Adoption naming ceremonies aren’t something I’d come across until recently. So I was very intrigued when celebrant Sally contacted me and asked if she could write a piece about them and why she became a celebrant to help adoptive families celebrate coming together.
In this article, Sally shares a bit about her adoption journey, and how she came to be a celebrant. I wish I’d known about adoption naming ceremonies when our children came home as they sound like a wonderful way to embrace everything that’s happened to bring an adoptive family together.
Our adoption journey
For us, the adoption process took a long time. However, from the moment I first saw my daughter jiggling in her foster carer’s arms with excitement, I knew it was all worthwhile.
Yet, despite how magical, joy filled and overwhelming those first few days, weeks and months were, we were strangers to each other. The joy was mixed with getting to know each other and building our attachment.
All this took time. It took time to feel like a family and to feel that we belonged together. There were also all the social worker visits, LAC meetings and court proceedings to contend with. So, when the adoption order eventually went through, it felt more like a relief and the end of a process than anything else.
Having stepped off the hamster wheel of the adoption process, we could pause and take a breath. It was then that we realised we wanted to do something special, personal, and unique to us to mark all that we had been through. And to celebrate the creation of our family. I looked to see what options were available but couldn’t find anything suitable. So, I set about writing my own ceremony!
I did lots of research and drew upon our own thoughts, feelings and values to create a beautiful and symbolic ceremony that truly reflected ‘us’.
Adoption naming ceremony
Our adoption naming ceremony was pure joy. We shared all our hopes and dreams for our daughter and made promises to her, as did our friends who became ‘guide parents’. Our siblings and even our little nephew read poems, readings and a blessing. We lit a unity candle with grandparents and foster carer. We celebrated and bestowed our daughter’s name upon her with the children giving out roses to everyone who was present.
My overwhelming memory is of my daughter dancing and twirling with her rapidly drooping rose whilst we sang her favourite song. It was truly the most special of days. And, more, importantly it drew a line under that chapter of our life. Importantly, it marked and celebrated our new beginning as a family, in a way the court ceremony simply couldn’t.
Social workers often talk about ‘claiming a child’ and that’s what the naming ceremony did for us. It allowed us to ‘claim’ our daughter. After our ceremony, we all felt more at peace and relaxed about our family. She was our daughter, and we were her parents and it felt so right.
We’re a family, and nothing can change that.
That was when the seed of an idea was planted. I want everyone to have the opportunity to celebrate their child and their family in a personal and meaningful way. One that represents their family’s story, their values, their beliefs and their love. One which celebrates them as individuals as well as a family. That acknowledges and recognises all that they’ve been through and celebrates all they’ve become.
Following my dream
My dream didn’t start to become a reality until eight years later when I became a registrar for the council, carrying out legal marriages. Whilst I loved officiating at ceremonies, I felt something was missing. The ceremonies lacked individuality and, more importantly, any personal connection. I didn’t know the couples I was marrying, meeting the bride just five minutes before she walked down the aisle.
This lack of personal connection made it hard to support the couple effectively on the most important day of their lives. That wasn’t good enough for me.
So, I retrained as an independent celebrant.
I now work with couples and families to create and officiate ceremonies that truly reflect them. They are bespoke and personal and create long lasting and beautiful memories about the most important days of their lives. My greatest love is doing adoption naming ceremonies, as it fulfils my wish from our own naming ceremony.
What is an adoption naming ceremony?
Well, it can be anything you want it to be. But it’s always the most beautiful, personal way to welcome a child into your family. It’s a moment to pause and reflect on:
- all that’s been;
- all that is; and
- all that’s yet to come.
It’s a day and a moment that will create long-lasting and amazing memories. It marks the most momentous of milestones: becoming parents, and becoming a family.
Traditionally, naming ceremonies involve you making promises to your child. During these promises, you can share with them the love, hopes and dreams that you have for them and the joy you feel to be their parents. You can also include grandparents, friends and family as ‘Guide Parents’, all of whom can make promises too.
You choose the music and readings to be shared. You can include other rituals such as treasure boxes, unity candles, a fingerprint tree, and so on. If appropriate, you can also share the meaning behind your child’s name and formally bestow it upon them.
The arrival of your child into your life brings so much joy and happiness, it’s only natural to want to celebrate this. Creating your family through adoption is complicated and has an impact on many people beyond the immediate family. Space can be made within the ceremony to honour other important adults in your child’s life, such as birth family members, foster carers, social workers, or maybe other loved ones who can’t be with you on the day.
Involving your child
Of course, children are the focal point of the event. Many children are comfortable taking an active role in their naming day. Depending on their age and ability, there are many ways they can participate in their special ceremony.
An adoption naming ceremony will create a wonderful family memory. I feel strongly that the memories a family creates together help bind them as a unit. As one of the earliest memories you make together, a naming celebration is a very special one.
I want people to know that an adoption naming ceremony is an option to help them celebrate becoming a family. Because, whenever parenthood comes to you, it’s a miracle. You have this amazing little person in your life. That’s a big deal, so why not celebrate?
I love being a family celebrant, as it combines my love of working with families with my belief that significant milestones in life should be celebrated. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world! If you feel this might be right for your family, please do get in touch. I’m happy to travel across the UK to officiate at adoption naming ceremonies.
I can’t wait to hear about all your ideas and plans.
To find more wonderful small businesses who are supporting adoption, click here.