Ah…This is What it’s Really About


Thank you for all of the feedback on yesterday’s post, Does Her Name Really Matter. I didn’t expect so many responses and I appreciated each and every one. As I read your thoughts, I asked myself a lot of questions about why this nickname was bothering me. What was I really feeling?

Finally it hit me –  I feel sorrow. Dimples’ story, both before and after joining our family, has many threads of loss woven through it, more loss than she or any of us can face sometimes.

I have a daughter who experienced terrible trauma and has a horrific attachment disorder. Our situation became so severe that, for now, we must allow others to parent her. I can’t even express how difficult that is for me.

The people now parenting her have given her a new name, and somehow that breaks my heart.

The change of her name seems representative of so much loss, and it hurts, friends, it really does.

Like all of the other things I’ve lived through with my children, we’ll sort out the nickname issue. In the end, as many of you said, it may not be a very big deal. What really matters for me right now, is to live this out in love and with as much grace as I can. The peace of Christ will come.





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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Chantelle
    October 31, 2013

    ((((((((((hug)))))))))))) Love you and your honesty.

  2. A loving mama
    October 31, 2013

    I think you have nailed it. Naming is claiming. Names are powerful and meaningful. I really think continuing to discuss this with the staff has great value and may help them to better understand the importance and power of names, as well as the role names have in lives and relationships. I would take solace in that those who are closest to her at the facility are using her right name.

  3. Kathleen Fallon Pasakarnis
    October 31, 2013

    Lisa, I feel your sorrow and pain! Praying that God will give you comfort and strength as your family continues on this healing journey!

  4. Karen Fulghum Sear
    October 31, 2013

    I've thought about this a lot over the past day and I understand your grief. It’s apparent that you have put a lot of thought in to names and that a part of this discussion on nicknames took place long before Dimples joined your family. You love and value your children’s given names.

    Add to that the complex dynamic with Dimples and the saddness and loss of not having her with you. Add to that the push-pull of wanting her to be a participating member of your family and part of that is in her name. Add to that the ways that we mothers of kids with special names from their first moms want to protect our kids and defend their uniqueness.

    I love nicknames and my kids each have one. But I remember the jolt I experienced when a friend called my son by a nickname I had not given him. It felt foreign, strange. I didn’t like it.

    But I also remember how, growing up, I was never given a nickname. Somehow, a nickname to me meant a person was well liked and accepted. Even now, my husband has a group of friends from college that calls eachother by these affectionate nicknames. This solid group of friends was actually one of the things that drew me to him. My husband pointed out that usually friends or give friends nicknames, not parents, and while it was a letting go, I was able to be happy that my son had a friend.

    Another way to look at it that has been mentioned is this idea of a new self- a shedding of the past and building of the new. Perhaps this is her way of going from Saul to Paul as she is being transformed. If the nickname sticks, this might be a way to frame it for her and build on as she moves forward.

    But then I wonder if if just comes back to the fact that people haven’t taken the time to practice and learn her real name. This is a real possibility and a hot button for me. If this is the case, then even in treatment, it allows her to escape being seen fully.

    A few years ago my sister went from “Becky” to “Rebeccah”. I had been calling her “Becky” for 35 years. I was able to reprogram my name for her and now it sounds strange to hear somebody call her “Becky”. Her own husband was able to make the switch after 30 years of marriage. If Dimples wants to be called by her given name, the rest of the staff and kids can adjust. It could actually be quite powerful. But she would need staff support in taking that stand.

    Maybe Dimples loves her nickname, maybe she doesn’t. Maybe she feels that she is betraying a part of herself. It doesn’t sound like she was given a choice. It would be interesting to know what she wants to be called.

    My heart grieves your story often and I am saddened that it has been complicated by this.

    1. Christine N.
      October 31, 2013

      You said it better than I could. I too have been thinking and praying about this situation since I read the first post yesterday, and that was where I landed too. It seems like no one asked Dimples what she actually preferred or how it makes her feel. There could be the positive that the new name symbolizes the good changes she is making or the negative that the people around her are simply not honoring her heritage. I think it is really important for her to be comfortable with what people call her, but if her choice was the nickname, I would go with it.

      One of my friends completely changed her name when she was an adult. I think sometimes about how hard that likely was for her mother. If it is Dimples' choice, I pray for your wounded mama heart to heal.

