There is nothing more joyous than a child joining a family, by birth or adoption. And, the faith traditions with which we are familiar offer beautiful ceremonies to recognize and celebrate new life…baby naming ceremonies, the bris, and baptisms are but a few ways that congregations witness the addition of a new life in a family. But what are the options for a family that is not religious or connected to a particular faith institution?
The Celebrant community offers customized, rich ceremonies to honor these impulses, while fashioning a baby welcoming that suits the intentions and sensibilities of the new parents. In many ways, the Celebrant-led baby welcoming (or baby blessing) resemble the religiously-inspire rituals mentioned above…..there are abundant thanks to the extended community of support, both family and friends, a message about the name selected for the little one, and announcement of “guide parents” who will serve as special adults in the child’s life. But there are differences, too. Should the couple be connected to their faith traditions, in any way, the ceremony participants may wish to read passages of their particular holy text. Likewise, Celebrants offer rich ideas for other readings—poetry, prose, personal statements—that are meaningful to the family. Likewise, this type of ceremony presents a perfect occasion to pursue secularly inspired rituals to convey the abundance of a new life, by birth or adoption.
As with other celebrations and rites of passage, the planning of a child welcoming is accompanied by a special pursuit of the Celebrant to learn about the couple, their family, and hopes for the new family member. So, a life-cycle Celebrant will begin his or her work by providing questions to the parents which illuminate “their story.” One of my favorite portions of these questions relates to how each parent describes the nurturing quality of the other. There are no more beautiful words than hearing a first time mother describe her thoughts about what a superb father her partner will be, and vice-versa. Likewise, the words around the selection of the guide parents and their “qualifications” for this special status can be heart-warming.
Indeed, all aspects of this celebration serve, in my mind, as a public gratitude list—for the love and support of family members and friends, the love between the parents and for the child, and the fundamental hopes and aspirations for the baby to have a happy, productive life. It doesn’t get any better than that!