Having a prospective birth mother choose you to raise her child is a priceless gift that you can never repay. Even so, many adoptive parents choose to express their feelings for a birth parent by giving them a meaningful gift at the hospital when the baby is born.

While there are many different possibilities when it comes to gifts for birth parents, most adoptive parents choose something small and personal — something a birth parent can treasure for the rest of their life.

Because giving birth parents gifts can be a sensitive topic, it’s important that you talk to your adoption specialist about what gift is appropriate in your situation. They will be able to give you advice on which kind of gift is best for the birth parent’s emotions at that time, as well as legal advice based on your state’s living expenses laws. When in doubt, always consult your adoption specialist when it comes to birth parent gifts.

Each birth parent is different, so you’ll want to decide on a gift based on their personality and your relationship with them. That being said, here are some ideas for birth mothers and birth fathers, whether for the hospital meeting, the adoption finalization or another important time in the adoption process:

Birth Mothers

  1. A commemorative piece of jewelry: Many adoptive parents choose to give their child’s birth mother a piece of jewelry she can wear as a reminder of the child she placed for adoption. It may be engraved with her baby’s initials or feature the baby’s gemstone. Whatever personalization you choose to give it, make sure it’s subtle, so a birth mother is not constantly asked about what it means and won’t feel uncomfortable about explaining it.
  2. A postpartum recovery basket: Recovering from giving birth can be a long process, especially for a birth mother who is also dealing with the emotions of placing her child for adoption. You can make that process easier by creating a spa, self-care basket (lotions, bath items, etc.) so she can pamper herself during this time. You may wish to look at www.birthmotherbaskets.org.
  3. Flowers: Flowers are always a cheery sight for birth mothers, whether it’s in their hospital room or when they arrive back home post-partum. While it is a simple gift, it’s one that can go a long way when they are dealing with complicated emotions of grief and loss.
  4. Stuffed Animals: Birth mothers will likely be looking for comfort after placing their child for adoption. You may choose to get a stuffed animal that matches one your child will grow up with — as a reminder of her child and as something that she can embrace when she’s feeling alone.

Birth Fathers

  1. An engraved watch: Like jewelry for birth mothers, an engraved watch is a great way for a birth father to carry around the memory of his child and your relationship with him. As you would with jewelry, make sure the engraving is subtle (perhaps on the inside of the wrist) so he doesn’t have to answer unwelcome questions about what it means.
  2. A matching keychain: Similarly, you may choose to engrave a keychain or purchase a keychain that matches a piece of jewelry you’ve given to the birth mother. That way, they can both feel connected to your baby, even if they end up going their separate ways after the adoption.
  3. A meaningful book: If you know the birth father has a particular interest in something, consider buying him a book about that subject. Like a birth mother, a birth father will go through some difficult emotions post-adoption, and a book can provide an escape and distraction, should he need it.
  4. Photo frame: A birth father may appreciate a memorable, engraved frame and a photo of his child, especially if he and the birth mother are not in a relationship together and can’t share a photo gift. This way, he can switch out photos he receives from you or the agency over the years as his baby grows up.

For Both Birth Parents

Sometimes, both birth parents are involved and supportive in the adoption process. In these cases, you may choose to give them a mutual (or separate if they’re not in a relationship), non-gender-specific keepsake. These can include:

  1. A photo album: A leather-bound photo album can be a beautiful gift. You may choose to include a few photos from the hospital stay in the front pages, leaving empty spots for the photos and letters they will receive over the years from you.
  2. An adoption memory book: Similarly, you may create a more involved memory book. In addition to photos, it can also include mementos from the adoption process, like your original adoptive family profile, emails and texts sent back and forth and things from the hospital stay. Like a photo album, you can leave blank pages for the memories still to come.
  3. A recovery gift basket: Recovering from giving birth is not solely a physical act; some birth parents may have needed to take time off work and may need some extra help getting back on their feet after the adoption process. If approved by your lawyer and adoption specialist, you may wish to send a gift basket of meal preparation, gift cards and other practical help.
  4. A quilt or a blanket: If you’re crafty, you may make a personalized quilt or blanket representing the child they placed for adoption and the appreciation you have for their selfless sacrifice.
  5. Professional photos: If the birth parents are comfortable doing so, you all might choose to take professional photos during the hospital stay, shortly after or during the finalization hearing. These photos can be invaluable to birth parents and will likely be something they treasure forever. This should be discussed prior to the hospital stay with the birth parents and your adoption specialist.

Remember, each adoption relationship is different, and it may not always be the right thing to give a gift to the birth parents. If you’re ever in doubt of what’s appropriate, consult with your adoption specialist. However, if you do choose to give your child’s birth parents a meaningful gift, it can be an important step in solidifying a strong relationship between you all for many years to come.