Throwing a baby shower is a blessed event under any circumstances, but adoption brings a special element to the affair. I have been very blessed to have been given beautiful adoption showers for my babies and I wanted to share my tips, feelings, and etiquette for throwing a fabulous adoption shower.
1. Focus on baby – not adoption.
Most adoptive moms just want to be treated like any other new mom. They want the same excitement, fuss, and joy for their little one as any other baby from the womb would receive. As an adoptive mom, you want family and friends to be just as excited for this baby as they would if you were nine months along with a biological child. This is an important concept to remember when planning a shower for an adoptive mom. Focus on making it as much like a “normal” baby shower as possible. Obviously special circumstances needed to take place for this infant to be placed in his new mother’s arms, but in general Infant adoption is just another way of bringing a baby in to this world and a family; the product is the same – a baby sent straight from Heaven in all his or her perfection. That is not to say that you won’t want to tie in an appropriate amount of the child’s culture if he or she was adopted abroad. For example, pink and purple Chinese laterns may be a charming addition for a shower of a little girl adopted from China. Yet, you would never want to force everyone to eat rice with chopsticks. It would be rude, inappropriate, and silly. Be appropriate. If you do decide to tie in the child’s culture in any way the details should be well thought out.
The timing of an adoption baby shower should be up to the parents. A shower can be held either prior to the baby’s arrival or after the child arrives home. If the shower is held after the child’s arrival, a shower should be sensitive to the necessary period of adjustment, particularly in the case of an older child. Also, the child does not need to be present if it may be too much for him or her. These are all things to consider.
My first tip for those embarking upon an adoptive shower is to be sure that the invitation is worded correctly. Do not refer to the baby as an “adoptive baby” or “adopted child.” If for some odd reason, a guest may not know that the mother adopted her child, you could write something such as: “Please join us in celebrating Jing Mae’s arrival from China into her mother’s arms.” Do no write: “Come celebrate Tina’s adopted baby” or something of that nature. To an adoptive mom, her child is her child. She doesn’t see her child as her adopted daughter; it is her daughter. Try your best to reflect that reality in the details of your shower.
4. Avoid intrusive questions.
Having a family that is multiracial has brought many intrusive questions my way. Each adoptive parent must learn to handle each of them with the utmost grace. Each mother will have a learning curve – you don’t want her baby shower to be a part of that. Below is a list of inappropriate comments and questions to avoid, as well as answers I have used for all the adoptive moms out there.
*Special Note to Adoptive Moms: When answering intrusive comments or questions, your first priority is to be aware of your child’s little ears who are listening. They hear more than you know (even if they don’t quite yet have a grasp of the English language). You never want your child to learn details about his or her past through your conversations with others. Also, know that you don’t have to share your whole life story with a stranger or even a close friend. Keep your privacy, but don’t make your child feel that adoption is a secret or something we can’t talk about or something that makes mommy nervous.
Inappropriate Question: “You couldn’t have your own kids?” Answer: “These are my own kids.”
Inappropriate Question: “So is it you or your husband that is infertile?” Answer: Best said with a feeling of jest, “Are you serious? That is none of your business, girlfriend.”
Inappropriate Question: “What happened to her ‘real’ parents?” Answer: This answer will differ depending on your knowledge of your child’s birthparents, as well as the situation. Special Note: Remember again, you do not need to answer this question at all. Just because someone asks doesn’t mean they are entitled to an answer. Also, always speak wonderfully positive about your child’s birthparents. Never mention abortion if it was considered. Never imply the child was a special hardship. Positive images of birthparents is imperative. Your language about your child’s birthparents should always be filled with the wonder and thanksgiving of how he and she created your child. That above all should be focused on despite any character failings he or she may or may not have. Again, remember the little ears that are listening.
Inappropriate Comment: “Oh, she is so lucky.” Answer: “No. No. I am the lucky one. I am her mother.” Special Note: Using the term “lucky” implies that a child should be grateful. When gratitude is expected for just being a child of a parent it tells the child a) they are not allowed to be angry b) they are not allowed to have frustration and c) it fosters resentment.
Inappropriate Question: “How much did she cost?” Answer: “I am sure you will agree that children are simply priceless. She is worth millions and millions.”
5. Be sure to have mom register.
Most adoptive moms do not register simply because they don’t know what to write on due date, etc. It is a good idea to have mom register once baby arrives as mom knows the sizes and items she best needs.
6. It’s not about the gifts, it’s about celebrating a new addition to the family!
While I was waiting for my bundles of joy to arrive, I had plenty of time on my hands. So when I finally did get them home, their nurseries and closets were ready to “just add baby.” I didn’t need a shower for baby items. I needed a shower for the excitement and celebration of having my family home. Often adoptive moms have waited so long that they have a lot of what they need already, don’t let that keep you from throwing them a huge fabulous shower. It’s about the celebration – not about the gifts.
7. Be flexible.
Adoptive moms of older children especially have to take into account their child’s well being and adjustment. Often adoptive moms would rather do a small intimate affair or “Sip and See” at their home under their child’s terms…or may want to have a shower without bringing baby. Realize that mom is not being rude, she is just being sensitive to her child’s needs. Be flexible. Making sure that baby and mom are happy is always our first priority.