Saturday, February 10, 2018

Creating a Family Book: My First Challenging Steps

I've been given a brief (frustratingly brief?) outline of what I should do to create a family album. I have many questions! The internet isn't much help as Google brings up books for private newborn adoption meant for adults where I think my book is supposed to be meant for the child. Maybe it's for the child. I don't know, actually. Plus, my age range of children is pretty big so I'm not sure if I should make a younger book and a separate older book or just straddle the middle line...

My current mock-up is Disney themed and eight pages long. I used printer paper to sketch what I thought should be on the pages. When I get some answers I plan on buying Word and doing a printable version with digital scrapbook paper I've found for free. Doing a mock-up also allowed me to make a list of photos I need to take.

Here's what my sheet says:

Making a Photo/Family Album

A family album is a method of describing your home and family in pictures and words to others in the adoption process. In this way it will serve as an enhancement to your home assessment report and will facilitate the matching process.

Upon being matched with a child your family album takes on increased importance. It will be used to help prepare the child for your initial meeting. The child is able to get a sense of who you are, the family that he/she will become part of, the home, room, and the community where he will live.

Family albums are an excellent opportunity for families to involve all the members and preparing for a child.

It is helpful to use more pictures (hand-drawn or photos) than a lot of written material. Be creative and plan ahead.

The finished album should be on 8 x 11 inch paper so that it can be easily photo copy for the file and for sending to prospective matches.

Here are some suggestions on what can be included:

Introduction:
This section should genereally introduce your family. Individual pictures are more helpful than a family group which is hard for a child to see where they might fit in. Make sure to label the pictures using first names only.

Biographical information:
This should contain a brief summary of your family. Included the following: racial/ethnic origin, ages, education, employment, health, others in the home, extended family, and pets.

Interest hobbies and activities:
Describe what each member of the family does and what you enjoy doing as a family.

Church or other groups:
Describe church or two other groups that your family is involved with. Also include what rituals are types of activities in which you participate as a result of your membership include pictures of the church or and activity.

Schools:
What schools do children your family/community attend; what schools are available to an adopted  hild.

Recreation facility /programs in your area:
Include the type of area in which you live I E rural, city, small town, excetera

Home:
Include a floor plan. Describe your home and include pictures of the rooms including where the adopted child will sleep. Mention if you plan to include the child in changing the room to their liking.

Family Rules:
Briefly describe chores, allowance, guests, mealtimes, bedtimes, and rules.

Anger:
Include how your family deals with anger. What are acceptable ways of expressing anger in your home?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Compiling a Memory Book / Life Book

The below is instructions/suggestions for a Memory Book or Life Book as per my OTC training handout. See my original post here

For foster care it was suggested that a book be given to the child when they leave the home and one kept in case the book is lost and the child relocates the family. I've read about some people that keep CDs of pictures and docs in case the child every needs info and finds them again.

Compiling a Memory Book

A memory book or life book is a tool that can encourage attachments and support a child sense of identity. It provides a child with a picture of their past connections to important people and events that contribute to their sense of self.

Why make a memory book?

A book will help give a child a sense of identity and will preserve important information for him and also make the information more easily accessible. A book can be a real treasure by making continuity of the life of a person visible.

How to make a memory book

Due to the fact that you are building for the future you should use a strong album. Make sure to write names and dates below pictures. Also add information about what where, when, how, and who is pertinent to the picture. Try to vary the arrangements. Place the pictures slanted, even sideways. Fill in empty spaces with cutouts or enhancement. Have the child help you with the pages if at all possible.

But most of all remember, you want to create a book for the child that she can enjoy 5 to 10 years later. Filling it up with pictures of neighbors and such will have no meaning to the young person unless he was closely involved with them.

What should be included in a memory book?

As much of the following information as is available should be included in a memory book:


  • birth announcement, either actual or one developed for the purpose
  • baptismal certificate 
  • all known date of birth such as where the child was born, including home town or the child spent a significant part of his childhood. 
  • Of particular importance is any available medical history of the child and members of the actual family such as allergies, cancer, heart disease, glaucoma, measles, mumps, or broken bones 
  • a growth chart taken at regular intervals 
  • special achievements for music or ribbons for sporting events.


