After the referral, and after the mounds and mounds of acceptance paperwork, comes the most challenging—and perhaps the most bittersweet—part of the waiting process. The care package preparation. I know some mamas love this part of the process. I'm not one of them. There are moments that I enjoy, and even have fun with... but overall, I have a love/hate relationship with this part. I won't lie... I do have lots of fun wandering toy shops and baby stores looking for the "perfect little thing" to add in. Many an hour this last week was lost doing just that. BUT... I think it's very hard to shop for a baby—YOUR baby!—that you only know on paper. I find it difficult to pick out meaningful "hostess-type gifts" for women and families who are caring for and loving your child while you can't. I struggle to find things appropriate for my child, while still making sure that the basics are covered. I feel my heart crack a little when picking out clothes and toys that I may never see my child wear or play with.
But... that's part of what motherhood is about isn't it?! Working through the pain and difficulty to do everything in your power to make your child feel safe and loved. Honestly, the only thing I want to squeeze in that little box is us, but since I can't... hopefully these items will act as the next best thing. Here's what I managed to squeeze into Milo's First Care Package:
1. Clothing. Is there anything more fun than shopping for a new cute little outfit?! No, not really! The outfits pictured above are from BabyGap. I included one similar to those, as well as a little Boston Red Sox onesie set. (OK, Doug was responsible for that one!)
2. Our voices. The one consistent in care package "suggestions" is including items that will help familiarize your baby to you. What better way than including your voice? Two popular items in the adoption circle are:
- The B. Hellophone from Target. It allows you to record a short message in addition to the ones they have on there. All three of us gathered round and recorded "Hello!" and "I love you!" in Korean for Milo to discover.
- A recordable storybook. I especially like "Under the Same Moon" available from Hallmark, because of the story line. We didn't include this, but plan to in a future package.
3. Hostess Gifts. These are gifts for the social worker, and the foster family. I really, really struggle with these. How do you send something small, yet meaningful, for people you don't know... yet live in your heart already?! I went traditional this package... but have plans for doing something more personal in the next package. For the social worker, we included some Lindt chocolate, and a "boutique" hand lotion that I love. For the foster family, we included some Starbucks "Tribute" coffee, as well as a "boutique" hand lotion and a silk scarf (thank you Grace!) for the foster mother.
4. A baby photo album. Again, what better way for baby to learn "who we are" then to include some photos of us?! I love the bright colors in the Sassy Look Book, and the sleeves fit 6 4x6 photos. (Almost - I did trim them down a little.) There is also a spot on the cover for a little photo. We sent one of these in the care package for our first son... and four years later, it's still intact, and often flipped through.
5. A disposable camera. This seems crazy considering the popularity, and prevalence, of digital cameras today... but, at the very least it says "please take photos!" Right?! I know I already won the "photo lottery"... but what can I say?! I'm a photo-greedy waiting Mama. Can you really blame me?! I made sure that I sent a simple camera with a flash.
6. Treats for Baby Paintbrush. In some of the referral photos, I spied a bottle of puffs in the background. He looked pretty happy in those shots, and I know he's starting solids... so I grabbed some of our favorites from Gerber to stash in the box.
7. A fun toy. The referral report mentioned that Milo really enjoyed music... so we found a fun music toy to include. This Baby Einstein toy has lights and music, and seems perfect for the baby who "likes to put everything in his mouth."
8. A blanket to snuggle. I love this blanket by Circo, but for the purpose of this package... we did something a little more personal. Spencer and I whipped up a small (18"x18") blanket with some fabric he picked out from my stash. He then slept with it for a couple of nights to get his scent on it. (As well as the scent of our laundry detergent, soap, etc.) He took this job very seriously, and it was a good way to involve him. We then packaged it up for Milo. We hope he attaches to it, and even more, we hope that it travels home with him!
9. A little friend. While we aren't there to offer hugs, this little guy can be.
10. An activity book. We know that Milo loves to rip real books, so we picked an indestructible "activity" book for him. I'm a reader, so the thought of sending a package without a book was just wrong to me... hopefully this is a happy medium! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is classic, and I love this version of it!
11. Love. While it's not something that Milo, or the foster family, or the social worker will be able to see... I sure hope they can feel it. While I don't feel that there is a ton of originality to this package, there sure was a lot of love that went into picking out the items. And just to make sure... we blew in some extra kisses before sealing the box!
Also included, but not pictured: spare batteries, a letter to the foster family introducing ourselves, and a gift "to share" with the office staff of the Korean agency. I also sent an update for Spencer's file (why not, right?!) and a letter to his foster mother and his social worker.
I've already started shopping for the next care package that we hope to get to Milo in time for his first birthday. (gulp) I'm hoping that one has a little more "personality" to it!
While I put the above photo collage for hellobee, I also snapped a few (poor quality shots) of the actual care package items to document here: