Is This Weird? How to Handle This? Any Adopting/adopted Moms Out There.

Updated on February 20, 2010
J.K. asks from Mansfield, OH
28 answers

My sister in law called me today and asked if I thought it would be weird to throw her a baby shower when she was not expecting. She has been trying fertility treatments for a long time and I guess she has just given up and they are going to try adoption. She said that it was recommended to her to have a baby shower asap so she would have all she needed before the homestudy so she is more likely to be approved. I am all for giving her a shower but it does seem weird to me to have a shower before she is even approved... what if they are not approved, what if they get all new born stuff but fall in love with and adopt a 10 month old or even a 5 year old. Is this kind of thing normal? Do adoption agencies really suggest to have a baby shower before the home study and even being approved? I really don't want to hurt her feelings but I think others will think it is weird as well. I love my SIL and she will be a great mom but this seems a little kooky. I know that the fertility treatments really messed with her- she just was not the same person and I don't know if this is still something that is affecting her or not.
Anyone know from experience about the adoption process? Any advice on how to handle this? I think others will think it is weird too to get an invite to a shower when no baby (biological or adopted) actually on the way.

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So What Happened?

So after a long time thinking and praying about this and reading all your responses and asking other moms,etc. I gently told her what I thought. I tried to call her but she didn't answer or return my call so (since she asked in an email) I emailed her back. I explained what i thought (and why I thought it was a bad idea.... many listed in your responses) and what others would think about this as well as told her I would gladly throw her a shower after she was approved and matched with child or even soon after home coming. I mentioned the adoption readiness party (but knew she would not go for that) just in case she wanted help. And told her I would go with her to start registering if she thought that would help her feel like she is being productive, getting the ball rolling, etc. I told her I loved her and was praying for her,etc. I think I was very kind..... but she hasn't replied. She gets email on her phone so even at work she can read email, etc. No response from her is really weird. I usually get an answer to email or text right away and she usually calls back at least in the same day. Maybe she is really hurt by my response but I hope not. Not sure what more to do. Thanks moms for all your help and the truth from those who have been there. You are an unseen blessing in my life! Thanks

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answers from Chicago on

My brother in law was just approved to be adoptive parents. When they came to do a home study, they did not have a single baby/kid item in their home. They were just coming to see if the house was safe/clean and suitable for a child. They did ask to see the room where the child would stay in. It had a twin bed and a dresser in it. Like I said, they were approved without any baby/kid things in the house. I do not think she should get any baby stuff until they have been told that a baby is waiting for them.

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answers from Dallas on

Do you think maybe she's bringing this up because it is something that would make her feel better? Giving up on having biological children has got to be a huge disappointment. Maybe the baby shower is a coping mechanism for her, and she's just using the homestudy is an excuse? Maybe she needs some attention and to feel supported by others. Just a thought!

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answers from Chicago on

I've never adopted, but it seems that if you were looking to be approved, that it might be frowned upon if you were "too ready"- i.e. have everything in place for a baby you do not yet have. It would seem a bit "over eager", IMO. I'm wondering if they really told her that, or if she just put that out there.
I think you have every right to tell her you'd feel better waiting to find out the sex and age of the child they are going to adopt before planning a shower. When her adoption happens, I have a wonderful book for you about adoption called "Motherbridge of Love". You can find it at It's an amazing story and a great gift. :)

Good luck,
Barefoot Books Ambassador

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answers from Minneapolis on

Hmmm...I get her thinking but would hold off on a baby shower. The approval process can be grueling and the waiting can be longer. Having to look at a crib, a bouncy seat, tiny onsies, etc. while waiting would be hard.

How about throwing her an Adoption Readiness Party? Spring is coming soon anyway and it is the perfect time for friends and family to descend on her house with buckets, brooms, and cleansers (and maybe a bottle of bubbly for mom-to-be). She can sit back or pitch it while everyone helps get the house and yard ready for inspection during in-home visits.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

When we were going through the adoption process over 3 years ago we were asked if we would be able to OBTAIN the necessary items for the age of children we were looking at. We wanted to adopt a sibling group of about 3. I was never told by ANYONE to get the items before our homestudy. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive.

