Life Story Work
For most people growing up their narratives and identity are shaped by those around them, who carry their histories and their memories. This is not the case for children who are adopted who may have little understanding or information about their birth families and the reasons why they are adopted.
Put simply “Life Story work” encompasses all the conversations and activities professionals and adopters have with an adopted child to help them with the process of understanding and accepting their personal history. Life story work is an important way of helping a child to integrate their past into the present, to help them form a strong identity and move into the future with a coherent sense of self. It’s something that all adopters will need to engage with to help their children.
Therapeutic Life Story Work usually refers to a set programme of professionally delivered sessions which usually aim to help an adopted child make sense of the (often confusing or contradictory) information about their past, to help them explore perceptions and misconceptions, to enable them to develop their own coherent narrative and put their past into perspective.
At CCS we help our adopters by getting alongside you from the very beginning of your adoption journey offering information and support to help you manage this vital work with your child.
Your social worker has access to a wealth of resources created by our previous Sharing Stories Service to assist you with life story work.
We can help with the following:
- Letterbox or direct contact.
- Providing templates and guidance around creating, rewriting or developing Life Story Books.
- Advice on how to communicate effectively with your child around life story work.
- Referral to our Therapy team for Therapeutic Life Story Work.
Start as early as possible and build up a culture of “communicative openness” so adopted children know they can ask questions and talk about their birth families and past. Below are some suggested resources to help you. There are many more suggestions on the Resources page.
- Life Story Work with Children who are Fostered or Adopted by Joy Rees. This includes life storybook examples in the book as well as a link for downloadable examples.
- Why was I adopted? By Jan Jackson. This short guide looks at some of the most common big adoption questions that adopted children ask and explores the feelings and worries that can lie behind a child’s questions, with useful suggested dialogues.
- Life Story Work with Children who are Fostered or Adopted: Creative Ideas and Activities by Katie Wrench and Lesley Naylor.
- 5 min video by Joy Rees talking about the process of life story work.
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