When a family welcomes a new child into a home, the couple is excited, but also overwhelmed. You can help in many ways, but one of those ways is to help the family celebrate the newest family member.
New Additions to the Family Deserve to Be Celebrated
Following the adoption of our daughter, our church threw a beautiful shower, as did our families. These “meet the baby” showers were awesome ways to celebrate the latest addition to our family, but also helped us with some of the things we didn’t know we needed since we didn’t have a shower prior to adopting. (This has left me with the pro tip of buying things I didn’t know I needed until someone else got them for me—I always get items like that for new parents).
Remember that though these families are excited to have adopted, couples are likely on an emotional roller coaster, and, like all parents, are adjusting to a new normal—here are some ways you can support adoptive families at this time.
Though I’ve listed some ideas for parties, there are lots of ways you can celebrate. Be creative.
Even If the Family Has Adopted, You Can Still Throw a Baby Shower.
One of the strangest things I ever heard when we were going through the adoption process was that not everyone agreed that we should have a shower. I’m going to say right now, that these people must not understand the process, and, for the record, I’m an advocate of doing what you feel is best and right for a situation. This is a topic that always frustrates me. If more people were understanding about the adoption process, I don’t think this would be an “issue.”
Make Sure to Always Double Check with the Family about Wishes Before Planning.
It wasn’t my intention to host a shower beforehand, but I knew I would be eager for people to meet our little one when she was born. Luckily, my family and friends felt differently. I love seeing pictures of everyone holding her when she was a baby and even now, my daughter looks through the cards and sees how loved she is.
It may be uncomfortable, based on the opinions of others, of what a couple is getting as gifts, so consider taking out the guesswork and throwing a shower for the family. Chat with the couple about the couple’s preference.
Though I have seen surprise showers thrown for couples adopting, I don’t think this would have been something I honestly could have dealt with at the time, but everyone is different, so be aware of the couple’s needs and wants.
I personally chose not to go have a shower prior to the adoption just because we had had a failed adoption. Having baby stuff in the house was brutal for us following that experience, and I couldn’t wrap my brain around the aftermath of a shower with no baby. It was in my own best interest for mental health, but depending on the situation, it might be different for your friend or family member.
Also, I don’t ever want to scare anyone when I discuss having failed adoptions, but it is a reality for many of us. It’s something I like to candidly share because I had only heard the positive stories of adoption and was not prepared for the scenario that played out. You can learn more about our story here.
There are various things you can do to support the family during a shower. Sometimes, those who have adopted have purchased a lot of items independently and may or may not have a registry. You might encourage a couple to create one or simply have a themed shower and ask people to bring something in that theme. (I have to admit to really loving the hand made items we got, and since, have seen others throw a hand made shower—if you’re not crafty, you can turn to Etsy or your friends who have businesses crafting to stick to the theme).
Considering throwing a shower prior to your adoption? You can.
Here are six things you should know about baby showers (before throwing one.)
Things you Can Do to Support a Family Who Has Adopted If There Is No Shower
Some families will opt not to do a shower—but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate and support an adoptive family. As I mentioned previously, sometimes, there are naysayers that don’t feel couples adopting should have a shower, particularly if it’s not the first child. However, these are people you love that still deserve to be celebrated and could use your support at this time. Remember that adoption is joyful, but also comes with grieving. Adoptive parents grieve for the birth parents who have made this choice, and in some instances where children are aware, individuals in the adoption triad are grieving the loss of biological parents.
If you want to celebrate a family who isn’t having a shower, here are some additional ideas:
-Plan time to visit. You know that this family’s life has changed enormously, particularly if you’re a parent yourself. When we have babies, we sometimes become all encompassed—we don’t leave the house and don’t interact with our friends and family as much. Some of my fondest memories are friends coming over to hold the baby while I showered, or just hanging out. (My daughter was born in the heart of winter, so we weren’t taking her out in the cold a ton, so having people coming to us was literally amazing). This goes for parents of older children too—parents may need a break to get stuff done or are adjusting to a new life and aren’t going out as much either. Try to schedule a visit once everyone has gotten settled.
