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Creating Ceremonies
Innovative Ways to Meet Adoption Challenges

By Cheryl A. Lieberman & Rhea K. Bufferd
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Reviewed by Allison Martin

While we have traditional ceremonies for many important family milestones - for example, baby showers, birthday parties and weddings - crucial transitions for adoption families generally do not have such counterpart rituals. Creating Ceremonies : Innovative Ways to Meet Adoption Challenges by Cheryl A. Lieberman and Rhea K. Bufferd is a guide to producing and enacting family scripts which mark key transitions in adoption for school age children. These ceremonies are a way to acknowledge the loss of transitions, even in happy situations, and provide a hopeful context to acknowledge the changing circumstances.

Developed by an experienced adoption social worker and a single mother who adopted two older boys, Creating Ceremonies lays out a method for providing some formality and structure to what could be chaotic events. Following the examples in this book, parents write out spoken parts for each participant, usually with input from the speaker. These pieces provide a framework for expression of the feelings, thoughts and hopes of the participants. The ceremony itself is the enactment of the script, as each participant take terms speaking their pieces to the family. Scripts for a broad range of different events fill out the book - for example, receiving a new name, joining a new family, transfer of a child during an open adoption, and adding a brother or sister to the family. There are plenty of opportunities for personalization in each script, with examples provided by the authors.

This book is most suited for families adopting older children or for older children facing key transitions, such as divorce or the addition of an older sibling. The original ceremonies were derived for adopted children ages 7-14, who can read, although they can be adapted for children who are older or younger. If you are adopting an older child then you may wish to consider this resource for adoptive families.

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