adoption lifebooks

Amber’s Story

Posted by Susan on February 28, 2014
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Amber never dreamed she would be a single mom to four beautiful girls through adoption and a foster mom to a fifth girl, but fate had other plans.

In 2007, Amber’s parents became foster parents to two adorable red-headed toddlers, Melinda and Lydia.

As she sat at her parent’s dining room table entertaining the girls while her dad completed paperwork, Lydia came over to Amber and asked to sit on her lap. The bond between the two was instant. Lydia’s previous caretaker was shocked because Lydia was not a child who easily accepted new people, due to the trauma and loss she had endured in her young life. But her caregiver did provide Lydia with “My Growing World” lifebook which aided her healing process greatly, and helped to open her young heart to others.

A few months later, Amber learned that Melinda and Lydia’s biological parents’ rights had been terminated. She realized she could not imagine her life without the two girls and decided to train through Iowa KidsNet to become a foster and adoptive parent.

In the end, Amber adopted Melinda, Lydia and their older sister Avery. Avery had originally experienced difficulty finding a forever home due to her nine mental health diagnoses combined with intellectual challenges. Again, the Adoption World publication “The Real Me” which is geared toward the tricky teenage view point, was critically important in Avery’s development and transition processes.

“She would have ended up aging out of the system,” said Amber. “I could not bear that knowing I could help her to become a productive member of society. I am thankful for the publications my girls have been exposed to. I appreciate their previous caregivers’ insight on how much lifebooks can help our children.”

In 2012, Iowa KidsNet reached out to Amber again to foster newborn Isabella, who she later adopted as well. Amber is currently also fostering Isabella’s biological younger sister.

Throughout the same six years, Amber has also lost her home to the flood, gone through a divorce and lost her mother to a rare medical disorder. While the girls have brought her joy through the hard times, they have also brought challenges. Each of her daughters has a mental health diagnosis and two are developmentally delayed.

Looking back, Amber says, “We don’t know what life has in store for us, I’m just following God’s playbook.” Amber takes each day one hour at a time and her daughters are thriving as a result.

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Lifebooks are critical tools

Posted by Susan on February 12, 2014
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A Lifebook for a foster child is not just useful; it is a critical tool. It is therapeutic and provides “grounding” in a disjointed life. Pictures and notes about family members and pets help the child process his or her circumstance. It is a document of the child’s history, celebrating accomplishments and milestones. The child can record names, addresses and phone numbers, helping retain connections to people who have been important to him/her. Using their creativity, words and pictures, the child will build self-awareness and a better understanding of what has happened to them.

Lifebooks and Adoption Workbooks are designed to help kids process their feelings and to work with an adult to take some of the fear and anguish out of troubling events.

A lifebook can be started at any age and at any stage of foster care or adoption.

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Adoption World Publishing Updates Products Look

Everybody loves to up-date their surroundings. We do it with our homes – we paint the walls, rearrange furniture, plant fresh flowers in our yards. The art department at Adoption World Publishing began by freshening the looks of their established products.

First to get a new look was the Positive Adoption Language flyer. Originally it was designed as a published piece to be used as a tool for productive discussions. In 2009 it was converted to a free download from the company’s website. To date, more than 350 downloads have been requested.

The One and Only Me life book kit has been a cornerstone of the Adoption World offerings since 1995. In 2009 the cover and title page received a fresh look. Graphic Artist Susan Readnour created new cover and title page incorporating the original book characters. The colorful illustration is perfect for the intended audience – children age 5-10. Late in 2010, the sticker packet that accompanies the book was revamped. Working with several of the original images, Readnour developed sticker sheets that will assist the child with the journey through the lifebook.

Like the Adoption World Publishing website which uses the images of photographed children, the front cover of My Adoption Workbook now is covered with photos of children. With diversity in mind, the new look helps to draw the child into the material of the book-all of which remains unchanged.

The most recent redesigned product is the Adoption Day button. It is included in the children’s version of the Foster- to-Adopt booklet series and marks the adoption milestone. The Adoption Day button can also be purchased individually and used for Adoption Day events.

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The Real Me, Teen Life Book Continues to be Adoption World Publishing’s Best Seller

Navigating through life is a challenge for all teenagers. Obstacles are everywhere. A teenager in the foster/adoption system encounters extra obstacles. A life book is a wonderful tool that can be used to assist youth in dealing with the issues they face.

In our 17th year of business, Adoption World Publishing continues to be a player in the lifebook market. Our  title, The Real Me teen life book was the company’s top seller in 2010.

Introduced in 2002, the chapter topics- Who I am Today, Where I Came From and What My Future Holds – remain as relevant today as they were when the book was written. Authored by the mother/daughter team of Theresa McCoy and Donna Barnes, their years of experience working with youth in the foster and adoption system contribute to the creditability of the book.

The Real Me teen life book is currently being used by agencies, families and organizations in at least 24 states and Canada. It is sold exclusively by Adoption World Publishing at 319-396-5974 or

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More children adopted from foster care means more money for 38 states.

In September of 2010, HHS awarded $39 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico for increasing adoptions from foster care.

“All children deserve loving, safe and permanent homes,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “It is gratifying that most states continue to excel in promoting the adoption of children from foster care. I sincerely thank every adoptive family that has welcomed a child into their home.”

States received $4,000 for every child adopted beyond their best year’s total, plus a payment of $8,000 for every child age 9 and older and $4,000 for every special needs child adopted above the respective baselines. The year 2007 is the baseline.

“America’s communities benefit when children grow up in stable families,” said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “We’re very pleased that the adoption incentives program is helping states improve their programs and place more children into homes that are theirs forever.”

