Today we welcome a guest post from an adoptive mum. Have you experienced the same?
A few months ago we adopted our 2 year old son.
People have been lovely generally, but I’ve noticed a phenomenon emerging. There are a variety of ways that people have responded, so there seems to be no social norm. When a baby is born the convention is to give a card and a gift – yes? However, there seems to be no such convention when a child is newly welcomed into their adoptive family.
Is there an awkwardness around this new addition to our family…. do people feel confused as to what is appropriate? A lot of the time I’d rather just have a card….or nothing at all.
We decided not to keep the adoption a secret (I know some adopters who have the fantasy of keeping the fact that their child is adopted a secret from the world). How could we keep this quiet anyway? There would have been the very awkward questions from neighbours…eh, you seem to have a 2 year old suddenly living in your house! So therefore we set about the fairly lengthy task of gradually introducing our son to friends, neighbours and family. This when I started noticing the strangeness.
My partner’s parents spent a grand total of £7.76 on cheap clothes from a supermarket and soapy bubbles. These are people who drive a BMW and spend thousands supporting their daughter’s lifestyle and on their own holidays. They are determined that he will not be spoiled and are shocked at what he came with (toys and clothes) from the foster carers. They are even more shocked at what their close friends are buying him. They just don’t seem to understand. Their friends say to me, “oh I bet his granny is spoiling him!” And I just nod and say, “Oh yes”. Awkwardly.
Is it even possible to spoil a newly adopted child?
On the other hand, some people we barely know have spent a lot of money on beautiful toys and clothes. Maybe too much. I’ve also been aware that some of our more elderly neighbours who although being very cooing and enthusiastic about our son, have given us neither a present nor a card. There has been such a range of responses.
Then there is the issue of the second hand gifts. I know that there is a tradition of sharing used clothes and toys for new-borns, but…I feel hurt when the only gift is second hand- and especially when it is from a close relative. Have they not thought or do they really mean that this is what he deserves – a second hand gift for a second hand child? But I don’t ask. I smile and thank them. Grrrrr.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting anything – I’m just noticing a varied range of responses, and more than anything I’d actually rather be given nothing than a second hand present – I feel that my son deserves a bit better, not necessarily anything really expensive, but certainly not second hand. Am I being pompous? Is this just a protective response from a parent?
And as for those who think it is an opportunity to clear out their attics…. well that is another story. Sigh (!)
So what’s it been like for you? Did you know what to give before you adopted? What did you receive (if anything) from friends and family? Examples of best and worst presents? We’d love to hear your experiences…