Family Ceremony: A Covenant of Adoption

When I got married, a courthouse wedding never entered my mind; I wasn’t getting married for a legal document. Sure, it gives you certain privileges, but getting married meant so much more to me than a piece of paper.

I wanted the ceremony, the vows, the celebration, the public statement that for better or for worse, I would be with my husband for the rest of my life. To me, our wedding was a commitment to each other and a covenant with God.

When we decided to adopt our son, a declaration from a judge in an unfamiliar courtroom with an attorney we had just met didn’t seem to signify the commitment that we were making. At the age of ten, Isaac had been in multiple courtrooms during his time in foster care. Courtrooms were where new moms and dads were assigned. Judges were the people that made sure that he knew he wouldn’t be seeing his biological parents again. It’s hard for a ten-year-old mind to grasp that this trip to the courtroom is different. I wanted so badly for him to realize that this day and this trip to the courtroom was something special – this was forever.

So on the evening of the adoption, hours after the papers were signed, we had our family ceremony; it was there that we committed to be a forever family in front of God and a very small group of friends. The brief and beautiful ceremony was woven together with moments that signified the depth of our new bond: words from a pastor, scripture, a song, anointment, prayer, and a covenant.

With words from the heart, this is what was declared that night:

Parent’s portion of the covenant:
We are so happy that you are our son
We promise to do our best to be good parents
We will keep you safe and protect you
We will be here to listen to you
We will be here to guide you when life is hard or confusing
We will cheer you on and celebrate your victories
We will learn from the love that God has for His children, and we will do our best to love you that same way.

Son’s portion:
I am happy that you are my mom and dad
I promise to always make it a fun time
I promise to always be part of this family.

Family portion:
We will always love and respect each other
We will laugh and have fun together
And when we are sad, we will be there for each other
Together we will do our best to serve other people
And we will encourage one another to love God
We will be a family forever.


family ceremony 1

family ceremony 2

family ceremony 3

family ceremony 4

Just like my wedding, the legal portion is far out-shadowed by the meaningful moments and promises made – promises of love, promises of care, promises to be a family forever.

Janelle never imagined herself to be a mom, but found herself being just that when their (at the time, 10-year-old) son, Isaac, moved into their home and hearts in May, 2012. She and her husband were thrilled to adopt him just seven months later, and she loves connecting with other parents trying to navigate the foster-to-adoption process. She enjoys working in Human Resources at her church and has a part-time gig at a bank in Lawrence as the best (and only) shoe shiner in town! She’s passionate about Jesus, board games, traveling the world, and KU basketball - to varying degrees - and if she were ever to go to a party where colors were invited, Janelle would want to talk to orange the most.


  1. Janelle,

    I love this! As I sit here filing through our home study paperwork, it is wonderful to think of the end result – the completion of a forever family.

    In our church, after our adoption has been finalized, we will go to the temple and be sealed together through the priesthood for all eternity. Oh, how I look forward to the day that we find our angel and the legalities of adoption and the sea of seemingly endless paperwork are in our past!

    Thank you for the reminder to hope for the future.
    This was such a beautiful post!

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