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Foster Fridays: What's in a Name?



One hot topic in the area of adoption is renaming your child. It’s a topic that has a lot of controversy. Culturally in America, your name and your identity are hard to separate. Many people feel it’s cruel to change a child’s name, that you’d be changing their identity. Others feel it shows disrespect towards the child’s culture, or their birth family. Some people let the child choose whether or not they’ll change their name, if they’re old enough to understand. I know a girl who picked her own new name when she was adopted, seeking a fresh start. I know another family who will change their son’s name, because he’s a “junior,” and they feel that will be confusing and painful for him in the future. 


There are many things to consider when it comes to names. My partner and I decided to change our son’s middle name, but leave his first. We want to honor his birth family in this way, and he also seems to like and be attached to his name. However. I don’t really like his name. When I first looked up my son’s name, it made me cringe a little. For the sake of privacy, I’ll loosely translate it as “Grand Winner. Dignified. Excellent.” Basically, “Cocky.”  


Names and their meanings are very important to me. My partner and I have two names picked out, should we ever need them for a biological child, and they have similar meanings. The female means “Administrator of provisions.” The male name means “One who carries.” Our hope for our children is that they will use their gifts, resources, and privileges to serve and fight for people living in difficult situations. These names reflect the dreams we have for our family. “Grand Winner,” well, does not. 


The other day I was looking at artwork featuring my son’s name, and I saw two new meanings from other languages. The first was “One who screams,” (this is accurate, and I actually prefer it to the meaning I originally found.) The second brought tears to my eyes. It was “Beloved Son.” It’s perfect. He is, truly, the beloved son of so many. Of God, of his bio family, and now of ours. I never planned to change his name, but finding this meaning gave me so much more peace about the decision. I’m honored to have him as my Beloved Son.

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