Need your help with this gift, please

rococogurlAugust 26, 2006

Hi all,

I need some ideas for a very special gift.

Here's the backstory.

I became friendly with a woman in school. We had one class together and then a second one. She had done me a huge favor and ordered something for me, where she works, at a very advantageous price. I took her to lunch to say thank you.

She's about 35 and a career person. At lunch she confided that she and her DH were adopting a child, but no a baby, an older child.

I was nearly in tears as she told me the little girl's story. She is being adopted out of foster care and had been removed from her parents' home due to neglect and abuse. Not severe abuse but she had seen the parents having sex etc.

She's 10 and so cute and just wants a nice mom and dad. As you'd imagine she's had some trouble in school and with her socialization.

This classmate of mine is both the bravest and the kindest person. I feel she's doing God's work in adopting this child as so many would think she might have too many problems and want a baby. But she's also a very soft spoken, calm and deliberate person who is just the type of mom to provide stability for such a child. The little girl moved in last week.

I'd like to send a gift for the little girl but I have no idea about what to buy for a 10 year old. She's a tad on the chubby side and I'd like to stay away from clothing and send something a bit more serious for her.

So Cup and some of you other moms out there who know what might appeal, please make some suggestions? TIA.

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Your friend is wonderful to adopt this little girl. It's also very nice of you to want to give her something special. I'd get her something in the "welcome home" category, such as an extra blanket to snuggle with (my kids love extra blankets to carry around the house), or something for her room such as a beautiful lamp or "big" girl picture for her wall. I just saw at the mall near us a picture frame with cut outs of child's names that you put pictures behind the letters. It's a bit pricey, but that would be awesome! I'd go for something that will last for a long time that she will associate with coming home.

If none of those seem quite right, then I'd go with arts and crafts type stuff. There are alot of very cute make your own jewelery box, make your own purse, make your own stuff craft kits that most girls love. A special stuffed animal is also nice, but she may already have 15 or those. But, maybe not.

A beautiful diary?

Good luck - I'm sure you'll find something terrific!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 12:48PM
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I would buy a girl like this a baby doll and possibly a cradle or stroller to go with it. Please don't think of this girl as a pre-teen. She's still a girl. You didn't mention the race of any of these people, but if there is a mixed race you might even want to buy two or three babies with different skin colors (to match the girl and your friend the mom). My eleven year old still enthusiastically plays with baby dolls and with dollhouse stuff. For some reason, my daughters like to pretend they are poor travelers who meet a mean rich girl. We have a lot of wicker suitcases and old ballet recital costumes to complete the motif. We own a Fisher Price dollhouse and lots of furniture, people and pets (all plastic but well made) and get a lot of mileage out of it.

If her birth parents were neglectful and abusive, she probably lost a lot of innocence, including the innocence of pure, child-driven play time. I don't know what your budget is, but let me tell you that Magic Cabin makes gorgeous hand-made dolls that are called Waldorf dolls. If you are familiar with the Waldorf method of education, you know that these sort of toys are designed to let the child determine the parameters of play, unlike Barbies or Bratz dolls which are so packaged that they leave less room for imagination. Another neat toy made by Magic Cabin is called a "Fairy Bower." This is essentially a mesh or silk fabric thing that drapes from a hula hoop thing and encloses a playspace in a very lovely way. Children adore feeling surrounded by magical spaces. I am thinking about buying a fairy bower for my five year old boy for Christmas, it looks like a tree. the silk ones are meant to drape around a twin bed.

My baby dolls are French Corolle dolls. Very sweet and they smell good. Our baby dolls have "Moses basket" type beds. I also have Barbies -- who can resist a girl with looks like hers?

