Lifebooks and Adoption Discussions

Posing with their books 2 years ago. They've been viewed
hundreds of times since then!

We have a lot of conversations about adoption in this family.  One of the best tools that has sparked conversation are the boys' Lifebooks.
I made these on the recommendation of older adoptees and adoptive families.  We learned that, in the past, many adoptive families would only tell their adopted child's story from the time they were "found" or "matched," neglecting the fact that they had a life before adoption.  It can be difficult to put together, because there are always unknowns and the events leading up to adoption are tragic.  Making a book can be challenging, but for us, it was worth it!  I took the advice I received from the Internet and from our social worker and included "possibility scenarios" in the book.  I included photos I grabbed from the 'net: photos of their hometowns, of houses and apartment complexes, of people and scenes, writing that, while we don't know the details, we know you were born in this area and could have lived in a house that looks like this or an apartment that looks like this. (You get the idea.)
What's nice about Shutterfly is that the book is saved and I can edit it as they get older and print new ones.  For a while, Tian carried his book around everywhere with him, so it has water damage and frayed pages.  I don't stress about him "ruining" his book, because I can simply order another copy if needed.  I like that they can feel free to love on the books as much as they want.
The boys and I were looking through their books, then photos and videos we have in our Google Photos album when Tian asked the question he asks every single time we look at photos of us meeting him for the first time, "Why are you all crying?"  
Our Big Moment
I explained that it was a big moment.  It IS a big moment in our history.  Not only had we been waiting for a year to meet Tian, but our hearts were also breaking for him. He was finally in a family forever, but he had no clue. All he knew is that he had been taken away from his Nai Nai and put back in the orphanage.  He was now being thrust into the arms of strange people he didn't know.  When I met him, I was filled with so much love, joy, relief, and heart-brokenness, tears were a natural result.  

Overwhelmed. Both of us.
I told Tian, "You hadn't had a mom or dad for 2 years and this moment is when that all changed."  He said, "I had a mom! My birthmom!"  (We've had this discussion multiple times, but he's only 6 and the concept is difficult, so we retell the story often.)  
I explained, as I have before, that his birthmom couldn't keep him; we talked about China and how families aren't free to decide their family size, and that he was relinquished at 8 days.  Since then, he hadn't had a mom or dad, but we were happy he had a foster family for the last year. He asked me, as he has multiple times before, if I would ever "leave him alone" in the orphanage.  It's my great joy to hug him tight and remind him that he will never be relinquished ever again.  He is our son forever. A Brownie for life.  He'll be my little boy when I'm 90 years old.  He loves this part of our conversation!  He knows, but still likes to be reminded.
Tian thought through these facts again and said, "I have two birthmoms. You are my birthmom and so is my birthmom."
He knows I did not give birth to him.  He looks at these photos and knows this is when we met for the first time.  He knows his "China mom" gave birth to him.  But he still decided that I'm also his birthmom.  I accept. 


  1. LOVE!!! Great idea about the shutterfly book and adding more to it and printing newer versions.

  2. I cried when I read this! We, too, adopted a little deaf boy from China. He had been taken from the foster home, where he'd spent about 10 months, and returned to the orphanage only a couple weeks before we arrived. How do you explain to a little boy who has no hearing and no language that he's found his forever family and that he'll never be alone again? Thank you so much for sharing this with us!!

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