I am not a birth mom, but I am an adoptive mom. So, why did I choose to write about this topic? Truthfully, I know what I would love to get from the birth parents of my children. It would be rude to tell them what I want, so I will share it here.
I like to think I am a good gift giver. I have bestowed many wonderful adoption presents upon my child’s birth mom. I usually get her things I would want myself, but always inspired by or created by our child.
Here is a list of adoption presents:
- Photo gifts
- Information on family traditions/recipes/etc. that would be meaningful for our child
- Handmade gifts
There are many different types of photo gifts. As a mom, I appreciate all photos of my kids. Having a photo made into a canvas or maybe put on a tote bag is a nice gift. Other photo gift ideas could be putting a beloved photo on a blanket or throw pillow. Photos can be made into magnets to hang on the refrigerator, keychains, or even jewelry. There are so many ways to use photos as gifts I could never name them all.
One type of photo gift that would be extra special to receive as an adoptive family would be photos that are usually inaccessible to us. For instance, photos showing the pregnancy with the birth mom. Photos that may have been taken during ultrasounds before birth. Adoptive parents are not always able to access hospital photos, so sharing those would be a lovely gift.
One idea would be to make a photo book of the pregnancy. This might include belly photos if you took them each month, the ultrasound pictures, and copies of important milestones or events that happened. It would be incredible to be able to look at a book like this with the adopted child and share in the joy of their growth within their birth mom. If appropriate, snippets of journal entries that their birth mother may have written during the pregnancy would be a neat inclusion. Of course, making a photocopy of personal items or photos rather than including originals would be best. Nobody expects a parent to give up some of the most sentimental items he or she has. Making copies allows you to still share these special items, while not losing them yourself.
If you would like to make a gift that includes personal thoughts and things from the pregnancy and are unsure if it will be well received, just ask. Or if you are worried about ruining the surprise of the gift, find someone close to the receiver of the gift and ask for their advice. If you don’t feel that you can do that, just try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were them. This may be important if sharing journal entries or pregnancy worries and fears. It may be difficult for an adoptive mom to read some of those moments, but also important for her to know and for the child to know. When giving such a personal gift, it may be important to “read the room” as they say, and try to be mindful of timing and feelings all the way around. I do think that if adoption presents are given with the best of intentions, they are usually well received.
Including photos of other biological relatives would be a nice addition to a photo book gift as well. I would love to see photos of biological grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others. Being able to gaze at the faces of those who share similar features is really healthy and helpful in healing and accepting adoption.
Jewelry is usually a nice gift. I personally don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I love receiving it. When I do put it on, I feel special wearing jewelry that was a gift.
There are many ways to acknowledge your adoption relationship with jewelry items as adoption presents. There are necklaces available with the adoption symbol on them. Additionally, birthstone jewelry is usually a good idea. If you have a close relationship with those in your adoption triad, including all the birthstones may be a neat idea. I also think that a birthstone item (necklace, bracelet, earrings, whatever) that is purchased as an identical match to one that a birth mom may have is a really awesome gift, recognizing the shared love of the child that each mother feels. I would love to feel that connection with our child’s birth mom on days when adoption feels hard. I would also love to know that she has the same connection to help her on her hard days.
A really great gift to give your child and their family is the gift of knowing special traditions and recipes from their birth family. Wouldn’t it be neat to bake cookies from a recipe that was handed down for many generations and chat about biological family, adoptive family, and extended family while baking?
Is there a family tradition you want to share with your child that is special to you? For instance, did your family always open one gift on Christmas Eve? Would your child’s family be interested in allowing that tradition to continue? Did everyone in your family wear matching pajamas on Christmas Eve and open gifts wearing them the next morning? Maybe you could give each family member a pair of pajamas and ask if they would be interested in starting the tradition. It may be neat to have a video chat or something with birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child all wearing their matching outfits.
Sharing these ideas is a wonderful gift for the family. However, they may choose not to follow some of your traditions or ideas. Try to share with an open mind and with little expectation. Your child’s family may have their own traditions they prefer. Hopefully, some of these overlap and allow everyone to feel happy. Then again, maybe sharing your traditions will begin a new tradition for them. Either way, sharing is caring. Isn’t that how the saying goes?