The states will be using the funds from this adoption incentive award to improve their child welfare programs. Many of the states mandate life books for their children and will be able to use this money to purchase these much needed items.

We applaud Secretary Sebelius and the 38 states and Puerto Rico. With the economy still recovering, these federal awards could not come at a better time. Many adoption agencies have been trying to make do with “piece-meal” lifebooks, or no books at all. With this money, children will be able to get quality books in their hands.


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Adoption Workbooks and Lifebooks

Posted by admin on January 17, 2011
adoption life books, adoption lifebooks / No Comments

My Adoption Workbook, My Growing World Lifebook

Preparing a child for adoption is vital to a successful placement. Adoption workbooks and life books are valuable tools to help kids through a difficult time.

My Adoption Workbook by Theresa McCoy, LBSW, addresses not only the mechanics of adoption, but also the feelings, fears and questions that often arise.

My Growing World by Kathleen Carroll is another great source of information and comfort. Colorful, friendly characters help kids work through issues.

Learn more about these books at

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How will midterm elections affect government spending?

Posted by admin on November 09, 2010
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Like so many of you I have been anxiously awaiting the results of the mid-term election (and I’m glad it’s over!). While I don’t plan to get partisan here, I do want to express my concerns about how the results will affect the entire area of adoption & foster care funding.

Perhaps actions taken by the new Congress will stimulate and improve the economy, resulting in more revenue for government and private agencies involved with social services. Or, as I fear, government spending will be cut, with social and child services taking an especially hard hit.

In any case we are certainly facing uneasy times ahead. Hopefully our children and teenagers who need lifebooks and all of the other services needed to enrich their lives will not be forgotten!

Chuck Carpenter

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Clever Ad Campaign Promotes Adoption/Foster Care

I recently became aware of a series of TV ads promoting adoptive and foster care. These clever TV spots feature foster or adoptive parents in “parenting” situations where their performance is less than “Leave It to Beaver” perfect. The ads close with the slogan, “You Don’t Have to be Perfect to be a Perfect Parent.”

The ads do an excellent job of presenting the need for foster or adoptive parents in a humorous manner, while still getting the message across that these kids want a home with parents whose love for kids and desire to open their home to them is far more important than parental perfection.

These TV spots, along with radio and print ads, are part on an ongoing, award winning national adoption recruitment campaign done in partnership with AdoptUsKids, the Ad Council and the Children’s Bureau. You can find the ads on YouTube by searching for “adoption PSA.”

AdoptUsKids’ mission is two-fold: to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public welfare system and to assist in the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive families and connect them with children. Their web site is

The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces, distributes and promotes public service announcements (PSA) on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas that include improving the quality of life for children, among many others. Go to for more information.

The Children’s Bureau is one of two bureaus within the Administration for Children and Families, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Their mission is to provide for the safety, permanency and well being of children through leadership, support for necessary services and productive partnerships with states and local communities. The web site for the Children’s Bureau is

Dan Nekvinda

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Lifebooks on a tight budget!

Posted by Susan on August 20, 2010
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With today’s tight budgets, many foster children are going without lifebooks. That’s unfortunate because the therapeutic effects of life books are well documented. Just keeping a memory book helps children make transitions from middle school to high school or from one foster home to another.

The Scrapbook Option

One option that some are trying is to create their own lifebook via scrapbooking. This method can be rewarding and low budget, especially if you are creative. It does however, take time. Prep time can be extensive and securing low cost materials can be daunting. One of the biggest drawbacks is not covering the full gamut of therapeutic issues like a time-tested professional book.

Internet Downloads

If you look long enough, you can find online where a staffer in some state put together a life book that you can download for free. This could do in a pinch, especially if you can arrange to print it for free. If you can’t print for free, color copies often cost about 40¢ per page. Then add binding, and a “free” book could cost $12.00 or more, and you still won’t have a really good life book.

Time-Tested Winners

Today’s kids live very stressful lives and they deserve a lifebook that is really going to make a difference for them. This is why, for many years now, it has been imperative to find the funding for essential bibliotherapy. Without the right materials, the job is nearly impossible.

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Putting the Pieces Together DVD, Importance of Lifebooks

Posted by Susan on August 04, 2010
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I recently ordered an excellent lifebook training DVD that is distributed by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. The DVD is entitled, “Putting the Pieces Together: Lifebook Work With Children” and is available on their website:

As I have said previously, I believe that creating a lifebook for our foster and adopted children is one of the most important things we can do for them. A lifebook contains the chronological history of a child’s life, pictures, artwork, memorabilia, along with information that reflects a child’s understanding of the difficulties and changes that have occurred in his or her life. The lifebook also highlights and celebrates the child’s strengths, hopes and dreams. For a child, lifebook work is a path to their memories and to a reinterpretation of their memories. It is also a path to understanding and integrating their memories. Lifebooks are great for children in foster care or who have been adopted. They promote healing and provide concrete understanding of the reasons why they were unable to return to their birth families. Lifebooks give children permission to love and cherish their adoptive families as well as their birth families.

The “Putting the Pieces Together” DVD provides instruction on how to do Lifebook work with children using a teamwork approach. It was great to see how the lives of these children have been impacted in a positive way by being able to discuss and work through issues they are dealing with. It made me very proud to see that the teenage girl on the video was using our teen lifebook, The Real Me. She had very high praise for what our lifebook meant to her and how it helped her. Making lifebooks available to the children is such a rewarding experience for me.

Help me get the word out. Lifebooks are great!

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