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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gift Ideas for the Expectant Mother from the Adoptive Family

I know this is an extremely specific post but this is a topic I personally struggled with and wanted to post on in order to help others who may also be struggling.

When matched with an expectant mother in the adoption process it's typically advised to not make any purchases for her during the match. You just don't want to start an unhealthy situation and it's wise to allow any funds being given to the expectant mother to be filtered through the lawyer or agency etc. States differ with adoption laws but we were told that legally we couldn't give her any money etc directly.

During my personal match experience I attended many of her dr appointments with her and we had a routine where I'd drive her to and from the visits and also take her out for a meal together, in which I'd pay. She was ALWAYS grateful and we have never had a single issue come up where she asked us for money or items or made us feel like she was in some way wanting something from us. Actually she'd complain to me about the lawyer and the funds she'd receive...I don't think she understood that the money she got to help pay for her living expenses from the lawyer actually originally came from us ha!

Even though it's advised to be very cautious and careful about purchases for an expectant mother in an adoption situation, it's very, very common to purchase a gift to give to her either at the time of delivery or when the baby is placed with the adoptive family. Whenever it's a comfortable time. If it's an open adoption situation then it's also common to send gifts on occasion such as birthdays or Christmas etc.


I debated a LOT about what an appropriate gift for our child's mother would be. I asked around a lot in the adoption community and realized the biggest thing to consider when giving this gift is to think through the long term relationship she will have with this child:
  • With An Open Adoption Plan: If you have an open adoption with plans to have visits and have her actively involved in the child's life it can help in deciding what type of gift to give. Something very personal and meaningful directly about the baby might be best. Jewelry with the child's birth stone. Something with their name. Something including both the mother and child in it. Since the child's mother will know them, see them regularly, and be an active part of their life a personal gift will have extra meaning. 
  • With A Closed Adoption Plan: If there isn't a long term open plan with the expectant mother, then a personal gift is probably not appropriate. A constant reminder of the baby she's not raising and not seeing on a regular basis may be a source of pain rather than a positive reminder. 
  • With A Semi-Open Plan: This was what our situation is. Our expectant mother desired for no physical relationship with the baby but will have pictures sent to her on a regular basis with updates, etc. I felt like a very personal gift would be a tougher reminder but I did want something for her to have to symbolize the baby without being too direct about it. 
It's great if you are able to know some personal interests about her and can give her something meaningful to her and not only related to the baby. You want to acknowledge her as an individual outside of being the mother of this child. She's a person. She matters to you as who she is, not just the gift she's giving you in the opportunity to raise this baby. 

Another route to take is also to focus on the healing process. Childbirth is no joke and there are tons of wonderful gifts to give an expectant mother that she can enjoy during the postpartum period. 

Here are some great gift ideas:
  • Robe and slippers for hospital
  • PJS
  • Fuzzy Socks
  • Manicure kit/nail polish
  • Jewelry (birthstone, name initial, etc)
  • A gift for both her and baby (a blanket that you use to take the photos of the baby on to send to her while she has the same blanket...same concept but a stuffed animal etc)
I decided to do a combination of things. I wanted to give her some personal items that I knew she'd personally enjoy, some things that she could use in the hospital and at home during recovery and something meaningful longterm to remind her of us and show our appreciation and recognize the love she has for her baby. 



Our birth mother loves adult coloring books so I got her a couple as well as some pens and I got her a bag of her favorite candy. I also got her some pjs (and got myself a matching set), some fuzzy socks with lotion (her feet struggled a lot with swelling during pregnancy), and a blanket (I'm obsessed with these blankets, they are LIFE CHANGING (Kohl's Big One Throws) and knew she'd enjoy using it while in the hospital and at home). 

I also purchased her a necklace. I decided not to go with a birth stone or name or initial or anything like that but instead to go with something less obvious. I loved this knot design and how it had a connected with three parts. I told her it represented her, me and our baby. She really loved it! 


Our expectant mother has other children who live with her. Three kids who are all small. I knew her recovery time at home would be TOUGH with three little ones running around so I put together a bag of goodies for her children in hopes that they could play and be entertained so she'd be able to rest a bit. I purchases games, mess-free coloring books, stickers and fun washcloths. 