Our homestudy asked us about our parenting skills, family relationships, and the type of home we had (emphasis on the square footage the children would need).

I found out I was pregnant with our miracle baby AFTER the homestudy was completed which kept us from continuing with the adoption process (agency policy).

It sounds to me that she is desperate for a child (I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THIS after 6 years of infertility). She wants to get the ball rolling and start to feel like it will really happen. Adoption takes a LONG time (usually 1-2 years, even for kids already in the system).

I would tell your SIL that you will absolutely throw her a shower once the homestudy is complete and they are starting to look at a child/ren. I would emphasis that they may change their mind of the age of a child they want to adopt. They may think they want to wait for a baby and then find a toddler in the system that they fall in love with. As we all know, you need different things for different aged children. You may even want to entice her with the fact that it is much more fun to buy boy OR girl items than gender neutral ones and buying items to take back later is silly with the constant turn over of styles and designs. Many stores won't take a discontinued design back.

Handle her with care and compassion and make sure she knows that if a baby were to come her way sooner than expected she will have NOTHING to worry about in getting everything she will need.

My SIL's were very good about supporting us through this and that took a huge burden off our shoulders.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Eau Claire on

As an adoptive Mom, and one who has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get pregnant for four years, here's some advice: a Baby Shower is held when there is a child involved. That being said, her reasons for wanting one right away are valid. So, what if you throw her an Adoption Readiness Party (see Kaye S below) instead? If she needs a couple of things, and she knows what age she is looking to adopt, that will help. If that is not feasible, maybe family members who are no longer using cribs/car seats/changing tables could loan them to her.

A home study is mostly to ensure that the home is a safe environment, that there are not things at child/baby level that could be a danger, and that the couple is in a stable place in their own relationship, has a steady income, and are good people who can be trusted with children. It does help, but is not necessary, to show that you are prepared for a child by having a room selected for the nursery and, if not emptied/readied, at least in the process of being prepared. The inspector will want to see that you are serious about this decision.

When we had our home inspection, it was late in the process– we already knew the mother who was about to give birth (she had asked us if we wanted to adopt her coming child, so we got into everything a little late) and we were just waiting for the arrival of the little boy for the adoption process to continue. So we emptied out our computer room/office, and my Mom was generous enough to donate a beautiful bassinet, an extra dresser she no longer used, a changing table, and the same rocking chair she used to rock me and all of my 6 younger siblings in. So when the inspector came we had the nursery pretty much set; this was a surprise to the inspector. A huge one. She said most people don't have a room ready, and barely have anything. In most cases, a person is authorized/certified/approved for adoption before they even are allowed to find a child, and once they are approved, THEN they go about looking for a child to adopt. Which means that the inspector doesn't expect you to be ready for a child to arrive tomorrow.

As for an official Baby Shower, it should happen after she has been certified, and when she is actually about to adopt a child. Go ahead and throw her a shower then (for one thing, you know she's getting a child, and you'll– hopefully– know the age/gender of the child)! Celebrate her coming into Motherhood! Celebrate the arrival of a dearly desired little one!

So, how to handle it? Say something like this: "I think it would be hard to throw a shower since we don't know how old of a child to shop for, or whether they will be a boy or a girl, but if you need some things to get ready I would be more than happy to help you get them! How about we have an Adoption Readiness Party, instead? And when you find the child you want to adopt, and it's a sure thing– you've been approved, and the court date is set– of COURSE I will throw you a Shower! I would be more than happy to! It won't be weird; a shower is celebrating the arrival of a precious little one into the family, and celebrating your transition into the role of Mom!"

Telling her this way will let her know, subconsciously, that it is something to wait for until a child is actually in the picture, and will also reassure her and warm her heart that you will be happy to do this for her, and that you are ready and willing to look for ways to help her now. She will not miss out on this important celebration, and you are working on her side to make her dream a reality.