-Start a meal train or bring a meal. When we adopted, it was a struggle for me to cook. I was navigating being an adjunct professor and a new mom. Literally one day, I was binging Netflix and had all the time in the world, and the next day, poof, I was a mom. My husband and I ate out. A lot. Bringing home-cooked meals and/or starting a meal train for others to contribute is a great way to help any family out with a new baby in the house. If the child is older, you may find out what his or her favorite foods are and have a take out meal delivered to the home. (My husband is always a fan of having pizza delivered to people in need of a meal, and we’ve heard time and time again that it’s a fun “treat”).
-Live far away? Send some cool mail. When we brought our daughter home, one of the coolest things we received was cards from our family members and friends all over the world. I made sure to save these. This is such a unique way for us to show her how loved she is by so many. I also love the idea of helping to organize family and friends to send postcards from locales to see how far and wide people are supporting you and your family.
-Parents can never have too many baby clothes. I learned very quickly that babies are not always the cleanest, and grow very quickly. Though I thought we had an abundance of clothes, it turns out that you can never have too many clothes for a baby. I appreciated everyone that sent outfits and dropped off articles of clothes. These pieces really helped because not only was I hardly cooking—laundry wasn’t at the top of my list either. Also, if an older child was adopted, particularly out of foster care, he or she may need substantial additions to a wardrobe. Check in with the family and find out what those needs are.
-Check in to see if essentials are needed. Remember that families who have adopted, particularly from the foster care system, may need essentials from a bed to dresser, toys, etc. You may have these things at your house languishing to give to a couple or have the means to help a family purchase these items. Check in with the family to see what the needs may be. In the past, I’ve gifted those who have adopted an older child everything from new bedding, bath towels, to toiletries and makeup for teens. There are a lot of things that may be needed that you can help with.
-Books, books, and more books. I am forever an advocate of giving books to kids early on, particularly books about adoption. Adoption books aren’t always readily available at libraries and I found that reading books about adoption daily helped my daughter to understand without us ever having to sit down and have a talk. She grew up understanding adoption just like she knew her name. One book I recommend is “We Chose You.” Another book is “The Not In Here Story.” You might also consider giving books to the parents, who may have limited access to adoption books or not necessarily know what’s helpful. I love Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos for those who have adopted an older child, and here are nine more books to consider gifting.
Organize a “Put Together a Nursery Party”
I have been hearing about this more and more and think it’s such a cool idea. Remember that families adopting—particularly if couples have adopted a baby, quite possibly haven’t gotten a nursery ready yet. This is ok because for a while, babies tend to sleep in the same room as the parents, but in our case, I was hesitant to have everything ready because if our adoption didn’t go through, it would be disheartening. I’m also crazily organized, so we did have the main things we needed.
I’ve seen friends and family come together to celebrate the new baby by painting a room, hanging curtains, putting together cribs and changing tables, and even painting murals and decorating.
If this is something that you’re able to do, and something that your friends or family would be appreciative of, it really is a cool way to celebrate and show your support, but as the baby grows up, how cool is it for the child to know that so many people came together to put together space?
Consider other ways like this you might help a family that won’t cost you much money—you’ll just need to donate your time.
How to Celebrate Older Children Who Have Been Adopted
I love parties and frankly think that all children who are adopted should be celebrated and welcomed into new families in a fun and memorable way.
In November, my sister adopted our niece who was getting ready to turn 5. Since she hadn’t met much of our extended family, we decided to have a party for her. My aunt and cousin threw an amazing tea party, complete with hats, fancy teacups, and a dress-up room. It was so fun. My daughter still talks about it.
Finding ways to celebrate these children in a way that he or she loves will help to begin to build relationships with your family and friends, and also have fond memories of being welcomed with open arms.
A friend recently adopted an older boy and had a party at her home for her friends and family to do lego competitions, because he loved to build and create.
One of the things my aunt and cousin did was to go meet my niece and have a conversation with her to get an idea of what she liked. This way, she would be comfortable with the family and being in the home.
There are a ton of good ideas to celebrate older children, show support and love to the adoptive parents, and to create an event that will forever be embedded in his or her fondest memories!
Looking for more tips on showering a child adopted from foster care? Here are some more ideas.
Do What You Feel Is Right.
Though these are suggestions, there really is no right or wrong way to celebrate or shower a child or infant who has been adopted. Just loving a family and showing the couple and child that you’re there for the family is more than enough.
Looking for more tips on hosting a shower for a child who was adopted? Click here.