Adoption (Open) · Stories about Emmie

Great Birthday Expectations and Some Unexpected Things, Too

Emmie was SO excited about her 7th birthday! The countdown for the number of days leading up to it began sometime in 2012, and this year she had certain wishes expectations for how we ought to celebrate.

#1 Expectation: Decorate her bedroom door with streamers


We had some streamer on hand, but a trip to the party store and an $.89 purchase of a roll with a pink cheetah pattern made her very, very happy.

#2 Expectation: Have a birthday party with friends

We let the kids have a friends party every couple of years, and it had actually been three years since her last party, so this was easy to agree to. Since Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday this year, we decided to have the party that morning. The creative side in me perked up when thinking about a double theme. Heart-shaped donuts stacked like a cake? Sign me up.

On Friday afternoon we picked up the donuts. Maybe the next morning would have been better so they would be fresh, but I didn’t like leaving that detail for the last minute. Saturday mornings are busy in our town and I’m not an early morning person. I can do 5:00 on Valentine’s Day eve when Dunkin Donuts is empty. Gladly!


That night Mike and the kids watched a movie and I got busy cleaning and decorating the house.


For those of you who pay attention to detail, the above picture was not taken on Friday night. 🙂 But I wanted to show the banner that I ordered from Oh Carrot Stick’s shop on Etsy.  So cute.



I found the perfect plates, cups, and a cardboard bed centerpiece at Birthday Express



The decorations and other ideas for the party were kept simple. I cleared a space in the living room to lay down Emmie’s comforter and pillows. We blew up some balloons and Emmie stacked the donuts and helped me decide on a playlist.


The hardest part was having to wait until 10 a.m. before the first guest arrived!


Once everyone came (and Emmie ran upstairs for a last-minute wardrobe change into footie pajamas), we made these adorable pillow kits (this craft is really too hard for 6-7 year olds, so I pre-assembled the pillows about 3/4 of the way so they only had to stuff them and finish tying the remaining knots). Lots of work to help double-knot them in the end, but they LOVED these pillows and the fabric is good quality and nice and soft.



Then we played musical pillows and had an impromptu dance party (to Mandisa’s song “Good Morning” and the Frozen soundtrack)


Once everyone felt comfortable and silly, the volume in the house got much louder. They were having a great time. Here’s where the unexpected part happened, however.

At this time a conversation about adoption took place between Emmie and a couple of the girls. One of her friends didn’t know Emmie was adopted.

Innocently (but loudly), she asked her, “you mean THOSE aren’t your REAL parents?”


I was standing right there – thank goodness. I saw 9 little girls look up at me waiting for me to say something. So, I turned off the music and had an impromptu talk about adoption and what it means to say “real parents.” I touched my arm and asked, “Am I real? I am! So, girls, when we talk about adoption, both parents and birth parents are real.” I threw in some humor and they giggled, but I hope they understood what I meant.

The term “real parents” can be confusing and hurtful.


Emmie wasn’t fazed by it at all – she’s the one who brought down her scrapbook and started the whole conversation. She’s very proud of her adoption story. Another girl asked me if Jake was my “real” son, and I had to use the same illustration again. They giggled some more. In the end, it was a positive, upbeat conversation about how God made our family and that we are very happy to be an adoptive family. It makes us feel special and unique.

They were completely satisfied with that explanation and went on holding hands and jumping around to the music once again. Then I gave myself a minute to compose myself. What just happened was a big deal, friends. I knew I had to talk more about it with Emmie later (we did; and I told her how proud I was of her when she was put on the spot by her friend during the party).

Goodness, I hope I handled all of it well. I think I did. God poured out a measure of grace and gave me the words to say, but I was as nervous as anyone would be).

Anyway, back to the party! It was time for cake! Well…donut cake!




The girls very politely filled their plates with strawberries, cheese, pigs-in-a-blankets (big hit), pretzels, and a big donut. They went to the living room and ate picnic-style on the comforter and Emmie served as MC. She asked a whole bunch of conversation-starter questions. It was the cutest.



After we cleaned up our plates, we played a relay game dressing and undressing these bears.





Then she opened presents,



we took some group pictures,




and we finished the party on a calm note downstairs with a Barbie movie.



Emmie had the best birthday. Her other wishes expectations were clearly communicated and we did our best to meet them. 🙂  She woke up to balloons on her bedroom floor just like I did for Jake’s 7th birthday (although he didn’t like that, she absolutely did). We had lunch with Daddy, macaroni & cheese for dinner (with chili), and a special family night when it was snowing.


There were lots of additional surprises, too, like a play date with friends and getting Rice Krispies treats, eating pink cake with sprinkles for three days straight, and so many gifts and cards from loved ones that she couldn’t contain her excitement. Happy Birthday, Emmie! We love you!




5 thoughts on “Great Birthday Expectations and Some Unexpected Things, Too

  1. Her pajama party was the cutest! I especially love the donut cake idea. I think you handled the situation perfectly and now the girls know a better way to say something regarding adoption. It’s wonderful that she wasn’t fazed by it and proudly shows off her scrapbook–that’s awesome! 🙂

  2. Love ALL the pics, but my favorite is the group picture of all nine girls! It’s hard to get those great group pics and you “got it!” The first and last pictures captured Emmie’s excitement and happy smiles (love the missing two front teeth smile.) Emmie was just a ‘little excited” about her b-day and the PJ party with ALL her BBF’s. I agree with the other comments – you handled the adoption talk very well!

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