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October 23, 2009

A screaming indictment of my family's apathy, ignorance or selfish insensitivity because we chose to strip each of our children of her identity prior to renaming her

Isn't it funny how some topics are almost impossible to discuss because any attempt to justify your own position causes everyone else to feel theirs is being attacked? 
A Blogger friend posted recently about her decision to keep her children's Chinese name.   As I read her reasons, I felt myself getting really defensive.  As if each reason she cited was a screaming indictment of my family's apathy, ignorance or selfish insensitivity because we chose to strip each of our children of her identity prior to renaming her.  Ouch!  
Well, she didn't actually say any of that directly but she did share her opinion (as adoptive parents are often known to do!) and hers was especially strong.  Okay, fine!  It was reasonable too (even though I don't personally subscribe to it):  She kept her kids Chinese names because she felt the names belonged to them and she wanted to respect their pre-adoption life and hoped doing so would help her kids grow up to be better adjusted and more happy.  Period. And I translated her words into this:  She thinks I've deliberately robbed my children of something that is essential to their happiness and now we might as well just rename our college fund "therapy fund" or "future bail fund".  
Of course, she didn't come right out and say any of that stuff!   Even so, my fingers were quivering over the keyboard as I prepared to type up a long and thoughtful "rebuttal"!  Then I decided that my time and emotional energy was probably better spent on my own blog.  So here I am!  Wanna hear my thoughts about keeping the Chinese name?  No?  Too bad.  Here they are - in bullet form: 
  • We don't believe, according to research we did about our kids SWI's, that the names were personally assigned. 
  • We've been led to believe that mainstream Chinese people - including foster parents - have a prejudice against orphanage assigned names.  
  • While we have no sense of loyalty to the orphanage name, we'd enthusiastically accept (and retain) a name given to our child by the birth family.
  • If our child was older, we'd let her have a say about her name.
  • If our kids want to change their name later, we'll support it.
  • We'll do other things to help our kids feel connected to their culture by ensuring that they understand and speak Mandarin before they head out into the world as adults (with Chinese faces).  We think we owe them this even though we're pretty sure they'll fight us over it while they grow up.  In much the same way kids have fought their parents over piano lessons. 
  • Oh, and speaking of that, we plan to make them learn piano too.
The bottom line is: We don't think the name is sacred but we do believe that our child is. She had everything God gave her when we brought her into our family and it is those things that we hold most dear.
We think her Chinese name is a minor part of who she is.  Just like the ill-fitted orphanage assigned "Gotcha uniform" that she wore when we met her.  It's all just a remnant of her orphanage life and although we're grateful for the life-sustaining care she got there, it was still a miserable, motherless, orphanage existence and we are happy to think about it in an historical sense. But, even though we don't pay tribute to our children's orphanages by retaining their assigned names, we'll always show our appreciation by financially supporting foster care and Half The Sky programs at both orphanages.   (let me know if you want more info about that!)
Okay, the next super fun, controversial, alienate-all-your-blogger-friends topic is the Pro/Con of infant unanesthetized circumcision and the merits of being a SAHM!  Woo Hoo!  Who wants to go first!


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