A Liturgy for Thanksgiving for the Adoption of a Child (with Baptism)

A note on this entry: This liturgy for baptism is first and foremost a baptismal liturgy. It happens to also be one adapted to the adoption of a little one. The Order seeks to support and encourage the adoptive family and their child by showing that the God who is in control of all things, brings about a new family. It does not address, in the liturgy, the process of adoption, the birth family’s situation, or the ministry in the name of God that needs to be given to the birth mother or family. These are all important ministries. I am aware of the strong emotions associated with this subject. And much needs to be done to bring healing to those birth parents who make a plan for adoption. But as an adopted child myself, I rejoice in how the Lord took care of me, gave me an identity and a loving home, and also provided, miraculously, for birth parents. I will always be thankful to God for bringing me into my family in this way. But, in my own story, I can also identity with all sides in the adoptive story (see What God Starts, God Completes).

A Special Word to the birth mother who makes a plan for adoption: I pray for you, that as this liturgy is a help to pastors, it will also be a source of hope for you, that you may know that the God who adopts us into His family, through the high price of His Son, Jesus Christ, also loves the birth mother and family who also pays a high personal price in order to secure a hopefully better future for their child. May God bless you and keep you in this hope and in the love of God the Father.

A Special Word to the adoptive parents: My heart as a pastor is that you know the love of God for your family, that God places us together as families in His own way, and that you will know that just as we are counted as the children of God through adoption into His family, and are secure in that, so, too, your family is secure before the Lord. Your child is your child. As Joseph loved Jesus and reared him as his child, and as Jesus was known as Joseph’s son, and identified with Joseph’s family as his own, so you will be comforted that your child is your child. Period. Let no unkind or insensitive words upset the surety of your God given family.

A Special Word to adoptive children: My heart for you is that you know that you are God’s child, first and foremost and your identity is in Him. But the Lord also worked all things together so that you might be given a future and a hope, that you will know that just as we are children of God through adoption, you are the child, the real child, of your adoptive parents. This is not to negate longings or interest in knowing about biological lineage, but is to say that the love of God through many people gave you a sure identity in Him.  Rejoice in your life and in how God has given you your family. It is a special gift that others may take for granted. But you will be a living testimony to how God works all things together for good. Rejoice in this my beloved.

I offer this now as a possible resource for pastors to consider.

As the baptismal party is counseled before the public baptism, there may be prayer for all involved and an explanation of the doctrine of baptism, and in particular, the doctrine of infant baptism (see Dr. Bryan Chapell’s wonderful summary in Why We Baptize Infants). I also suggest a time of prayer with all of the family just prior to the service. 

When the time for the baptism begins, the minister may consider this form: 

Farewell baptism Minister: Beloved in Christ: It has pleased God our heavenly Father to answer the earnest prayers of N. [and N.], member(s) of this Christian family, for the gift of a child. I bid you join with them [and with N. (and N. N..), who now has a new brother (sister)] in offering heartfelt thanks for the joyful and solemn responsibility which is theirs by the coming of N. to be a member of their family.[1]

This is a most beautiful way that God makes us family, for we read:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8.15

· And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8.23

· They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. Romans 9.4

· to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4.5

· he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, Ephesians 1.5

And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was the ‘adoptive” son of Joseph. And that family was blessed of the Father to be the family of our Savior.

From these truths of God’s Word concerning adoption, we can form the way we think of adoption:

    • “Birthing” a child into a family through the wonder of adoption is based on God’s idea for adoption; 

      • Bringing a child into the family through beauty of adoption creates a spirit of joyful identity in which parents and children are united in sacred bonds of family; 

      • Blessing a child in the name of Jesus Christ for adoption into His family is what happens to all of us in a sense. We are all adopted. And we are all, through adoption, made joint heirs with Jesus Christ. This is the teaching of the Word of God. 

          Dearest ones in Christ, this child is God’s sign of His love to you. This child is the heir of your life, and will carry the legacy of your heart’s faith into future generations if the Lord tarries.

          Therefore, let us give thanks with this Psalm, Psalm 116:

          I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication,because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.Gracious is the LORD and righteous; our God is full of compassion.How shall I repay the   all the good things he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah! 

          And let us now proceed to the baptism of this covenant child, born by the Providence of God into this family.


          [1] Acknowledgment is given to The Book of Common Prayer E-text Edition (American, 1979) Version 1.0 13 December 1993, “A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.”

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          About Michael Milton, Ph.D.

          Michael A. Milton, Ph.D. (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David's College), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author. He is, also, an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
          This entry was posted in adoption, Birth Parents, Christian adoption, Infant Baptism, liturgy for adoption, liturgy for the baptism of adopted children, presbyterian worship, Providence, Reformed and Presbyterian worship, Reformed liturgy, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

          2 Responses to A Liturgy for Thanksgiving for the Adoption of a Child (with Baptism)

          1. Glenn Borreson says:

            Thanks for a helpful liturgical piece anchored in the wonderful identity God bestows in baptism. May it be helpful to many adoptive families.

          2. mikemilton says:

            Thank you Glenn. The Lord bless and keep you.

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