We grow our families in many ways: birth, adoption, and fostering. A new family doesn't always start with a bump, nor do all parents choose how or when it begins for them. When it comes to adoption, the path to it can be intentional or fated. It's really exciting to think of a baby being born out there that could be a part of your family, but they have a journey to get to you. With all these ways to become a family, it's worth noting that all of them can be celebrated uniquely. A baby shower is a very traditional way to say, "We are thrilled you're growing your family." When planning a shower for adoptive parents, it can be special to find the differences in the experience and celebrate that specific way their family is coming together. While all babies come with similar needs, and the registry will be the same for the most part, there can be many different needs as each new family is formed.
If you are adopting a baby, you'll experience much of the same as a parent who has birthed their child, every baby spits up, every baby deals with teething, all parents find joy and a little exhaustion in those first months, and these unifiers of the parental experience make relating to each other easy despite the different beginnings. As we know, adoption can take time, and it might not be a newborn you are welcoming home. But, for the most part, the only significant difference between birthing a new little one and adopting them is that timeline. As long as those nine months can feel, adoptive parents have a much more fluid path to that first week at home as a family.
There can be many delays in the adoption process, and while the anticipation is mounting, adoptive parents often wait for paperwork to clear to enjoy the excitement of their due date. Dates can get pushed back, and like all parents, the waiting can be difficult. Because of this uncertainty, we recommend planning the shower for after
the parents have their child in arm. You can save parents from receiving clothes and tools that no longer fit their child's age. It is also where planning an adoptive shower gets fun because you can cater the party to the new family member. Talk to the parents and plan together. Waiting about three weeks after the child is home can be helpful as it allows the parents to settle in. Send out invitations and include the child's age so everyone can buy gifts appropriate for the family's needs. Remember, diapers and pull-ups are sized by weight, so giving a few statistics on the new family member can also be helpful.
It's important to note that adoption is chosen for many reasons. For example, avoiding conversations about pregnancy and birth might be necessary if the family has struggled with infertility or child loss. On the other hand, suppose adoption was always in their family plan. In that case, it can be important to recognize some of the societal pressures they might have experienced and work to highlight how special and valid the adoptive process is for a parent.
The best part of any shower for me is the games. Ice breakers that give structure to the event and prevent me from sitting with my great aunt and explaining what a blog is and how it really is a real job (welcome to the family, kid, where everyone is in your business.) Picking games becomes easier once you have settled on a theme. In many adoptions, the child brings a new heritage or cultural background. Touching on this acknowledges that you will help the child know their roots. Centering the theme around the child's birth city can be a fun way of acknowledging their start. For example, a child adopted from NYC could have a 'Big Apple' themed shower. The diaper cake could be decorated with apples and twinkle lights, inviting guests to sing their favorite Broadway tune for an icebreaker. A game to play could be CashCab; answer parenting trivia questions while a small crate paper taxi moves around a New York City map. Your theme can be tailored to domestic and international adoptions and give you parameters to work with, given the abundance of shower games and ideas online.
Just as it will be fun and celebratory to add components of the child's background to your celebration, remember that you are welcoming this kiddo into a family. Look for family recipes and traditions to add to the party. Baby might not remember it, but it allows the new parents a glimpse into what their child's family experience will be. In our house, we often say there are no rules on doing something that works for your family. When planning any shower, it's important to remember that this is about your community and how it is adding a member, so have fun and do things that celebrate what it means to be a member of your clan, whether it looks like a traditional shower or not. Our kids have such a special relationship with their extended family. I love hearing them talk about Tia's tortillas being the best and about how it feels to them to drive down to Grandma's in anticipation. This child will grow into this family and build all those bonds, so starting from the beginning is beautiful.
Starting here with this celebration is building a foundation for this new family. It is a chance for them to arrive as a unit and be celebrated as one. Getting them involved in the process and ensuring all their legalities are in place so there is nothing left to chance is essential. This shower is all about spreading the love, planning together, and letting them know how much they are supported as they become a family.