I have my very first anonymous question. I suddenly feel sort of… secret agent-y. Don’t mess with me, dude. I know where the bodies are buried.
My anonymous advice-seeker writes:
Mir, you are so pretty and smart. We have friends who just adopted a one year old from Russia. They have lots of dough. We do not. What could we possibly get them as a gift? They gave us a nice gift for the birth of both our children (around $40 each). Thank you. You are so beautiful and talented, I long to be you. How’s that?
First off, might I suggest a bit more feeling, next time, without breaking character to check on how you’re being received? Other than that, it was quite nice.
The arrival of a child is an event made for celebration. It’s natural to want to give a gift, and probably equally natural to be concerned if you feel like you don’t have much to offer, but this is one of those times when “it’s the thought that counts” is absolutely, 100% true.
Let me tell you something that I hate even more than paying full price: People who lack manners. Any time you give a gift, the receivers should be gracious about it. To do otherwise is classless. While I understand wanting to get “something nice” or “just the right thing,” I also feel the need to point out that anyone who causes you to feel like your best effort is somehow inappropriate is someone who should never again receive a gift from you. Period.
Now. Having said that? I think any gift picked out for this new blessing is perfectly appropriate. An outfit, a cool toy, some books; any “standard” sort of “yay you had a baby and I wanted to get you something for him” kind of thing. Something marvelous has happened and you want to share the joy. You can’t put a pricetag on that, you know?
On the other hand, there are two special considerations in this particular situation. First, that the baby is not a newborn. And second, adoption can open a whole extra avenue of interesting gift ideas.
Many people will assume that an older child doesn’t need “lovies” the way you might buy such things for a newborn, but an older baby or toddler who has been taken from everything he’s ever known and put into a foreign environment needs all he comfort he can get. Do consider super-soft stuffed animals, a blanket with fringe around the edge, or a combo animal/blanket lovie such as this one.
In this same vein: Do you knit? Crochet? A hand-made blanket is an exceptional baby gift. Even if you have no crafty inclinations whatsoever, I bet you can make a no-sew knotted fleece blanket (lower left corner). They’re cheap and easy but kids love them and there are a gazillion fun patterned fleeces out there to choose from.
Do you want to do something that honors this child’s heritage and birth country? I thought of one fairly pricey option right off the bat, but when looking for a specific theme at a not-too-expensive price, I often turn to books. Hmmm… 443 results for my search on Amazon. I betcha you can find something interesting in there.
For other adoption-themed stuff, I cannot say enough about The Adoption Shop. There are other stores that specialize in adoption as well, of course. I happen to know and have dealt with them, is all.
Anything personalized can be a unique gift, and it doesn’t have to be pricey. Both LL Bean and Lands’ End have awesome options for kids that can be personalized, from blankets to backpacks. (Yes, you’re going to notice that I mention these two stores a lot. I live in New England. It’s part of the assimilation that I hype Bean, and I just happen to like Lands’ End as well.)
Lillian Vernon has an entire kids’ section where just about everything can be personalized, too.
Any beautiful little keepsake is a nice way to give something meaningful without breaking the bank, as well. What about a special Christmas ornament? (I just happened to notice this one; there’s also a boy version available….) A music box? A unique piggy bank? There’s an entire section of personalizable baby gifts (okay, I don’t even know if personalizable is a word) at Personal Creations.
If they (and you) are the religious sort, a beautifully illustrated children’s bible is always a nice gift. Though it tends not to go over so well if they’re Wiccans or Scientologists or whatever. Know your recipient.
I also love high-end baby bath stuff (okay, who am I kidding? I just like high-end bath stuff, period). Sure, they might buy it, themselves, but maybe not. A nice mid-price brand (meaning, more expensive than what cheapies like you and I would normally spend, but not hideously expensive) is Burt’s Bees. This is a perfect age for a really cute “bath kit;” a few products, a fun animal scrubby mitt, some bath toys. Throw it all in a cute basket or bag and you’re done. Or—oh!!—I absolutely love this. Love it.
Lastly, when in doubt? Every new parent needs photo albums and picture frames. You just can’t go wrong with those. And they have the advantage of being sold just about everywhere; you can cruise the endcaps at Target and the clearance at Macy’s and everywhere inbetween.
Okay, I lied; one more last thing: Bringing a new family member home is a difficult adjustment, regardless of the circumstances. Consider a gift certificate for a restaurant they like or simply showing up with a freezer-friendly meal one night. Trust me, they’ll appreciate not having to cook.
Congratulations to your friends, and best of luck to you in selecting a gift!