When you are matched with an expectant mother the amount of appreciation you feel is overwhelming. You know she's giving you the best gift and it's easy to feel intense pressure to give her something meaningful and special. The most important thing is to let her know you love her and appreciate her. A physical gift is a nice reminder of those emotions, but most importantly write her a letter and express those feelings. A letter to her will be something she will always cherish and will help give her peace in her healing process. Don't overthink it or stress over saying everything "perfectly." Just share your heart and let her know the love you have for her and the love you have for her child!

The relationship between adoptive parents and birth parents is very tender and, I believe, the more that relationship is fostered and the deeper the connections become the smoother the entire process becomes for all parties involved. Have an open mind and heart and try to always put the feelings of the birth family first throughout your match!
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A Letter to My Son's Mother

It was important to me to put some of my feelings in writing. I express my emotions best through writing. Mama E and I would have a great day together when I'd go to her appointments and then I'd send her a long text expressing how much the day meant to me etc. She seemed to be the same way and I knew my writing a letter to her would be more meaningful than trying to say to her all the things I wanted to say.

How can you possibly find the words to thank someone for giving life to your child? For making such an incredibly selfless sacrifice? For choosing you. Giving you their own blood. The baby they carried for 9 months. The one they conceived. They delivered. They love.

I struggled a lot with this. In the weeks leading up to Spear's birth I sat at my computer and would start a letter only to end up highlighting the whole thing and deleting it. No words seemed fitting.

I knew the letter would have to wait. I'd need to write it in the moment. There was no way to know what feelings I'd have ahead of time. No way to prepare. No way to write about something that hadn't yet taken place.

It was important to me to give Mama E this letter in person. And before she signed over her parental rights to Zach and I. I wanted to give it to her after his birth but before placement. During that wait. I wanted to make sure she knew that I was still in her corner. That'd I'd always be there for HER. No matter what she decided. No matter how things changed between us. No matter where our lives took us once we left that hospital.

As I sat in that hospital room I hand wrote this letter to the mother of my son. I am sharing it here because I want to be sure it's included in my blog books in the future. It's something that I think is important for him to always know. And for others to also know as well.

Many people think negatively of mothers who choose an adoption path for their children. I hope that our story and experience can change hearts and minds on this matter. I hope it can help educate people about the unconditional love these mamas have for their babies. I hope our journey may inspire others to walk a similar path. I think being transparent is so important and valuable, especially regarding a journey that isn't talked about often enough.


Mama E (12/2/17):

When we began this journey I had no idea where it would lead us. I am so thankful our path led us to you. Thank you for choosing us. For seeing something in us that gave you the peace to say yes. Thank you for opening your heart to us. For being so open, so true to yourself and for being such an incredible mother. 

I am simply in awe of you. Your wisdom. Your maturity. Your strength. Your determination. Your selfless, unconditional love. All of your babies are so blessed by you and Spear will always know how loved he is. Always

I have truly loved our quality time together. I look forward to doctors visits and our chances to connect deeper and grub out ;) I want you to know that I love you. Not just because you are Spear's mother (although I love you a whole lot for that reason too!) but I love you for YOU. For who you are. You have been a blessing to me. And I am always, always here for you. 

And I will always have your back. 

I am so excited for this fresh start opportunity in your life and cannot wait to see God's plans unfold. 

I want you to know how honored and grateful we are for this opportunity to raise Spear. I promise you he will always feel loved and cherished. I promise you he will be raised knowing how loved he is by us, by you, and all of his siblings. I promise to give him all I can possibly give. I can't promise the world, but I can promise as close as I can possibly come to it. 

He is a true gift, given in the most beautifully heartbreaking, incredible way. We will never, ever take this gift for granted. 

Thank you for completing our family and for allowing us to be part of yours. I am praying so hard for you. I know you will carry him in your heart always but I hope you are also able to heal and to feel secure in this "yes" with us. Our door is always open. You are part of our forever family and you are so loved. 

Love, 

Emily

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