Last month I had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a sweet friend whose family is adopting a precious little girl from an orphanage in China. They are, in fact, in China right now…Godspeed, friends! Praying that your travels are safe and that nothing comes between you and the joy of meeting your new daughter!
In planning for the shower, I discovered a few good resources for baby showers for international adoptions. It’s a bit different planning an adoption shower, in our case the child will be almost two years old when she comes home, so we were not technically having a “baby” shower. So count out all the games that involve a “baby” theme…no melted-chocolate-bar-in-the-baby-diaper games for this shower (honestly, we’d have skipped that one anyway. It was funny the first time, folks, but really…ick!). Also, most baby shower games and plans revolve around the mommy-to-be, and in the case of an adoption of course the mommy is not pregnant. Which is nice for Mommy, who gets to enjoy the shower without her feet aching and without the worry that a game will be played in which her expanding girth is estimated with a piece of string and the winner gets a prize for being closest to how impressively wide the baby belly has become. Whew. Instead, we had the fun of adding a Chinese flare to the party! We decided to combine “little girl” with “China” for the decorations and food. So much fun!
We decorated with pink and white streamers and balloons, and we used Valentine’s Day decorations throughout the house. Pink, white and red heart-shaped paper doilies decorated the windows, and sparkly cardboard hearts were scattered across the table. My friend brought her red-and-white checked table cloth, and I made a simple table runner out of red and white fabric. We brought out the silver to make it pretty. We had pink and red frosted mini cupcakes, cherry cheesecake brownies, stuffed mushrooms, and I had a great time shopping at our local Chinese Market for fun snacks! Eggrolls, Wontons, fortune cookies (you can even have them made in different flavors, chocolate dipped, custom colors and with your own messages inside! Maybe a scripture verse tucked inside?) and some interesting bonbons made of rice flour with sweet bean paste or fruit inside called Mochi (gluten free, for those that are interested!). It turns out that these are actually Japanese, but they were pretty and interesting. You can find them at an Oriental market or order them online. We also asked guests to bring a favorite dessert or appetizer to share, so there was plenty of wonderful food to go around.
My favorite part of the decorating was our hanging ribbon-hearts. I found a homeschooling website that had these great Chinese Character Cards to download for free, and printed out the cards. Then, I chose words that were meaningful for adopting a little girl from China…words like Mother, Father, Family, Love, Girl, Courage, Pray, Dream, Treasure, Strength, Joy, Home, Heaven, Laugh. We cut hearts out of beautiful scrapbook paper. I used the “Spring Morning” Pattern Pack, purchased at Walmart for about $5.00. It has a nice variety of red, pink, blue and green with several patterns that reminded me of Chinese cherry blossoms. After cutting all the hearts out, we glued different patterns together so that each heart had a pretty back and front, then we cut out our Chinese character cards and glued a character to each side of the heart. After punching a hole at the top of each heart, we strung them on red satin ribbon and hung them as a centerpiece for the table. After the shower, you can give the ribbon-hearts to the family to make a mobile for the baby’s room!
During the shower, we played a few games. There is a great game for international adoption showers here, where guests guess which language the word “baby” is written in. You can also play “Pin the [name of family] in [name of country they are adopting from] and use a big map of the world and little photos of the family. We also played the game where you bring a tray of baby (in our case, toddler) items out, the guests get a minute to try to remember what is on the tray, and the person who can remember and write down the most items wins. Each guest was asked to write a note of advice, encouragement, or a scripture quote to the family on a heart-shaped piece of scrapbook paper. The hearts were read aloud before we opened gifts. During the party, Middle Child led the girls in making a beautiful poster out of the same scrapbook paper we used for the hearts…we cut squares out of the paper in advance, and then had the girls choose, arrange and glue the squares to a piece of poster board. They then glued the hearts the guests had written on in the squares to make a sort of paper quilt which we framed to give the family for their daughter’s room.
We made a list of items that the family needed for their daughter…because they did not know the exact size that she wears, we also asked that guests include a gift receipt for clothing so that they could exchange it if they needed to. For a toddler adoption, items like sippy cups, childproofing gear, child-sized flatware, toddler toys (we all know you can’t have enough of those!), bath gear, towels, blankets, art supplies, and board books are great. It helps to ask the parents what they need and then send that information out to the guests so that the adoptive mommy is not having to field many phone calls as to what sort of gifts would be appropriate. Also, because many international adoptions include a mandatory donation gifts that must be given to the child’s orphanage, we asked that guests bring something for the child’s orphanage. Ask the parents for a list that their agency provides as to what’s appropriate, as many orphanage have strict guidelines on what you can bring. This helps the parents out in preparing to travel, and gives guests a chance to bless orphans with a little something as well!
We had a wonderful time at the shower and it was a blessing to get to host it. If you’re here because you are looking for ideas for a shower of your own, here are some links that might help!