What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 1-2)

We had the sweetest conversation with our daughter tonight at bedtime. For a long time now, we’ve been regularly telling our little ones the story of when they “came home”. Even before we knew how the story would end, we began giving them this gift of hearing us recount those days that they were too young to remember. This idea to give them age-appropriate pieces of their story has been a PRICELESS way for us to be honest with our kids about their unique journey to our family and our home. (THANK YOU, Jennilee, for this amazing tip). When we first began this storytelling, our girl would ask us to tell the story every. single. night. She memorized every part she could, trying to make our memories her own.

As our case changed and we began the transition from foster care to adoption, we added in a few more details here and there about their story. We began to assure them that they had come home to stay – part of our family forever. During the time we’ve been telling them the story, we’ve taken turns sharing each of our perspectives and adding in little details here and there as we think of them. Tonight, I explained that it took a while for her to be comfortable with Daddy when she first met him. She didn’t want to talk to him or go to him for a while, so he took care of brother and let me handle her as she adjusted. “I was MEAN to DADDY??!!” she questioned. We laughed and explained that she just didn’t understand what was going on and she didn’t know him. We told her that our first trip to Grammy and Grampa’s for Thanksgiving changed everything. She adored Grampa and warmed up to the other men in our family and from that point on, she decided Daddy was okay too.

As I ventured off with these new pieces of the story, she would chime in with the details she remembered from our countless re-tellings. When we discussed how old she was the day they came home (not even two), she informed us that her birthday is coming up soon and she will be 4! She told us the correct month and date. She is learning and growing so quickly! For some reason, this realization prompted me to talk about another part of the story. I began with, “Do you know WHY we chose the names we chose for you?” As a family, we poured great thought, care, and prayer into the name changes that accompanied their adoption. We did not want to cause the kids confusion by changing their names, yet we had some ideas of what we would like to do. We discussed it with her and in her presence many times before adoption, and only opted to pursue the change because she seemed excited about both hers and baby brother’s names.

I detailed for her the sources of their names pointing out that both she and little man have the middle name of their first-dad in their names. She was all smiles. I then explained that the first part of her name is her birth-mom’s middle name. She gasped with excitement, “SHE has a K in her name TOO?!” As I smiled and confirmed, she squeezed my arm and looked at her Daddy and I exclaiming “Thank you!” I went on to explain the portion of her name connected to her birth-father and she again burst into excited thank yous. The gratitude continued (largely due to her love for drama and silliness) as we reminded her that her name means “Pure Grace, Jehovah is God” and that we believe it is HIS grace that has brought them to our family. It was such a sweet time of seeing her begin to understand this precious part of their story.

Though it has been understandably difficult for their biological families, the kids have embraced their name changes and have transitioned with ease. Many questions and tears accompanied our difficult naming decision. We didn’t have to change their names, but naming a child is a right of parenthood that is often taken for granted and it’s one we were able to act on since the kids were willing. We wanted to be intentional about including pieces of their first families, along with a meaning and significance that demonstrated what God had done in our “forever-family”. We rearranged portions of her given-name to accomplish this, and seeing her enthusiasm as we explained all of the connections again tonight made us overflow with joy.

Ultimately, what is in a name? Regardless of what they’re called, these children of ours are precious, priceless, and perfect for us. The gift of calling them ours is beyond our comprehension. We love them, we love their names, and while we realize that these children “by any other name” would be as sweet, we are still overjoyed that our treasured daughter showed so much enthusiasm tonight for the story of her name.

We will continue to share with them “their story” and celebrate the beauty of their meaningful names along the way. In spite of what they are called on a daily basis, our prayer for them is that they will become a daughter and son of the King and that their greatest joy will be in hearing Him say (as He did to the Israelites):

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isa 43:1).

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