Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lifebooks: No memory left behind

Kids in care are all supposed to go home with a "Lifebook". It's a scrapbook of their time in care and is meant to give kids documentation of their life and the love shared by their biofamilies, foster families, and other people along the way. When kids go home, families often don't talk about the time spent in foster care as a way to forget the reason for the child being removed. This silence can be interpreted as blame or shame toward the child. Lifebooks hopefully remind the child that their time in care was not lost time or all negative. They grew, laughed, and loved even though they lived away from their biofamily

For older kids, foster parents are encouraged to get them involved by journaling and drawing the story of how they came into care and what they were feeling along their journey. With little ones, this is an craft project for foster parents. Lifebooks are a testament of the child's identity and worth by visually reminding the child how far they've come and all the people who support them.

Formatting the lifebooks for Babies 1 &3 was easy since I had them from birth through their first year. I assigned a page for every month and included a picture of baby that month, any milestones they achieved,holidays they experienced, weight/height, what they were eating, and what their visits were like.  I ended both their book with the date of their return home and a note about how special and loved they are.

Baby 2 was more difficult for me though. Since he came to us at 18mo and stayed one year, I wasn't sure what his life story was or what parts of his 2nd year he would want to remember. I got a great idea from our certifying caseworker who also does a lifebook training that I've been meaning to take. She said to do an ABC format. I'm so happy with how it turned out. Here's baby 2's ABC's:

B- Big Brother
C- Christmas
D- Daddy
E- Easter
F- Friends
G- Gymnastics
H- Halloween
I- I spy
J- Jump club
K- Kissing Kitty
L- Lilac Festival
M- Making Music
N- Nap
O- Outside
P- Party!
Q- Quiet
R- Rest
S- Swimming
T- Teresa and Brandon
U- Us
V- Valentine's Day
W- Weight
Y- Yummy food
Z- Zoo

With Baby 1, I made 2 scrapbooks. One went home with him and one was for me.It was a lot of work, but nice because I could adapt the book for the audience. The lifebook that went home had just  few pictures of us with him and tons of pics of the biofamily. The book I kept was mostly pictures of us with baby. This time around, I just made the lifebooks that would go home with the boys and color copied the pages for me to keep. This was time-efficient, but actually cost the same as making 2 books and I didn't have the choice to personalize our copy. The copies did come out bright and clear, so I don't regret it.

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