Of late there has been much discussion on our agency's online forum about whether and when adoptive parents should have a baby shower. A related topic is when to decorate the baby's room.
Inevitably, these discussions start with excited folks who've been recently matched. My sense is that they want some of the "fun" that they've witnessed their family members and friends who've had children the more traditional way experience. And let's face it: they want the goods! Like me, they'd love to receive thoughtful gifts, as they have enjoyed giving them so many times to new babies throughout the years. They want to fill their closet with adorable little outfits and line their shelves with bedtime stories. On the forums, they are asking those who've gone before them for permission to be truly excited about becoming parents.
Just as inevitably, those who've gone before will respond with words of encouragement mixed with caution. They share stories of failed matches made all the more painful by the unavoidable presence of pastel booties and DiaperGenies.
M. and I are not in a match yet, so I may eat these words but...My take on the question of when is too soon to plan for and celebrate the arrival of an adopted child is anytime before the little one is home with us.
What I think now would work well for us is to have a Welcome Baby party after the relinquishment period has concluded and we've had a little time to bond on our own with our kid. Then it will be such a pleasure to pass him or her around and see the delight s/he brings to the ones I love!
Those of you who really know me will have recognized a gigantic problem with this scenario: I am an inveterate planner. There is no stopping me. The uncertainty of how things will unfold is such a tough part of adoption for me. Will our first match be "the one," or are we in for some more tough disappointment? Will we have a match for five months or five days? Will we have to travel far to be with our birthmother? Will our kid arrive in the spring, summer, winter, or fall?
So, of course I've thought about what I'd want to do in all scenarios. I've decorated our nursery in my mind (and, confessions again, in a few hidden places on the computer). And I have lists! List of things I think we'll need or things I think we'll want or things that we would borrow gratefully. I am more up on the latest and greatest baby products than any non-momma should be. When I am feeling a bit sheepish about my lists, I convince myself that they will be useful at some point, as the last thing we'll want to worry about as new parents is what type of diapering to do.
Probably this reflex is just as much about dreaming as it is about planning. Somehow, it brings me comfort in a way that passing a empty nursery every day just wouldn't.
I know that whenever and however our little one arrives, I will really want to feel and treasure the sense of a close community supporting us as new parents. But it's so hard to find the balance between feeling "ready" and excited with being realistic and self-protective. So, in spite of my cautionary words to myself and others, please don't be too shocked if before too long the walls of our "extra" room turn from white to something a bit warmer...