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Thread: Adoption questions?
April 19th, 2013 01:22 PM #31Senior Member
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- May 2012
I know a little girl, adopted from China about age 3, who had lived there not in an orphanage but a foster home. She knew and maintains contact with her foster parents. Her adoptive mother gave her an American name, keeping her Chinese in the middle. A year or so ago, about age 5, this girl asked her mother to call her by her Chinese name, which she uses now all the time.
That said, my own adopted Chinese daughter came to us much younger and had a name assigned to her in the orphanage. We changed it, but gave her a Chinese rather than American name--one easier for English-speakers to pronounce and spell, but nonetheless connected to her Chinese identity and heritage. She's never given a second thought to the loss of her original name, though she doesn't always love her current name and sometimes uses it together with her American middle (complaining that her first name is "too short"). She is 10-years-old now. There are lots of other emotional issues that come up for her related to her abandonment and adoption, but none of them are related to her name.
As far as the idea that even young children in orphanages hear and learn their names, keep in mind that in cases of foreign adoptions they are doing so in the context of their native languages. In most cases--e.g., our family does not fluently speak Chinese--that linguistic context is lost. Adjusting to life in a new family, culture, home and linguistic environment, it's not at all clear that keeping the name the same--even if I could pronounce it properly--would have made any sense.
Nameberry is for the name-obsessed (like me), but there are so many issues for adoptive children and families to face, and they're different in every individual case. Sometimes naming matters, sometimes (even often times) it doesn't. But compared to many of the other transformations and challenges adopted children face, it's the most easy to alter later if need be. My adopted daughter regrets that she will never know her birth parents; that is something I cannot ever fix for her. But if she wakes up tomorrow and wants me to call her a different name, I can do that. And if two years or two decades later, she want to change it again, I can do that too.
P.S. One other thing I forgot: When my daughter meets adopted Chinese girls--her cohort, esseentially, girls whose experience is closest to hers--they usually have names like Kylie, Grace and Emily. When she meets Chinese-Americans, they have Chinese last names--as she doesn't--but usually English first names. When a Chinese girl was visiting her school for a year, while her parents were at the university, this girl adopted an English name; many Chinese are very aware that English-speakers have trouble with their names. So for my daughter the intersection of name and identity, in the world in which she actually lives, is not so cut and dried. If anything, she stands out for having the Chinese name we gave her in our attempt to retain that connection to her identity and heritage.
Last edited by wolv; April 19th, 2013 at 02:11 PM.
April 21st, 2013 12:25 PM #33
I live near a major military base, and we have many different cultures in my neighborhood. I know several kids and adults of Asian or Eastern descent with names that are very hard for native English speakers, and use an 'American' name. This, I think, is a great option. It can be a middle or just a name the person chose.
It depends on the age of the child. If it is a newborn, then I don't see a problem with it, although I do think it should have a tie to its culture. If he/she is an infant or a toddler, than no. But if the child is old enough to have a say, his or her opinion should be respected. If ten year old Xiao-Mei wants to be called Xiao-Mei, Mei or a Western name like Sophie, then the adoptive parents should work with her to find a name that fits her.
All in all, if you are adopting a foreign child and want to change the name, I believe strongly that either the original name should be a middle, or a name that reflects his or her heritage. (I do plan on adoption, but mostly inside the US, as we have a lot of children of all ages who need a home.)~lucy reine~~ celestine eira ~ mary simona ~ elizabeth echo "ellie" ~ eleanor heaven "lena" ~ vivienne ailsa ~~ jasper red ~ evander lachlan 'evan'~ kai sacha ~ ezra link ~ satoshi rowan ~
June 24th, 2013 11:39 PM #35
I hope to be able to have a private domestic adoption in which the birth parents choose me before the baby is born and I get to take the baby home from the hospital, as well as choose the name that goes on the birth certificate. This is possible where I live, although it is not in other places.
I think it really just depends on many different factors.
June 25th, 2013 08:08 PM #37Senior Member
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- Apr 2013
For the first question - it would be 100% situation. If the child was old enough, I'd ask their opinion on it. A younger child, I'd mostly likely change their FN and keep their original name as a middle name. It would also depend on what the name was. If I was adopting from China and getting a baby named Li, I'd be more likely to keep their FN than if I was adopting a little Xiangyi. I might keep their FN and add an american middle and call them by that.
I would not specify gender or any physical appearance of a child I was adopting, but I do understand how some parents want a child who resembles them.Lillian Elizabeth 6.16.13
June 25th, 2013 08:17 PM #39Senior Member
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- Jun 2013
I know a kid adopted around age 4 with a less-than-ideal name. His parents just added their chosen name. He has two first names, but it's an improvement.