Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Part VI: His name

Wee tiny YH

Here's one thing I've learned during my seven year tenure as a mother--one crappy thing: Mothers love to judge other mothers. Mothers are constantly comparing their parenting choices to one another and passing judgement on what is best. There are certain topics that come up over and over for mothers--especially first-time mothers--that are sure to be divisive. Breastfeed or bottlefeed? Circumcise or not? Co-sleep or cry-it-out? Cloth diaper or disposable?

These choices we make we make out of love. I have never heard a mother say "I want my baby to have second best so I'm choosing to bottle feed/breast feed him." No. It doesn't happen. Yes, there is all kinds of research out there to support one view over another. Yes, it is good to educate yourself.

But also: it is really really good to give one another the benefit of the doubt.

An example: my very very good friend who I love like crazy-pants has a beautiful son just a few months older than Miss A. Miss A is going to marry this boy; they have both decided. Both children are out-of-this-wold physically attractive. Both are designated "gifted" by the school district. Both love to run and play and draw and read and be silly together. And as mothers my friend and I made pretty much opposite decisions on all of the hot-button topics. And you know what? You would never be able to tell who did what. Both kids are the picture of health and achievement. Because both were so so loved.

When I began reading blogs of adoptive families/adult adoptees/firstmothers (commonly known as the "triad") I learned a whole new cadre of "hot button topics". Open adoption or closed? Domestic or international? Foster-to-adopt or private domestic? Infant or older child? Artificial twinning?

You see, in adoption too there is a hierarchy of "rightness". There is a scale by which we judge ourselves against one another. Within the international adoption community one such issue is "naming".

Many of the children referred for international adoption have names. Names given to them by first parents, relatives, intake officers at social welfare offices, orphanage names or names bestowed by missionary workers. It would be cruel to not "name" a child under your care, so even the children with unknown origins are given a name.

In YH's case he was given a name at birth by his first mother. A beautiful name. It is a name that means "deep charity" and it ties in directly with her hopes for his future. She also gave him her family name. The two names (three syllables total) flow together so well, both in the traditional Korean order of Family Name, First Name and in the more American First Name, Family Name order.

When we saw YH's name written in Hangul on the referral papers, and then written phonetically in English, we knew we could not take this gift away from him. Yes, his name is unusual by "traditional" American standards. But in our community and in our local school the number of "traditional" American names is few. My children play with Toussaint, Jenevie, Valentina, Sol, Flora, Ladea, LaMaria, Professor, Otter...a host of melodious names. YH's name is two syllables. Two syllables that sound pretty much the way they look.

His full name will be YH, Korean Family Name, Samuel, American Family Name. Samuel is a name from my side of the family and the American Family Name is my husband's surname, which all the children share. It is our hope that this name will give him flexibility as he grows and explores his identity. We want him to know that we love him and support him--even if he decides to be known only as YH Korean Family Name. Or as Samuel American Family Name. Or keep all four.

It's his name, and it was given with love.

1 comment:

  1. Out of control parental blame/judging is the worst! I hope you have a loving and supportive community of adoptive parents.