Imagine if you were adopted... you knew your new mom and dad loved you dearly... but before that you have absolutely no clue what took place in your life!
What happened to your birth parents?
What happened to you that brought about the need for adoption?
How did you end up being adopted by your family?
The Life Book intends to answer these questions in a way a child can understand and to provide them increasing facts as they grow up. For this reason I began to think that especially our youngest child needed a few different life books to help her understand who she is... the first being very simple and very age appropriate for a toddler or preschooler.
For Christmas I made Thea a life book that is for her first few years.
It is a board book.
It covers the concept of adoption, but not a whole lot more.
It covers how she was born into our family and her most basic personal life history.
Step 1 - I ordered a blank board book online from Barebooks.com
I ordered both the 5x5 and the 8x6, but ended up using the 8x6 because it offered more room.
Step 2 - I wrote out the content I wanted to have explained to Thea for the rest of her pre-school life about how she came to be adopted and a part of our family. Make sure to be factual, realistic and also simple and age appropriate. You can put feelings you are sure your child felt, like fear or sadness... or also that he/she felt loved by important people you know expressed and showed love.
I made sure to include as much age-appropriate facts as possible:
- where he/she was born
- when (or approximate)
- how he/she was found or where they were abandoned
- why bio family chose adoption
- where he/she lived after abandonment
- how he/she likely felt
- special people who cared for him/her
- when adoption took place and how
- how the adoptive family wanted and needed him/her
Step 3 - Figure out how to put all these facts on the pages you have... I had 9 pages to use so I divided the main thoughts between them. I did two double spreads on pages 4 and 5 and 8 and 9... where the illustrations and words take up both pages. My ideas and pages worked out like this...
Page 1 - Intro to her life, where she was born, when.
Page 2 - How she was grown and birthed by her birth mom and her decision to not parent.
Page 3 - Her life in the baby home.
Page 4 and 5 - Our family's desire to grow and that we felt we were missing someone.
Page 6 - Mommy comes to get her.
Page 7 - Thea and mommy bond.
Page 8 and 9 - Our family together forever.
Step 4 - I cut out pages of printer paper the same size as my book and made a sample book. I drew my illustrations and made sure to leave room for the text at the bottom or top of the pages and made it look how I wanted on the sample pages. (Sorry, I threw them away, but basically I made a sample book and drew it all out prior to actually drawing it on the board book).
Step 5 - Board books are great because you can place the sample drawings over the top of the board book and trace them with a dull pencil... it leaves an indention in the board book that you can see just well enough to go back and outline and color in, sort of like coloring a coloring book, but you have faint indentions instead of lines!
Step 6 - Trace the indentions with black fine point sharpie markers. Then color in the white with fat/regular sharpies of any color. Remember that leaving a little white is a nice added depth, you don't have to color it all in. I found one set of sharpie markers that had a wide range in skin tones! I would plan on getting 1 fine point black marker and about a dozen other colors that are the fat kind, with at least a peach skin tone and a brown or light brown skin tone. I used the light brown for skin and the dark brown for hair.
Step 7 - Trace lines to write your text on if you need the guidelines to keep it straight and level. Put a piece of paper down and use a ruler to mark the line on top of the board book, so that you aren't actually drawing a line on your board book, it will leave an indention you can see close enough to write on.
Step 8 - Read it to your baby! This isn't a book we keep sitting in the toy bin... it stays up on a dresser and every night when I put Thea to bed she points to it and says, "Rock rock?" and I rock her and read her the story about how God placed her in our family! She is learning more and I know one day it will give us the chance to talk about things in a personal way!