Having the shower AFTER the arrival of the child is also okay. I was given two showers, one by my mother, and one by my sister-in-law, after the adoption of our little baby boy (he was only 6 days old when we brought him home). I cannot begin to express how much they meant to me!!! It was okay, too, having our son there; the ladies LOVED holding him and talking to him and passing him around. Our son enjoyed the attention, I enjoyed the honor of being recognized as a Mother (and him being recognized as my son), and everyone was thrilled and happy.

For an Adoption Readiness Party, some gifts she could get that don't have to be gender/age specific (it sounds like she wants to adopt young, anyway): adorable baby blankets, bibs, bottles, pacifiers, wipes, stuffed animals (puppies and teddy bears are a safe bet), and keepsake items: a Remembrance Pillow where she can write/embroider the child's name, birthdate, name of parents (hers and hubby's), a memory album kit or beautiful photo album to store those precious first pictures, a Memories kit with a keepsake baby fork and spoon and two little containers for a First Curl (lock of hair) and First Tooth. Crib sheets and bedding are good.

Something good to suggest: that she have a Hope Chest, a place where she can save things as a 'hope for the future'. This will allow her to indulge (if she chooses) in baby items a little, while still allowing the distance of 'this may happen, and it may not.'

That's a big list, but it gives you and idea for some 'safe' items. More specific items (clothes, diapers, toys, anything gender specific) can be given at the official Baby Shower when the adoption is for sure.

I hope this helps! God bless, and I will pray for your Sister-In-Law!
M. D

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sherman on

I am an adoptive mother. Your home study is a time when questions are asked. When applying for adoption you do not have to have a nursery ready. The main thing is does she have a fire extingusher, electric outlet covers, is there railing on the porch and a evacuation plan? We did not have a baby shower until after we recieved a child. You never know what age the child will be at placement. You didnt specify if she was doing a private adoption or a state adoption. I got babies, the first one was 11 months, and the next one was 5 months and I got their sibling at birth. My suggestion is going thru the state. But specify that you want a child either that has already had parents rights terminated, or near that point. It is alot of mental readiness, and know your rights.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Hi J.,
I adopted my daughter and believe me the adoption agency did not recommend that your sister in law have a shower before her home study. They recommend having a shower after the baby is born just in case the birth mother changes her mind. That way you won't have to go home empty handed and seeing baby items for a baby you didn't get to adopt.

Maybe she is suffering from some type of depression. Maybe you could talk to her husband and suggest seeing a therapist. I didn't suffer from fertility issues but I can see how that can be hard for someone.

The shower issue does put you in a bad situation but try to tell her to at least hold off until she is matched with a birth mother and its near the time of delivery.

My job did give me a shower a week before my daughter was born. I was leary of having a shower fearing the birth mother would change her mind but it worked out. My friend had a shower for me and invited my family and friends 2 weeks after my daughter was born. I found this to be less stressful.

For the home study items for the baby are not necessary. What they are looking for is if the house is safe for a baby. This means if they have carpet they should have it cleaned. If there are stairs tell them you plan to put gates up when the baby comes. I put plug in covers in the plugs to show that I was prepared.

During the home study they will have to show that there is a room for the baby. It does not have to be set up for a baby during the home study. The room my daughther has was my guest room. I told the Social Worker that I was not setting the room up until I was matched because I didn't want to look at a nursery for a long time. It could be upsetting. She recommended I didn't set it up yet as long as I had someplace for the baby to sleep. I told her the baby would be in my room for a while in the bassinette. She was fine with that.

I hope the adoption process won't be long. I don't know how she will handle a long process. Also recommend to her to read books on adoption so that she can get a clear understanding of the process and what it takes to raise an adoptive child. Good luck to you and let us know how everything goes. T.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Many people here seem to be focusing on not hurting your SIL's feelings by saying "no" or focusing on what she must be thinking (trying to have a connection with a future baby, etc.). However, to me it sounds, at least from what you said, that she isn't totally sold on the idea, either. You said she asked if you thought it would be weird to throw her a shower and that she said it was recommended to her. To me that sounds like she isn't comfortable with the idea or she wouldn't be asking the question in that way, but felt like she should since someone recommended it to her.

