One of the most special things that adoptive families can do for their children is create adoption lifebooks, otherwise known as adoption baby books. Your child’s adoption story is something to celebrate, and what better way to do so than with a creative adoption memory book that your child can treasure forever?

It can be difficult to know where to start when creating a baby book for adopted children. Pictures of perfectly curated adoption lifebooks can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t quite sure how to make one of your own. Fortunately, there’s only one important rule when creating an adoption baby memory book: that it reflects your child’s story accurately and positively.

To help you get started on your adoption baby books, we’ve gathered a few tips here.

1. Design it chronologically.

Adoption is a journey and, while it’s one that will continue throughout your life, you may consider framing your adoption lifebook with a beginning and an “end.” Remember that this book is about your child’s story; there is no need to go into complete detail about the path you took to choose to adopt them, just that you were excited to start on your journey to them.

Perhaps include important dates, like the day you got “the call” or the day of your adoption finalization, as a way to frame the basics of your adoption life story book. Then, you can fill the pages with other fun and important things that may not be set to a specific time in your adoption.

2. Include a table of contents.

Often, adopted children love their adoption lifebooks, and they may tend to look back at their books over and over at different points of their life. To make it easier, you might provide a table of contents so they can easily flip to the page they’re looking for, whether to read on their own or to easily share with others.

3. Include all the important people in their adoption story.

Your child’s adoption story isn’t just about them and you; not only are their birth parents an important part, there were also adoption specialists, delivery nurses and more that played an integral role in your child’s adoption. Find a way to include them in your child’s adoption lifebook, whether it’s through photos and descriptions or as part of your chronological retelling of their adoption story.

4. Consider a family tree (or trees).

It can be confusing for an adopted child to grow up when a majority of their peers have a traditional family structure. When students are asked to make a family tree in class, some adoptees may not know what to do.

Including a non-traditional family tree in your child’s adoption baby book is a great way to honor their birth family. Even if you have no direct contact with their birth family, adoptees may find comfort in seeing the names of their birth relatives, especially when they are developing their personal identity as an adoptee. After all, birth family is an important part of their adoption story, and their adoption lifebook should reflect that.

5. Highlight important moments in their adoption story.

A child won’t remember the most exciting moments in their adoption story, like when they were born or when their adoption was finalized. Therefore, you can use adoption lifebooks to commemorate those moments with photos, documents and descriptions of the events. Even something like a sonogram picture or baby footprints will be appreciated as your child grows up.

6. Explain certain parts of the adoption process.

Remember, your child will likely use their adoption memory book as a way to learn about their adoption, but it can also be a great tool to educate any friends or family members they show it to, as well. Therefore, you can take this opportunity to explain as well as celebrate. For example, on your page about your adoption finalization, detail what the finalization hearing was like, including little details about how you and your child reacted to different parts of the process.

7. Allow others to be involved in the creation of the book.

If you are comfortable, consider reaching out to your child’s birth parents so they can include a personal note in your child’s adoption lifebook. Your child’s birth mother may wish to write a letter, which is a beautiful way of including her in your child’s memory book and allows your child to look back on their birth mother’s words for the rest of their life.

You may also wish to have your adoption professional or adoption lawyer include a personal note, as well.

8. Leave room for them to write their own story.

Your child’s adoption lifebook doesn’t have to end at their adoption finalization; their personal adoption story continues to grow day by day. Therefore, the best adoption memory books are interactive.

Parents who adopt their children from other countries often use adoption baby books to teach their child about their native country, and you might consider doing the same with whatever city or state your child was born in. You can also leave blank pages in the back of your child’s memory book, so you both can add important moments in their adoption story as they grow up, like when they first meet their birth parents or return to the hospital where they were born.

9. Protect your adoption baby book.

Adoption baby books are incredibly important to adoptees, and they may wish to show theirs off to peers and family members. Therefore, taking the steps to protect your lifebook pages early can prevent heartache later on. Consider laminating your homemade scrapbook pages or putting them in protective sleeves, or work with a professional bookbinding company like Shutterfly to preserve any important documents in a scan, instead of direct pasting into your child’s adoption memory book.

10. Make your adoption memory book your own!

No one’s adoption journey is the same, so every baby book for adopted children will be different, too. Don’t get too caught up in finding life book examples and what everyone else seems to be doing — focus on what’s important about your child’s adoption story, and create your adoption baby memory book around that. As long as you take the time and effort to create something special, your child will love their adoption life book!

Check out sites like Pinterest for more life book examples and free lifebook pages. Don’t forget to comment with any suggestions you may have for other adoptive parents!