Today’s the day! You’re all set to bring your baby home for the very first time. You’ve signed every contract on the dotted line, stowed away stacks of paperwork, and finalized the whole process in court. Each “i” has been dotted and each “t” crossed. You’re ready. But now, the hard part begins: the merging of two different worlds.
You might be debating which one is scarier — introducing your child to your family, or vice versa. Up until today, you’ve only ever dreamed of uniting these parts of your life. But now that dream is a reality. Soon, navigating the stress of first impressions will require your full attention. Leading up to finalization, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed with these anxieties. Will your child acclimate to their surroundings? Will they bond with your family? Will they feel accepted?
Unfortunately, we can’t foresee the future. Only time will put these doubts to rest. However, there are steps you can take to prepare for parenthood. An adoption baby shower is a great way to bridge the gap between both worlds and make your family feel whole.
Step 1: Plan for the weather
When organizing an adoption baby shower, never forget what sets the homecoming apart. This is not your typical celebration. Your child will be coming from a completely different environment with a drastically different culture. Depending on their age, the child may have grown accustomed to aspects of their life that you can’t provide. Alternately, you’ll be greeting the child with a strange and unfamiliar community. It’s unrealistic to imagine everything clicking into place right away. Give it time and the culture shock will fade. As their fear dissipates, you’ll be there for them with open arms.
On the other hand, it’s not as easy to anticipate the reactions of your loved ones. Even if your family’s loyalty is unquestionable, it’s hard to predict how they respond to someone new. Getting used to anybody can be a challenge, and it may take a while before the tension wears off. Everyone may seem relaxed and ready, but people are prone to making mistakes. Brace yourself for uncomfortable questions or inappropriate comments. By taking a step back and responding carefully, you can set a precedent for the future and shut down any festering negativity. Nevertheless, we hope you have the unwavering support of everyone in your family.
Step 2: A storm’s a-comin’
Once you’re emotionally equipped to deal with whatever’s thrown at you, you can move on to the fun part: party planning. There are a few things to keep in mind before placing stamps on the invitation envelopes. First, picking a date can be more confusing than expected. Sometimes it’s better to wait until your child is home before celebrating. Storms can appear on the horizon just as the sky looks clear. The adoption process is complicated, and it’s likely you’ll encounter obstacles along the way. If you’re still jumping over hurdles, it’s better to save the festivities until you cross the finish line.
Furthermore, adoption often transforms your family dynamic. Feeling unreservedly comfortable around someone new can take some getting used to, especially if the child is older. This can be particularly difficult for first-time siblings. Tread lightly when discussing adoption with an only child — they might not take it very well.
But although kids throw temper tantrums and refuse to share, sometimes it’s a judgmental aunt or disappointed cousin that can wreck the whole day. Don’t feel obligated to invite critics or complainers. Keep in mind, however, that the entire family may need time to adjust. If you hear an unsettling comment from someone unexpected, try to handle the situation with a level head. If you embody patience when dealing with ignorant relatives, your welcome party will go smoothly.
Step 3: Shower them with love
The purpose of a baby shower isn’t solely to make preparations for the future. It’s also to commemorate your child’s past and honor their existence. You can acknowledge your child’s identity by choosing a theme. To personalize the party, try to decorate with your child in mind. Do you know your child’s ethnicity? Consider bringing in foods that pay tribute to their heritage. If your child is old enough to have a say in the planning, incorporate their ideas and thank them for their input. Remember: adoption isn’t always about a “clean slate.” You cannot wipe away your child’s history. Instead, weaving their life together with yours will create the most beautiful tapestry of all.
Step 4: What to do when lightning strikes
Imagine this: you’re in the middle of your wonderful party. The food tastes delicious, the music is catchy, and the balloons haven’t lost their helium. Everybody is having a delightful time, and they’re in awe of your adorable little one. But then, out of the blue, you’re slammed with a disaster. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a soft whisper or a cruel exclamation; somebody’s just said something blatantly offensive about your new family. Maybe they said something rude about your child, or condemned your choices. Regardless, you can’t seem to let the comment slide. What do you do?
Stay calm! Before biting the bait, try putting the situation in perspective. What motivated your guest to make that comment? Does that change the way you view their attack?
Don’t forget: you can’t control what other people do. You’re only in control of your reaction. When you respond, composure is everything. Be as polite as possible, and explain why the comment hurts. If they still don’t listen, pull them aside and have a private discussion.
Step 5: The rainbow through the rain
For many parents, an adoption baby shower can be overwhelming. But at the end of the day, announcing the adoption of your darling child deserves some hype. A warmhearted welcome could be exactly what your family needs to form loving connections. And, if all else fails, at least you’ll get gifts (aka, an endless bounty of diapers) to jump start your tumultuous journey of parenthood.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!