Holiday Adoption Gift Guide

It’s that time again—when you search long and hard for unique gift ideas for everyone on your list. Though I don’t suggest buying things any different for people that are a part of the adoption triad for the holidays, you may consider some meaningful adoption gift ideas that help reflect who they are.

If you’re an adoptive parent, I do feel this is a good time to gift items that can intentionally help your child understand more about who they are, their own story, and even gifts for your biological children or other kiddos on your gift list who would benefit from learning more about adoption or to have gifts that reflect their own tastes and story.

From your own children to birth parents and adult adoptees, this list has meaningful gifts that you can give to reflect your recipient’s own story. 

Adoption Gift Suggestions for Children

I’m a gifter—I like to ensure that everyone who is a part of my life gets a present that is unique to their own tastes and sometimes, tells a story about our own relationship. However, I go ALL out for the kids I know. I remember how magical the holidays were as a child and I love to give presents that are exciting, but serve a purpose. (Honestly, as an educator, I give a lot of books and learning toys, but I find that they’re the best! Books can help explain things that adults just sometimes can’t!)

Books Are Always My First Choice!

Like I just mentioned, I really feel strongly about giving books. Age-appropriate books can help answer important questions and share information that children may need to know that they may not come to their parents about. It turns out, I’m not the only parent that feels that books make a great gift!

“When I was young, my parents bought books where characters were adopted,” notes adoptee and foster mom, Aly. “It helped normalize the concept of adoption for me. As I got older, the books increased in the complexity of detail and emotion. The book that stands out the most to me, was a collection of different kids’ stories, and the one that was most like mine I really clung to. I also think books about feelings and how to talk about them and act appropriately would be helpful for both children of adopted backgrounds and those placed in foster care, with permanency plans for reunification or adoption.”

I have many favorite books about adoption and you can find them here:

9 Books about Adoption for All Ages

My daughter is nearly 5 and her current favorites are The Not in Here Story by Tracey Zeeck (you can read my review of that book here) and We Chose You: A Book about Adoption, Family, and Forever Love by Lauren and Tony Dungy.

If you’re hoping to educate children who aren’t adopted about adoption, read this article and consider getting them one of the books mentioned above.

Representation Matters: Search for Items that Represent Their Culture

When shopping for a child who is adopted, or any child, for that matter, I like to find toys that represent them and their culture. My daughter LOVES dolls. (Whatever you do, don’t call them dolls—she refers to them as her children.) I try to find dolls with her skin tone and similar hair texture. American Girl Dolls are great because you can pick their hair type, eye color, etc. But, they are on the higher end, so I do suggest heading over to Target and checking out their Our Generation line, where you will find dolls of all skin colors (and outfits/accessories from dance to science that will speak to the interests of the children you’re shopping for!

This year, I stumbled upon basictoys at a local community market.  Seriously, these make great gifts and stocking stuffers. I loved that we could “customize” our family. Very seldom have we been able to find things that represent our family unless I have made them. My daughter loved these and though I like to have them on the shelf as part of our décor, they often come down to play in a dollhouse.  Seriously—these are super cool for people of all ages on your list and are very affordable and durable!

Chat with parents if the kids aren’t your own to find out what might work for them!

Experiences Are the BEST gifts!

My daughter has been gifted a zoo membership, a gift card to a local art studio, and even gift certificates to the movie theater. I love this idea and have tried harder to do this for other kids that we know.

Not only are you helping a family not get more stuff they have to find a place for, but you’re also giving a child something that will create a memory and these gifts can be used long after the holidays are over, which is nice too. (We often keep gift cards, etc., for a rainy day or as a fun summer activity!)

I’ve turned to this list from Motherly for some fun experiences for kids this holiday season.

If you’re considering giving experiences, again, check with parents to make sure that using these experiences is a possibility, or better yet, if you’re able, try to plan a date where you can take the child—if you’re a part of his or her life, this would be a great bonding opportunity for the two of you while giving their parents a little break.

Gift Suggestions for Adult Adoptees

I know I said that the holidays are important for kids—they’re also a great opportunity to show your friends and family that you care. If you know of an adult adoptee, there are a lot of things you can do for them. Remember, if they haven’t shared a lot about their adoption story or if it’s not something you think would be of interest to them, you may want to stick to a gift that suits them and what you know about him or her directly.  However, many adult adoptees I’ve spoken to have gotten or have asked for a genetic testing kit for the holidays. Check with your friend’ and their family to see if this is something that might be of interest to him or her.

