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Telling Your Family's Story



You put a lot of effort into making memories for your family, but have you thought about how to keep the memories alive? In our fast-paced world, telling the stories of our families usually take a back seat to other concerns. But by recording yours, you will give your children a gift that lasts a lifetime. If you have a videocamera or tape recorder, turn it on while you do these activities, or appoint a family secretary to write them down.

A Map of Memories

Remembering places you liked to play is a great way to tap into your childhood memories. Draw a map of your favorite spot where you played. Think of a story that happened at that site and share it with your children. Then have them ask other family members to do the same. Encourage your kids to keep a scrapbook of these play maps, along with their stories. Make sure they mark which family member belongs to each map.

The Imaginary Chest

We all have precious keepsakes from our childhoods. Even if the objects have disappeared, they exist in your mind. Share your keepsakes-or your memories of them-with your kids. Drop an imaginary chest on the floor, filled with favorite objects from your childhood. "Take them out" one by one and describe them to your kids. Use as much detail as you can. Start with your favorite doll, describing her outfits and how it felt to hold her. Reach in the box and find your mother's pearls (or whatever item you coveted.) Describe how your mom looked when she wore them. Kids love to use their imaginations. If you create a vivid picture, your child will have no trouble seeing it.

The Open Door Game

Pull out your keys. Choose one and tell an adventure or a funny story that happened inside the house, room, or car it opens. Perhaps you chose a key to the basement. You could describe hiding there when you played hide and seek as a child. Or maybe a car key reminds you of a trip, or the first time you brought your child home. Have other family members do the exercise with their keys. Even the simplest stories and memories will fascinate your kids.

The Very First Time

Firsts are always memorable, and they can quickly tap into elder relatives' stories. Ask them to describe their first airplane ride, trip away from home, fancy party, pet, house, teacher, job, date, or car.

Talk It Up

Have your child play the host of a talk show on which you are a guest. But instead of playing yourself, become a person from your past. Maybe you are the strict grammar school principal you feared. Or perhaps you become the friendly crossing guard or school bus driver, or the lady who gave out the best goodies on Halloween. Have your child ask questions about your life. Involve other family members by putting them in the audience and having them ask you questions as well. You might reverse roles, with your child as a person from her past and you as the host.

PHOTO: Nithya (7, India) and her mom, Poona, share a close moment.


Where Were You When You Got the Call?

There's one moment adoptive parents will never forget--where you were and what you were doing when you got the call (or e-mail) about your child-to-be. Jumping up and down in a supermarket aisle, hugging the UPS man who delivered the referral, or scribbling directions to the hospital on a scrap of paper (which you keep forever), becomes part of your family's lore. Members of adoptivefamiliescircle.com shared some of their unforgettable moments.

    "I was at home when the call came. I literally threw my teenage niece off the computer so I could get the e-mail. One of our daycare moms came in shortly after to find us (my mom, my niece, and me) crying at the computer. She joined in the 'bawl-fest' because she is also an adoptive mom." --GAIL S

    "I was in the toothpaste aisle at Target. It was the Friday before July 4, and my husband and I were off work. When I saw the caller ID, I thought, how strange, as I was sure our agency would have been closed for the holiday. But when I heard the tone of our caseworker's voice, I knew she was about to tell me we had a referral. My husband was staring at me because I began to get a little excited and loud on the phone. We were at the agency within 30 minutes to review the paperwork." --MDREESEN

    "I was sitting at my desk at work, gathering papers for a meeting, when I distractedly answered the phone. The agency director said, 'I'm so glad I got you, I always like to call mommies first!' My heart started a slow, hard pounding, like I was about to pass out, but my brain directed all the blood in my body to my ears, so that I could concentrate and hear every detail. Then I got to call my husband at work and ask, 'Are you sitting down?' It was only later that I realized I had totally forgotten my meeting. No one minded my absence when they learned that such a life-changing event was in the works!" --JENREADINGAL

    "I will never forget that sunny day in October. I was feeling sad and defeated and like our day would never come, so I decided to comfort myself with a little retail therapy. Then my cell phone started ringing as I walked across the parking lot, and it was our social worker. I ended up writing the information on a piece of junk mail I found in my car. I still have it today." --CCOMELLA

    "We were at my husband's grandfather's visitation, and naturally, everyone was quite sad. At the conclusion of the visitation, a text appeared on my cell phone from our social worker that said, 'You've been chosen!' It may sound corny, but it was truly a circle-of-life day for us!" --MAMAOF2BROWNGIRLS

    "I was at the DMV, waiting for my number to be called to renew my driver's license, when I got the call that we had received a referral. I wanted to get to a computer to look into my son's eyes! Remaining in line was so hard. But it gave my husband time to meet me at home, so we could share the moment together." --NOLES_MOM

    "We were on our annual vacation to Key West, and it was the day before New Year's Eve. We were headed out on a boat and thought it best to leave our cell phones in the room. This was the first time during our wait when a cell phone was not pasted to one of us 24 hours a day. We got back to the room and saw that we had more than 20 missed calls and texts telling us to contact our agency ASAP. We were on a plane the next day to meet our newborn son." --KEITHT66


Share with other adoptive parents how you keep memories alive on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle

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