Baptism is an interesting topic. People baptize their children at different ages, for different fundamental reasons. For some it's deeply personal and for some it's done in the name of tradition and/or fear.
I have most certainly fallen into both categories but I won't name which kid's baptism was a product of which mentality!
We didn't see Grace get baptized. Doesn't that sound absurd? It was. She was baptized at an Episcopal church in Illinois. We never really felt "at home" there, but we felt as though we should be there since I was raised in the Episcopal church, my grandfather was an Episcopal priest, and David and I were married in the Episcopal church (by my grandfather). David was raised Catholic but didn't desire to continue that tradition in his adult life. I didn't argue with that!
Anyhoo, Grace was baptized on All Saints Day (as was Nina, which was really neat) and there were six or so other children baptized with Grace. One of the families brought to the baptismal font seemingly everyone they'd ever met. Grace's godmother had to literally push her way to the front or Grace may have been inadvertently forgotten! It was an impersonal experience to say the least, and it was the last time we visited that church.
The boys' baptisms were done at a Lutheran church in IL that we loved. Their baptisms were personal and beautiful.
Nina's baptism was different from the other four. Not completely because of Nina per se but because the priest of our church (which is Episcopal) who happens to be a woman (who is unbelievable) made it so amazing.
On the two Saturdays prior to the baptism David and I met with Pastor Gae and she explained to us the entire history of baptism---the myths and facts---and helped us explore some of our own beliefs related to baptism, spirituality, etc. It was really great.
Two other families had their children baptized alongside Nina. Nina was the only infant.
My aunt made a GORGEOUS baptism gown for our family when Grace was born. She's monogrammed the names of each child who was baptized in it onto the slip. I didn't think Nina would fit into it, but she did.
When Pastor Gae took Nina from Aunt Heather and introduced her to the congregation prior to baptizing her, she told everyone that she was born in Ethiopia. This was when I went semi-puddle. Heather was 3/4 puddle. Even Michael and David were overcome with emotion.
After the service I asked David what it was that made the whole thing so emotional; we'd never gotten that emotional at the other kids' baptisms.
David hit the nail on the head. He said, "It was Nina's demeanor. She was just so peaceful the entire time, like she just knows she's meant to be here."
He was exactly right.
I stood there on the altar looking at her and thinking, "We didn't conceive this child. We didn't spend weeks taking my temperature and timing 'actions' and then spending months talking about how she got my nose or David's mouth. And yet here she is. And she's as purposefully our child as are the other four."
The entire journey of adoption was, for us, a very spiritual one. It required great faith in many things. And in that moment, on the altar, the realization of how perfectly this child was created for our family was completely overwhelming.
The confirmation she provides every single day that we were intended to be her family and the peace that she's always had about being here, with us, is humbling. And that's what made me overflow with emotion in that moment. That and a very sudden feeling that my grandfather was there. And a simultaneous reminder that she wouldn't meet him and vice versa on this side of heaven. But somehow, I have a sense that they've already met.
Yes, I know. I'm weird.
I'm not an openly emotional person, and the place from where my emotion came in that moment is the same place very deep inside from which I had to draw such faith in my belief that we were meant to travel halfway around the world to welcome this beautiful girl into our lives.
And then my hair caught fire.
Deacon Gaye gave us each a lit baptismal candle and as I was whipping my rarely worn down hair around while saying Peace to everyone around me, I heard a sizzle. And then I smelled burnt hair. Can you even imagine if my whole head had gone up right there on the altar? I would have forever been known as "that lady whose hair caught fire during the baptism."
Next week I'll have to get a trim to remove the burnt part.
Mom, I'm going to load these to KodakGallery, don't worry. It may take a few days. Until then, enjoy!