Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life Books for Foster Kiddos

First of all, what is a life book?
It is a book that tells the story of a foster child's life.  It can include all sorts of things that help tell the story of the child's life while in foster care. 

What kind of stuff gets included?
A typical life book would start from the beginning: birth.  So you could make up a cutesy birth announcement, include a baby picture (if you have one) and even include their birth certificate.  It could then include information about the birth family:  family trees, information on parents and siblings and pictures.  Then typical entering foster care is covered by explaining why the child came into care- obviously in age appropriate language.  Many people are shocked that this is included.  But it is part of their story, nice or not.  Then there is information about the foster family.  Then the book becomes very similar to any scrapbook where holidays, birthdays, milestones and accomplishments are captured.

Are you required to make these?
Yes!  It is stated in our foster parent handbook and covered in our training,  However my hubby loves to point out in his lawyer-ness that none of the million of things we signed when we became foster parents said that we promise to make a life book.

Did you make one for Artichoke and Zucchini?
Absolutely!  But since we don't know the information from the beginning of their lives, their books started on June 15, 2012, when they came to our home. 
Side note:  I used Mixbook, which is an amazing service!  If you are ever in the market for a photo book, you need to check them out!  Their pre-made templates are amazing and the editting software is super user-friendly!  I made a 35 page book with over 175 pictures in a weekend! 

What did you include? 
Initially, I had a really hard time figuring out what to include, what not to include, how much text to include, and really everything.  We only know bits and pieces of their life before the came to our house, so I didn't feel qualified to include any of that time period in their book.  The social worker agreed- phew!  I also decided to let the pictures tell the story- so we added very little descriptive text.  We found a few quotes that were very fitting that we used, including one from a book that both boys adore!  The next decision was how to include our families since the boys have met quite a bit of our immediate and extended families.  We took two big trips to visit each of our families, so I decided to just include pictures of the boys with our immediate families on those pages and leave it at that.  Then I tried to figure out if I should make a seperate book for each boy.  But then I quickly realized that 95% of their book would be the same, so we are ordered an extra copy so they each can have their copy of the book.  And we ordered another copy for us and another one for my parents.
Afer all of that was figured out, I started with my favorite pictures of the boys and then just started creating pages.  Here are the pages that I ended up with.
  • Title Page with no text- Just pictures of the boys
  • Pictures of Artichoke
  • Pictures of Zucchini
  • Our Home, Us and Their Room
  • House Rules, Reward Charts and Treats Earned
  • 4th of July
  • Fun Around the House (playing with Rudy, toys, games, etc.)
  • Soccer- Artichoke playing and Zucchini cheering
  • Friends-  Pictures of all of the friends they have made
  • Road Trip to NJ- included pictures of the in-law's
  • Story Time-  Pictures of us reading books
  • Zucchini's 2nd birthday
  • Brothers page- pictures with this awesome quote "Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero!"
  • First Day of School for Artichoke
  • Zucchini's Hospital Stay
  • Trip to Nevada for my brother's wedding- including pictures of my family
  • Halloween and the Switch Witch
  • Pictures of the 4 of us including this quote "Even though you are in my home for a short time, you are in my heart forever."
  • Letter to the boys
 Can we see it?
If you know me in real life, yes, yes and yes!  We ordered an extra copy for us to keep.  But it can't be posted online. It would just be a big blur.  But I'm trying to see if there is a way to at least post sections of it.  I know I would have loved to see one before creating Artichoke's and Zucchini's. 

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