I cried six times while working on this photo book (yes, haha, I counted!). It’s impossible to sum up in words all of the emotions we felt throughout our adoption. It was truly the most magical, painful, surreal, wonderful and brutal time in our lives. All of those emotions are real. I put off starting this book for nearly five months because I was so intimidated to try to capture all of that. In the end, I kept it pretty simple—mainly photos—and told the story as truthfully as I could.
For this post, we partnered with Canon USA to create a custom photo book. It was my first experience with their hdAlbum PRO photo books, and it won’t be my last. The software was super easy to figure out. I decided to make a 10×10-inch album with a photo cover. It’s super high quality with glossy pages. I used a mix of high quality and low quality images in my book (some of it is actual screen shots, but they are still important memories I wanted to include) and it worked out seamlessly. If you want to make your own custom photo book, visit shop.usa.canon.com/photobooks and you can use the code ABM18A for 40% off all hdAlbum photo books through 6/3.
Start to finish, our adoption process was 18 months. We kept a private Instagram account for so much of that time to document our process. I pulled images from that for all of the stories of the adoption process before we met Nova. One of the most important things I wanted to include in this book was all of the photos we had of Nova while she was in China. Recently, we were able to receive even more photos, which are such a treasure to us. I’m happy they are all now safely together in this album.
One of the best memories of our life. I wrote all the text from us to Nova. I hope that when she’s old enough she will see how loved and wanted she was, even before we were together.
The adoption process is so full of paperwork, notary appointments and post office visits. So this obviously needed to be included in our story.
This is from when we first found out what our official “family day” would be!
I also included a lot of little things in the book, like the fact that we consciously knew we were decorating our tree for the last time as a family of two.
There are no words to describe how excited we were.
Our family day.
Nova’s first nap in out hotel room. We were just staring at her sleep.
I included as many full-page photos as I could. I really loved that about these albums! The full-page photos go all the way to edge and make the book look so beautiful.
Probably my favorite photo from our first day with Nova.
Our first plane ride.
This was one of the only family photos we were able to get in China.
The big moments are all there, but the little ones like this are what really tell the story. I got the maximum number of pages (100) so I could squeeze in as much as possible.
Flying to the US with Nova.
Our first morning at home—in Nova’s new home. I did a full page of text on the opposite page.
Even though this is a grainy phone photo, it’s one of my favorites and I love how it looks blown up full page.
And a few days after we arrived home we celebrated our first Christmas as a family of three. It was slow and quiet and very chill.
I ended the book with just a few family photos from around that time.
Here you can see how the book looks fully open. It’s nice and big, but still fits perfectly on our bookshelf.
And here’s the back of the book.
I already can’t wait to make another book. After seeing this book in person, I think I am going to do one large book for Nova every year. I think that’s a reasonable goal I can keep up with and then I may do some random book like vacations and stuff for my own collection, too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on photo books and memory keeping with a young child! I’ll be honest—it’s a lot of pressure! Everything is SO CUTE and going SO FAST. I think that these books will be a simple, realistic way for me to keep up with documenting her childhood.
Thanks for reading! Elsie
P.S. Check out My Advice to Families Considering Adoption, How We Chose Our Children’s Names, and if you like making photo books, check out 3 Ways to Add the Year to a Photo Album!
Credits//Author and Photography: Elsie Larson.
This book is sooo beautiful and I was very touched by your story and all your thoughts about it. My mother made a book with photos of me when I was a toddler, too. Unfortunately both of my parents aren‘t any longer with me. But this book is really precious for me and I love to watch all those pictures. Often I still have to laugh about them and the memories stay with me. So please continue making lovely book because they are a wonderful gift for your daughter. X
Your album is beautiful! But :/ just tried to order my book I’ve been working on all weekend to use your code expiring today… but it won’t let me create an account with a Canadian address! 🙁 Going to contact customer service tomorrow and see if they can do anything, or maybe ship to a friend in the US. But what a bummer. Anyone know any great printing options for Canada?
Canon has amazing customer service. I hope they can help! xx
This is a beautiful gift and a beautiful book. There are SO many cute photos when they’re little. I started printing ABC books every 6 months or so with just instagram photos. We’d do things like A is for Aunt Becky (pic of our daughter and Aunt B when we visited her in New York), S is for Strawberry (pic of us picking strawberries), etc. Its a fun way to print lots of pictures and keep up with the memories. I like to think having an ABC book with her own photos helped her learn her letters and helped her remember and identify friends and family who live far away. I think I ended up making 4 or so of them. Anyways, just a fun idea.
