of us face January 1st with motivation and resolve to conquer the impossible. And most of us know that by March (if we’re lucky) that motivation has been drained and life has somehow gotten in the way of bringing the full resolution into reality. So why does that happen year after year?

 

I would argue we each get in the way of ourselves.  Never did I involve God in my resolution until a few years ago. I decided my resolution would simply be: Less of me, more of Him. It was the hardest resolution I have ever made, but certainly the most effective, educational and life changing. First I had to figure out where, when, and how this resolution would take place. Every day, all day? What would that look like? Did I need to become Mother Theresa? Then I remembered 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing. To me that verse means including Him in all things, big or small, all day long. So I did my best to start with that.

 

With that in mind and habit, I allowed God to form HIS resolutions in me. It became less about what I wanted to change, but more about discovering what He wanted to change within me, around me and for me. The burden of a new resolution became less about goals and more about BEING who my Father wanted me to be.

 

In this New Year, we challenge you to simply press in to the relationship you have with your heavenly Father. We know from 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!  It is truly a miracle that we have opportunity to renew ourselves by simply stepping into a relationship with Christ – either for the first time or deeper into the on we have. No membership fees, no diets, no degrees required.

 

Happy New Year to all of our Nightlight families and extended community! May 2019 bring you abundant blessings and joy to all.

God’s Greatest Gift

 

 

As we enter the Christmas season, there are so many things to be thankful for: the health of living in a bountiful nation, the happiness of having choices, and the hope of what tomorrow will bring. Yet as we ponder these things amongst our daily to do lists, nothing would seem quite as important, if we did not have loved ones with whom we could share this season of joy and celebration with. Hearing family and friends laugh, and experiencing their embrace as they express their gratitude for having received what their hearts desired, reminds me of the blessings I have received from my heavenly Father.

He answered my prayer to become a parent. I longed to hold a little one in my arms and know I had been used by God to bring he, or she, into the world. What a wonderful blessing that would be…my little one is 25 years old now. I am forever grateful and amazingly blessed to be a part of such a miracle.  

During this season, perhaps you, too, have similar thoughts or feelings, desiring to become a parent, and welcome a baby into your loving arms and become part of your family.

Whether you have remaining embryos that you desire to place with another couple for the purpose of adoption, or whether you desire to adopt embryos so that you can know the joys, and challenges, of parenthood, we encourage you to reach out to us. The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Team are waiting to answer your questions.

 

We wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas.

Creating a Life Book For Your Adoptive/Foster Child

 

 

 

Creating Lifebooks for our children is one of those things in life that some parents follow through better than others, like sending out Christmas cards. The desire is there, we’ve pictured the outcome, we understand the appreciation it will bring others, and some have gotten as far as making a Shutterfly account. But then, before we know it, it’s December 24th, December 25th, January 1st, January 30th and we’ve convinced ourselves that next year we will do better.

I get it, life is busy, especially now that we’re parenting. But unlike Christmas Cards, that are eventually thrown away or tossed into a drawer, Lifebooks serve as  lifelong tools for our children. It connects a child with their past. It helps them make sense of their experiences, the good and painful. It’s a vehicle that facilitates discussion about the often-messy circumstances leading to their adoption, helps navigate their grief of losses and past traumas, and aids to dispel magical thinking or false beliefs that somehow they caused the separation from their birth family.  All of which, if handled correctly, contributes to strengthening a child’s positive self-identify.

Through a quick internet search, you can find a lot of wonderful resources about creating a Lifebook for your adoptive/foster child. Most of the blogs and articles are better than I could ever recreate. Here are some of the highlights that I’ve learned from my thirteen years working in the adoptions and foster care field.

 

  1. Lifebooks are not reserved for the Pinterest parent. Lifebooks are not meant to be perfect or even pretty. They are filled photos, artwork, words, historic information and journal entries. No Shutterfly account needed. Use a book were pages can be added and rearranged, such as a three-ring binder.
  2. Don’t know where to begin? Start with important dates and places. Stuck again? Search the web for template pages and ideas. Iowa’s Foster and Adoptive Parent Association IFAPA has created over seventy free life book pages for foster and adoptive families and social workers to use. http://www.ifapa.org/publications/ifapa_lifebook_pages.asp
  3. Do a little legwork. I know of one fost/adopt family whose daughter attended twelve schools in only eight years. To help fill in her story, they retrieved the names of the schools from former case workers and spent one summer visiting each school, taking photographs of the schools and asking the school offices for their daughter’s yearbook picture.
  4. Involved the masses. Contact important individuals from your child’s past and ask them to contribute notes and memories. These people may include case workers, foster parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, etc. Even if you don’t have many contacts from your child’s past, you must have had contact with a social worker who facilitated your adoption.
  5. Involve your child. The life book is for your child and in order for it to be a useful therapeutic too., they must contribute. When they are young it may be a drawing they made of their birth family. As they get older they can contribute more. They also must be allowed to handle it, carry it around, land ook at it when they please.
  6. Remain honest. A Lifebook should provide a child the truth about their own life history. The story can become more sophisticated as the child grows older. As painful as it may be, recording the reasons for the child’s adoption is important because truth dispels false beliefs that a child may otherwise have that they caused the circumstances that led them to be separated from their birth family and false guilt that may affect their self-worth. Lifebooks also allow for feelings, complicated and real, such as how much a child loves their birth parents and positive memories living with their birth family even when those parents may have been neglectful, abusive or primarily absent
  7. Leave lots of blank pages to continue to document your child’s growth, development, school progress, hobbies, and relationships etc.

The simple fact is there is no right or wrong way to make a Lifebook, but by not doing a Lifebook you’re missing a powerful way to positively impact your child’s sense of self and the way they view their past, present and future. It’s also a great way to deepen the parent/child relationship. The Christmas cards can wait until next year, your child’s Lifebook should not.