When my husband and I first decided to grow our family through adoption, we had kept the initial stages to ourselves and only shared our news with those who needed to be our references. We wanted to pass the murky waters of home studies and clearances and fingerprints the first time without fanfare and attention. It took us only three months from start to finish, so when we announced were choosing to adopt, the responses we received to our announcement were overwhelmingly positive. We had a few questions of concerns about adoption in general, but knowing my husband was adopted, if people had any negative feelings on the subject, they generally kept it to themselves. Instead, we were met with support emotionally, spiritually, and financially to start us on our journey. Only two months after our approval, we were connected through our church with a birth mother who was two months pregnant. We met with her, and on my first visit with her, she told me she knew I was the baby’s mother. I was overjoyed, but cautious. Once again, we told very few in those early stages, praying through those first days and working through trust and faith.
And then we did it. We made the announcement, first to our immediate family and closest friends and then on social media because it’s not official until it’s on Facebook, right? And we were once again met with an outpouring of love and loyalty and support. It was a scary time for us, but we knew it was the best thing for us to do. Here are three reasons you should go ahead and throw that baby shower:
1. People want to celebrate with you, but sometimes they don’t know they can.
I remember when I told someone we had a baby shower for my daughter and they were shocked that you were “allowed” to do that. I didn’t take it as a negative reaction but one that was born from a place of unknowing. Adoption is both a celebration and a mourning. There is great joy, but that will never replace or gloss over the loss that is also adoption. I have the great blessing of being married to a man who was adopted, and so I take my cues from him. He allows me to express myself in my own way; however, I follow his lead in conversation and in addressing the more sensitive topics associated with adoption. So when he said, let’s throw a party. There was a party that was thrown, and those that were unsure or unknowing followed our lead.
2. We were celebrating our child the same way every child’s birth is celebrated.
Let’s just say it: sometimes, people feel awkward when the subject of adoption is brought up. They want to be happy, but there is also fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of a bad ending to what should be a happy story. But isn’t that the same with the birth of every child? There is fear. There is worry. But there is so much joy. And that joy needed to be embraced. Now, my daughter is old enough to look back on pictures of her shower and see my great-grandmother, who passed just months after she was born, smiling at the thought of a new great-granddaughter. She can see that my best friend drove over 1,200 miles just to celebrate her birth. And she will know she was welcomed into this world with joy. Likewise, I’ve already shown pictures of his celebration to my son. At two, he doesn’t comprehend it all yet and asks where the monster trucks are (his definition of a good party), but one day he will know how loved he has been from the start.
3. We had an opportunity to share that celebration with our children’s birth mothers.
Because we were connected to our daughter’s birth mother while she was still pregnant and spent a lot of time getting to know her and she to know us, we all laid everything out on the table. She invited us to every doctor’s appointment, allowed us to record her first heartbeat, gave us her ultrasound to take home. She even had my husband and me record our voices singing songs and reading stories so she could put headphones on her belly. She wanted our daughter to know our voices before she was even born. And she wanted to know every plan we were making: what would the nursery look like? How did our families react? What would we name this precious baby she carried? What theme would her baby shower be? What was I putting on the registry?
To be honest, I hadn’t thought much of a baby shower until she asked me that. And when I responded, I wasn’t quite sure and hadn’t planned one. She told me, in no uncertain terms, to get on that because this baby deserved an epic party. So one was planned with great care, and I made sure I photographed each and every gift that was given so she could share in the celebration.
When our son was placed with us, even though he was older, the wonderful women at my church threw me a baby shower and presented us with the most thoughtful, intentional gifts that celebrated the arrival of our son into our family as well as the racial diversity our family represents. When I asked his birth mother if she would like to see pictures of the event, she gave an enthusiastic yes and was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and love that he was now surrounded in.
In the end, each family needs to make an intentional, well-thought-out decision regarding their own experiences, but a child is being welcomed into your family, your inner circle of friends, your church home. While there is mourning and loss, there is also cause for celebration at the life that is being entrusted to you as a parent. And that celebration becomes part of your child’s story. Allow your children to be celebrated. Allow yourselves to be celebrated as parents. And let your family and friends share in your joy.
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