A few months after our daughter Miranda was adopted and converted to Judaism, we had her simchat bat, or Hebrew naming ceremony.
We got all dressed up and went to the synagogue. We were surrounded by family and friends, and when we were called to the bimah (platform or stage), I was already beaming. There were multiple families welcoming their daughters that day, including my brother and his family. The rabbi and the cantor said hello to each of the girls and all of the parents. I then introduced our girls and let them receive their names.
My husband, Gary, spoke to the crowd about where Miranda’s name came from. This was especially meaningful to me as he was raised outside the Jewish faith. We decided there was no need for him to convert—I wanted a Jewish home for my family, but that did not mean he had to give up his beliefs. However, having him participate in this ceremony was important to me. He was excited (and a little nervous!) to be a part of something that meant so much to me and that would someday mean a lot to our daughter.
Shoshana means rose. Rose was my father’s mother’s name, so we were following the Jewish tradition of naming after a loved one who has passed. Rose also happened to be the name that Miranda’s birthmother had chosen for her when she was pregnant. So by choosing the name Shoshana, we were honoring my grandmother’s memory and also paying tribute to Miranda’s birthmother and her wishes.
Tova means good. I also interpret it to mean hope. That name is to remind us of the good and the hope that Miranda has given us and continues to give us each day.
There was a blessing for the parents that all four of us, Gary, my brother, my sister-in-law, and me, read together. Then there was a blessing for the grandparents that my mom and Gary’s mom and dad all read together. With our whole family standing now on the bimah beside us, it was almost magical. Not everyone there was Jewish. Not everyone standing by our side shared my beliefs or faith. But, everyone there had so much love and respect for our daughter and me that they were willing to follow my lead.
The whole morning was just so lovely. Except for one thing.
Allie’s absence. Two years ago, my first daughter, Allie, was born still at 37 weeks. Most days, my longing for her sits just below the surface— like a scab that I know better than to pick. But that day, standing there with my family and looking out upon my friends, I was thrown back to the time in my life when I was pregnant with my first born daughter and the world was mine for the taking. Back when I still believed in good fortune and luck. Back before my precious baby died. Back before my heart broke into a million little pieces.
Miranda is a precious gift. She brings joy and happiness—and hope—to everyone around her. And I sensed that her sister was there with us that day. I like to think she was gathered with my father and my grandmother, Rose. I hope they were all smiling. Something tells me they just might have been.