After we announced to family and friends that we were adopting from Korea, we were asked a question we’d never considered before.
“Do you plan on changing your child’s name once he or she is in America?”
Well. That kind of threw us for a loop. Did we? I mean, it was *their* name. Given to them in their homeland and it had some type of a meaning from the person who gave it birth/foster mother or a caregiver.
Sam and I were (and still are) torn on this. We have two opinions:
- No. It symbolizes them, their history, and a name is so personal. When we discuss this way, there is always the thought that keeping their name keeps a part of what they will eventually think of as a loss in their lives, from their birth mother to their country. It’s already a part of them and their identity.
- Yes. More than likely the name will be hard to pronounce here, making it something our child might be continually asked to spell, pronounce, and say again. It would immediately identify him or her as completely different, even among other Korean children in America. In learning our language, it might be hard for them to spell or even to say. We also wonder if in giving them a name too, it would be a similar gesture of love as when we anticipate naming a biological child.
We go back and forth, but the compromise that comes up to both is this: perhaps if our child has a very difficult first name, we change it to their middle name. Ensuring that they keep it with them, they have that part of their history forever.
If it’s a more “westernized” name (and some are), or simply more pronounceable, we might keep it the same.
This debate isn’t because we don’t want our child to be Korean or only identify with America or even just to fit in. Because when you look back on it, everyone feels like they stand out in some way during childhood. I know I did for various reasons, down to just my last name (maiden) being hard for others to say.
We, like many parents of adopted or to be adopted children, want to provide the most normalcy we can with their journey to accept who they are and the families they come from.
So we’ll see what happens when we get a referral. In the meantime, I’d love to know this:
Would you change your adopted child’s name – for any reason?
Photo Credit: BabyNameFacts