Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.
(from The King and I)
One simple and meaningful way to get to know your foster/adopted child is to help him or her collect their history in pictures and stories in their own homemade personal book. Whether you are able to adopt the child or not, a picture-story book will become a treasure for a child who lacks “possessions.”
Albums help create connections. Links to our past are what give us our identity, stability, wholeness, a sense of permanence, that we have a place. Connections allow us to enter new relationships as a complete person, without feeling adrift and empty in a space between unknowns. (Tom and Jean Gaunt in Preparing a Life Book) Begin early to gather background material from and about the birth parents. Especially stories from earlier days, about themselves and the child.
Pictures are important. I remember a Grandparents’ Day at our local school. The children were sharing pictures of their first few years. One six-year-old girl commented: “I don’t know what I looked like when I was a baby.” She had been adopted from foster care the year before. Keep on taking pictures. They are a simple way to record growing up and to indicate that your child is important.
Include any stories and data about athletic achievements, art work, hobbies, and awards. Past, present, and ongoing. Place everything in a nice-looking loose-leaf album with your child’s name and picture on the cover.
Such a gift offers many benefits. As you get to know your child, your affection and bonding will deepen. And you will be giving him or her a very tangible identity, a concrete sense of of a connected self.