Names are important. Our children are all named for somebody in the Bible that we hope they will emulate and a family member we love. When we first decided to adopt our children from Ethiopia, I assumed we would give them names that we had chosen for their first names. I had no idea what a controversial issue that was until I got a caustic comment on my blog and had a few “relationship building” conversations about it with my friend who is also an adoptee.
We prayed about names A LOT and talked for hours. My husband can attest to the numerous conversations we had; he says that naming is one of the hardest things about adding more children to our family. In Boo’s babybook there are post-it notes and napkins with lists of names on them, evidence of dates devoted to eating calzones at Sellas and trying once again to settle on a name for the new baby.
When we received our referral for our little boys, one of the names was difficult to pronounce and the other was the name of a Dickens character that isn’t usually thought of fondly. Then we added Dimples to the mix and all of a sudden we had three children to name in a relatively short time.
We began to search for information about their names. Dimples’ name means “covenant or promise” which is beautiful. So we kept that for her first name and we took my two sister’s names, Elizabeth and Laura, and combined them to give her Ella for her middle name. Then there was Eby. We gave him a first name that we love and kept his original name for his middle name. We did the same thing with Little Man. I’ll confess that we took a list of names with us on the plane to Ethiopia and finally settled on them somewhere over the ocean.
But something had already happened in our hearts and minds; all three children had become the names that we had been calling them since their referrals. Each one of them had been lovingly named by a family member and in Ethiopia names have great meaning. Eby’s Ethiopian name means “Stone of help” and refers to a stone that the prophet Samuel set up to give thanks to God for his help in defeating their enemy. Now that is a great name!
That still left Little Man whose name was unfamiliar to our American ears. Two wonderful things happened when we were in Ethiopia, the first is that so many names that had seemed unusual became beautiful to us once we met people who had those names. No longer were these letters strung together in an unfamiliar way, they had faces associated with them and were tied in our hearts to Ethiopia. Secondly, we had the incredible opportunity to meet one of Little Man’s living relatives who told us that his name means “I have seen something great”. That had meaning to her and to us because God had done a wonderful thing by bringing Little Man into this world and his life had already changed so many of us; God was doing something “great” with him.
In the end, all three of our Ethiopian children use their Ethiopian names as their primary names, and if you could meet Eby, you would know how well he carries off his name! We feel that it honors their heritage and their Ethiopian families who loved them so much. The children have lots of choices for the names they will use throughout their lives, but this feels right and good to us.
I started this entire post to share what I had learned about B’s name, but I am out of time now. Little Man is pulling on my sweater saying “cookie, cookie” which means lunch needs to be made. I’ll try to post something about B. soon.
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