In our work with adopting families, we’re often asked for gift recommendations by relatives and friends. I love to help others support adopting families, so I am excited to share my top 10 gift ideas for adopting families. You’ll notice many of the items on my list don’t necessarily require money, so there are definitely options for all price points.
#10: Get the house ready.
Before a new child enters a home, space must be prepared. Maybe a new bedroom needs to be set up and you can help paint or clean. Perhaps you can gift furniture, bedding, or decorations. The best way to help with this is to ask! Acknowledging the new child’s need for a unique space in the home—and asking how you can help get it ready—can mean a lot to a nervously excited adopting mom or dad.
#9: Create or buy a lifebook/scrapbook.
Build a scrapbook to introduce the extended family and friends to the child, including photos of friends, family, the home, neighborhood, school, church. Or, purchase a baby book that is specifically geared toward documenting adoption stories, like My Family. My Journey.
Families adopting kids (as opposed to babies) need to spend a lot of time getting to know one another and bonding. Providing games and activities to help make that bonding time fun is a great gift idea.
There are many books available to help a child understand adoption, at a variety of different age levels.
You can help an adopting family that is bringing a child home from a different country by purchasing books with other language translations. The Adoption Care Store I set up has suggestions for English/Spanish since that is what I have the most experience with, but once you see the types of books we’re talking about you can search for options in other languages as needed.
#6: Gift training resources.
Parenting kids from tough places requires a special set of tools in our parenting toolbox. Organizations like the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) have yearly conferences where parents can receive training and find community with other similar families. You could gift a membership and/or conference passes to an adopting family. This is also a great thing to do for a family who is in the process but hasn’t yet brought home a child, because it can give them an avenue for training and encouragement while they wait. I also have a slew of other books you might gift an adopting parent in this special mini-Amazon store: Shop our Adoption Care Store.
#5: Create special moments for other kids in the family.
If the adopting family has other children, they can easily feel lost in the paperwork shuffle. A great way to support the whole family is to create special activities for those other children. You might offer to take them out to lunch or to the movies, particularly on a day when the parents may have adoption-related meetings to attend. Even after an adoption has been finalized, it can be fun to give those kids a special outing, while the parents spend some time bonding with the new child.
#4: Help with routine stuff.
The weeks and months following the addition of a new person into the family are hectic, no matter whether the child came by birth or some other means. A great way to support them during this time is to purchase gift cards or make other arrangements to help with transportation, laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
I once knew a women who people in my church called the “laundry fairy.” She showed up whenever someone had a new child, illness, surgery, or other challenging circumstance. She came to my house once when I had my thyroid out. She showed up, collected baskets of dirty clothes and sheets and towels, then disappeared into the night. The next day, those same baskets were returned filled with clean and folded laundry. She refused to accept any payment, ever, and never hung around long enough to be thanked with coffee or sweets. Whatever embarrassment I might have had about her seeing our skivvies was erased by how quickly she breezed in and out. Was she ever really here in the first place? I might have proposed marriage if I wasn’t already taken. 😉 Ha!
#3: Offer your understanding.
If you’ve never parented a non-biological child, and are friends with someone who is adopting, you will likely notice her parenting style is different than yours. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
You know how you got to grow with your child through each phase, so when he has three years experience being a person, you have three years experience being his mom? Imagine how different things would be if you were introduced to your child for the very first time when he was two… and he wasn’t too happy about you being his mom all of the sudden. Yeah, go ahead and imagine meeting your kid on his very worst day ever. You’re so happy to finally be a mom, and he has no clue what is going on (or just wants his first mom back or can’t even speak your language or a myriad of other possible scenarios). Fun times.
This plays out for a few weeks and you go through the typical post-baby/kid-expecting that most of us experience and, well, you’re feeling a bit down. Then a very well-meaning but not-understanding friend says, “Why are you so depressed? You finally have the child you’ve been praying about for umpteen years, so what could be wrong?”
Every adopting family needs your understanding. Recognize the process is challenging, refrain from passing judgement, and offer limitless loving grace as this new family seeks to figure out their new normal amidst a slew of obstacles.
Here are two books I recommend if you want to get inside the head of an adopted child to help you understand:
#2: Provide spiritual encouragement and support.
All parenting is challenging, but parenting kids whose background is, at best, unknown, or, at worst, filled with trauma, calls for another whole level of support. I honestly don’t know how people do it without faith. Having personally walked with dozens of families through fostering and adopting, I’ve seen the difference faith and hope bring. In fact, I feel so strongly about the impact of faith on adopting moms I helped create a devotional written by adopting moms, for adopting moms.
Adopted for Daily Life is the result. It’s a wonderful six-month devotional, perfect for helping adopting moms stay focused on our Creator during the adoption. And as an added bonus, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to our adoption care ministry!
#1: Contribute financial support.
Let’s face it: raising kids is expensive. Add tens of thousands of dollars in adoption fees to the front-end of that process, and you’re starting off at a deficit. Many adopting families hold fundraisers to help offset the costs. You may not love the chocolate or t-shirt or whatever else they are selling, but your financial support means the world to them. So, if you aren’t interested in whatever item is being sold for the fundraiser, ask how you can simply make a contribution to their adoption fund. I promise you will make their day.
And for some real fun? Find a way to anonymously give them some money toward their adoption, in a way they would never expect. I’ve heard of people who received mysterious envelopes of cash with simple notes saying stuff like, “We’re praying for your family and heard this might help you adopt.” I know of people who had utility bills paid anonymously while they were adopting. These types of stories are told and retold for years later, as evidence of how God provided to help bring their children home.
Well, those are my top ten gift ideas for adopting families. As we say at FIT Nicaragua, if we aren’t able to adopt, the least we can do is support those who are!