Editor’s note: Lauren brought her daughter, Sofia (name has been changed), for a conversion immersion, naming ceremony, and general celebration of about 65 people. We asked Lauren if we could share her story. Below is what Lauren read to Sofia and her guests on that day.
In March of 2011, Sofia Grace Jones came into my life as a beautiful 2 year old girl. Over the past two years, I have been granted such a true gift to watch her grow and develop, and become a confident four-year-old with the world in the palms of her hands.
On February 25th, 2013, a wonderful and kind judge finally awarded me the honor of becoming Sofia’s legal mom through the amazing and beautiful process of adoption. Although Sofia and I look different and we don’t share one another’s genetic make-up, we are connected and bound to one another and today only deepens and strengthens this connection and bond.
The question of identity, what that means, and how it is defined is something that I have continuously struggled with since Sofia entered my life. Over these past few years, however (and especially since February 25th), I have fully realized that identity is not just merely informed or shaped by our biological genes or connections, but rather it is defined by permanence, love, devotion, dedication, and commitment. I am blessed to be granted the opportunity on a daily basis to provide this for Sofia and pray that she will blossom into a beautiful woman with an abundance of opportunities at her doorstep.
Now to her name…. What is in a name? To me – everything. Sofia is constantly asking everyone around her what their name is – what is your first name? Your last name? Your mom’s name? Is it the same? At just four (and even earlier), she truly grasps this incredibly powerful concept of belonging to a family and her need for that belonging runs very deep into her being. I am going to explain Sofia’s English name before announcing her Hebrew name.
Sofia Rose Jones Bloom – Sofia’s legal name as of February 25th represents so much. Sofia’s name has so many roots. Her name at birth, Sofia Jones, is her connection to her biological parents. The parents that sadly she will never have the opportunity of knowing and a history that one day she will have to learn, struggle with and somehow embrace. Sofia’s new full name is also now her connection to me – to my family.
Now I get to talk about my incredibly beautiful, awe inspiring role model – my grandmother, Rose Marx. Sofia’s second name is now Rose in the blessed memory of my Grandma Rose. Grandma Rose was a second mother to me, and I loved her more than any words could ever express. Grandma Rose was an amazingly vibrant, loving, caring, intelligent, graceful and giving woman. She was always there when I needed her and she was and still is my rock. Grandma, years ago, when we were saying goodbye to one another, I looked at you and asked if you were taking it all in as you sat there staring at me stroking my face. I pray that somehow from the heavens above that you are taking this moment in. Grandma, I have waited a long time to pass on your name, it has been an incredibly long and hard journey to get here but meet your great granddaughter, Sofia Rose Jones Bloom.
Now onto Sofia’s Hebrew name! Going through the conversion process with Sofia and getting her ready to immerse her in the ritual bath was truly one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Although giving birth was sadly not an option for me after years of trying, going through both the legal adoption and now immersing my child in the ritual bath was as close to that feeling as I will ever come to know. What an honor and a true privilege to literally be able to be a part of Sofia’s Jewish journey. A moment I will remember for my whole life.
In order to understand Sofia’s Hebrew name, you have to first understand our journey. Someone once told me when I was trying to figure out Sofia’s Hebrew name that a rainbow only comes after a storm. Sofia in every sense of the word has been just that – my colorful and beautiful rainbow. So her first Hebrew name is Keshet – the rainbow that has appeared on the other side of the dark storm cloud, the true light of my life. Sofia’s second Hebrew name, in my mind, is truly representative of who we are to one another. Her second Hebrew name is Hila, or in the English translation, halo – my guardian angel. My life has been forever enhanced and deepened because of my love for my daughter. I truly believe that we saved one another from tragedy and are now two strong brave women. Sofia Rose Jones Bloom, Keshet Hila – I love you with my heart and soul. Thank you for allowing me to be your mom. I love you.
Lauren Bloom received an MSW from Syracuse University, and has been the Assistant Director of Tuft’s Hillel for the past 13 years.