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April 2002Vol. 3, No. 3Lifebooks Available for Foster Care and Adoption

Lifebooks are available to children, adoptive parents, social workers, and case workers to assist children in recording their personal histories as they go through the adoption or foster care process. Designed to be a constant in children's adoption or foster care experiences and starting from their birth, lifebooks help children understand their histories and new beginnings with photos, artwork, and other personal memories.

My Foster Care Journey, written by Beth O'Malley, allows children to complete information such as their favorite foods, families they have lived with, schools they have attended, and more; it also has room for favorite pictures and signatures of friends. The lifebook provides simple definitions of birthparents, judges, and foster homes. A Spanish version is also available.

Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child, also by Beth O'Malley, provides parents with many ideas in creating their own lifebook for their child. It offers tips in dealing with roadblocks such as what information to discuss and when; lifebook "essentials" such as always starting from the child's birth, mentioning the birthparents, and reasons why the child was adopted; and the differences between lifebooks and scrapbooks.

Foster Children's Life Books: A Caseworker's Handbook, by The Center for Child and Family Studies at the University of South Carolina's College of Social Work, provides caseworkers with strategies to create and maintain lifebooks. In some instances a caseworker may be the only constant in a child's life for a period of time, and can assist the child with his or her lifebook. There is a specific section on therapeutic uses of the lifebook and developing relationships, separation and grief, working with a grieving child, adjusting to a new family, getting at feelings, dealing with conflicts and crises, and building self-esteem.

For more information on My Foster Care Journey and Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child contact:

440 Revere Street
Winthrop, MA 02152

For more information on the Foster Children's Life Books: A Caseworker's Handbook lifebook, contact:

The Center for Child and Family Studies
College of Social Work
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208