Ask AF: Creating a Lifebook for a Teen

Adoptive Families Circle readers give tips to one adoptive mother on how to create a lifebook when you don't have many photos from your child's past.

Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Q: Our 16-year-old came to us with no photos or items with sentimental value. His birth parents are both deceased and we don’t have contact with his extended birth family. I want to make a lifebook, but the only photos I’ve found so far are a mugshot of his birth mother and a small, grainy Facebook photo of his birth father. Should I include these? Any other ideas?

Members of respond:

“I would say YES, include the mugshot and grainy photo. If that’s all you can find, they’re priceless.”

“Can you go take pictures of important places from his past—the hospital where he was born, his elementary school, previous foster homes?”

“Definitely do some detective work! A lady at the church my daughter used to attend had her old Scouts vest and we were able to find her footprint on the walk of the hospital where she was born. If you know any other names, look up birth relatives on Facebook and MySpace (because it’s older).”

“Because of your son’s age, I think anything you do should be collaborative. Ask him if he’d be interested in taking some pictures of places from his past. If he says no, you should respect that and wait for a sign that he’s ready.”

“It’s also important to remember, even though your son is 16, he’s still young. Start taking tons of photos of him now!”


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