Boston Adoption Press; 2007
In this essential addition to the literature on lifebooks, Cindy Probst provides a structured, child-centered approach to the task of writing down what happened in the earliest days of a child’s life. For Probst, a lifebook is not the place for parents to record their own feelings about adoption. It is for and about the child, and the story of a child’s beginnings is his or hers, not ours.
According to Probst, the lifebook should record, in a supportive and age-appropriate way, what is known about the child’s origins, including how and why he or she came to be adopted. Though not comprehensive, writes Probst, lifebooks are our best attempts to provide written documentation of our children’s beginnings to assist them on their personal paths to greater self-understanding. She provides a step-by-step approach to thinking about and writing the story, and there is space left for the reader to jot down notes and develop ideas.
The Challenges of Writing section has tips on how to reframe difficult material in a positive way without fairy tales or secrets. Examples from lifebook workshops show how a sad truth can hold within it something positive and reassuring: “I was placed next to a bench at a train station. This busy spot must have been chosen so that someone would find me right away.”
Written specifically for international adoptive families, Adoption Lifebook can be adapted for any kind of adoption circumstance where important information about the past is inadequate or missing, or where cultural/ethnic differences between birth and adoptive families present a barrier to understanding.
Reviewed by Amy Klatzkin.