As an obsessive gift giver by nature, coming up with the most-perfect-present-ever for my daughter’s birth mom and birth dad is constantly on my mind. Without these two people, I would not have my daughter. So when it comes to a gesture that might show them my gratitude, buying some “thing” that I think they might like just isn’t good enough. I want my gift to be something that respects and reveres the connection between my daughter and her birth family.
After much thought and brainstorming, here are some of my best ideas:
There are endless creative keepsake ideas and what you choose depends on your child’s birth parents’ personalities (and I say “parents” on purpose: don’t forget dad!). Anything handmade by your child is meaningful. Adding something traditional such as a ceramic hand print ornament can also be really special. I have to admit though, I would vote against the adoption-themed trinkets that are out there. Instead, I suggest sticking to something that celebrates the unique child you share, not the actual adoption — which was likely, for them, a time of unimaginable grief.
2. A meaningful “first” item.
It’s never too late (or early!) to gift baby’s first shoes, rattle or not-too-worn blanket. There are plenty of these items you can save for yourself, and surely there’s something you can part with. In fact, if you plan ahead, there’s no reason why your son or daughter couldn’t have two “firsts” of something like a stuffed animal. I’ll note here that some adoptive parents might be afraid to give something that can seem so emotionally loaded but in all of my conversations with birth parents, acknowledging the weight of the situation is more healing than ignoring it. It’s also OK to ask ahead of time if you’re not sure of how a certain gift would be received.
3. A Facebook page of your child to share.
Specifically, you create the page and the privacy settings and “friend” your child’s birth family. Also, offer to accept friend requests from your extended child’s birth family and friends. Now, I know some adoptive parents are going to freak out over safety, but there are very, very few adoption situations in which a child’s birth parents are actively seeking to harm, snatch, exploit (or whatever else your fears are) their biological child. The beauty of a Facebook page is that a birth parent can leave well wishes and comments of love for years and years to come and you can decide when to share them with your child. It’s also one of the easiest ways to share digital pictures.
4. Digital Pictures.
These deserve a shout out all their own. Few things are as meaningful to a birth family as photos. My daughter’s birth mom currently has a photo of our shared daughter and my other daughter up as her Facebook profile photo. Did she ask? No. I was a bit shocked at first but then I recognized it for what it is: a complicated and beautiful public statement that her birth daughter is hers and her adopted sister is also part of her family. She treats both of my daughters as if they are her own and it’s incredibly lovely.
5. Gift cards.
That’s right, after all of those gushy ideas, I’m also reminding you that it’s OK to think practically — so long as your child’s adoption is complete (as opposed to something more legally ambiguous like foster-to-adopt). The money and cost involved in adoption makes most of us feel uncomfortable, but if everyone in your family is getting $20 gift certificates to a chain restaurant, there’s no reason to leave your son or daughter’s birth parents out.
My daughter’s birth mom is Jewish, her birth father identifies as Muslim and I was raised Christian. None of us are very religious. This holiday season, I plan to start a new tradition by taking us all out to a restaurant I know we’ll all like. If it works out, hopefully it will become a tradition and a lifelong gift to our daughter.
Image source: ThinkstockMore On