Genetic Testing Like Ancestry.com or 23andMe

Though not every adult adoptee is looking to find their biological family, many may be curious and would be interested in trying Ancestry.com or 23andme. I have had the pleasure of hearing stories from countless individuals who have found their birth families this way—but that’s not always how this works out, so if you’re giving this as a gift, try to remain realistic with the gift recipient. However, these kits also can help one of the missing pieces in an adoptee’s life and that’s to fill in medical background information that might be important.

Aly notes that she thought DNA testing was a very cool experience for her, but she notes that it is important to manage expectations. Though she did find her biological family, it wasn’t from DNA testing.

“Now, I’m mostly concerned about the medical history of my biological family,” she says. “I would love genetic testing to see what risks I may have.”

Read more about how DNA has connected adoptees to their biological families.

Gift Suggestions for Birth Mothers

If you’re in touch with your biological mother or if you’re a part of open adoption and would like to send a gift to a birth mother, there are many options. Go with your gut and what you know about this woman to choose a gift that fits her needs. This doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.

Have Your Child Make a Gift

Have your child paint a picture or create an item that is meaningful for them if you’re sending a gift to their birth mother. It can be something as simple as a picture they’ve colored to having them paint a jewelry box or something that can be used more frequently. (If they do color a picture, have it matted and framed—this actually is a special gift for any adult that’s in your child’s life.)

Choose Some Birth Stone Jewelry

I recently talked to a birth mother that was gifted a necklace with the birthstone of the child she had made an adoption plan for. It was a really special item for her. If your child is old enough, consider having him or her help you choose a piece of jewelry that they would like their birth mother to have.

Frame a Photo

If you have a photo of your child with his or her birth mother, consider framing it for them. If you don’t have one of them together, consider framing a current photo!

Here is a list of other meaningful gifts for birth mothers.

If you’re a birth mother gifting to your biological child, here are some suggestions.

Meaningful Gifts You Can Make

Create an Adoption Book with that Child’s Own Story

My daughter LOVES to hear the story of how we got a call from the agency and went on a long car ride to meet her for the first time. There were a lot of things going on that day (my sister even fell and broke her leg getting our childhood rocking chair out of her attic for my daughter), so this is a fun story for her where all of the people she loves being involved. For her birthday this year, I plan on making this into a book for her as she is starting to learn to read. I think it would be fun for her to have this gift.

Aly notes that this is also a great gift for children who are in foster care that depicts the child’s story. “This is something they can visit and go through to help them understand their situation and process it,” she says.

Make a Photo Collage

Like the adoption storybook, a photo collage can help children understand their story fully, it could also be a great gift for an adult adoptee and a birth parent as well. Many companies like Shutterfly are offering great deals this holiday season. This is a gift that the recipient can display for a long time.

I have actually set up a bulletin board in my daughter’s room to keep photos of important people that she loves and the top of her bookshelf is framed photos of her with her grandparents, etc. It’s just a fun way to display memories.

Knit or Crochet? A temperature blanket or scarf is fun!

I knit and crochet and was searching for some cool gift ideas to make for my daughter and other friends. I stumbled upon the temperature scarf and have seen blanket versions as well. Basically, what people do is knit or crochet a row of a certain color that depicts what the temperature was that day. It will make a varying stripe pattern and is a cool gift regardless. However, I also found that you can search the weather in the past, so I have the idea (which I WILL make at some point) to either create one for the first year of my daughter’s life or maybe just important dates like her birthday each year, the day her adoption was finalized in court, the day she started school, etc. If you’re inclined and able to make something like this, it would be a really unique gift.

As I mentioned before, a child or adult that is adopted doesn’t necessarily need a specific gift guide, but these suggestions can help guide you when you’re shopping for everyone on your list this year!

For other adoption gift ideas, check out these articles:

4 Adoption-Themed Christmas Gift Ideas

Adoption Gifts For Older Kids: When Baby Toys Don’t Cut It

Gift Ideas for New Adoptive Parents