Photographs are imperative. You might start baby pictures if you can access them, or one taking the day the child arrives in your home. Let the child stand up under the window sill or buy a bookshelf, then later sometime later take a picture in the same location.

Set a page aside for yearly School photos. An important event cut out from the newspaper that happened on the child's birthday, example record snowfall of the century.

How about a picture holding the bowling trophy? A favorite song you wish you had not taught them, that the child keeps singing over and over again? His first recognizable doggy picture? Write his age beside it.

For newborn babies, up to 4 months, taking a picture every few weeks would be nice. Try to find a different pose each time. Use minimum clothing so that as much as the baby is visible. As a baby grows, there is less change from week-to-week, so the interval between pictures can be longer. Later on birthdays, first steps, first tricycle, and so on can be on occasion for the camera to see action.

With older children you might use the books as a conversation starter. A simple question such as "was your mother always so slim?" might be enough for a youngster to start pouring out all sorts of pent-up emotions regarding the mother. This can give the caregivers an opportunity to help the child put things into proper perspective. 

Have children get involved with making the book. They can write about feelings thoughts or memories. They can draw pictures of events or people.

It takes time, patience, and understanding to compile an interesting book. However, this is one project that will give both the caregiver in the child great satisfaction for years to come.

Should be included in a memory book?

Every person who was ever important to the child should be part of the book. These person should include:

  • the child himself
  • the birth parents, siblings, grandparents 
    • if pictures of these people are not available general descriptions may be helpful, such as "your mother was tall, of medium build with thick dark brown hair and a fair complexion. She had brown eyes, with an upturned nose and dimples when she smiled. She wore her hair long and combed back from her face usually pinned with colorful combs." The caseworker can help you with obtaining written descriptions of birth family members for you.
  • foster parents foster siblings, foster grandparents
  • caseworkers, if the child knows them well
  • schoolmates, favourite teacher or hockey coach

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Orientation for Caregivers: Day 2

Find Day 1 here.

Day 2

Sessions 3- The Child's Journey Begins


Table of Contents
  • The Child's Journey
  • The World of Abnormal Rearing
  • The Intent of the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act
  • Status Flow Chart
We learned about steps that may be taken if complaints are made against a family and found to be justified. I thought the child would be automatically taken into care but depending on the case, people involved, circumstances, and other factors there are other options.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Adoption / Caregiver Training: Day 1

I've started my training! It's officially called Orientation for Caregiver Training or OTC.

Training is offered two times a year and runs for 4 days total. This time it runs Fri and Sat from 9:00 to 4:00.

My mailed acceptance letter didn't arrive so I emailed  and got one so here's hoping the mailed version didn't have any added pamphlets or anything. (Fun fact- many of us had trouble finding the building as the address was wrong and it was just a door to a small entryway, no large signs to indicate anything so I suggest calling before hand and asking where the building is and what it looks like.)

From what I've gathered this training will help us understand the types of children in care, a variety of needs, and how to best care for them. After this is the home study (see the timeline here.)

There was about 15 people, me being the only singleton (no surprise there) and only person from my area. Most were there for foster or kinship care training. We met in a boardroom-type room with view of a slide show.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 Japan Travel Journal

This travel journal is STUFFED with stuff! I put so many different things into it. My travel buddy L asked why I just didn't space them out and use more pages but that just didn't seem like fun so I still have half a book to use for my next adventure.

See my trip posts here (look towards the bottom). What would you have put in the journal?

Some things I put in my journal:


  • plane boarding passes
  • plane menus
  • train tickets
  • reciepts
  • attraction maps
  • attraction tickets
  • (cleaned) snack wrappers and lids
  • stamps from attractions and train stations
  • a (cut up) shopping bag
  • owl feather from the owl cafe
  • little serving spoons and toothpicks
A tip: if you just tape down one side you can have many things on one page and also space to write about the item beneath it.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Open Farm Day 2017: Visiting a Dairy Farm

In August Alberta has Open Farm Days that encourages farms to host visitor days so that people can see how farms work and where their food comes from. I visited a nearby town and went on a bus tour that took us to several farms. One raised goats for meat, one beef cattle, a grain operation, and a dairy farm.

Here's some pictures and info on the dairy farm!

(Here's another blogger that was on the tour and did the evening long table supper.)