Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baby Showers for Adoptive Mamas

Disclaimer: I am only sharing my experience as a first time mama. Our family and friends have been more than generous both before and after Matthew's arrival. I write this post simply because through my conversations with other adoptive parents, I find there to be uncertainty about "party protocol" for adoptions. Visitors to the site, feel free to add your opinions!

Baby showers for adoptions can be a strange topic. Even though you are adding a child to your family just as with a bio baby, there seems to be a question as to whether or not showers should be thrown for adoptive parents. First, on the side of the adoptive mother, there can be a feeling of not deserving a shower, feeling awkward registering for gifts when you aren't pregnant, or feeling like with an adoption you should be responsible for all purchasing all other necessities. (Don't ask me why, these are just some things people have shared).

For family/friends there can be questions of "party protocol" such as who has the shower, when is it held, what kind of games do you play when you can't wrap the toilet paper around the mama's big belly, etc. While we were waiting for Matthew to come home, I had a large number of people tell me, "Oh, you should have a shower!" I wasn't sure if they meant I should throw a party for myself...???

SHOWERS: A big issue with showers is when to have them...before of after the child comes home. Here are some thoughts.

BEFORE - Before you leave to travel you are going to want everything ready for that baby (the nursery set up, the car seat in place, the necessary items for travel). A shower prior to travel gives you time to get necessary items and get them in place (with time to make adjustments/returns if needed). Believe me, you do not want to be installing a car seat the night before you leave for a foreign country. Believe me! Also, I have found that things that didn't get done prior to travel are definitely not getting done now. Furthermore, a "before" shower lets you enjoy a party in your last time to just relax and have fun. The downside to an early shower is that it is difficult to buy some gifts because the actual size, interests, etc of the baby are not known. When we brought the boy home at 6 1/2 months he was ready for 9 month clothes.

AFTER - Many people like the idea of having a party after the baby arrives so everyone can meet him/her. An "after" party also allows you to see the size and developmental abilities of your child so that people can give appropriate gifts. The downsides to this choice are first, you may have already purchased everything you registered for by the time of the shower (like I said earlier, you will want everything ready before you travel)...and second, you may be dealing with bonding, jet lag, time zone, and other adoption issues which may make attending a party more hectic than fun.

SHOWER INVITES: There are now plenty of shower invitations for adoptions...just throw the words into google. For our shower, the lovely hostesses made an invitation with one of Matthew's update photos on it. Too cute! It also gave the attendees a keepsake photo of our boy.

GIFT IDEAS: Some people choose to ask for donations to an adoption charity in lieu of presents. What I have found though is that family and friends really want to either buy something special for the baby or help the parents with the adoption costs. I know it seems so impersonal, but gift cards are wonderful: VISA gift cards for the family to use during travel, Target, Babies-R-Us,, etc. I would suggest not buying gifts of baby food, bottles, diapers, pacifiers, etc. simply because of the unknowns in size, baby preference, allergies, skin issues, etc. If I was going to attend a shower and planned to spend $50...and there was something specific I wanted to buy for $25, I would get the other $25 in a gift card rather than finding other items to purchase.

I think the main point is if you are a friend wondering if you should host a shower for an adoptive mother, I say "YES!" And if you are an adoptive mother feeling like you shouldn't take up your friend's offer to throw you a shower, then read some articles on "entitlement" in adoption and say, "YES!"


Rebecca said...

Wonderful post Tish, with some great ideas! I am throwing a baby shower for my friend Amy, who is adopting a 4-year-old girl and 10-month-old boy from Ethiopia. We're going to have the shower after (she plans on traveling in January) - for the very reasons you mentioned, such as knowing the kids's sizes and knowing more what they will need.

Bio or adopted, a baby/new child addition is always a reason to celebrate. :)

Ann said...

Great look at an issue that has even come up with our families. My mother feels like we should wait until after baby comes home, "just in case" although I don't agree I understand her view of wanting to protect us from any heartache.

My MIL on the other hand is already planning a huge party.

My feeling is that whether or not our child grew in my belly or not, we are gonna need some STUFF. And isn't that what a "shower" is, to shower the new Mommy with things she's going to need/want for this new life in her life.

So for us, when people have asked "are you going to let us throw you a shower"(I wasn't really into the bridal shower thing) I told them very enthusiastically..."YES>>>once we get travel news!!!"

Yvonne Crawford said...

That's a great post Tish. Something I bet a lot of people don't think about. I like the donation idea too instead of a gift. Very cool.


Sherry said...

Good tips on the gift giving depatment! I for one felt very strange about registering when we were adopting. However I felt total compelled to park in the "expectant mother" parking spaces at the mall... go figure? Hehehe...!

jen said...

Great post! I was very very superstitious about everything before we got Andy. Did not plan any sort of party. Whether you do it before or after, I recommend that you do! It is one of those "rites of passage" that really helps the whole thing feel real, something I struggled with for a while.


Tiffany said...

Tish - I totally agree with this post. We had our showers prior because I am an insane planner and the uncertainity of the adoption itself really took it's toll on me - although harder to register for adoption - I still needed tons of stuff crib sheets, bibs, wipes, nursery decor, blankets, baby towels, lotions and potions, toys, pack n play, high chair, stroller so I loved having ours before. I do agree that a shower afterward would be nice as well - now that sophia is home it is great to see what she truly likes and would be a great oppty for everyone to meet her but I'd plan it for at least 2 weeks post home. Loved the post and I think showers for adoption either before or after are a must :) LOL