One sure fire thing that connects and bonds a family together are those good, old family stories. They are the ones that you hear over and over again at family gatherings. Plus, they often get better and more elaborate with every telling! One of my favorite “family stories” is the Lord, God and Marty story. As the story goes – my sister often came home from church singing a good old Lutheran hymn titled Holy, Holy, Holy. The first stanzas were, “Holy, holy, holy. Lord, God, Almighty. But being a little 3 year old she heard the congregation sing the last word as her baby brother’s name, Marty. She was so pleased that they loved him so much they sang a song about him. So on her way home from church she would serenade him with that jubilant hymn – Holy, holy, holy – Lord, God and Marty!
These family stories are important for all our children, whether they are born to us or whether they come to us through adoption or foster care. These stories play an especially important role in adoption and foster care. They are beneficial in making connects and bonds with the child we are caring for.
Below are some ideas for creating your own family stories for children who come to you through adoption or foster care:
- Tell a story of the first time you met the child. The first time I met my daughter, she was wearing a dress with a big collar which kept flipping up in her face. I felt so sorry for her and it was all I could not to reach over and hold that collar down! She thinks it is a funny story and asks to hear it over and over. Even the smallest detail of the day you met can become a big part of their story.
- Share the special things about them that remind you of their biological parents or family. Let them know that this is a special part of who they are and that you think that is cool.
- Share the special things about them that remind them of you and your family members. It helps them see how they are connected to you.
- Tell the stories of their “firsts” –their first day at a new school, the first time they met the extended family, the first time they stepped off an airplane to their new home and country, the first time you met their biological parents after they choose you as the family for their baby.
- Make life books with pictures to help tell their stories.
- Share stories of the funny, cute, embarrassing things they have done. What child doesn’t like to be reminded of singing songs with wrong words, of smearing peanut butter in their hair, of asking Aunt Edith why her nose is so big! Just be careful – our kids enjoy telling funny stories about us too!