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Embracing Second Chances, Birth Family Reunion Ceremony

Earlier this year, I was privileged to perform a ceremony in the misty woods of Union, Washington, to reunite a young man with his birth mother and her family. The experience was one of catharsis, healing and new beginnings. I hope that by sharing their story and how I created their ceremony, that others yearning to repair this primal bond, will find inspiration and hope.

Read more about this Birth Family Reunion Ceremony here.

Ceremony | Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
Film | PFFilms
Photography | Bradley Lanphear

Sebastian's Baby Blessing and First Birthday Party

Last fall, while at the Bacon & Lox Society Full Circle Meal, I got to chatting with my friend Nicole who had recently had a baby. In the five months since giving birth, this end of summer dinner party, was their first time out alone as a couple again. We started talking about ways to mark and celebrate the addition to their family. Immediately, what comes to mind for most people raised Catholic, is a christening or baptism, but since, Nicole and Lou no longer belong to a house of worship, a religious christening or baptism didn’t seem to make sense for them. Before the night was over, we agreed that we’d work together to create a special way to welcome her new son into the world.

And this spring it finally happened, we planned Sebastian’s Baby Blessing Ceremony to coincide with his first birthday…and it was a very special celebration indeed. Everyone pitched in, giving freely of their talents to make this first birthday party a remarkable one. Here’s how we did it.
garland made of snap shots of Sebastian for each month
Everyone gathered in a circle to start.
Then Lou, Nicole and Sebastian stood in the center of everyone, as we talked about what his name meant and why he was given it.
VOWS: mom and dad took turns making promises to Baby Sebastian.

Then it was big brother Julian's turn. We spoke about the importance of sibling relationships and then I asked him if he would make a promise to be brave in life enough to follow his own dreams, knowing that his younger brother would always look to him as an example. This commissioning of a big brother, was one of everyone's favorite parts of the entire day.
Every family was invited to bring a symbolic ingredient to create a shower of blessings. Here big Brother Julian adds a some blades of grass for Adventure. 
Everyone took the time to research which symbolic ingredient best captured their hopes for Sebastian's life.
A pitcher full of love, hopes and blessings.
We moved outside for the Shower of Blessings, the whole family huddled under the parasol for it.
Everyone brought something for the Time Capsule that will be opened again when Sebastian turns 18.
Sebastian's birthday tree, everyone took turns adding a handful of soil or watering it. Before the ceremony began, I earned my Baby Blessing Celebrant chops by helping to plant the placenta under the root ball. 
Thank you Amanda Brooke for this portrait of my celebrant birthday twirl.
There was a sushi food truck... (the rest of the photos here are ones that I took)
While everyone enjoyed sushi and summer noodles, there was just enough time for a costume change. No self-respecting birthday honoree goes without at least one.
Then things got Wild.

Baby Sebastian, thoroughly blessed and loved, is WILD for his grandma's carrot cake.

Photographer: Amanda Brooke Photography
Celebrant: Alisa Tongg Celebrant
Sushi Food Truck: Wabi Sabi Kitchen
Three Layer Carrot Cake: Grandma Deb
Venue: Dutot Museum
Wild Things Boat and Birthday Suit: Gifts for the Good Life