Baby showers. The mention of such an event typically generates happy emotions because the birth of a child is definitely something to be celebrated. Sweet thoughts of cuddly bundles of joy make for fun shopping, and showering expectant parents with gifts help prepare them for the upcoming birth of their child. But, for parents adopting a child, the words “baby shower” can be tricky because most people don’t think about planning a shower for families built through adoption.
When a family goes through the adoption process, there are mounds of paperwork that must be completed, and then it’s hurry up and wait for a child to be matched with their family. The wait is a difficult journey for the family and the child, in very different ways. And when the mother isn’t expecting a pregnancy, most people, innocently, may not think about giving the family a shower to support a family growing through adoption.
But that doesn’t mean adopting families don’t need support or wouldn’t appreciate the thought behind the shower. Here are some tips to help you plan a “support shower” for adoption families:
- Be a trailblazer. Be the first to offer help and to honor a family going through adoption. First, ask permission from the family if you may host a support shower for their growing family. Instead of the shower being baby focused, you can help them prepare their home and room for the child who may be anywhere from birth to 17 years old.
- Create a registry list. Set a wish list up at places like Amazon, Target or Walmart versus a baby specialty store. You can ask the parents to create this list, or you can ask for their needs and create it for them. This can include clothes, furniture, things needed for school, toys, games and more. While the basic essentials may be needed, the parents will likely want or need some fun, age-appropriate things for the child to enjoy.
- Steer clear of baby games. Instead play a game that honors the incoming child. Let’s say the child is 8 years old. Look up the year of their birth and make a fun game about key events that happened in their birth year. Turn it into a trivia game and award the winner with a little gift. This can be a fun pop culture game for attendees and one that honors the age of the child.
- Encouragement cards. Instead of asking for shower attendees to give the parents advice on things like changing diapers, ask each person to write a Bible verse or words of encouragement for their growing family.
- Gift card tree. Instead of a cake made out of diapers, get crafty by making a gift card tree. When a new child joins a family, bonding is critical to form attachment. Attachment doesn’t happen on its own. It takes time and dedication to learning and building relationships with one another. One way to help a family form secure attachments with their new child is to help them find and allocate the time to do so. Most families who adopt do what is called cocooning, meaning they limit their social and outside activities to keep the focus on building the new relationships. So, while meal trains may be appreciated, providing a gift card to a restaurant can help respect the family’s desire to keep it low-key and focused with minimal disruptions.
- Scrapbook material. Families grown through adoption may choose to create a life book, versus a baby book, for their child. Help the parents by taking pictures during the support shower to show the child how they were wanted and celebrated even before they joined their new family.
- Prayer chain. When families answer God's call to adopt a child, prayer can help a growing family adapt and adjust to new normals. Create a prayer chain that prays long term for this family. There are many seasons, peaks and valleys, and just because the child joins a new family doesn't mean prayers are no longer needed.
It's #NationalAdoptionMonth. While we like to bring awareness to this month to spotlight waiting children, we also like to educate other ways people can get involved and help support those families who step out in faith. Adoption is hard but as with most things, beauty can be found. Go bless a family today with a support shower and teach others how to get involved and support those answering the call.