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How to Tuesday: How to Write an Autobiography for Your Adoption Home Study

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By JulieC - Posted on 12 November 2008

There is an astonishing abundance of writing as one trudge's through the adoption process, overwhelming even those who find enjoyment the art of recording their brain's creations.  Besides the “Dear Birthmother” letter, the autobiography would be 'the other' big writing stressor of the adoption process.  Each agency will have their own guidelines as to what specific topics they would like to see included in your autobiography.
  • Ready, set, reflect.  A social worker could interview you and find out everything that you are going to put into the autobiography, and actually will do so at some point before the home study process comes to conclusion. You aren’t really writing this for them while they do benefit from it; you are doing it for you. The autobiography is a chance for you to reflect on the events that have occurred in your life, and how those events as well as your rejoinder to them have fashioned you into the individual you are today.  Subsequent to your first meeting your social worker has an impression of your persona, it’s their job is to interpret people’s personalities after all, so what they are looking for in your autobiography besides the information they requested in their guideline is how you view, and feel about yourself.  
  • Make an outline.  Make a list of the events, and facts you want to write about, then go back and write a few key details about each entry, including it’s specific point.  You don’t want to be eight paragraphs deep about your exhilaration over receiving your first puppy, before realizing you put Fido on the list to illustrate your first experience with death and grief.
  • Talk to friends and family.   Talking about old times will help you remember forgotten details of the past events, such as how you actually felt while going through them.  Examine each event from the perspective you had in the moment, as well as from your current one. 
  • Don’t Jump around. Once you are done creating content, you can arrange the items in the order.  When you begin jumping around back and forth from childhood to adult to teenager, to child, your point can become lost as the reader tries to keep up with the timeframe instead of the events within it.
  • Details. You want details in your writing to accurately describe a thought or event to someone else so they can grasp completely what is it you wish to convey.  Keep in mind that some aspects warrant more details than others.  Spending two pages describing being arrested as a teenager, or how it felt growing up with an alcoholic parent: good idea.  Spending two pages going on in great depth about the first time you remember picking a flower and that's why you like daisies so much, or why you chose “Gilbert” as the name of your first puppy, bad idea. 
  • Tie it together, and wrap it up.  Don’t just talk about aspects of your life up until now, that's a timeline.  Pick stories from the different times of your life that hold meaning to you, these are the stories that stand out in your mind when you think of yourself as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult because these are the events that helped shape who you are, the defining moments of your life.   Once you've worked your way through to the present, don't forget to wrap everything up. The last paragraph is the Reader's Digest version of everything you've stated prior to it.  It's pretty much your philosophy, or outlook, on life.  You've already exposed the details of you, now it's time to examine what they mean, what it is that you stand for, who it is you truly are.  
  • Read your life.   Don't just assume because you live it you actually know what you just put down on paper.  Read it, and read it again.  Don't just read for spelling and grammar errors, listen for your tone and your angle, both will be there, intended or not.  Do you sound happy with yourself and your life?  Do you sound as though you have coped well with the events that have been thrust your way?  Did you learn from mistakes and hold yourself accountable for them?  Are you confident in yourself and your abilities? If the answer is no to any of the above, you have more thinking to do about yourself, before you start thinking about a child.


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