Have Your Baby Shower (& Eat the Cake, Too)
Experiencing adoption is different than experiencing a pregnancy, obviously. But can’t all the joyous rituals be the same? I’ve heard this debate among adoptive parents so many times throughout my few years submerged in the adoption community. Some hopeful adoptive mamas are asked by dear friends to host a baby shower on her behalf. Sometimes, we’re caught off-guard and don’t know what to say. Maybe we hadn’t thought about it yet. Maybe the idea of a baby shower is difficult because we don’t know exactly when our baby will be placed in our arms. Or maybe it’s because we’ll attend our own baby shower without the adorable bump that other moms are cradling in all of their baby shower photos. As adoptive parents, aren’t we entitled to all the same rituals and celebrations as any expecting parents are? Most often, it doesn’t feel that way. At least it didn’t for me. How can I ask for gifts and celebration when we have no idea if/when we’ll have our baby? How can I survive two hours answering questions and repeating time and time again that I don’t know when we’ll have a baby? The adoption process is full of waiting. We wade through so many unknowns. We hear of situation after situation and wonder if this is the one that will bring our baby to us. Even after we’re matched with an expecting mama, our excitement may often be paled by worry and fear that this will end in a disrupted adoption. It’s hard to navigate. It’s tough to answer all the brash questions with poise. It’s tough to see everyone else getting a cute baby bump and perfectly themed baby showers complete with matching birth announcements soon after.
But here’s the thing. This occasion deserves celebration. YOU deserve celebration as an expecting parent. The life of your child, even if you haven’t met him/her yet deserves jubilation. The process, the hardships, everything that you’re experiencing through the adoption process, is valid and deserves celebration. Regardless of how a tiny life comes to a parent, that life is equal to all of those surrounding. So, my best advice, have your dang baby shower and eat all the cake, too. You, mama, deserve to be celebrated. Pregnancy does not define motherhood. The fearless pursuit and love in your heart for someone you haven’t even met yet already makes you the best mother. If you’ve always dreamed of your own baby shower, say yes. Say yes to those that love and support you and want to show their love. Say yes to family and friends who want to splurge on gifts and spoil you silly. It is okay to let yourself feel loved and supported even though motherhood may not be coming to you in the way you had planned.
This advice goes for anything, too. Gender reveal parties, meet and greet parties after baby comes homes. Mail out the birth announcements you always wanted, if that’s your style. I’ve seen several hopeful adoptive parents take maternity-like photos sans the baby bump. I’ve also seen hopeful parents take maternity photos together with the expecting mother after they’ve been matched and they’ve turned out beautifully. Celebrate in any way you want or that feels right for you in your situation.
Obviously, all of these acts of celebration don’t always work out for us as adoptive parents. Let that be okay, too and remember the bigger picture – caring and respecting your (future) child. Celebrations such as gender reveal parties also come with some risk. As adoptive parents, we know that any match we experience could result in a failed adoption. In that case, we’re placed in a corner of answering questions from well-meaning family and friends and pressured to provide details. I think that taking maternity pictures with an expectant mother could also be risky and perhaps add to the pressure she may already be feeling. Only you can decide what you feel is appropriate during the process while making it a priority to wholly respect the expectant parents. Otherwise, when it comes to celebrating YOU, have your baby shower (if that’s what you want) and eat all the delicious cake, too. You deserve it.