By Kimberly Schildbach, M.Ed., LMHC
I wrote in my other article, How to Adopt a Special Child, about the steps we’ve taken to adopt our two special children Nellie and Marin.
During the first visit to meet their adoptive child, many parents present their newest child with a small photo album of their future home and family. Since Nellie is visually impaired I knew that this book would be tactile. Since Marin is older (he is 8 now but will be 9 when he arrives), I decided to phrase their books in the form of an invitation.
There is a touching scene in Downton Abbey season 2 (oh, how I miss that show!) where Daisy, the kitchen maid, is fretting about visiting her late husband’s father at his farm. She married her husband not because she was in love with him, but because he was so in love with her and he was dying. When she finally visits her father-in-law and they sit down to tea he issues her an invitation: “Will you be my daughter, will you let me take you into my heart and pray for you and make you special?”
I want Nellie and Marin to know how special they are to us and how it is a privilege to be given this opportunity to be their parents.
Anyone with any crafting ability can make a tactile photo book for their child. I started by visiting my local office supply store for small binders in colors I associate with my newest children (purple for Nellie, blue for Marin). While I was there I also picked up plastic photo inserts for photos sized 4″ by 6″.
Since my photo book will have text in English as well as Bulgarian I opened up Google Translator.
Dear Nellie, will you be our daughter?
I put the text in Google translator and cut and paste it in a word document. Then I printed all my captions on cardstock.
Would you like to give and get hugs from your sister?
Then I slipped the copy behind the picture before it so it read like a story—text on the top page, picture on the bottom.
Would you let us celebrate your birthdays with cake and presents?
Then came the fun part—I went to the craft supply store and spent way too much on scrapbook embellishments. Raised, bumpy, velvet—I purchased anything tactile. Then I decorated.
Will you learn and play with us dear Nellie?
And I used foam words for more tactile goodness. If Nellie was reading braille I would have added braille to the pictures.
I imagine Nellie and a caregiver running their hands over the bumpy pictures and laughing over our clumsily translated Bulgarian. I don’t think that these pictures will mean much to Nellie—they are quite complex. But I love that I’m giving her something tailored to her needs and I’m hoping she feels our love in the bumps. I will be using the same technique for her life book (the equivalent of a baby book).
We have a lot of love in our family and would like you to be our daughter.
We love you very much!
Kimberly Schildbach LMHC, M.Ed. is trained as a family therapist but loves being a homemaker. She lives with her family of 6 (now) in Western Massachusetts where they tend a flock of naughty chickens and troupe of bantam ducks. Nellie and Marin will hopefully be coming home by December of 2013. Please visit her blog at: www.bringingnhome.blogspot.com for all the latest updates or to help them in their fundraising efforts.