I think that anything that allows any child to work through their issues and helps them define their life and their future, and of course every child has issues (though not like this angel has), is a good toy. A great toy. Another idea is to have a pair of dolls where they can be big/little sisters. Pleasant Company does make toddler and baby dolls like this. I have stayed away from American Girl dolls for my family because everything is so expensive, since I have four girls. But if you're worried about sending something too childish, an American Girl doll is very cool for a ten year old. The accessories are matchless. Plus, if you decide to continue giving this little angel gifts, you never have to wonder what to buy for the doll.

We also love Beanie Babies. My children have collected them by species. So it would be neat to go out and buy her, say three or four bears and then one or two of the larger matching bears (called Beanie Buddies). You can find them at gift shops and at Hallmarks. Again, she can create scenes with the bears. You might give her a tea-set too. She can have a teddy bear picnic.

Toys that heal, toys that nurture this girls natural loving/parenting instincts, which is such an important part of any child's development (boy or girl) are the way I'd go.

Take a look at Magic Cabin. These dolls are expensive-ish, but they are stunning.

And if you're not a doll person, other classic gifts would be the "Little House" book series if she's a good reader, a collection of Caldecot books, Nancy Drew, etc. Craft things are great, as long as they aren't too complicated. Jewelry making kits are great until you drop the kit on the floor. Play dough is an excellent gift.

Another thing that would be nice would be a digital camera (even a disposable one), a small photo album, and a store gift card where she can have pictures developed. Or what about a few lessons like gymnastics or horse back riding? And then there's the gift of music. And of course, a real animal pet. How much money do you want to spend? I could go on forever. Don't even get me started about dollhouses!

And lastly, there is the gift of yourself. Just taking this child out for dinner or ice cream might give your precious friend the break that every new mom desperately needs. You could even take her shopping and let her pick out her own gift.

Here is a link that might be useful: Magic Cabin Dolls

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 5:59PM
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What about a locket or a picture frame engraved with her new initials?

I second Cup's suggestion to give the mother a little time if you are able. When the little girl is settled and ready to develop some other relationships with trusted adults, a monthly movie would be fun for you both!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:40PM
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I really like geogirl's suggestion of a blanket. With my girls, snuggling in their blankets was a source of comfort and security. I've seen some great 'tween' type blankets in awesome fabrics at Marshalls & TJs, many with matching bolster type pillows.

I also like the idea of a book ~ Judy Blume books are great for girls that age!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:45PM
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What about a plain silver braclet with a a charm?
That way she she can slowly add to it over the years and it will be a lifetime momento of her new family and life?

They are not too expensive, but would delight most girls- and if you choose one with large enough loops the size will adjust if you clip if tighter.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:47PM
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My DD is turning 10 in a few days. Some of her favorite things are her bicycle and scooter (not a motorized one, just a regular push scooter). We also have a ton of fun playing her gamecube together - her favorite is a driving game that multiple people play together at the same time so it's great interactive fun. She also likes personal grooming stuff like special brushes, combs, soaps, hair conditioners, etc. A couple of slightly more offbeat things are pets like hermit crabs and an ant farm (we got a cool one with blue gel that the ants eat and tunnel through). She gave up on dolls back around age 5 and they're not considered "cool" by her school friends so there may be some peer pressure against those types of things. I also just picked up a Nickelodean Trivial Pursuit game for her, which will be good family fun. I hope those ideas help; your friend sounds really wonderful.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 11:17PM
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A thought about cup's very insightful ideas: they reminded me of a friend we have, who adopted an 10 y.o. boy from Russia (long story). He's now 13, but *still*, when he's alone, he plays mostly with the toys of the family's natural-born 3 y.o. And not in an ironic or somehow distanced way -- he really likes to play with them. He never had that childhood and he's giving it to himself maybe you could give two things: something that would normally be considered age-appropriate, like what chiefneil mentioned, for playing with other girls, and something just for her that may be more nurturing/healing as cup mentioned.

I also wouldn't suggest a live animal right off. I hate to discuss why, but suffice to say I've seen this boy's behavior toward the family dog. And the dog's behavior toward him. But more in general, I'd aim toward things like *stuffed* animals that won't suffer if the nurturing skills are still developing, and maybe also if some bad feelings have yet to be worked out...I'd let the mom and dad decide when and what kind of animal, IMO.

