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When a child is being kept out of your life, one of the positive things you can do is make family albums. These albums will be wonderful momentos to the family and hopefully one day, can be gifted to the child as a keepsake, evidence that you and your family have always been thinking about him/her.
If you are reading this, you will probably be into using Facebook and Flickr and the Internet to upload photos. You can make an album using IT! And if you can use IT, please use Facebook to upload your photos regularly so your child or grandchild can see them. Make your account as simple as possible to find.
Dads have told me they now use Twitter to pick up what their children are doing. Don't shy away from using the modern technology.
You can also make a album the old-fashioned way using a scrap book and glue. What ever works for you!
The ones about the family. Silly stories sometimes but ones that have been passed down. My mum always told me that Uncle Stanley didn't turn up in time for his funeral. He was shunted into a railway siding. Was this a figment of my mother's imagination or the truth? Either way, it's a great story and one I pass on.
All families have stories they enjoy re-telling. Grandparents, do tell the stories about the child's parent when s/he was small. Can you remember things they said that made you laugh? Things they did? Sports they played?
Are there photos of the family, past and present? Can you have some copies made so you can paste them into the album? Or can you scan them to put them on the Internet? Can you label them?
Do you have press cuttings you kept? Can these be copied or scanned? They may be of a family wedding or the day John was in the U16 District Rugby Final playing for Neath Athletic.
Places where family have lived, addresses, especially addresses where your family have had long connections. Places where the child might go to when they are older to get a sense of where s/he comes from.
People who may share memories with the child in the future
Family members and others who have the gift of recalling their memories of the past well. When I return to the area I was born, the local butcher always regales me with tales about my father and each time I learn more about him. Make sure you include the names and addresses of these people in your album.
Some of the information may be of tremendous use to your child when the time comes for him/her to have her own family. Was Aunt Jane diabetic? And Uncle Henry? And grandma? Make sure you have recorded these things, it will help your child answer the doctor on heredity illnesses.
Heart disease, strokes, cancer, dementia are not nice subjects, nevertheless record them in these family history albums. Medicine is constantly improving. There are women who have not had early onset breast cancer because the doctor picked up from their family history that they were at risk and early prevention has been put in place.
This is the album you begin to build the day you stop seeing your child. It is the album that will give him/ her the knowledge that you have always loved him/her.
Whenever you go somewhere different and would love to send your child a postcard, buy one and write it out complete with the date and stick it into your album.
The big card If there are family events, weddings, christenings, funerals or events like Christmas, Eid, Dewali take a big card along and ask your family to sign it for your child. Then stick the card into your album.
Record when you change job.If you changed because it might help in your struggle to stay in your child's life say so and why.
Take photographs of your extended family. This is why you must go to family events, you are building memory blocks that your children can see one day. Have a photo of you by the Christmas tree holding their photos. Have a photo next to the bride and groom with you holding the children's photos ( Check this out before hand with the happy couple... some may not wish to do this... others will be only too delighted to show they too would have liked the child at their wedding )
Going to a big event?
Go to matches and concerts and pick up a programme. Have your photo taken while you are there. Write a note in your album that you would have loved to have had your child with you. Write down something about the event that stuck out in your mind, something you know you would have told your child had you seen him/her straight after the event.
Press cuttingsThese are hopefully good ones about how well you are doing in football, rugby your career. These can be scanned and uploaded on to Facebook
Court appearances Keep it factual and brief. The date, the time, the location, the judge's name, your solicitor's name, your ex's solicitor's name, any expert witness called, any McKenzie Friend you used. The outcome. Don't upload this without having checked it will not prejudice your child's chances of seeing you in the future. You can stick it into any scrap book album you are making for when they are old enough to be interested in reading your album.
Cafcass Cymru Visitations Again not for uploading, but if Cafcass Cymru have been to see you, then it makes sense to jot down the date and the outcome of the meeting.
Incidences If anything weird has happened that has frustrated contact you can jot it down. Again don't upload it
Non-resident parents making current albums will make it easier for your child to see how much you wanted to stay in his/her life.
Grandparents making family albums passes on to your grandchild's his/her family heritage. Something that so many children who find themselves caught up in contact battles miss out on.
Do enjoy making these album. Make them a labour of love!