What is an Adoption Ceremony?

celebrant Nov 08, 2023

An adoption ceremony is a significant and heartfelt event that marks the emotional transition of a child into a new family, normally after the legal process has completed. If you are thinking about becoming a Celebrant, or you are starting out in your celebrancy career, it is good to know and understand more about this type of ceremony.

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Why Do Adoption Ceremonies Matter?

Celebrants are asked to deliver all sorts of ceremonies, some are more common than others. Adoption ceremonies are not seen that frequently but it is likely you will be asked to deliver one at some stage in your career, and when this happens, it’s good to be prepared. 

An adoption ceremony is the celebration of the formation of a bond that transcends biology and the acknowledgment of a child’s inclusion into a new, loving family environment.

At its core, an adoption ceremony serves to recognise and formalise the adoption process, which typically involves the legal transfer of parental rights from the birth parents or previous guardians to the adopting parents. While the ceremony does not form part of the legal process, it is still an emotionally important transition. 

The ceremony could include wider friends and family, or it might be more intimate for just the parent(s) and child. 

Examples of adoption ceremonies include:

  • Parents adopting a baby or toddler
  • A Step Father / Mother adopting their step daughter or step son (sometimes after the death or absence of a natural parent)
  • Children being adopted by their foster parents, sometimes after many years together already
  • An older adult sibling adopting a young sibling in the absence of a parent
  • An extended family member, such as an Aunt or Grandparent, adopting a child in the absence of a parent.

As you can see, there are many different scenarios that can occur that lead to an adoption ceremony - some of which can be extremely emotive. While love steers the ceremony, there may be underlying emotions such as loss and bereavement.

During the ceremony, speeches and vows often take centre stage, as the adopting parents express their commitment to providing a loving and supportive home for the child. In return, the child may also express their love and gratitude, especially in cases where they are old enough to understand the significance of the event.

The presence of family and friends adds to the joyous atmosphere, with loved ones offering words of encouragement and support. Sometimes, symbolic acts like lighting candles, exchanging gifts, or planting a tree together are added into the ceremony. 

Normalising and Celebrating Family

Historically, adoption has carried some stigma. In fact, traditionally it was often the case that children were not even told about their own adoption, and much of it was kept quiet from society. Putting the adoption front and centre in a ceremony helps to break that stigma and normalise the concept of non-traditional families. It can also be an important memory for a child to hold in the future. 

As a Celebrant, it will be your job to treat the family with total respect, and follow their wishes for the ceremony. You can ask them about their journey into adoption, formulate encouraging words of love, and create a ceremony that the child, parents and wider family can remember for a lifetime.