Appropriate thank you presents for people who helped with our adoption
April 15, 2016 9:31 AM   Subscribe

We'd like to get some thoughtful 'thank-you' presents for 3 people who helped us with our adoption last year. But we don't know them that well, don't want to give just a token, and don't want to give an impersonal gift card.

We adopted our son a year ago, and we've been lucky to receive a lot of good advice and a lot of help from a lot of people throughout our journey. But the contribution of three people in particular really made a difference to us:

The first person was a social worker who gave a 6-week session on the emotional needs of adopted children. While she was just "doing her job", the course was eye-opening and her advice continues to guide me today as I bring up my son.
Her projects and hours are constantly getting the axe as a result of budget cuts, which must take a hit on her personally. I will be writing a letter to the government minister whose portfolio includes her contribution, but I wanted to do something for her personally.

The second and third people were in Colombia, where our son is from. They took care of all the bureaucratic red tape and paperwork for us, and were our eyes and ears while we were there, allowing us to spend all our energy on our son in those first few weeks that we were together. There is no way we would have managed had it not been for these two women. My wife and I did buy them something while we were there, but on reflection, it didn't reflect the value of what they did for us.
Their bosses know what a good job they do, but we want them to know how much they meant to us.

Because we don't know any of these people personally, we don't know what they like to do, where they like to eat, if they go to the spa, etc.

Who knows, maybe a heartfelt letter of thanks is the best option, especially 1 year later since we are still thinking about them. But in case you had any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

posted by bitteroldman to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe a heartfelt letter with a picture of your family.
posted by bq at 9:36 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Why not simply write to each of them --- a real paper letter, NOT email or text --- and TELL them how much their help meant? How much their advice and assistance helped you, how it's going to help you as you raise your son, and how grateful you are? Maybe include a nice family portrait, too.
posted by easily confused at 9:36 AM on April 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

A heartfelt, specific letter to each person, and a similar letter to each person's boss or CEO that really specifically outlines their excellence, and its effect on you, is always great. Perhaps include some cute pics of your happy baby and family. A letter will feed their hearts and revive the meaning behind what must be a taxing job, and making sure their bosses know how well they did will boost their careers. I think a gift is a great idea as well- but a great letter will make the gift even more meaningful.

One small caveat- be careful about outlining anything they did may have been beyond their usual protocol- definitely don't mention or imply that they bent rules for you, as it could cause trouble for them.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:38 AM on April 15, 2016 [9 favorites]

My guess is that each of these people does the work she does because she wants to help people--adopters and adoptees. So a detailed letter of thanks that explains what their work has meant to you and your family would be a real gift. You have an opportunity to give them something that will help sustain them through the many days when they may feel unappreciated.
posted by msbubbaclees at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think a letter is also best because you don't necessarily know the rules for what they may be allowed to accept. I'm not sure about social workers, but I know many government workers do have rules about the value of gifts they are permitted to accept, and you would not want to either get someone in trouble or make them feel awkward about having to decline a gift. And who knows what the rules could be in Columbia?
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

A heartfelt letter, yes. But it sounds like you want to give some gift also.

The parents of one child I cared for had a framed memento given to every person who had helped care for their baby during his hospitalization. It had a picture and this quotation:
"A hundred years from now
...the world may be different because
I was important in the life of a child."
Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

It is from his essay "Within My Power."

It was lovely, and I am not one for tchockes, much.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:56 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

i work in a field (child protection) which has adoption as a kind of offshoot, when birth parents choose to relinquish their child/ren permanently.

When an adoption is finally completed (usually five to ten years after commencing the process, here in Australia), we get an email from our regional Adoption Specialist Caseworker, usually with a gif of balloons or cheering cartoon animals or something like that, along with massive brightly coloured fonts congratulating us on helping create a family and giving a previously neglected/abused child a much better life. We print it and stick it up on the wall to remind us that our job is to help families to stay together, but if that doesn't work out, our next task is to nurture a new family.

The reminder on the wall is sweet and makes us feel good, but the best reward is a photo of the newly-formed family. Mum, dad and the kid/s, deliriously happy at finally becoming the family they were meant to be.

I vote for a nice family photo and a heartfelt note acknowledging their role in bringing happiness to your son, your wife, and you.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:32 AM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

thanks, all!
I definitely know what I can do now!!
posted by bitteroldman at 4:46 AM on April 16, 2016

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