Sending good energies for this new family...

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 5:39AM
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Thank you all so much for the thoughtful suggestions. It's such a bittersweet situation and not someone I know extremely well so it's helpful to have a range of ideas. I just had no idea before and now there's much to ponder here.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:07AM
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The wisdom of the people on this forum never ceases to amaze me.

I think I would go the route FlyLeft suggested. Perhaps a beautiful baby doll and a more "tweenish" game or piece of jewelry.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:09AM
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You don't say if your classmate has had other children, but I'm going to assume no. In that case, her home may not have some of the customary things that accumulate with children - board games, craft supplies, markers, crayons, etc. I really think some board games might be great - it will give the new family some time to sit together and get to know each other, while having fun. A craft box of markers, crayons, glues, craft scissors, glitter, paper, felt, etc. will give a young girl and her mom many hours of fun. Her new home will need some refrigerator art!

I also think an inexpensive camera (maybe get disposables) and a photo album might be a good gift. The young girl might like to record the first days of her new family life, create new memories for herself. If the disposables are successful, then Mom and Dad can get her a real camera for Christmas/Hanukah.

When you said a 10-year old girl being adopted, I immediately thought of the Anne of Green Gables books, although I think the reading level be higher than a 10-year old. The complete Harry Potter books might be great - then the new family can read them out loud together. But I do think a nice collection of classic books might be a wonderful retreat for someone who is adjusting to a new life.

Whatever you do will be greatly appreciated. It warms your heart to see a new family get started, doesn't it?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:11AM
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The Trixie Belden books were a favorite of mine and now my niece is addicted to them too! I have bought her several but of course I read them before mailing and enjoy them as much as I did when I was 10!

Love the blanket and locket idea!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 9:33PM
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If it isn't to late, I was in a very similiar situation as your friend and have a suggestion. (A gift certificate) If there is a mall not terribly far that has one of the "make your own teddybear"? I don't remember the name. I thought of this as it is something mom/new daughter could do together (bonding) yet a lasting gift. They have many different outfits so she could pick what interests her. No matter wht age she is emotionally everyone loves TB's. When I saw one of the shops I remember thinking what a wonderful thing and I wished they had them when we adopted older children.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 4:52PM
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eandhl, here's a link that might help rococogurl.

Here is a link that might be useful: Make your own Teddy Bears

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 11:17PM
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Thank you all, again, for the lovely thoughtful suggestions.

As I mentioned before, this is a classmate, not a close friend so I don't know her extremely well. No other children.

I've decided on what I think might be an appropriate gift. I'd like to get one of those wooden name plates with the little girl's name on it in colorful letters. It could be put on the door of her room or in her room.

I don't want anything cutesy or too childish. Just colorful and a plaque. Best if it could be ordered online.

If any of you have TNT sources for this I'd be grateful for links. I googled but got little boats and choo choos --way too junior.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 11:24AM
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Wonderful idea!

Pull up the "boats and choo choos" company again- their customer service may be able to arrange a simple plaque for you.

If that doesn't pan out, poke your head into any upscale childrens' store, I'm sure they could give you some direction.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 12:19PM
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oooh I have the perfect site!

The artist is a very good friend of mine and she does really great, fun, funky art

I just checked and she is currently having a sale on her custom name plaques! check her out!!!!

I have custom house numbers and my kitchen clock and my dd has 2 great funky dragonfly and ladyubug plaques...

I may just have to get her a name plaque for her b-day next month....

Here is a link that might be useful: Flying Woman Designs

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 3:30PM
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Bingo namabafo. I would have gone with something a bit more sedate but after looking at those (especially with the beads) I think one of those would be just perfect. It has a bit of the jewelry thing going for it as well without making it something she must wear.

Price is excellent. Thanks ever so much.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 8:20PM
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