When family and friends are expecting a baby, they craft registries, post bump photos on social media, and share fruit and animal comparisons to baby’s size. (Baby is a field mouse this week! Baby is the size of a cantaloupe today!)
Then, about a month before baby’s birth, it’s not uncommon for baby showers to celebrate the impending arrival with gifts, games, and food.
But when someone we love is hoping to adopt a baby through adoption, shouldn’t that arrival be celebrated in the same way? Absolutely.
According to Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist, “There should be no difference between celebrating a biological child versus an adopted child as both experiences represent a celebration of life.”
When someone in your community adopts a child, they need a lot of the same support as those welcoming a biological child. Sometimes, even more.
Adoption can come at a significant financial cost
By the time Angeliegh Wingard Hartman and her husband adopted their son, they had spent a considerable amount of money pursuing their dream of becoming parents.
“We had spent about $45,000 on two rounds of IVF, followed by $13,000 for the adoption of our son,” she says.
Hartman also points out that “most people who are adopting have already been very drained emotionally and financially.”
Because of all these expenses, they could scarcely afford baby gear and clothing and relied on used items.
The celebrations can have lasting impact
Rachel Fry always knew that she was adopted, but when her parents were preparing for her arrival, they were terrified to share their news.
“My parents struggled with infertility for many years before looking into adoption,” she says. “They had experienced so many losses before I was born, and they didn’t tell anyone before I arrived, except my godmother, 2 weeks before.”
When it was clear that Rachel was there to stay, friends and family united to celebrate her and help provide for her needs.
“My parents had three showers… a work shower, friends, and a family shower,” she says. “I can look in their photo albums and see how much everyone celebrated me, and it means so much.”
Mendez affirms the importance of these celebrations: “The adopted child then knows that they are valued and that the family showed excitement and pleasure about their arrival. Arrival celebrations give the grown child a sense of purpose and meaningfulness. It provides the grown child with a story of roots and normalizes the adoption process. This knowledge reinforces the establishment of positive self-esteem, self-confidence, and reinforces the foundations of origin and familial identity.”
Of course, there are some inescapable ways in which adoption differs from childbirth.
Families may wait for a long time or find themselves suddenly bringing a child into their home almost overnight. They may be starting their parenthood journey with an older child instead of a newborn, or welcoming a baby with unexpected needs.
Adopted babies need diapers, cribs, clothes, car seats, and all the other — often expensive — equipment that any baby needs. Their parents also need all the helpful friends, meal trains, and support that any new parents need.
If you have a friend or family member adopting, don’t hesitate to ask them how you can support them — both before and after the adoptive child arrives — and if you can host a party to welcome their new child.