There is nothing more affirming than telling, feeling and talking about your life story in a safe space. Please scroll down for life story ideas related to adoption and birth stories.
Read the example book below and if your appetite is whetted, scroll right down for more thoughts and look at Pinterest below for inspiration!
A life story book can be a powerful way to celebrate the individuality of your child not only in the present but in the future too. They may return to it for sustenance. They will be curious when older to find out what they felt, thought, drew, liked, enjoyed and sang! It can be a fun way for you and your child to spend time together. The Life Story Pack offers you further help if you want it. If you are an adopter then you may also find it helpful to scroll down to the adoption section at the bottom of the page.
It can also be a sensitive way to broach subjects that you know you need to explore but have not ever found the right time to even begin and somehow the time just keeps passing! Life story creations offer children the chance to address feelings and memories that they have buried away. These can haunt them instead coming out as troublesome behaviour either to themselves or others. The creation process offers children the chance to voice the unsaid and in doing so create distance from the power of unvisited areas. A new understanding which may change their internal self blaming story, may arise in the company of a parent or somebody who loves and knows them well. If you don’t feel comfortable about embarking on this with your child, do seek further support to explore what is stopping you from sharing the complex or disturbing issue or facts in their background. It is here that therapeutic support could be helpful for yourself or indeed even for your child. I have enclosed a list of organisations that can put you in touch with counsellors or therapists in the Life Story Pack. There are also links in this pack to books, websites and organisations of repute that offer further advice on sharing topics that concern you. You may find this site about bringing up confident children and approaching challenging subjects helpful: www.understandingchildhood.net
The process of creating a book can lead to a child who feels less burdened by invisible weights and whose overall demeanour is happier. A sense of relief may be apparent to the whole family. It does take time, energy and effort but this is an investment worth making in terms of it’s potential to be life enhancing and confidence generating. Here are some websites that might aid thinking on this topic with an additional adoption friendly section: Useful websites for life story work
Life story work gives you ‘special time’ with your child and you should find ideas on this website and in the pack which will help you in creating the structure to make a finished product. This product could be an online creation [power point template is good] or a folder where loose leaf pages can be added or removed or a book. This book can be in any form you feel fits for you and your child. The importance to your child of the finished creation, will show itself over time. It can be the means by which your child returns to reflect and focus on happenings and achievements. They may use I films or other apps to create stories within their story. See this example of how a pet whippet can tell an online story: https://youtu.be/WUE00t_F92o
You may find it has a securing and settling effect on your child in future turbulent times. It will for a life time be a wonderful way of viewing how your child experienced himself at the time of the creation of the book. Most importantly it is your child’s book so they can find amusement and value in their life whether in the present or looking back as adults.
The Life Story Pack is in PDF form with link here : PDF-Life-Story-Pack-fv-1-on site
- A template and guidance for planning your own sessions with your child that contains an example to clarify.
- A toolbox of practical resources with warm up and cool down games to create the climate for communicating with your child. Links to Amazon are a touch away.
- A therapeutic book list.
- 20 Starter Sentences to stimulate ideas for the life story in you and your child.
- Important Conversations
Suggestions for how to approach Important Conversations with a child. Topics covered are:
Mental Health. Suicide. Death. Domestic Violence. Divorce and Separation. Prison. Alcoholism. Drug Abuse. Sexual Abuse. Smacking.
Each topic is divided into suggested words to use with a child but more importantly ideas for you to discover your own unique way in more easily.
- Relevant websites are embedded within the pack. There are links to stories that touch on the topics above to read aloud with your children or for them to read themselves.
- Links to You Tube for relevant clips.
- The use of the arts is integrated within the pack to better help create a life story creation of meaning for a child.
- For anyone interested in therapy or counselling for their child there are signposts to helpful resources and theorists.
Perfectionism is the enemy of life story work and this example book [below] created by a social worker is not perfect! What it does reveal is the preparation of a child of 3 years old to leave her foster family and join her adopters. Key elements for this journey are child involvement in the preparation wherever possible as well as photos, words, and conversation. Scroll right down for more ideas about conversations.
The term ‘life story work’ is usually associated with social workers yet should adopters be more involved? Ideas can be gained from the parent and child generated book straight above although not all pages would be right for an adopted child.
The life story book adopters receive aim to pass on the social work perspectives on the story of why the child came into care.
Modern day adopters know of their responsibility to share the reasons why their child is adopted and it is their judgement of what and when to share that is crucial to the child’s understanding of this important story. Conversations in adoptive homes that aim to bridge the changes the child has experienced are important for a child’s inner sense of coherence and continuity. This openness within the home allows a narrative power to the child.
By 18 years old the child has the legal right to read all the relevant documentation on them concerning the circumstances that led to their adoption. There are adoption support agencies and services out there to help with this challenge.
The links below to PDF’s contain suggestions for conversations that might take place in gently exploring the child’s feelings and thoughts on the common causes for domestic adoptions. These conversations are not one-off events but are likely to take place over time.
Adopters know that without explanations children naturally create stories of their own to fill in the gaps. Children may have non-verbal memories and feelings which have informed their internal narrative on loss in their life.
A healthy exploration at the child’s own pace in a trusting atmosphere can allow for a loosening of tension around the stories that informed their early life. Creating or looking through a life story book can be an intrinsic part of the process. This site can stimulate ideas for expanding on the original book so that other stories in a child’s life are brought alive with all their potential to bring positivity and celebrate all that is life enhancing. Enclosed is a guide for adopters to inform and inspire their own life story creations produced for Adopt London North- press link: Life Story Guide for Adopters
This PDF has suggestions for conversations about being adopted, the death of a birth parent, relinquished children, learning difficulties and disabilities, and unknown fathers.
This PDF has suggestions for discussing mental health including Anxiety, Bi-polar disorder, Depression, Personality Disorder, and Schizophrenia
This PDF covers self harm and harm to others. It includes Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence and Suicide.
This PDF covers abuse and includes Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse.
Do look at these books of fiction for children and non fiction for adults that have inspired life story conversations: