Mary Lou and Mike Engrassia of West Babylon, NY, were amazed, overjoyed, and even a bit overwhelmed as a path to parenthood they never expected unfurled before them.
That journey, and the memories of feelings, experiences, and challenges met, is a part of their life they cherish. Their adoption journey made them who they are as parents, but more importantly, who they are as a family with their daughter.
One way to preserve that journey for the future is to create an Adoption Journey book, highlighting for your child(ren) a side of their parents—and their unique family—that likely wasn’t evident from any child-centric baby books, or even their own treasured life book.
Here are nine reasons why an Adoption Journey book may be an investment well worth making.
1. An heirloom book takes your unique adoption journey into the future.
Whether you have a formal way of presenting your special recollections of your adoption journey or not, you no doubt regularly make the effort to share them with your child verbally. “I have told my children the stories many times,” says Teresa Baldinucci, a mom of three adopted children in Patchogue, NY, who sees the value in preserving those stories in book form, as well.
An Adoption Journey book ensures your family’s precious journey will carry on intact to your grandchildren and beyond. Indeed, pulling it out, like any family memory book, is a surefire way to spark conversation and reminiscing—essentially, keeping the family story sharing going.
2. Your journey to becoming a parent makes the story of your family different.
Once an adopted child is settled into his or her forever family, milestones and the related keepsakes become much the same as for any other family. “It is the journey to that day that makes the story different. And the journey of adoption starts long before your child is placed in your arms,” Mary Lou says.
For her and Mike, that journey included heartfelt talks about their options, much research, even more paperwork (including numerous rounds of fingerprinting), and a home study before they finally got The Call. “‘It’s a girl!’ Then over the fax at work came a blurry photo of the most adorable baby with full cheeks—Yuan Le Yi—waiting for us in the Hunan Province.” Along with 13 other families, the couple spent 11 days in several different places in China. The endless paperwork was finally capped off with a sealed brown envelope given to them when they left China, along with strict instructions not to open it. “Upon going through customs at LAX, the envelope was opened, and Yuan Le Yi became a United States citizen,” Mary Lou shares.
Now that's a story worthy of preservation in a book!
3. You may forget all the moving parts that synchronized to make you a family.
“When we were going through the process, every day seemed like an eternity. Funny, though, as I try to recall all of it now, years later, I really had to try and think about the timeline,” Mary Lou says. Recreating a visual timeline of the adoption journey can help spark memories, and for children, bring a new understanding of the emotional journey their parents undertook to become a family.
Having an editor who can help recreate the entire adoption process by going through files and stacks of papers, your old date planner and photographs, is a proven way to document your family’s origin story accurately. But going beyond that with interviews of your recollections and feelings during that time is what brings your family's story to life, what gives it power and depth.
4. It’s a beautiful thing to commit the dreams for your family’s future to memory.
While you think you’ll remember Every. Single. Thing. from the time you get home with your child, well...most new parents simply don’t. Sleep deprivation is an equal-opportunity affliction for ALL parents, after all!
During the first weeks at home, emotions run so high that specific, detailed memories may not gel for the long term. Adoptive parents often have the additional challenge of a child who is “mourning” the loss of familiar people and surroundings. Even a baby who came from less-than-ideal circumstances is still undergoing a major adjustment. “Our daughter immediately bonded with me, but it took her longer to bond with Mike,” Mary Lou says. “During those first weeks together as a family, we experienced a wide gamut of emotions: joy, stress, tears, though most of all intense love.”
And it’s not just the whats, whens, and hows that can begin to fade from memory; it’s the notions of what the future may hold, as well. “It's no different than when expecting a birth child. As a parent, you hold dreams for your as yet unknown child, and those are things you want to share with them in the future,” Teresa says. An Adoption Journey book is a wonderful option to not only celebrate your child(ren) and the family you have become, but to reflect upon your dreams for the future. What do your children dream of? What do you hope for them? Including handwritten notes in your book can be a heartfelt way to connect the past journey and the future of your family.
5. It has the potential to become a “holiday” tradition.
Whether you call it Family Day or Gotcha Day, the yearly celebration of the day you all officially became a family calls for a sentimental tradition. Thumbing through an Adoption Journey book is an ideal way to spark memories—and increasingly thoughtful observations and questions from your growing child.
6. It can simplify your life.
Mementos of your adoption journey can multiply, and get misplaced. “An adoption journey book is a great idea, one I wish I had, rather than having to have so many different ‘tools’ that I have used to create keepsakes of our journey. I have notebooks and files, photos in boxes, and more,” Mary Lou says. But even if, like Mary Lou, you’ve already saved your keepsakes in an organized way, you might want to consider having your mementos digitized (to save space) and memorialized in a book (to reveal and preserve their stories, beyond just their sentimental value).
Even digital photos, videos, and other electronic files can be challenging to find years later, especially as platforms evolve and laptops and other personal devices are upgraded. A book is a forever platform, and one that is always accessible for prompting remembrance and joy.
7. Family stories are gifts to our children.
Not only do the stories we tell our kids help them relate and feel like an essential part of the family, they strengthen them and, research shows, make them undeniably more resilient. As author Bruce Feiler wrote in a viral NYT piece:
The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.
By preserving your family’s unique narrative in an Adoption Journey Book, you are giving your child(ren) a valuable tool that, in the long run, will not only help stir memories, but will also help solidify their identity.
8. It may ease your anxiety.
You know that perpetual worry—stoked by your friends’ relentless Pinterest-board updates—that you’re not doing enough in the way of memory-keeping? That your photos are scattered across devices and that you only made a milestone book for your first child, then...nothing?
Creating an Adoption Journey book with a personal historian is a guaranteed way to ease that nagging guilt, to create something worthwhile and meaningful without any of the DIY angst. We do the heavy lifting; you get the heirloom of a lifetime.
Oh, and one more (not-so-little) thing:
9. Remembering is an enjoyable process.
Any family that wants to preserve their adoption journey in a heirloom book must commit to doing two essential things:
- Gathering materials (adoption files, mementos such as plane tickets and fingerprint cards, family photos), and
- Talking about your memories and journey with a professional family biographer.
The “talking” part is not only easy, it is rewarding. The act of reminiscing about your family's stories with an open-hearted and interested listener can be healing, empowering, and centering. So even before you've received your book, you will have received a real gift: the gift of sharing.
What is your reason for wanting to preserve your family’s adoption journey?
We're willing to bet there are many reasons for preserving your adoption journey as there are reasons for adopting in the first place. Why do you want to preserve your family’s adoption journey in a book? Please share with us in the comments below, or give our founder, Dawn, a call at 917.922.7415 to see how we can work together.
- Frequently Asked Questions about our Adoption Journey books
- An Adoption Book Primer: Learn the difference between a life book, an adoption story book, and an Adoption Journey book.
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