(If you’re looking for the actual Adoption Blessing, it’s about halfway down the page. You are welcome to use or adapt it for your congregation.)
Although I am still surprised to be a pastor, most of the time I am glad that God called me to ordained ministry. There are times, though, when I am just in awe of the privilege it is to serve in this way.
Yesterday was one of those occasions. One of our parishioners has completed the long and bureaucratically arduous road to becoming a mom through adoption. Several months ago, her 8-year old soon-to-be-son became part of her family. They have lived together as mother and son, waiting for a judge’s imprimatur of their new relationship. That finally happened last week.
She asked me if we could do something in church to bless and celebrate the adoption. What a great idea! After all, shouldn’t the church do everything it can to support and encourage folks to adopt kids who need homes? And what an opportunity to celebrate and proclaim God’s adoption of all of God’s children in the waters of baptism.
So yesterday at our second service I had the privilege of presiding at the adoption blessing. We lit the paschal candle and placed the baptismal font front and center, just like we would at a baptism. We involved the new grandparents as well as the congregation in promising to support this new family. I caught a glimpse of tears in the eyes of some folks in the pews as we walked through this little rite . . . I felt a lump in my own throat.
It was a great day to be an unexpected pastor!
Here’s the blessing we used. I was very surprised to have difficulty finding an adoption blessing in any of our worship resources or online. I hope this might help give pastors a start if they have the opportunity to do something like this in their congregations. The candle ceremony at the end I adapted (adopted?) from something I did find online, at the adoptions.com website. The rest I did my best to write; as I told folks yesterday the good stuff is from the Holy Spirit, anything else is mine. (FYI, I’ve changed the names.)
BLESSING OF ADOPTION
In baptism, our gracious God brings us to new life in Jesus Christ, and we become children of God, adopted into God’s very name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Today we join together to celebrate as Kathy gives her family name to Greg and as Greg receives it, to rejoice in God’s plan that has brought them together as a family, and to ask God’s blessing on their new relationship as mother and son.
In God’s Word, we hear that Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Peter became Simon, and Saul became Paul. They took on new names as God brought them into new lives. We now pray for Greg and Kathy as Greg takes on a new name.
Let us pray . . . .
God, we thank you for your great love for each of us. We thank you for that love poured out in baptism, and for that love as it binds us together and is reflected in families. We pray for Kathy and for Greg in their relationship as mother and son, that you will strengthen and uphold them as they grow in their lives in You. We pray for our congregation, that you will give us the loving wisdom to support Kathy and Greg in their new lives together. We hold before you Greg as he takes on a new name. We pray for your blessing upon his adoption into Kathy’s family, and upon his new name. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN
To Kathy: What will be his name?
Kathy: His name will be Greg Michael Paul Martin
To Greg: What is your name?
Greg: My name is Greg Michael Paul Martin
Kathy and Greg, do you intend to live out your faith, the faith in which you were baptized, faithfully following, forgiving, and loving together in the name of Jesus? If so, please answer “We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
Kathy and Greg: We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.
Martha and John, as Greg’s grandparents will you love, guide, and share the wisdom of your experience with Kathy and Greg, and will you help Kathy to show and teach Greg that he is a child of God, and that God has promised to love Greg and be with him always no matter what? If so, please answer, “We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
Martha and John: We will and we ask God to help and guide us.
Members of the congregation, do you promise to love, pray for, and support Kathy and Greg in their new relationship as mother and son? If so, please answer, “We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
Congregation: We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.
(Introductory remarks by Pastor)
Greg lights the first candle – The first candle is to honor and remember Greg’s birth family. We give God thanks for that family, and for their gift of life. We pray for them together.
Greg and Kathy light the second candle – The second candle honors Kathy and Greg as mother and son. We celebrate and thank God with them as they have become a family through adoption.
Greg lights the third candle – This candle honors Kathy. We remember the path through which God has brought you to your new life as Greg’s mother. Together, we encourage, support, and pray for her in the joys . . . and challenges . . . of committed parenting.
Kathy lights the fourth candle – The fourth candle is in honor of those waiting to become parents. We pray for them as they await their child to come and as they experience the excitement and frustration of the adoption process.
Greg lights the fifth candle – This last candle is in honor of and concern for children awaiting adoption. We remember those who wait. We remember those children in foster care. We remember those children who are in temporary homes, in orphanages, or on the street. We pray and hope for a permanent loving home for each child.
(Greg and Kathy face the congregation. Pastor Dave invites the congregation to congratulate, congregation congratulates through applause, and we share the peace.)