Our kick off project - "My Story"
"We are all together in the same room, we just entered through different doors" is a phrase I picked up during my training on my journey to being an adoptive parent. I don't really remember who said it or where I first heard it, but it was accessible to me in explaining the different ways families come together. Its a phrase I use many times when explaining our own journey with my two children.
Our family story is unique and belongs only to us. I wanted a way for our children to wrap language around how we came to be a family and form a narrative in a way that speaks to them. I found when we encountered adoptive families in books and films it was a great way to weave in our own family story. We'd watch Despicable Me and say "Hey look, Gru adopted his girls just like we adopted you" or "Superman, he was adopted too...no baby, that doesn't mean you have super powers".
Whilst this was helpful I also thought some of these film and TV characters barely represent a realistic version of modern day adoption, let alone anything close to our story. I thought wouldn't it be great if we had our own book with our own story. So I reached out to a very talented artist friend Rebecca and I told her about my idea. She illustrated key moments in our journey so far and we worked out a narrative. My children were both under five at the time, I felt a huge weight of responsibility to give them both a voice at a time when they were not quite able to fully articulate their experiences yet. I knew as an adopted person how important this would be in forming a sense of identity as they grew older.
We had the book made to read and look like every other book on the kids shelf. It regularly gets pulled out at bed time. We pause over parts of the story and talk. I'll say "That's you and your sister when you played together for the first time" and the children will say "Oh, that doll is missing a leg now!". It's given us a platform to have conversations and answer some of hard, and some not so hard questions.
So for our first project we want to give as many families as we can the opportunity to co-produce a story book. We've got some choices to make in the coming months about how we will deliver, who we want to involve and how we will achieve the greatest impact. But what we do know is that through this artistic response we want to allow families to own their story and build connection.