Baby Showers Save Adoptive Parents Major Money—It's Time We Normalize Them
For most families looking to adopt, the price tag is often a heavy consideration—for some, it's a deterrent. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adoptions through private agencies can cost an average of anywhere between $20,000 to $45,000, with some charging additional home study fees up to $4,000. If a family is considering international adoption, the price may shoot up to $50,000.
While independent adoptions can help bring the price down to some extent, to an average range of $15,000 to $40,000, they are still not an inexpensive deal. Prospective parents often have to burn through their savings or set up fundraising pages to be able to expand their families. And after all that, there is the additional cost of essentials that are needed for the child joining the family. So why haven't we normalized the adoption baby shower yet?
Why we need adoption showers
For adoptive parents, baby showers can be a great way to bring down some of the additional expenses in the first few months of a child joining the family. While baby showers are largely the norm for biological families (at least in the United States), they're often bypassed in cases of adoption—perhaps simply from a lack of understanding as to how to go about planning one.
Kira, a birth mother from Utah who was involved in throwing a baby shower for the adoptive family she was placing her child with, is a fan of the concept. "I definitely think a baby shower can help an adoptive couple with the financial burdens that come with having a child," she tells Parents. "You have the normal things, such as the hospital bill and baby purchases, but then you also have the lawyer fees, the home study fee, living expenses for the birth mom if needed. All these things add up, and an adoptive family can pay upwards of $15,000 for a baby—and it's just not fair. Having a baby shower can at least help to lighten a little bit of that financial burden for them."
How to throw an adoption shower
Ask what they need.
Asking the adoptive parents in your life what approach to shower-planning (pre-baby? post-arrival? mid-home-study?) would be the most helpful—and educating yourself on the adoption process in general—is the best thing a loved one can do.
- Related: What to Expect: Hospital Birth Costs
Confirm the child's age.
When throwing a baby shower for adoptive parents who are bringing home an older child, confirming the age of the child is crucial. The exact types of gifts—sizes of clothes, diapers for babies, or school supplies for older kids—that will be helpful to the family depend on the age of the child.
Consider a gift card shower.
"We had a shower thrown for us by our church," Susan, a mother from Texas who adopted a 13-year-old girl through international adoption, tells Parents. "Several of our very close friends asked if they could throw us a shower, and we said yes. It was a gift card shower. We received gift cards for several different places—Walmart, Target, and Old Navy. This was helpful because buying clothes for someone whom you have never physically seen proves to be difficult."
When they brought their daughter home from Colombia, thanks to the shower she was able to go on many a shopping spree and pick out clothes that fit well and which she actually liked, adds Susan. "The gift of money may not feel personalized, but it really was the most helpful thing. This way, she had what she really needed. And as an older adoptee, that is important." For children who have been in foster care, being able to pick their own clothes, instead of being handed random things, as had been the previous experience of Susan's daughter, can be crucial in creating comfort.
Set up an adoption registry.
Another way to go about ensuring that the baby shower gifts are actually useful to the new parents and their child: Encourage them to set up an adoption registry to help guide your and other loved ones' choices.
"We adopted a 2.5-year-old," Taylor, a first-time mother from Michigan, tells Parents. "Considering he had already begun potty-training, we didn't need as many diapers and such, which can be a major expense. Instead, on our registry, we decided to put children's books, a few toys, blankets, and clothes. We even had an option for putting money into our fund for a toddler bed." By sticking to an adoption registry, you can not only ensure that the family has what they need; you also avoid useless items that would add clutter as they bring a new child to their home.
Wait until post-placement.
Adoption showers are often better left for after placement is confirmed and signed. "Wait until the baby is adopted to have the baby shower," Steffany Aye, founder and executive director of Adoption and Beyond, tells Parents. "A mom can change her mind about placing her baby for adoption until she signs the papers... It can be really disheartening to a family to see all the stuff that they got at a baby shower, but there is no baby."
Aye also adds that adoption showers are important since the shower is a rite of passage; having one for an adoption hammers home that no matter how a child comes to a family, they are family—and are celebrated as such.
At the end of the day, a parent deserves (and needs the help from) a baby shower, whether they carried a baby or not. If we are willing to provide the kind of emotional and financial support that comes with a baby shower for biological mothers, why not extend the same courtesy for adoptive parents of any gender? While the disproportionately high costs of adoption persist, these parents need and deserve all the help they can get.