  5. Kathy in WA
    October 31, 2013

    Interesting topic. Thank you so much for sharing! We have several families in our church who have adopted from Ethiopia. Some of the families have added in meaningful (connected to their unique, in one case, Samoan, family) middle names. Others have given new "American" names. One of the families adopted two children over a period of 3 years. The daughter was fine with a new name and easily adapted to it, their new son wasn't open to the idea at all and has stayed with his given African name. Interesting. I think they were both preschoolers when they were adopted.

    My kids all have Biblical names and I noticed my oldest has shortened his over the past few years. People started calling him Josh and he didn't correct them. Now I think he introduces himself that way. It makes me sad to lose the connection to the Biblical character that we named him after and the meaning attached to it, but it's his choice. This particular son is so incredibly close to the Lord and following Him with such a passion that it often convicts and challenges me, so I know the nickname isn't a reflection of his rejection of the Biblical tie.

    Much too wordy here. Sorry.

    I think it's true that friends and family often give nicknames to show affection and love. It can be tied to a group of people or an experience. It's hard to know, in your situation, the heart of things.

    Does Dimples want a new family and new identity?
    Is this a rejection of you personally?
    Or is it a part of her growth and renewal and moving forward?
    Is it a rejection of her past and the brokenness of that struggle, but not you as a mother or you as a family?
    Is it just a silly thing – the name was long and it was easier to call her something short and simple?

    And how much of any of this can be articulated by Dimples herself. 🙁

    The Lord definitely has you on an amazing journey with your sweet family. Thank you for sharing your heart and pain here.

  6. Tricia
    October 31, 2013

    so healthy to realize that it is sorrow underlying this. I had several months of grief and sorrow recently over losses – it is a necessary part of all of this. Hugs.

  7. RoseofSharon
    October 31, 2013

    I completely related to your reactions. Dimples has lost pretty much everything: her first mom, her culture, her history, her country. It is a powerless place to be. To lose her name…that most precious of grounding gifts, one that goes to our very identity…would be another loss. It is NOT the same as giving nicknames to kids with secure attachments and histories. I think you are doing an amazing job recognizing her trauma, which informs your feelings.

    That said, I kept the names of all my foster-adopted kids, though friends strongly encouraged me to change them, because their names are so unusual. I simply could not do it: those were their names. They might be the only gift their first moms gave them that they can keep, a connection to their first families. And just because some white people get all weird about black names (yet not about unusual white hippy names) I didn't want to do the same. I was glad I kept their names. Interestingly enough, two of my kids have slowly altered their names to nicknames over the years. Both go by nicknames that capture the essence of their first names but are more mainstream. I am okay with this because my kids DECIDED to do it all on their own.

    I echo the concern that this was not something Dimples initiated. She needs to develop security and confidence and cannot be assumed to be okay with something deep inside just because she goes along.

    I would tell the counselors to use her real name. If Dimples wants a nickname she can and will (eventually) ask for it herself.

  8. sleepyknitter
    November 1, 2013

    Hugs to you, Lisa! I appreciated what you had to say in this post and the previous one. Names are powerful, and loss is powerful. So many overwhelming emotions with our precious children. Some days I feel like I can hardly breathe for all the conflicting emotions. Praying for you as you continue working through so much with so many.

  9. Mary
    November 1, 2013

    That makes sense. There is sorrow for her and the loss she has. And now, part of her loss has become yours as well. Her loss has crept into your world, morphed and now is your loss. She is not in your home at present and that is a huge loss. Whenever I have experienced big loss, I have been caught off guard at how I respond. It seems "little" things really bother me and I could not say why.. I think that is just the nature of grief. It is predictably unpredictable. We cannot know how we will respond or what the triggers will be. It sounds like her nickname is a trigger of a deeper pain–that she is not in your home right now. And that is grief. I am praying for your grief today and for your comfort.

  10. Melissa
    November 1, 2013

    I do not think you are overreacting at all. We have carefully prayed about our children's names, believing that they say something about God's plan for them as individuals. It is a privilege of parenthood to be able to name a child. You and Dimples have experienced so much loss. You are right, this is a reminder of the unfairness of living in this fallen world and the deep sorrow that you have all experienced. Praying for God's comforting arms to envelope you. Thank you for being a faithful servant and an example to so many.


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