The boys have been talking about what their names would have been had they been girls. Gray would have been Ana (these were pre-Frozen times, people). Reed would have been Fern. And Miles would have been Brooke. Funny how, even though they are boys, those other names still seem to suit them. Or maybe mother dreams just have a way of sticking.
I’ve thought about names a lot lately. We submitted our last piece of adoption assessment paperwork last week. (By this point, I feel we should be cleared for jobs with the FBI or CIA — we have been fingerprinted NINE combined times and evaluated from angles I didn’t know we had. Wondering why I haven’t been writing much? My hand is still cramped up from recording my relationship history from the 90s to the present day on more than one form. But I digress.)
Names carry some serious heft, don’t they? They link us to our families and our histories. They color first impressions. They take on our personalities when we scribble them or meticulously scroll them on the line beside the X.
One of the things Chad and I have discussed over paperwork and door alarms and locking medication vaults is how we will name our adopted child(ren). Will we keep the name that links them to their history? Move the first name to the middle name and give a new first name that hems them into their new community?
Does it depend on age? Does it depend on history? What if the child likes their name? What if they don’t? What if their name is linked with trauma? Is there some kind of expert I can consult or guide I can read up on (i.e. Renaming (or not) Your Adopted Child for Dummies)?
When we were pregnant with our children, we played around with names to see how they rolled from the tongue — how they sounded with our last name. We thought about what our children’s names would say about them to the world. We imagined ourselves addressing our children with the names we had given them (or shouting them into the abyss of the backyard), and then we imagined our children being addressed by those names as adult doctors, lawyers, pastors or painters. Should this experience be any different? Should giving a new name to an adopted child be not a claim-staking, but a welcoming and a well-wishing, just as it is for a birth child? Or does giving a new name dismiss the people and the path that brought the child into our present day?
Could there ever be a “right” answer to matters of the heart?
I wrestle. I waver. I am painfully aware that I have volumes to learn about all of this, yet experience seems to be the only teacher before me.
I pray I will be sensitive. I pray I will be corrected gently when correction is necessary. I pray that others who have walked similar roads will advise me even with the acknowledgment that every story is different and deserves to be handled with fresh gloves.
In the meantime, I’m keeping a list of favorite names tucked lovingly into my wallet for, if nothing else, hope during this last (or in some ways, first) leg of our adoption journey.
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