Important Recordkeeping Tips
Your preschooler may not remember every placement or caregiver he has had, but he at least remembers where he came from immediately before coming into your home, so it is important that you acknowledge the reality of his previous life. In doing so, you validate him and demonstrate that you, his new parent/s, are committed to building continuity and forging eternal bonds. You show him that you accept everything about him. You must actively seek out areas where you can get information. If you adopted him from another country, you may have difficulty reconstructing his past because of language and cultural differences.
When possible, contact biological grandparents, older siblings, uncles and aunts, and foster parents — anyone with whom your child interacted. Collect anecdotes and descriptions of him as a baby and toddler. Try to find pictures to build his life book. If photographs don't exist, go to places he lived, if possible, and take pictures of buildings and streets or locate them in a travel magazine or online.
Gather everything you can find from your agency, and carefully record meetings with social workers, lawyers, and doctors that pertain to your child's history. Just as with younger children, and depending on what is in those documents, you may have to keep many of them separate from the life book until he's an adult and capable of emotionally and intellectually understanding his background.
Your child may have lived in different places and under different circumstances. His life book will be essential for him to process who he was, who he is now, and who he will become. To create the life book for a preschooler:
Find out where he was born and as much about his biological family as possible. If he was born in another country and abandoned to an orphanage, you might not have much direct information, but do your best.
Include pictures, and other mementos of your travel to bring your child home in the book, even if you only drove to the other side of town.
Include your first observations, statements from foster home or orphanage personnel, and others who interacted with you.
Have your child draw pictures of his life before you, then write down his verbal explanation of what is depicted in the drawing.
Ask him questions about his caregivers and write down what he remembers.
Incorporate the material you sent to him before he came home with you.
Periodically, encourage your child to draw pictures about himself and his place in your family for his life book. Add your own observations to the pictures, and continue to photograph every important event and many ordinary ones. You and your child will enjoy watching the physical and emotional changes when you sit down together to read the pages.
Keep records, along with the scrapbooks and journals you fill out weekly or monthly. You may only have time to jot dates and brief comments and toss them into envelopes or boxes, but try to do something once or twice a month. Making your child's life concrete gives him tangible evidence that you love him and his life has meaning. Your efforts will forge attachments over the years.