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We Are All Storytellers—Adopting Storytelling Passion as a Parent

Last November was a landmark month for me—and my husband. She, the birthmother of our unborn baby, called and told me she was in active labor and heading to the hospital. Once we arrived, we were admitted to the delivery room where a team of nurses and doctors prepared to deliver our baby.

As best we could, we stood out of their way, but our son was being born. I found myself so caught up in the excitement that when the doctor asked if I wanted to cut the cord, all I could do was respond with a blank stare. Once I processed the request, I jumped at the chance. Up to this point, I thought of myself as an interloper in the birth mother’s life and in the process, but now, he was here and he was real.

My story may be a bit different than yours. It’s not better or worse, just different. I’ve captured pictures, special memories and firsts along the way, just like you. Adoptive parent or not, I’ve found there’s a universal desire to give our children a history—and to capture their life through special moments.

But as an adoptive parent, I don’t have the full story. Because I’m missing parts of my son’s story—like characters, plot twists and environment cues—I have a heightened desire to capture what is known. And as cliché as it is, it’s the pictures that really tell our story.

As a group director, I get to tell stories for a living—brand stories, that is, from Pampers to Pringles to Jim Beam. Brand stories look to bring people who care about the brand’s purpose together so they can spread their shared values to others. It’s about a bigger idea. Some call it a vision, “true north” or even the brand essence, but the key idea behind the brand’s story makes its value proposition irresistible. It’s easy to see why marketers invest heavily when developing and telling their brand stories.

And while some brands rely heavily on words to convey their purpose, others use images. I’ve had the pleasure to work with brands that do both. Arguably, the brands with resolute purposes are more successful in telling their stories through pictures. One look at a Pampers package and you can tell the brand stands for helping “mothers care for their babies’ and toddlers’ healthy, happy development” (as noted in Grow by Jim Stengel). There’s something truly special when a brand’s purpose becomes telegraphic just by looking at its images. And, now as a consumer, I get that message more than ever.

As I relate brand storytelling to my own, my irresistible value proposition and purpose become crystal clear—unconditional love for my son. I continue to be inspired by other adoptive parents; hearing and seeing their stories can be a transformational experience.

It’s why I’ve created a visual adoption timeline that identifies key dates and decisions along our journey to him, as well as a photo book, with a little help from my favorite brands, Picaboo and Shutterfly, to capture his adoption story. I’ve also taken monthly (to the day) pictures of him and our family.

Last year, it was reported that 62% of all adults own a digital camera, and I’m one of them. Along with my iPhone, gone are the days of the annual family portrait that I grew up with so begrudgingly. Storytelling has gone mainstream—making it easier and affordable to capture the story of your delight.

I’m convinced brands like Shutterfly, blurb, and Picaboo will continue to strengthen and evolve—giving us more tools and mediums to share our stories. Today, Shutterfly evens points to “storytelling” on its website and, according to its Facebook page, is looking for “storytellers.”

I invite you—as parents, grandparents, friends and colleagues—to share your storytelling techniques. As a mom and LPK professional storyteller, I know I will continue to share mine. Email me at tina_kunkel@lpk.com.

P.S. As this milestone month of November comes to an end for our family, I want to point out that it’s also National Adoption Month and thousands of children are awaiting families, families to help them shape their stories. My husband and I chose adoption—perhaps you might too. My biggest resource was the Dave Thomas Foundation. 


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