The day we adopted our daughter I was anxious and excited, and incredibly overwhelmed with joy. We both realized our dreams could finally be cemented into a reality, our plan for the college fund, and the slumber parties at 13 with giggling girls and nail painting, and Saturday morning cartoons were all going to be something we got to witness and enjoy with her forever. This also came with a lot of uncertainty. Throughout our whole journey as parents, my husband and I have followed a road less traveled. At least less traveled by our friends and family. We have had lots and lots of support, but not a lot of our friends have had experience with adopting out of foster care. As adoptive parents, we are in unfamiliar territory.
What we do know is that we want to tell her she’s adopted from the start. Her adoption isn’t going to be something we keep a secret until a specific age. We want to skip the shock factor. Her adoption is something we want her to grow up knowing, something she is comfortable sharing. Her adoption will be part of her identity, but not her whole identity. Just one piece of her that makes her who she is. The question is how to do this as organically as possible.
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Creating a Story book
Then it hit me. We could create a storybook for her that tells her story. Part of our nightly routine as we wind down for bed is that she picks three story books to read. I figured, we could occasionally mix the story book in with the other books that were selected for the night.
The week after we adopted our daughter we both sat down, laptop in hand, and started writing out her story. She’s two, so we had to explain her adoption in a way that would make sense to her. The story poured out more easily then we imagined it would.
The next task was figuring out how to put it together:
The way I saw it there were two options to complete this project:
- The scrap book option. This is the cheaper of the two options. I love scrap booking, and have made many scrap books with white copy paper, stickers, photos, sheet protectors, and binders.
- Using Pinhole Press. (This is an on-line website I have used to make cookbooks, family photo books, and Fathers Day gifts) This is the option I went with. It’s more expensive, but they have an option to build your own story book. For this option, we got to use our own photos as pictures throughout the story. Pinhole Press guided me through suggested text features to make it look like a story book. It is also a board book, so the pages are sturdy, and the bind is hardback. I love that it looks like a storybook, just like the other ones that we pull off the shelf.
A guide to writing your own adoptive child’s story
Let me just state now that this post is a challenging one for me to write, because I would love to write the words we shared with her in this storybook because it came out more beautifully then I ever imagined it would, and she loves looking at this storybook with us. BUT this is her story, and not one I feel should be shared in a very public forum.
However, this is the basic guide of how we structured her story to help you get on your way:
- We started out talking about ourselves. For example, “mommy and daddy got married and loved each other very much, but their family was incomplete. They wanted a little kiddo of their own…” If you have biological children you could add something about them and how they wanted a sister or brother.
- Next, bring up the day they were placed with you. “Your mommy and daddy were finally called on (date). This day was waited for in anticipation. We were so excited to meet our newest member of the family.” Here we talked about how great it was to hold her, how excited our family was (including the dog who just wanted to smell her).
- Following, we discuss how we were so lucky to watch her grow and adapt, we bring up her characteristics and qualities and many of the experiences we were able to witness as her parents, such as first steps, and some of the funny phrases she said.
- If there is biological family you were able to visit with, and you have pictures, you could also bring that up as well. For example, “Your birth parents knew they couldn’t care for a baby, so they asked you to stay, their names are…”
- Then the most exciting pages. Bring up the adoption day. “On [date] we were finally graced with becoming your forever mommy and daddy. We were able to swear in front of a judge that we would take care of you, and love you forever, and we were finally able to tell the world we adopted you! And on this day you made our family complete.”
Our story runs about 20 pages, and includes so many pictures to help her connect to the words on the page.
If you are interested in Pinhole Press:
Click here to help you get started on your own storybook. This is an affiliate link, so if you create a storybook and purchase it, I may make a small commission. You can read my full disclosures here. However, I am only promoting this product because I truly love it. I have created many photo albums, our kiddos story book, a cookbook, and a Father’s Day gift through this website, and every product they created for my family has come out sturdy, well made, and the photos are vibrant and beautiful. I love this story book option in Pinhole Press for kiddos who are five and younger.
*Also, I’d like to add that they have promotions regularly if you sign up for their mailing list. Everything I have purchased from them, I have used a 25 percent off discount. I create the project, and wait to get a discount code, then purchase it.
Adopting older Children…
For older children, I love the idea of using a scrap book storybook, and building the story with them. This way they are able to also piece together their story from their point of view. As older children, they may remember more of their story, and this can also be a therapeutic way of helping them understand why and how they came to be with you.
As adoptive parents who are figuring it out as we go, we need all the advice we can get. What are some of your ideas to help your kiddos connect with their past, and help them understand adoption?
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