One of the biggest obstacles parents of newly adopted children face is fostering strong attachment and familial bonds with their new addition. This typically of course isn’t on the side of the parent(s); often for them, bonds are formed as soon as they see their prospective child, or, after a few engagements with them. However, for an adoptive child who may have had a history of abandonment or unstable situations, learning to trust and connect with a caregiver in a meaningful way can prove difficult.
In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at ‘lifebooks’, discovering what they are, and how they can be used as a parenting tool to help create attachment between you and your adopted child.
What is a Lifebook?
Often appearing on a visual level similar to a scrapbook, a lifebook is the story of an adopted child’s life, from when they were born, and sometimes even including information from before birth. It can include documents, photographs, records of the child’s achievements, drawings, stories, and memories.
Lifebooks really can become whatever you and your child want them to be, which is ideal for adopted children, as they often arrive into your home with their own difficulties or unique quirks.
How Can a Lifebook Help with Attachment?
For many families with an adopted child, or children, lifebooks are an indispensable parenting tool. Creating a lifebook represents a joint activity, and therefore a valuable bonding activity, as well a chance for the child to learn more about their personal history, and for you to learn about your son or daughter through their own eyes. Below are just some of the ways a lifebook can be a useful tool for bonding with your child post adoption.
1) Affirmation of Worth
Many adoptees come into their new home with very little confidence and self-worth. Creating a lifebook starting before their adoption can help show a child that you value them and their past. Researching this on the behalf of a child also takes time, and your son or daughter will see this as another sign of their worth.
2) A Tangible Object
A lifebook also represents a physical object for the child to interact with. Most younger children cannot, or struggle to negotiate abstract or immaterial concepts, so by having something that can hold and touch helps them focus and ground their emotions and thoughts. This in turn can allow for adoption conversations initiated by the child, giving you a valuable insight into your child’s thoughts and feelings on the subject.
Particularly true of children adopted internationally, an adoptee may feel like they are abnormal and do not fit in. By exploring themselves through a lifebook, children are able to see their similarities to others, helping them to feel as though they fit. Learning more about your child’s unique likes and dislikes can also help forge attachment. If the child sees you have things in common, for example, having the same favorite ice cream, the child will start to draw similarities between you and them as family.
Who are we?
There are many other reasons why you may find creating lifebooks beneficial in your parenting journey. Lifebooks are driven by each person’s innate desire to know who they are, or where they come from, no matter how young or old they may be. Fulfilling this need will indelibly show your child that they matter to you, and also allow for exciting conversations and learning experiences along the way.