I would suggest saying something like, "Did you check with any adoption agencies on what they recommend or what they expect you to have prepared at the time you're applying? How could they expect you to have all the supplies when you wouldn't know even know at this point how old a child you'd be adopting?" That would let her know that it's not that you don't want to give her a shower, OR that you thought she was weird, but that you want to do it the right way.

Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

I've adopted twice and, in my opinion, I would NOT have a shower prior to being approved. How is she going to feel if something goes wrong or it takes longer than planned and she has to look at and walk by baby stuff all the time?

Both our adoptions were of babies and AFTER we were approved, my friends and family had showers for us. It was really nice - we knew the sex of the baby. Having a shower has no effect on the approval process. It's not about what baby stuff you have.

You might have her husband talk to her, or if you are close enough to her, talk to her about the exact things you mentioned above as well as how she'll feel seeing all the baby stuff in her home if it takes longer than she hopes to adopt.

I feel for her - but I agree with you - a shower is premature.

I'll say a prayer - God Bless-

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answers from Terre Haute on

I would think it a bit odd unless she were currently fostering the child she hoped to adopt. I adopted my great niece but she had been living with me for some time prior to the application etc.
If you buy only baby girl items it might limit her choices for example.
What they really want to know is if you have the space and the means to care for a child.
basics -items seldom recieved at a shower - a room - dresser - fire extinguishers - fire detectors - running water- electricity etc.
they wanted to know if we had a bed for her - so if planning a small child perhaps a crib or toddler bed. I would not do specifics as i would think it would limit them such as if I only had girl clothes and a boy was available etc.



answers from Dayton on

I am an adoptive mom. We were approached about adopting our son before starting the approval process. And we STILL did not have showers until AFTER he was born. We have been TTC for almost 15 years. So, I know what it feels like to be desperate for a baby. But having all those baby things around with no baby would only make that worse, not better. It could take a VERY long time for her to be approved and then be chosen by a Birth Mom.

As stated many times below, you DO NOT need any baby items to complete a homestudy. I cannot imagine any agency suggesting that you do. I love the "Adoption Readiness Party" to help her clean and get things in order. What a help that will be to her!

Once she's been approved, you can help her borrow or purchase the very few items she'll have to have like a bed (crib, bassinette or even pack n play), infant car seat, bottles and a few diapers to get her through. You can then plan the shower for a week or 2 after birth.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to PM me. I'm an open book when it comes to all of this!




answers from Bloomington on

My husband & I have been trying to adopt for a year, we have had 4 fall through so far. I learned with the first one, DO NOT HAVE A SHOWER!!! It is very painful to look at all of the baby items after losing a baby to failed adoption!!! I returned everything after that first failed adoption, except for her coming home outfit, which is put away, for no reason, but I couldn't bring myself to return it.

The baby stuff, wasn't even from a shower, it was $250 worth of stuff we bought ourselves. I have bought a few things here and there for a little older age, so I know our new daughter will grow into it, when we are matched again.

A failed adoption is very painful to go through, it is even worse when you have reminders all around your house...



answers from Indianapolis on

I think it's weird. I know quite a few people who adopted and none had a shower before the child arrived. Most of them had a meet-the-child type party a few weeks after the adoption -- kind of like most people have a meet-the-baby type party after the newborn comes home from the hospital.

A shower is traditional given to setup the parents with all the gear they'll need for their children, like a bridal shower is to give stuff needed to setup the new household. A meet-the-baby party is for giving personal/individual stuff like clothes, blankets, toys, etc and to celebrate that particuluar child.

But as I've noticed, since I've lived in quite a few places around the US, the traditions are different in different areas.

