To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's in a Name?

Oh, the name game!  I thought I'd go ahead and get this blog out of my system since I've been thinking about it so much lately!

For most parents, getting to name the child they've watched (or felt) grow in their/their wives' wombs is one of the most exciting and important tasks.  Bestowing a name upon a child is bestowing a since of reality to the situation as a whole.  Names can be a representation of who you are, where you come from, your family history and more.  Some parents elect to name their children after a family member or close friend or someone they admire greatly.  There is so much power in the name you bestow upon your child; for the meaning behind the name is poured out upon them every time you speak it to them.  So important.

So, what then, should a parent do, when he/she does not share the same culture, language, or even biology as the child they are naming?  What is the "right" thing to do?  Is there a right thing to do?

For so many parents of children adopted from outside America, I have noticed that they feel overtly obliged to name the child out of common names from that child's own country heritage.  Or, the parents choose to keep the name the child was given either by their birth parents/family who relinquished all rights to the child or that the child was given by nannies and care-takers at the orphanage where they were cared for until adopted.

To many parents, the child's name was (in many instances) the only gift that the parents and/or family could bestow upon the child; therefore, they feel an intense necessity to keep that gift intact.

I have, however, read a lot on the subject lately by adult adoptees from countries such as China, Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan.  I thought that their stories were very telling for anyone considering traditional names for their children.  One young woman in particular wrote in a feature piece for the New York Times that having a traditional Korean name coupled with her American parents' dogged determination to keep her Korean cultural traditions intact actually made her feel like a constant stranger or long-lost cousin that needed to be accommodated with special food and activities.  She stated that she never felt truly American, even though that's what she is, no matter what her biological background, she is American.  This story broke my heart.  It was certainly not what I had expected to hear from a 20-something, adult Korean adoptee!  Quite the opposite, in fact!

Now, I want to say that this was only one person's experience!  There are probably many adopted children that are now adults who have traditional names (to their own cultures) and are fine with them and love them!  This was only ONE example of the many out there, but I cite it; because it was so very different from everything I had been reading and discovering throughout this process.  So, if you have a traditional name or are intending on keeping your child's traditional name, PLEASE do not take offense to what was stated above!  It was not meant to offend; only inform.

So, what to do?  Dear Hubby and I have talked about this dilemma A LOT, and I think that we've come to a good conclusion - one that many, many families are choosing these days.  Name the child as you wish for their first name and keep their traditional or country-given name as their second.

I am a HUGE name buff!  (Is that even a term??? Ha!  Well, I guess it is now!)  I've always loved names and naming my characters when I wrote short stories and screenplays; so, the thought of naming a child is really exciting and probably overly-important to me.  I even went all-out when naming my pets!  (A rat named Roxie, dog named Eagan, and two cats named Seamus {Shay-mus} and Moira!).

My mother being Irish (as well as all of my husband's family - our children will have a VERY Irish last name!), I thought it would be wonderful to use traditional Irish names for our future children.  But the more I've gone down this road toward adoption, the more I've started to question this.

We still have so much time before we adopt that we don't have to pick a first name rightnow!; but I would like to get it settled on within the next six to eight months, just in case I "need" to buy her something like a monogrammed pillow or something!  :)

(*Oh, and as a side note, I realize that my naming sensibilities are drastically different than many other people's!  My husband and I like odd names; so, if you don't like them, that's okay!  We do! :)

Boy's Names:

Colm (this is my FAVE boy name EVER!)


Girl's Names:

Tallulah (Lulu/Lulla)
Fiona (Fi)
Penelope (Nell)

So, those are the lists of my favorite names at the moment (I'm throwing in boys' names too, because like I said, I'm obsessed! :).  What are your favorite names for boys and girls?  Did you have a hard time deciding or was it a fairly easy process for you and your significant other?  Did you have any trouble getting your significant other to agree with your name choices?

I love hearing about people's "naming journeys"; so, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas!

Blessings and More Blessings,

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