Baby Naming | Child Honouring | Adoption Ceremonies

I was excited (and very inspired) to create a ceremony to celebrate the adoption of an extraordinary child from Ethiopia. E’s Canadian parents have a strong connection and commitment to their new daughter’s homeland family, so I knew this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to research African naming traditions. I’m proud of E’s ceremony and it’s a fine example of how deeply personal one of our ceremonies can be. I LOVED integrating Ethiopian customs into E’s ceremony.

I suggested that Mum and Dad swag their front door with with local cedar greens cut from their backyard. In many parts of Ethiopia, family members put fresh green branches on their house when a female child is having her naming ceremony. The greenery shows that there is a ceremony taking place inside, as well as serve to wish the child a bright future, prosperity, abundance, and all good things. It was so symbolic to have guests pass through the doorway in this way.

E’s parents also lit a candle to remember their beautiful daughter’s birth family, who loved her and made sure she had a safe start in life. Together we honoured the difficult choices this family had to make. We expressed gratitude to all the caregivers who kept E secure and healthy until she came to Canada. The candle will be lit on special occasions so that E will know her African family is very much remembered by her Canadian family.

Storytelling was a big part of this ceremony!  As guests listened intently, I shared the remarkable journey of E and her Canadian parents. It gave me so much pleasure to weave Mum and Dad’s own words into the story and the ceremony.

“There is so much we don’t know about E yet. We don’t know about all her gifts, her dreams, or even what she will look like though really, none of that matters. We just love her and are so happy to be given a chance to be her parents.” Beautiful.

Before I began the naming portion of the ceremony… where each of E’s names was spoken and the meaning behind them shared, we held a Coffee Ceremony – Canadian Style! In Ethiopian culture, a naming always includes a coffee ceremony. Coffee ceremonies take some time to perform… usually close to an hour. To simplify things, E’s parents had already prepared coffee for us in the very strong Ethiopian style. We passed around small cups of this coffee so guests could take symbolic sips (it’s pretty strong!) and popcorn was served with it… also traditional.

The community of family and friends also made a necklace that will be presented to E on her twelfth birthday – a symbolic birthday in African culture.

Then E’s parents made their Parental Wishes to E. This was so touching. I really am inspired by these parents. Meaningful words and commitments were also shared by the men and women chosen to be E’s guideparents. This was followed by a commitment by everyone present to be good examples to E as she grows and to let her know that she is cherished beyond her own family.

Afterwards there was a yummy feast, buffet style, with Ethiopian and Canadian dishes.

This beautiful bright child will sing her own song in this world. She certainly has two of the most loving parents a child could ever hope for.


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