When A Baby Shower Is More Than A Party

by Laura Niebauer Palmer
Five female friends standing next to a baby shower party sign and cake during a baby shower gatherin...
jacoblund / Getty

One day after work my husband came home and said, “My co-workers would like to throw us a baby shower.”

I started tearing up and said, “That is so nice of them.”

Concerned by tears my husband replied with, “Are you okay? I can tell them not to.”

“Nooo! I am crying because I am happy! It means so much that someone wants to throw us a shower,” I replied.

While all baby showers are meaningful, this one holds special significance for us because of all we have been through to get to this point and the fact that it is the only shower that has been offered to be held for us.

Our journey to parenthood has been bumpier than many we know. After multiple losses, treatments and diagnoses we decided our path to parenthood would be through adoption. We started the process last year and after mountains of paperwork, extensive interviews and home studies, we officially became parents in waiting.

We have been so immersed in the details of all that has been required that we haven’t had much time to focus on the fun aspects of the addition to our family. A baby shower is an opportunity to do just that.

As an expectant adoptive parent, here are a few reasons why this shower is extra special.

There has been so much grief that it feels great to finally celebrate.

Many of the adoptive parents we know have been through some type of grief whether it be the physical loss of an unborn baby or the grief that is felt over the inability to have biological children. In our case, we lost two babies within seven months and have felt burdened by sadness for so long.

Finally joy! We are going to be parents and while we will never forget our two babies that almost were, we are finally looking forward rather than backwards. A baby shower is a great way to celebrate the love that will be added to our lives.

It adds a feeling of normalcy to the process.

The adoption process is anything but normal. While my pregnant friends were going to doctor’s visits, we were being fingerprinted for FBI checks, and while they were going to birthing classes, we were having our home and personal lives inspected by social workers. It was hard to find common ground on what the other was experiencing.

Now we have an opportunity to have fun and celebrate the fact that no matter what it took to get there, our next adventure in life is parenthood.

Both of us get to be involved.

When baby showers come to mind, a roomful of women is generally pictured. The baby shower is as much about celebrating the expectant mother as it is about the new arrival. While both parents have roles, the expectant mother by far does most of the heavy lifting during pregnancy.

In our case, the adoption process has been equally shared by both of us. I love the fact that both of us get to participate in the fun aspects of parenthood preparation as well.

It feels good to know others are excited for us.

Unfortunately, not everyone we told about our plans to adopt were excited for us. From well meaning friends and family, we were given other avenues (diets to promote fertility, homeopathic treatments, natural fertility treatments) to explore before “giving up.” I found myself justifying our decision when all I wanted to hear was what any expectant parent would want to hear, a simple “Congratulations!”

This is such a momentous time in our lives, and we want everyone around us to be as excited as we are. We know that there will be challenges ahead, but right now is a time of joy and happiness and we want to enjoy it with those who support us.

I have run across several websites that broach the topic of whether or not it is appropriate to have a shower for adoptive parents. While there are other factors to consider, such as the adoption of an older child or the fear that a birth parent may change their mind, those shouldn’t be barriers. Just ask the soon-to-be parents what they prefer. Perhaps it is a welcome home party after the arrival of the child or a low-key affair with close family first and a meet-and-greet with friends later.

Ultimately, it is a time to join in the happiness of a growing family. If that isn’t a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.