adoption comeunity

Adoption Shops & Adoption Services


Adoption Book Reviews

How to Help Adopted Children Adjust with an Adoption Welcome Book

By Beth O'Malley, M.Ed., author of LifeBooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child.

How can we best help babies and kids when it's time for them to change worlds? As the adoption community strives to enhance attachment, families and professionals are paying close attention to working on tools to help with initial adjustment. The Welcome Book is one of those tools. Have you heard of it? Folks in the foster care system use it with great success. Read on and learn more about how it applies to international adoption.

What Is the Welcome Book for Adopted Children?

The Welcome Book is a simple book made by you with photos introducing your child to his or her immediate family (including pets) and surroundings (car, yard, house). The Welcome Book consists mainly of photos and short descriptions (whew-no tough text like that lifebook). The length is between 5-9 pages. Details about why the book is important and how to make it are below.

What is the Purpose for Adoptive Families?

The Welcome Book helps your new family member, whether they are two or twelve, prepare for their new life, by showing them photos. Think of the Welcome Book as a preview at the movies - a preview of "life's coming attractions." When your child arrives at his or her new home they can get out of the car and think to themselves, this house looks familiar, and it's not a total shock to their system. If you are lucky enough to have contact with your child while they are still in foster care or in a baby home/orphanage, you can mail a copy of the Welcome Book to that child ahead of time. That way caregivers can help prepare/transition your child. Otherwise, you can give it to them when you meet. If you are making 2 trips you can leave the Welcome Book with your child after your initial meeting.

How Do I Make A Welcome Book for My Adopted Child?

Do what works for you. If you are artsy-be artsy. Like things plain and simple? Great. Either way, you are creating a book of photos with captions. Use magic marker and handwrite the titles if you like. Or spend hours creating elaborate designs on the computer. Time is a luxury for most waiting families. The bottom line is, " Don't stress. Be who you are." Then tape photos into a booklet and describe what they are of. You can use a photo album, blank book, or bound book from a photo service (such as snapfish). Or, you can just staple together construction paper and glue on photos. That's it. In fact, this is a wonderful task for waiting family members to do together. If there are already children in your home, involve them (but you knew that).

Book Suggestions for Adopted Child of Any Age

  • Begin with a picture of them (referral picture) on the first page. Title it with large words such as WELCOME LILLY, HI TANYA or WE CAN'T WAIT TO MEET YOU MARIA!
  • Include a picture of you and your spouse or partner (if applicable).
  • Include a photo of your car(s).
  • Have a picture of your house from the outside.
  • 1 or 2 photos of inside rooms, especially the ones they will see first, such as the entry way or foyer.
  • A picture of kitchen table with dinner on it. o One or two photos of where they are going to sleep! Their crib, your bed-include any and all sleeping arrangements.
  • Brother or sister? Add pictures of siblings waiting at home. Hopefully your child-to-be has heard their voice over the phone. Consider getting a photo frame with a voice recording feature and bring it with you.
  • Picture of immediate family- those who live in or near the house. This is not the place to include every cousin, in-law, etc. in your family.
  • Pets? This is a great time to introduce your furry friends, to show pictures and make animal sounds.

Special Tips for Older Adopted Children

Certainly if you are adopting an older child, then you would want to include more photos. Include the local playground, future school etc. Add anything you think they will find useful and/or interesting to see ahead of time. Familiarity reduces the fear factor. The less anxiety a child feels, the safer he or she will feel. Feeling safe allows for children to open their hearts. Don't go overboard with trying to show them what a 'good life' they will have. It is a huge temptation to shower your child with toys, clothes and promises of trips to Disney. Let them see what a regular day in their new family will look like. End with a picture of your family. Add an image of your child to a family photo by superimposing them (with a scanner, PhotoShop program or by manually taping their photo) to make a complete family photo.

For Adopted Babies & Toddlers Too?

Yes! Toddlers and even babies (I consider a baby as someone 12 months or younger) can tuck away the images for a short time. You'll have plenty of time to review The Welcome Book in the hotel, airplane, and while finalizing paperwork. By offering some predictability via the pictures, it helps offset some of the new home shock they feel as they arrive. You can mention Scruffy so many times that by the time your child meets the family dog it won't be such a surprise.

Final Benefit for the Adoptive Family: Establishing Trust

You can assure your child with the Welcome Book by saying, "See I showed you what your home would be like and here it is." It is a small project with a huge impact. You can earn credibility with your child and bridge two worlds in a concrete and important fashion. Fast forward a few years and watch as life comes full circle. You might catch your child sitting in the living room looking back at their Welcome Book. My how times flies!

Ms. O'Malley is an adoptee, adoptive Mom, adoption social worker, and the author of LifeBooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child. Sign up for free lifebook lessons and a monthly newsletter at

Adoption How to Adopt

How to Adopt

Adoption Scams
Is International Adoption for You?
Hague Regulations/Agencies
How to Adopt Internationally
Make a Welcome Book
Domestic Adoption
Tears of Joy
Older Child Adoption
Parents by Choice
A Dream Come True
Interviewing An Agency
The Greatest Gift
Joy and Surprises - Assimilation
Rainbows from Heaven
Adopting on Your Own
The Adoption Homestudy
5 Top Hot Buttons - Insensitive Comments
Homestudy Humor
Preparing Families for International Adoption
Basic Requirements
Agency Intiated or Direct Adoption? Immigration/Orphans
Interview- ICC

Choosing An Agency Links

Shops & Services


Book Reviews | Author Interviews

| How to Adopt | Adoption Travel | Adoption Lists | Talking About Adoption (The Triad) |
| Special Needs Adoption | Adoption Health | Travel Health | Adoption Medical Clinics |
| Real Moms Newsletter | Oh Wonderful Boys | Adoption Poetry |
| Infertility & the Adoption Journey | Humanitarian Aid |

This website and articles are copyright.

COMEUNITY Comeunity Home Adoption How to Adopt