The addition of a child to a family, whether through birth, adoption, or fostering, is an immensely important life event, and it can stir up a mixture of feelings, from joy and elation to anxiety and apprehension about this change and the accompanying new responsibilities.
The church offers a rite called Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. It can take place in the church, or even at the hospital or home shortly following the child’s arrival. This rite provides an opportunity to give thanks to God for bringing a child into the family and to pray for God’s help in the child’s care and nurture. Some of the prayers also ask for the good recovery of mother and child from childbirth. In some cases, prayers are said for a child born with special needs. This rite can also be amended to suit a family that has adopted a child. And individualized rites can be crafted when a new family is formed such as through remarriage or when grandparents, another relative, or a nanny joins a household.
This rite can be used by families who intend to baptize their child. It is also an alternative rite for a family that isn’t ready to make the baptismal promises or who wish to defer baptism until the child is ready to make their own decision.