Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Bringing healing, justice, wholeness to people and communities.

May 3, 2012


Dear Friend of LSSI:


Lots of people have foggy memories from their childhood in which the details may be vague, out of sequence or, in some cases, simply inaccurate. But most people have a parent or another person who can help them put the puzzle pieces of the past together. That isn't true for many foster children.

With about 2,000 children in our care at any one time, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) manages one of Illinois' largest foster care programs. One of the unique ways in which we work with these young people is through our use of Lifebooks. Like a scrapbook, a Lifebook contains fun pictures and mementos of a child's life. But it does much more: It helps make sense of a complicated life.

A child at an Adoption Day event in Springfield works on a Lifebook page entitled "This Is My Family."
Children in foster care may lose track of the places they have lived or may not understand why they are not living with their birth parents. A Lifebook provides a place to collect and keep track of their placement histories and to honor important relationships. The Lifebook provides concrete, visual tools that assist children in understanding their pasts and reasons for the separation from their parent(s).

A 12-year-old girl in foster care, Lisa, was working on Lifebook pages and had many unanswered questions about her father. Lisa believed that he did not love her anymore because she has not talked to him or seen him since she was a toddler. Writing in her Lifebook, Lisa expressed that she would like to get in contact with her dad.

Although Lisa'
s father had not responded to previous attempts to contact him, the LSSI Lifebook specialist sent him a letter asking for information and pictures for his daughter's Lifebook. Two weeks later, he responded and said he was willing to provide information for Lisa's Lifebook and would like to talk to her. After lots of preparation with the Lifebook specialist, Lisa and her father had a phone conversation. Lisa found out that she and her dad share a lot of common interests, such as reading and loving animals.

At the end of the conversation, Lisa'
s father told her he loved her very much and missed her a lot. Lisa then told her dad that she loved and missed him, too. Because of Lifebook work, Lisa and her father reconnected and Lisa was able to hear a message of love from her absent father. There's still a lot of work to do to heal this relationship, but through Lifebook work, a huge hole has been filled for Lisa.

It is so important for all of us to have a sense of our story as individuals to know who we are and to feel whole. I am so pleased that we can give this gift to the foster children we serve at our agency.


In Faith,

The Rev. Denver Bitner, D. Min.

LSSI President/CEO

P.S. I am very excited to tell you about "My Awesome Life" -- a Lifebook that LSSI has developed and is making available for foster and adopted children -- in fact, all children -- to help them create a meaningful narrative of their lives. Please visit our special site to learn more about our awesome, amazing Lifebook.

OUR MISSION: Responding to the Gospel, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois brings healing, justice and wholeness to people and communities.

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Des Plaines, IL 60018

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