Handmade Adoption Presents:
Handmade adption presents are always a good idea. We appreciate the love, time, and effort put into a handmade item.
Handmade quilts, crocheted, or knitted blankets, hats, etc. are all wonderful gifts. As a mother who has adopted, I save all handmade gifts. I have a tote for my little one that contains all the handmade baby blankets, hats, and mittens he received as an infant. I still put all personalized or handmade items away for him as he grows out of them or no longer uses them. These will all be precious treasures for him someday. Knowing somebody took their time to make a gift is priceless.
We have also received art from our birth family, beautiful paintings meant to hang on the bedroom walls of our little one.
Handwritten notes are treasures to save as well
Another idea for a personalized gift that isn’t exactly handmade is a recordable book. You can buy a book, record yourself reading it, and gift it to your child and family. These books are so special and give me all the feels. I had my son make one for his birth mom, and I wish he had one from her too. This is especially good during the toddler years before the child can read for themself.
There are also plush toys that a parent can record a message for their child to hear when they squeeze the paw or belly where the recording device hides. These are super cute and great for kids to have when someone important to them isn’t always nearby.
Space may seem like a weird idea for a gift. However, when dealing with the emotions of adoption, sometimes space is the best gift. Everyone in the adoption triad will have days where they struggle with adoption. Birth parents, adoptive parents, and kids will go through a full range of emotions, especially during holidays or gift-giving times. We may even feel extremely open and connected within the triad one minute and the next feel like we need a little space and time to process.
Gift giving is usually well received and appreciated. Be respectful of all sides of the triad. Try to be understanding if anyone needs time to process or needs a break. As a birth parent, you may wish to see your child during the holidays. Yet, the adoptive parents may be trying to squeeze in visits with all of their extended family and already feel stretched thin. Both sides will have big feelings involving holidays throughout the year. Try to extend grace and understanding to the adoption relationship. Boundaries are normal and healthy. As time goes, they may also change. It is important to try to be flexible, understanding, and open with communication during stressful times.
You may feel hurt if you aren’t able to spend time with your child and their family on birthdays and holidays. I promise you are being thought of on all of those occasions. It just isn’t always possible to bring everyone together for these events. The level of openness within your adoption will greatly influence these events as well.
Our family has a very open relationship with our little one’s birth family. We see them around holiday times, but usually not on the holiday itself. I know sometimes that feels disappointing to them. Our family is one that doesn’t gather too often. When we do, we often can’t include everyone we would like to based on everyone’s schedules and distance from each other. We often have to compromise. It is hard for everyone.
But a bonus of having such an open adoption means that we can invite all sides of the triad and extended family to some events. For instance, school plays, sports games, etc., can be open invites for anyone who can make it. Like I said, this is something that is very dependent on what your openness level is, what boundaries you have agreed upon, and timing and distance.
As children grow, you may find it useful to do video chats with family. This is especially true when distance is a factor in the relationships. Ultimately, when giving gifts, try to think of things you would like to receive, and how that can be applied to the other side of your adoption family.
Gifts that come from a healthy, happy, honorable place usually don’t miss their target. If you give a gift that you know will not be appreciated or that carries an undertone of anger, resentment, or that is going to be crossing a boundary, you will make gift-giving that much more challenging. In fact, you may lose the option to even exchange gifts if they are not given with pure intentions.
I will be totally honest and say that one of my children no longer receives gifts from his birth family. It was a very hard decision to make since we don’t want to keep him from knowing his biological family. However, gifts became inappropriate. The would include wording like, “from your real family.” After a few attempts at setting boundaries and communicating, we realized that we had to stop the contact. It still makes me sad, and I still struggle with the choice we made.
Respecting boundaries and having faith in your triad is really important to allow open relationships. As your relationship grows, giving gifts will become easier. You will become more familiar with each other, and you will know when you have found the perfect gift.
In the meantime, some of the above suggestions may help you out in your search for adoption presents. If you are still struggling, gift cards are a good thing to fall back on. I think we can all agree that while they don’t feel very personal, we all appreciate gift cards.