My aunt Becky is expecting her first bundle of joy in January and has been working away at her new son's baby book. Which recently inspired me to work some on Perry's scrapbook and to begin Jack's Life Book. For those of you who, like me originally, don't know the difference between a scrap book and a life book, let me take a gander at explaining. A scrapbook is a book to capture memories made. It has a lot of photos and cutesy aesthetics. It is shared with friends, family, and random strangers. (I kid.) A life book documents more the facts. It most likely has more words than photos and is a much more private book, only shared with family and very close friends-who the person the life book is written for chooses to share with. In adoption, the life book focuses more on the child's life journey than that of the parent's journey to them.
Hang in there with me and know that I'm really struggling with the difference too.
Nevertheless, a Life Book is something our social worker has encouraged us to do, along with the beautiful Carissa Woodwyk who spoke at the Created for Care conference I attended last year. (She also co-authored with Susan TeBos the amazing book Before You Were Mine which gives good instruction and reasoning for a life book. In addition to Carissa, Beth O'Malley also has really good blogs, insights, and resources on this topic.) I have also thrown myself into adoption literature and many make references to a child's life book and give many valid points on why this is a good adoption tool to have in your arsenal.
So, with all that being said, I'm giving it my very best effort.
What I've come to abruptly find is that working on Perry's scrap book and working on Jack's life book is a vastly different experience. Throwing it all out there right now, Perry's scrapbook is really fun to work on. I, seriously-no exaggeration, have over 30,000 photos from his first four years of life. (I've filled up all the space on my computer twice and have two full external hard drives of nothing but photos.) It's literally insane. Justin jokes that we could chronologically flip through my photos and actually see Perry's life flash before our eyes. (I should add that we've actually done this with Christmas photos before and its pretty cool!) Seeing all these amazing family memories and milestones warms my heart to the core. Knowing I've been there with him and experiences almost every second is comforting. It started from Day 1. No, Second 1. I have before delivery/birth photos, first-everything photos, I know our blood line and what hospital room Perry was born in. Heck, I can even point to the window of the room he was born in every single time we drive into Birmingham.
And then there's Jack's life book. I simply adore putting photos of him into his book. I love pouring over his sweet smile and bubbly toes and adjusting the photos just so. But then there's the words. I can point to Perry's 'birth room' every time we go to the city and yet I don't even know what the hospital Jack was born in looks like. I mean, I can google it obviously and hope that we can visit the hospital while we're in Seoul, but you're starting to get my drift. The first photo I have of Jack is when he's 23 days old. I'm not even 100% sure where he was until he was in our agency's care and I'm sad that I don't have these details to share with him one day. I'm sad that I don't know who all was in the delivery room as he took his first breath and I'm sad that I don't know every single detail of his beginning. I know that unlike some other programs, we do get a considerable amount of info on our sweet babies and yet there is still so much missing. So much.
I worry that Jack will ask question that I won't know the answers to. In fact, I know he will one day.
The mother in me wants everything to be "fair" between my children and deep down it bothers me and feels unfair that Perry has SO much and Jack doesn't have as much. Not nearly as much.
But, what I can hold dear to my heart is that I know he was loved. IS LOVED. By many. By his birth family, by our agency, by his amazing foster family and by us. BIG TIME BY US. The few details that we do have I will cherish and document proudly. Working on this book has allowed me-forced me even- to pour over his paperwork over and over to pick apart the details. To find something new each time. To read in between the lines even. To google and research. To ask more questions.
This process is so so hard and yet so so fun and therapeutic. It has allowed me to both begin to grieve and celebrate even more my son's beautiful story. I pray that I can use his life book as a textbook for educating myself so that one day when he begins asking questions and wondering 'who, what, when, where, and why?,' that I may answer them to the very best of my ability.
And just for the record...Jack's life book definitely contains many aesthetics. ;)
adoption resources and education
a Heavenly Father who shows me something new in Jack's paperwork/life every time I review his file
the best memories with my first born
the promise of the future with my bitty baby
my childrens' beautiful, beautiful smiles
a husband who takes me to Michael's to stock up on 'aesthetics'