Lately I’ve been asked more than a few times if we have names picked out for our child. Truth be told, we really don’t. Frankly, we’ve never gotten far enough in this journey to think about it much. And, even as close as we hope we are now, we just don’t know what we’ll do about names.
We will definitely keep our child’s Ethiopian first name in some way; we may keep it as a first name or we may make it a middle name. We feel this is meaningful as a connection to his or her Ethiopian culture and, most importantly, to his or her birth family, who most likely named him or her. Naming is very important in Ethiopia, and his or her birth family likely gave considerable thought to the name(s) they selected.
In terms of Ethiopian names, they seem to run the gamut. I’ve seen some Ethiopian names that would not in any way be considered unusual in America. Others are very different names than we are generally accustomed to. Many Americans might consider them to be difficult to pronounce or spell at first. Others are translations of names that we are familiar with, and some might lend themselves pretty easily to cute nicknames.
I’ve noticed that the Ethiopian adoptive community is a bit split on whether or not to keep given Ethiopian names as first names upon adoption. Many people keep the name as a first name, and many keep it as a middle name but add a new first name. I don’t notice this split as much in other adoptive communities, where it doesn’t seem like original first names are often kept as first names (but are usually kept as middle names). Part of it may have to do with the fact that many children adopted from Ethiopia are older – not babies – and I’d imagine that it’s more difficult (on many levels) to change a child’s name the older he or she is.
We have decided to wait to see what our child’s name is (and who gave it to him or her), and then we’ll think about what we want to do. The child’s age may play into our decision as well.
I’m very curious to learn how other adoptive parents have handled the name game, and what types of thoughts and considerations went into decisions. So, please leave a comment if you’re open to sharing your experience!