In the adoption world, gifts are something that can cause a lot of anxiety. When meeting an expectant mother for the first time, hopeful adoptive parents often agonize over whether or not to bring a small gift for her, and if it is too much or not enough.
Ultimately, gifts are a very personal decision. When I met my son’s parents for the first time, we had been communicating for a few months already and they had brought small—but meaningful—gifts for the expectant father and me. The impact of their gift, as simple as it was, was huge. They gifted me a Celtic Woman CD—music they hoped I would like, based on our mutual interests. I listened to that CD every single night for the rest of the pregnancy, and well beyond placement. Even now, when a song from that album comes up, I smile.
In talking with other women who placed their babies for adoption, I have come up with a list of 6 gift ideas that are perfect when meeting an expectant mom for the first time.
1. Music. One of my favorite actors, Johnny Depp, said, “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.” Music is therapeutic and has the ability to help us escape from the world. If you know what kind of music she likes already, go that route. If you do not, then choose something that you enjoy. She will think of you when she listens to it, and that is never a bad thing. (Funny side note: That was a *small* part of my couple’s intention when they bought my CD. They hoped I would think of them.) CDs may be going the way of the dodo, but something tangible for her to hold is nice.
2. Gift Card. If you know her interests, a small gift card to her favorite eatery (or ice cream shop, in my case) or store is always exciting. Often, during an unexpected pregnancy, it is difficult to justify spending money on oneself. A prepaid excuse to splurge a little is a very thoughtful treat. If you do not know her interests, play it safe and choose something less personal. Gift cards, though easy, should also have a personal thought attached to them.
3. A Self-Care Package. Cozy socks, a yummy lotion, bubble bath, face masque, and a small pedicure kit was one of the cutest gifts given to a friend in my expectant mother support group. She talked to her couple for the very first time when they met face to face. The hopeful expectant mother, who was a cosmetologist, later told us, “I just knew that whether or not she chose to place, she needed to be pampered. She was going through something so difficult and deserved to feel beautiful.” A package could range from the one mentioned above to goodies and your favorite movie.
4. A book. Words can also be an escape. Hopefully you know her interests and can choose one she will happily add to her library. If you do not, something uplifting or motivational, unrelated to adoption (don’t push it), is a good choice. Ask others for recommendations if you are unsure.
5. Something you have in common. Do you both love movies? Give her tickets to an upcoming major film or a new release DVD/Blu-Ray. Fans of the same sports team? Logo apparel or memorabilia could be your thing. An affinity for fashion or beauty? A new, exciting product or accessory. Love chocolate? Pick out a personalized box of high-quality chocolates just for her. Choose something that shows you care about what you have in common, and that you listen to her.
6. Jewelry. I feel jewelry is only appropriate if you already know each other through email or phone calls, or have already been chosen. This does not mean buy her a pair of 1 carat diamond earrings. One of the most meaningful gifts I was given from my couple was a Pandora charm bracelet with charms commemorating important points in our journey. A birthstone for our son, another for my step-dad who had passed away shortly after placement, a mother holding a child, a heart, an alligator (to symbolize our time together in Florida), and others that were given for holidays and birthdays after placement. A motherhood necklace, a heart ring, or a waiting-to-be-filled charm bracelet are all great choices. It is a tangible gift that she can look at or touch when she is going through the grieving process, and remember that she is not alone.
No matter which gift, if any, you decide to give, also give thought to the expectant father. Something to let him know that you understand he is involved in the process, too, can go a long way toward building a friendship.
Remember, gifts are not given to “buy her off,” as some people will claim. Meaningful, thoughtful gifts are given as a token of appreciation for someone’s time, consideration, and because you genuinely care about them and want them to feel special.