by Leah Outten
There is always one month out of the year that is one of the hardest for me, as I imagine it is for many of your as well: the month of our children’s birth. In June, my birth daughter Anna will turn 5. It is hard to believe how fast time flies! However, besides the usual emotional grief and joy I feel at the memory of her birth and placing her with her wonderful family, I also struggle with what to give her for such a special occasion each year. As her birthmother, I always feel a tug at my heart to give her something more than just something she needs or wants like new pajamas or a fun toy. I want to give her something that will keep her connected to me through the years; something that while is age appropriate but will also will help her understand her adoption and my love for her.
From speaking with other birthmothers, it seems many of us have this desire and struggle at times with finding the “perfect” gift for our children. The good news is that there are lots of great gifts out there; it just might take some searching. When searching for gifts consider your adoption type, the feelings and level of comfort of the adoptive parents, what overall message you want to tell your child, and your child’s age. Some gifts such as books can vary depending on adoption situation and their age so make sure it is appropriate to their level of understanding and focus on positive things.
Here a few ideas I have come across in my years as a birthmother:
Children’s Adoption Books
- The Tummy Mummy by Michelle Madrid-Branch
- Did My First Mother Love Me?: A Story for an Adopted Child by Kathryn Ann Miller
- Megan’s Birthday Tree: A Story About Open Adoption by Laurie Lears
I have not read all of these books, but I have heard good things about them. I have found that it is difficult to find adoption books in local stores so take advantage of the internet to search and read lots of reviews on each one to find the book that best suites what you are looking for. Amazon.com is a great resource. Remember that no book will tell your exact story, so focus on the overall message of the book.
A “lifebook” as Coley likes to call it, using your own pictures and words to tell more about you, your family, poems, hospital pictures, your relationship with the adoptive family before birth, a letter to your child, etc. These can be made with paper scrapbooking supplies or using a digital program.
Not into scrapbooking? Use an online website that does everything for you and then publishes it to a book! Just supply the pictures and text from your heart. Great websites are mixbook.com, shutterfly.com, blurb.com, etc.
Decorate a picture frame using scrapbooking supplies and put a picture of you in it. I took a simple black frame and added letter stickers with the words, “Anna and Leah” on it to personalize it. You put whatever you want and it is so easy to do.
A piece of jewelry to remind your child of the love you have for them, as well as their adoptive parents. Again, the internet is a great place to search for these. When Anna was born, I gave her a sterling silver heart that has her initials on the front and on the back has both mine and her adoptive mother’s. Her mother and I each have one as well with our initials and Anna’s, so we all have a physical representation of the love we share over Anna.
Hopefully these suggestions have sparked an idea or two for future gifts and will make the process easier. I find that it is therapeutic to put thought and time into the gift I give my daughter, so do some soul searching and reflecting while you decide on the perfect gift and be proud of the finished product!
Also remember, they may not love the adoption book or jewelry right now (especially compared to their new bike or princess doll) because of their age, but keep in mind that these gifts from you are life time gifts that your child will always keep with them as they grow (and that new bike cannot fill that spot 20 years from now). These gifts are ones that will share your love forever.