Naming Support for Adoptive Families

December 11th, 2013

by Janice Thornton

On Saturday I was running around the garden with my two adopted nieces.  Since their arrival, what I have learned from them and their parents is how important it is to help adopted children to build memories of belonging and for adoptive families to claim their children, including all that they bring with them.

As a Humanist Celebrant, I have built this into the work that I do with all families, but especially those who have adopted a child.  For families of any or no religious belief, it is equally important to celebrate the arrival of a child into the family.

So, on Sunday when I was helping a family to celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of their adopted son, we included things that would help their son to remember the day in different ways appealing to as many senses as we could.

We asked all his grandparents (5) to light a scented candle to represent his forever families and all the love and wisdom they offer him.  At the end of the ceremony, his parents took a light from the family candles to light a special candle that had his name and the date printed on it.

We asked his cousins and playmates who he will grow up with, to make a promise to him which included ‘making him laugh until his sides ache and showing him how to be a good friend’. 

We asked everyone to leave their unique (multi coloured) fingerprints and names on a poster sized tree of life.  It will be framed and hung in his room as a constant reminder of all the people who love him.

His parents and guiding adults made promises to him, which were both loving and amusing.  They all signed a Naming Day Certificate which will be framed and displayed at home.  Each guest made a unique piece of bunting to be in his bedroom, creating a long beautiful chain of good wishes.

He was told what his parents wish for him, this also included what his birth parents had wished for him.  His social worker and his foster parents were thanked for the care they had taken in finding the perfect family for him, so that there is a link to his life before his forever family.

He helped to cut the cake, blow out the candles, leave his fingerprints and do a high five with his celebrant.  He will have lots of photographs of his naming day and the people who welcomed him into his forever family.  We played music that will be part of his life and which had special meaning for his parents.

Although he is too young to understand all of this right now, he will have a bound presentation copy of the ceremony for the future, so that he can read it when he is older.  I wish that I had understood how important this is when I had my own children and I feel very privileged to be able to support adoptive families through my work in this way.