What is a family book?
A family book is created by you, as a family. It is utilized in two main ways during your journey. You may also hear workers refer to it as a life book. However, I reserve the term life book for the books families make with children in care. This way, they can remember their families, schools, friends, etc. Family books, on the other hand, are books filled with pictures which tell the story of your family. All in order to help express who you are and why you would be the best match for a child or sibling group.
Family books are important because they are used by your Arms Wide Adoption Services worker to help represent your family at a RAS. When your family is being considered during a RAS, your worker will take your family book with them. This gives CPS the opportunity to look through it in-person, while hearing more about you from your worker verbally. CPS has already read your home study at this point, so this is an opportunity for them to get to know you aside from the home study. On a more personal level.
The second way your family book is utilized is to help introduce your family prior to a pre-placement visit. Family books are incredibly important! We encourage you to put a lot of effort into creating this book, as your child will cherish this forever. Please consider the following helpful tips and guidelines as you and your family begin creating your family book.
How do I make one?
Many families are creating their family books online through websites like Shutterfly and have them professionally printed. Although this looks very nice, it is not required or necessary. We have many families who prefer to hand make their books, such as a scrapbook style. These are very nice as well. However you choose to create yours, remember the important thing is you do not rush the process. Take your time creating it.
Should you choose to create your family book online, please provide your worker with the link to your book. If there is not a link available or you choose to hand make your family book… Please provide your worker with a PDF or PowerPoint version along with the hardcopy. This allows Arms Wide Adoption Services the opportunity to share your family book with CPS workers electronically. This is most helpful for the selection staffings we do not attend in person. For instance, when a child is located outside of your local region.
When do I submit my family book?
Although you are probably eager and excited to begin working on your family book, especially after hearing about them and seeing examples, we ask that all of our families wait to begin creating their family book until after they have completed all of their required training. This is encouraged so families can focus their attention and efforts on both training and their family book, equally and separately. We do not want families distracted with one versus the other. Both steps are incredibly important to this process.
Once your training is completed and you have entered the home study phase of this process, feel free to begin creating your family book. This is a great activity to do while you wait for your home study to be approved. This will allow you enough time to complete your family book. Our ideal time for you to submit your family book would be once your home study is approved or shortly after. This timeline is ideal because once your home study is completed, we will begin submitting you to be considered as a possible match for any eligible childreng. Please remember there are many unknowns in this process. We are never sure when we will get broadcasts for children or when a family will be selected for a RAS.
Once you submit your family book, it will stay in your worker’s possession until you are matched with a child. Again, please take your time and do not rush through making it. Family books are important and will be a keepsake for your future child. While making your family book, feel free to reach out to your worker should you have any questions. We are happy to provide feedback on your book prior to completing or ordering a final copy.
What should I include and not include in my family book?
- Introduce each immediate family member individually through pictures and words. For example, who they are, their name, what they enjoy doing in their free time, etc.
- Be selective of your photos you choose and make sure they are of good quality and are not pixelated or blurry.
- Show diversity in your family book, especially if you are open to an interracial placement. Showcase the child the people who are in your life who the child would have the opportunity to be around. Show them they would be culturally supported by you and your support system.
- Photos which show your interests as a family and activities you enjoy doing together.
- Pictures of extended family members, especially any other children who are in your support system that the child(ren) would have the opportunity to spend time with after joining your family.
- Photos of your pets, if applicable.
- Pictures of your home, the child’s future bedroom, and the school or church they may attend.
- Words with your pictures, but consider the following: CPS will most likely not take the time to read through lengthy paragraphs and will mostly focus on the pictures alone. Feel free to include as many words as you would like to, as your book ultimately ends up with your child. They will enjoy reading what you have to say. You may want to focus more on labels for the pictures or short blurbs to give them context or send a message. It is acceptable to let your family book tell your story through pictures and to leave the words for your home study.
- Create your family book or include any content with a specific child in mind. What this means is please avoid any wording or pictures directed toward a specific child, such as a child of a specific age, race, or gender. In the past, we have received family books that say things like “we can’t wait to meet our son!” This is discouraged for the reason that most of our families become more open to their child preferences throughout their process. We do not want you to be limited in any way or have to redo your family book down the road. Keep your words and pictures vague as you do not know who that child will be yet.
- Include pictures of a room decorated for a specific age range or gender. Again, your preferences may change and if your book is directed towards you wanting a baby, but you are being considered for a seven-year0old, they may second guess your commitment to a school-aged child.
- Include any fowl language or bad words. Keep the child in mind and remember CPS will be looking through this book when selecting a good family match for a child.
- Include any photos with alcohol, inappropriate environments in the background, or inappropriate content.
Trusting The Process
Again, trust in the process and reach out if you have any other questions. The agency has book examples for you to browse through if you would like. We can’t wait to see how your family book turns out!
About The Author
As the Adoption Coordinator, Kimberly Beck, LPC works with South Texas families once they match with a placement of a child. She supports adoptive parents, supervises cases, and develops resources, including the child’s health and psychological records. She has completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology and her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. You can read more about Kimberly here.