I have friends who waited >years< (like 2-3 or more) between home study and bringing baby home.... they would've hated to have all that baby stuff around reminding them and taking up space. Not to mention some of it would probably be recalled and/or outdated by the time they needed it!



answers from Indianapolis on

I'm with you on this one. Whether they "already have everything" or not WILL NOT make the difference as to whether they are approved for the adoption! They'll take MANY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS into consideration.

What if she has the shower, has all this stuff around and then doesn't get approved? How depressing! NO! She's DEFINITELY getting the cart before the horse! She/they should be concentrating on "preparing themselves" and their documents for the adoption, NOT having a shower.



answers from Indianapolis on


As an adoption professional I can tell you that it is not a requirement to have all the "baby stuff" prior to adoption. That has nothing to do with being approved. The opposite is often true, some attorneys tell you not to get anything until after the placement or until a match has occurred so you don't have things around for a year waiting for it to happen. Hope that helps.



answers from Cleveland on

Having gone through the process two times, I can tell you that they are NOT looking for baby items if you don't have a baby. They are looking to see that your house will be a fit home for a little one. We talked to our agency after the first homestudy because I was really stressed out about it. I cleaned closets, the basement (which was unfinished at the time) and every nook and cranny in the house. Our social worker assured us they didn't even look at all that. They just wanted to see that where we lived and make sure that you have room for a new family member. Obviously, if you live in a one bedroom home or apartment, you're not ready yet. So I would definitely tell your sister in law that you will glady host a big bash for her when she gets approved and learns what they are expecting but for now you are going to wait. Hopefully, she'll see that what you're telling her is true and she'll understand. Good luck to her! (And you)



answers from St. Cloud on

Every family that I know that has adopted had the shower AFTER they had the baby home. I know quite a few families who have adopted.

I've never heard of an agency saying to have a shower before you are even approved. Being approved does NOT mean you get a baby. You still have to be picked by a birth mom. It could takes weeks (2 for one of the people I know who got a baby! Does NOT normally happen.) or months (more typical) or years (very likely).

She won't be recovering from a birth so you can have the shower a week or two after they get the baby. The main thing they would have to buy would be a carseat and a couple outfits. Pretty much everything else can wait.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Jill and Kimberly, I think this is probably an expression of her own need to feel like it is really going to happen, to feel like there is some connection to a future baby, and to satisfy her desire for all of the things that are needed for baby...cute blankets, little socks, bassinet etc. I get it, and I long for that sometimes when I think about having another baby ...I can't have another baby in my situation right now, but I think about it, and dream about the future when I have a degree and a good job and can afford another child.
Although I can understand at least on some level, it still makes no sense [dreaming about it is fine, but acting on it before it's a reality is a little "kooky", as you said] and certainly is not needed right now. I would just assure her that everything will be fine, she will likely be approved and then you will be happy to host a shower for her when the age and sex is known. If she really wants to buy something to have around the house, you could take her shopping and buy one of those cribs that can convert to a toddler bed and then a twin-sized bed.... that is something she can use no matter what and may be "good enough" for now



answers from Fort Wayne on

We were approved for adoption without a baby shower--we did have some stuff from our first born. It wasn't mentioned in any of the adoption preparation that we went to. I know how desperate I felt by the time we finally got to the adoption process, perhaps she is feeling that way too. Honestly, it can be a long wait between home study and baby--or not. I wonder if looking at the nursery would be hard to stomach. I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings. perhaps, you could volunteer to have one as soon as she knows a baby is on the way and do a mama support luncheon for her instead?



answers from Evansville on

I have to ask, who reccommended she have a shower asap? I'm assuming it wasn't a social worker or the adoption agency. It seems very odd to me. It could be a very emotionally difficult thing for her to go through with all the uncertainty surrounding this.

Does she want a shower now or is she just asking if it's appropriate? I'm with the other mothers here who've suggested a shower shortly after the baby comes home. And I love the idea of a "readiness party" where friends get together & help her prepare for her homestudy.

It would be heartbreaking if she has a nursery set up & for some reason never gets a baby or a logistical nightmare if they end up with an older child instead!