I love, love, love this so much!!! Fantastic, uplifting, touching.
Such a beautiful book! I love the convenience of photo books but really struggling with pulling the trigger as I just love a physical photo so much. Do you miss having physical photos?
I don’t really miss them. But I do still print single photos sometimes to hang up or give away. But I think for feeling organized I kind of prefer the photo books.
This was SO absolutely beautiful!! My heart is just full of so much love for you and your family – lovely post!!
I decided to use the chatbooks app instead of the traditional baby book. I do one book per month & try to have at least one photo per day (sometimes I forget a day, sometimes its multiple – especially if he’s meeting a new family member or friend). I love that I can print one for us and one for my mom! I am also doing one book of just his monthly photo (taken on the same blanket with the same stuffed animal) & a description page of his milestones for that month. Its almost like a flip book to see how much he’s grown! It’s so easy & makes it so the photos come out of my phone.
This turned out gorgeous and it’s such a fun way to remember all of the big and little moments of her adoption. I’ve been trying to find a way to document some of my travels and this seems perfect. Thank you for sharing!
Love this! I’ve started making annual photo books (and then extra ones for holidays etc), and to keep it super simple and I use 99% photos from Instagram and update it monthly. I’ve made quite a few photo books before, but these annual ones are by far my favorite!
What a beautiful book you’ve put together, thank you for sharing such an intimate story with us xx
First of all, I’m crying. This is so beautiful and it’s obvious that she is so loved.
As an answer to your question, my goal is to do one scrapbook (no more than 100 pages) for each year of my baby’s life. His first year was 76 pages (and my pregnancy album was only 44 pages). Digital scrapbooking is the only hobby I have — and also ‘work’ since I write copy for a few designers — so I just keep a running spreadsheet of what needs to be scrapped, what products I REALLY want to find photos for, etc. and just work as I can around his schedule.
I’m saving all the files to print duplicate copies when he wears them out and also so he can take copies when he has a house of his own (if he wants to).
Your story is so beautiful! Last night I read through all the posts about your family’s journey. I will take your wisdom and insight with me the rest of my life. (Ps I have heard that Virtual Reality treatment is an option for people who are legally blind. Every day new things called impossible are becoming possible! Nova is at the beginning of a bright future with you as her mother!)
It’s a great idea. I think over time you will take less camera photos and more mobile photos and possibly get into a different frequency. I started off making two a year and I’m now about 3,5 years behnd… but you should focus on her first books. Keep everything from her early years and go over those albums/items with her when she asks… each year they retain additional details and slowly form their own history. But the ask, they are curious about their origin and they need all that love and all that affirmation because kids at school (mostly) will ask and will give her thoughts and words about her origin that she hasn’t heard from you. So yes to those albums, they’re gorgeous. You never have too many. I have two from the trip over and one for the baptism, plus one for the first six months here. Four in half a year, but she only wants to see, over and over again, the first three ones. ????????????
I don’t even know you 3 in person and in crying ????
I guess I think of how fortunate this little girl is to have you both sas parents. I currently live and work in Shanghai and I know how sad it is to have so many kids left behind bc of really petty reasons.
As for the photobook idea I LOVE it. I’ll definitely do one a year for my son. If he doesn’t take them all to college, I don’t care I’ll gladly keep it ????????????
Yes, this is so beautiful! I wish that all children would get to flip through their stories like this (with or witout a fancy album book! 🙂 ) and see how much love there has been in their lives!
That made me cry looking at it, I can’t imagine making it! So happy your family found each other.
Thanks for posting this, it’s so beautiful, I’m moved. We have a 6months old, and I keep a baby diary from pregnancy with pictures (polaroids, printed, film…)that she’ll get at 18, Plus a separate photo album (analog). Not sure if I will give that one to her or keep it to myself lool.
Looking at your pictures of the first day I’m reminded of our first days. The alienating feeling, the complete cluelessness, the infinite LOVE..isn’t it so weird to suddenly have a child?! And not knowing anything about it as a person? I mean, they probably told you something about her beforehand (I wish I were so lucky lol) but still..the shock must have been incredible. Nova looks so comfortable and calm in the first day pictures…what a lucky family.
I can only imagine the crying as you made it, because I cried while looking at it! It’s beautiful, and I, sure when she’s older it will be one of the many things she can look back on and see how much you loved and wanted her. It may be minimal, but in a good way, where it focuses you on the important things. I’m sure she will cherish it,.
This is so sweet and inspiring. I want to start make one for my baby too. Hope the three of you will always be happy 🙂
This made my heart melt. Thank you for sharing these personal moments