Our children's birthday is an emotional time for most of us. In open adoptions, you may be given the opportunity to attend your child's birthday party. Like many moments in open adoption, birthday parties can be bittersweet. You are excited to be there celebrating your child's life but you may feel a little sad at the same time.
When Charlie's first birthday party rolled around, I was a bundle of nerves. What should I wear? How should I act? How would other people respond to my presence? What if I cried or things got too tough for me emotionally while I was at the party? Many questions and scenarios floated through my head.
Now, eight years later I have a few birthday parties under my belt and feel that I can share a few tips with you on how to make attending birthday parties a bit easier.
- Go early or stay late -Try to schedule a little bit of one on one time before or after the party so you (birthmom) can spend a little bit of quiet time with your child. Parties can get crowded, noisy, busy, and overwhelming pretty quickly so you may not actually be able to have much one on one time with your child, so going a bit early or staying late remedies this.
- Take a break – If you get overwhelmed emotionally (and you might) take a quick breather. Excuse yourself to the bathroom, step outside, or busy yourself with a distraction.
- Offer to help - Parties can sometimes be difficult to get everything ready and done by a certain time so your child’s Mom may appreciate the help (either before with preparations or after wards with clean up) and it will make you feel more involved and useful. This can also be a distraction if you are feeling overwhelmed emotionally.
- Bringing guests – If you wish to bring other people with you (aside from people who are already assumed to be coming with you like husband or boyfriend and parented children) check ahead of time and make sure it is ok.
- Activities for Parented Children – Depending on the age of your child there might not be much for your parented children to actively participate in at the party. Unlike older children’s parties where there are typically games and activities that your parented child could participate in, some of the early years birthday parties (first and second birthdays in particular) typically do not have games or activities as everyone just sits around and watches the birthday boy or girl be cute, play in the cake, and open presents. This could leave your parented children antsy after a little bit, so bring some small toys or books to occupy them should they become antsy.
If you are invited to your child's birthday party and just feel uncomfortable or too emotional about attending, I suggest that you don't force yourself to attend. Suggest an alternate activity such as getting together for cake and ice cream or meeting at a park and doing your own birthday celebration there.
If you have attended your child's birthday party, how did it go? Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to make it easier and a positive experience?