I have always loved children.
I don't believe I've ever even met a child I didn't like. All children have such unique, curious personalities and perspectives. Trans kids are particularly inspirational to me, as they must be so brave, courageous and honest simply to survive. From a humanist perspective, children are quite literally our hope for the future. They are the truth-tellers, the ones who call us adults on dishonesty, who spot inauthenticity immediately. Children will always be the potential movers and shakers of humanity.
As a young minister (I haven't even quite hit thirty) I've not yet had the pleasure of working with an individual or family to prepare a Child Welcoming Celebration. But with the perspective of my relative youth, I have ideas and many non-traditional hopes for what a humanistic Child Welcoming event may entail.
Imagine an individual who may have one, two, or more children from prior relationships. Their children are their world, their inspiration, what they continue working for daily. Imagine journeys through religious doubts and questioning, family betrayals and despair, unhealthy mistakes, and then the healthy efforts toward healing and hope. Every one of us travel these paths. Up and down, over and through the struggles and tangles of daily life. Some of us carry children through these frightening paths, but are astonished to learn that these children are resilient, adaptable, strong, and inspiring - they are, in short, human. They can and do travel with us, not apart from us.
Whether we are aunts or uncles, neighbors or cousins, mothers or fathers - we all know and have the capacity to love children. To mentor and care for them, to guide them and to play with them. It is no trite adage that claims it takes a village to raise a child. And this is how I envision a Child Welcoming Celebration:
Trusted & close family members, friends, & neighbors gather at the home of the welcoming parent(s) or, should the crowd be large enough, at a park or other chosen, meaningful event space.
The parents have chosen beforehand one or more Guide Parents to honor as mentors for the child(ren) they are welcoming into their hearts and lives.
As guests are welcomed to congratulate the new mother & mother, or father & father, or mother & father, or mother, or father, I would love to invite everyone present to write words of advice, caution, celebration, peace, and encouragement for the child(ren) to read as they continue to grow - physical evidence of the many individuals who loved them within the first days they were brought into this family & village.
At some point in the proceedings, I would love to invite everyone to gather in a circle, to pass around the new child bundled in the Welcoming outfit the parents have chosen (a dress made by a grandparent, perhaps, or a quilted blanket sewn by a dear friend).
Or, if the child is older, joining a family through adoption or being welcomed into a different home & family than they were born into, they could be invited to stand with each person in the circle rather than being carried.
Anyone asked beforehand to prepare words to welcome the child into this home & group of loving caretakers could share their remarks, in essence "blessing" the child and letting all present hear & celebrate their shared hopes & aspirations.
I would be honored to craft these celebrations personally for single, working mothers or fathers who have chosen to bear or adopt and raise children "on their own." It's never "on one's own" that we raise children, but many more children these days than we may realize are being welcomed into single-parent households, by choice, and I would love to celebrate with them.
I would also feel honored to write a Child Welcoming service for polyamorous individuals who may have children from prior relationships, who are joining two or more "households" and would like to mark this celebratory event with all of their children.
I would find immense joy in leading a celebration for non-religious or inter-religious families who have not been able to bear children of their own, and are choosing to foster or adopt children of any age who are greatly in need of stable, loving homes.
And of course as a lesbian myself, I would be thrilled to guide gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, questioning, open, loving, embracing couples or families in any shape, size, or number in welcoming the lucky child(ren) who will be calling them mom & mom, dad & dad, or any combination thereof.
If you or anyone you know is expecting, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation free-of-charge! I would love to hear what welcoming children into your life may look like for you and yours, and would be honored to share in the experience of crafting a beautiful, personal event with you.