Adoption Story Books: A Primer

Adoption story books, life books for adopted children, and adoption journey books—they may all sound the same, but the intent behind each of these similarly named customized books is quite different. What are they, and how do you as an adoptive parent know which is right for you?

While we create only one of these types of books at Modern Heirloom Books, we think it is important to explore all three to determine which ones are right for your family. As such, here is a primer on adoption story books, including (click on each to link to more info):

  1. Your Child’s Life Book
  2. Children’s Adoption Storybook
  3. Your Family’s Adoption Journey Heirloom Book
a life book is a valuable tool for an adopted child

Your Child’s Life Book

If you are an adoptive parent, chances are that you have already made—or have at least read about—a life book. 

Often referred to as “an adoption security blanket,” a life book is a concrete tool for meaningful conversation with your adopted child. It provides very specific information about your child’s birth, and always starts with the birth story—even if you know little to nothing about it. 

“A life book, when done well, should provide a child with a key ingredient—the TRUTH (as much as is known)—about his/her ‘story,’” says Donna Barnes, an adoptive parent and co-author of The One & Only Me life book. “It should contain the WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHY information that kids need to answer their questions and unscramble their lives.”

Experts recommend including copies of the birth certificate, details about the child’s birthplace, a visual timeline of life events, photographs of the child as a baby through present time, and more. This is a book best created by a parent and child together, as the process itself helps the child with processing emotions, and feeling safe. A life book is a private book, not meant for display or sharing with friends, but for the primary purpose of revisiting and engaging in discussion around it over the years.

And it is the intent behind the content—what you say, and the photographs you include—that matter, not the design or presentation. Some folks simply print pages to put in plastic sleeves in a binder; as long as your child can flip through the pages, that’s all that matters. One parent shares some sample pages and her approach to creating a life book for her daughter, who was adopted from China, and reiterates: “Make sure this is the story of your child, not the story of your adoption experience (say what your child was doing/wearing/saying/eating/holding on family day, not just say how you felt about becoming a family).”

Like many things in life, creating a life book for your adopted child may seem like a daunting task, but it is a most worthwhile one. If you’ve “been meaning to get to it” but haven’t yet found the time, set aside your guilt and check out this simple step-by-step for how to easily make a life book for your adopted child.

personalized adoption story book from put me in the story

Adoption Storybook for Kids

Unlike a Lifebook, which is used as a tool in your specific child’s growth and development, a customized adoption story is simply that: a child’s storybook. Typically illustrated like most bedtime books, the most popular adoption story books focus on the unique ways that people can become families and offer an affirming tale of the wishing and waiting that adoptive parents experience. 

My Adoption Storybook and Put Me in the Story’s I Wished for You are two popular options that allow customization by inserting your child’s name, picture, and certain details into the pages. 

Many adoptive parents find these stories touching, and the books provide great comfort in presenting relatable stories to young children.

adoption journey heirloom book preserves memories of your family's origin story

Your Family’s Adoption Journey Heirloom Book

While a life book is your child’s story, an Adoption Journey heirloom book is your story—you as an adoptive parent, and you as a member of your growing family.

Your adoption story is worth preserving.

“Adopting one child won’t change the world; but for that one child, the world will change.”

World-changing. That’s what your family’s adoption story has been. And the story of something so profound should be preserved; should be accessible for your family as it matures and grows; should become an origin story so often revisited that it becomes family lore, an heirloom both physical and spiritual.

Your Adoption Journey book might include:

  • memories of the first meeting, the long journey home, first weeks together, first bonding experience...the memories that you don't want to fade
  • a timeline of the adoption process
  • photographs through the years
  • maps of your child’s birthplace & where you physically traveled
  • handwritten notes from your journal, especially during the early days as a new parent
  • typed or handwritten letter with dreams for the future
  • thoughts on what it means to be a parent—and a family
  • memorabilia such as your ticket to your child’s birthplace, or the email alerting you to your approval as adoptive parents
  • insights & feelings—the inner story of your adoption journey

There are so many paths to parenthood. Your journey, though, is the one that matters to you and your family. An Adoption Journey heirloom book is a beautiful means of honoring your family’s unique story and of preserving the memories and emotions for your children—and, just maybe, for the next generation.

Further reading:

9 Reasons Your Adoption Journey Is Worth Preserving

Sharing Your Full Adoption Story: When the Adoption Process Is Joyful, but Not Easy (COMING TO THE BLOG NEXT WEEK!)

FAQ: Adoption Journey Books


Are you ready to start preserving your Adoption Journey in an heirloom book?

Contact Dawn at 917.922.7415 to set up a free consultation and explore how we can work together to preserve your family’s unique adoption story.