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Dallas on

I agree with you. We adopted from the state (not Texas). We waited five years for our child. We did not have to have all the supplies in order to be approved to be on the list to receive a baby. The agency never suggested a shower. However, we were required to have specific items prior to being approved to bring the baby home; a crib, approved car seat and a vehicle that would hold it, area to change the baby, area to bathe the baby, a place to store clothing, feeding equipment, a few basic toys. They came and checked prior to her placement with us. We waited until after she was home to have the shower(s) and we got clothing, more toys, savings bonds, books, crib layette, etc. at the showers.



answers from Cleveland on

I have to agree with the other moms who say to wait until after they bring a baby home. My husband and I were approved to adopt on July 12. We were matched with a birthmom on July 28 and our daughter was born on July 30. We brought her home from the hospital on August 3. We were stunned by how quickly it happened and had to rapidly switch our thinking from "will we ever" to "yikes - what do we this little thing". We had a few baby things in our basement that friends had handed down to us when they moved - I didn't even know what was there because I had refused to look at it - it was too upsetting. Our friends gave us 3 showers shortly after we brought her home. It is actually kind of fun to have the "guest of honor" at the shower! Everything worked out fine - there are so few things you need when you first bring them home - most things can wait. And regarding the home study, the only thing that might have changed since we adopted is that the social worker might have to see where the baby is going to sleep (but a bassinet should suffice) - thanks to the caged kids case - but don't quote me on that - her social worker will know for sure. Good luck.



answers from New London on

Seriously?? that is the weirdest thing I have ever heard of. I think you give them a nice baby welcoming party when the baby comes. Adoptions are long processes and they may or may not even get a baby for another year or more and I think it would be a little depressing to have all the baby stuff in the house as a reminder of every adoption that falls through, etc. Adoptions are hard enough already. I would tell her that you'll be happy to throw a party for the new baby when the baby arrives. They don't need a pak n play or a highchair for the person doing the homestudy to know that they may make great parents.



answers from Columbus on

We adopted our son as an infant. We only had baby showers after we brought him home because you never can be sure that an adoption will go as planned.

I've never heard of an agency recommending a shower. The home study is to make sure that your home is clean, safe, secure and that there is room for a child and that you will be good parents to a child. There is no need to have baby stuff ready and definitely no need for a baby shower beforehand.

The desire to have a child can become obsessive especially after fertility treatments. Maybe your SIL is just anxious to get things going. It can take years to adopt an infant, but if it should happen quickly she can always borrow stuff from friends and relatives until her own shower.

Maybe you could go with her to register at a baby store so she can be ready when it's actually time to have the shower. Or, maybe you could offer to help her start collecting a few baby things to borrow or buy at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. Probably just having a few things will console her until the actual adoption is under way.



answers from Evansville on

Just read through all the replies and I am in total agreement, no shower prior to them having a child.

My hubby and I adopted, we had the girls in our home from Aug of 06 and our adoption was in May of 08.

The case worker talked to me on the phone prior to the visit and allowed me to ask things about the study, the most important thing was that the girls have a room and beds, one was a baby when we got her and we redid our office for their room, but she said the most important thing was a clean home, saftey, and loving parents...most of the study was about us and how we parented, how we were parented and how our old kids felt.

Unless she is going thru private adoption she may well not get a newborn unless she is willing to wait a long time, to have a shower not knowing the age or gender is crazy if you ask me. Not sure how to let her down easy but if nothing else copy the replies here that are the best to you and let her read them.



answers from New York on

I think she would be better to wait until she is definitely approved as an adoptive home. I know it must be hard for her to watch others having babies and not be able to get pregnant. My sister has been trying for a while and she has a hard time even talking about it.

I was a case worker in the foster care system. Many times a foster family would get a baby or child on very short notice. If they had a crib or bed (depending on age) and a car seat almost everything else could be bought later.

Perhaps family and friends can give her coupons of less baby specific things (a couple of home cooked meals, an evening of babysitting,etc) to help her ease into motherhood with any child.

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