Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The name game

Gosh, another long post. Sorry (mom) but I do promise (mom) there is no announcement of another child at the end to spare anyone (mom) any concern. (MOM)
Although if you make it to the end there's some neat news there but don't skip to the end (MOM)

About names and renaming children--

Our children's names in China stated when spoken to someone "I am an orphan"  That was their last name (used first as is done in China)  then their 2nd and 3rd names would be the name they go  by.

I will use Kat's name as an example.  

Min An Tong

Min- of the people (orphan)  
An - serene
Tong- child

So her foster mother called her "Tong Tong" as a pet name, very common for people who love them to do this in China.

Basically calling her "child, child"

So when it came to adopting and renaming, even the teenagers, we picked a name.  We made SURE the name had good meaning.  It's VERY important to Chinese people, the name meaning.

Dad wanted to name Chloe "Raina."  I was "okay" with it, not lovin' it when I heard (honestly) God say "Chloe."  And I was a bit surprised but said to dad "How about Chloe? I think God is telling me Chloe."  And looked up the meaning and it was--- blooming, like a flower.

Seemed PERFECT.  And it is.  As for middle names, she has her Chinese name the way Americans would say it--- Chloe LuYun Min (our last name)  The Lu Yun would be separate in China but here for the sake of not having 3 middle names, we combine it. (Chinese people will argue this changes the name meaning but it doesn't HERE)

Now when the boys happened along Chloe deeply wanted them to have "Ch" names.  And we really felt we found Chance "by chance" which happens to mean "Victory" the same as my name:))))

He also has Chance LuKai Min (our last name) as his name.

Chase we "chased for" to get him home. Name meaning is "hunted, tracked down"  Also perfect:)

Paisley's name we picked.  Her name is very special, it's meaning is a fabric that combines together threads to make a beautiful pattern. Her Chinese name is her middle name and then she has the name from first family because she WAS this name, she lived as this name. Even for a short time.  

Our goal is to make her feel very special and chosen to come to our family.  NOT to wipe out her past, or any of our children's pasts. They existed. We have to show them it was OKAY to be who they were.  And she is very happy to be called Paisley. I can't imagine NOT picking her name then have her ask WHY we didn't care enough to pick a special name for her, like we did the others! OIY.

The problem with keeping Chinese names for first names is this--

They are all but impossible for most average Americans to pronounce correctly. Almost all of them look one way and sound completely different 

It points out the differences of our children, makes them feel "weird" and foreign to other teens- not what they need when they want to fit in so badly here

Many names given in China are not given in love for the child, some are even insults- a child with a smaller leg may get assigned the name for "short leg" 

We feel as their parents, it's our DUTY to give them a name that will fit in our society.  I know many people say to me- ohh I feel odd renaming a teenager.  DON'T.  Give them the gift of your LOVE and desire for them to be a part of your family.  

And of course, if your child wants to be called by their Chinese name, respect that. Use it.  Ours use their Chinese names with one another. More and more they are using their new names though.  They seem to prefer that.  Every now and then I call them by the Chinese "pet" name (Chance's would be Kai Kai) and it's said with LOVE.  They laugh  when I do that. But they know I love them and have the right to call them that:)

How do our children see their names---

Kat loves her name. She lights up when the dude at the Chinese restaurant calls her "Tong Tong" with just the right tone on it:)))  Does she want to be called Tong Tong by us? NO.  She even has a song she sings, "My name is Kat, my hair is black."  She made the song up. She loves her name, which  means pure, but was chosen in honor my very special Grandma Kitty.

Chloe likes that her name means blooming.  She is a teen so often she will ask can she be called Chicago (I tell her that's taken) or Penelope.  And we laugh.  She really likes her name and is proud of it. She's now saving Penelope for her own daughter's name:)

Chance is so happy he has an American name.  He has questioned why we kept his other name.  And we explained because it's who he was, but not as an insult his name used to be. His name (MIN) means of the people, in China that means -- ORPHAN---- but here, to us, it means they are "of their people.  We do not know birth family, they are of the Chinese people.  NOT taken as an insult but an honor.

For him this was harder to accept. I don't know exactly why but Chance came to us saying his name and something else. When I asked him what the "extra" meant, he told me this--- I have no parents.  I asked him why he said that and was told by him that he HAD to say it in China.  I swear to you, my heart broke that day. I told him I NEVER wanted to hear him add that to his name (Chinese or American name) again. That he DID have parents, and I was one of them and I never wanted to hear that again. EVER. He saw my "momma bear love" for him that day.

Chance's time in China was not happy. He was tormented and put down for having learning difficulties. He was denied food. Hit by teachers. Made fun of by ADULTS. Told he was worthless.  My son suffered deep, lasting wounds there.

He will openly say he is "AMERICAN" and we tell him he is Chinese American.  He prefers ALL things here. I can only hope the teachers and kids who picked on this precious treasure in China are now feeling BAD that Chance got "the American dream" and they didn't --I'll ask God to forgive my spitefulness right here and now:((

Here's the only glitch we had, when we went to China and told Chase his new name. He was NOT thrilled. Because we quickly learned a word sounding like "Cheese" in Chinese meant "mad face" (I find that soooo interesting now)  And he thought that was what we were naming him.  But when explained to him and he came home and saw other boys named "Chase" he is very happy with his name now.  

I do believe he would be highly insulted if we took his Chinese name away completely, of the 3 teens they call him his Chinese name the most often, most likely because he's bossy to them and acts like he did in China with them.

All of the children embrace their American, chosen-by-us, names.  They understand we went to the trouble to pick names with good meanings, not something any American child even worries about. But to ours, it's very important to know what the name means. To be able to explain why we chose the name, so they are proud to carry the new name. But to keep the Chinese name as a part of their name because we honor who they were. We ACCEPT them as is. Their past is theirs. 

We don't look to wipe out our children's past. This is why the old name is a part of the new, close enough as a second name to be used if they desire.  We look to help them accept that they were who they were and find peace in that, but to also give them the best and most wonderful start here they can have as a chosen son or daughter within our family.  This is very important to us in renaming our children.

And we don't forget the laughter we have had over names. When Chloe got enough English to figure out we have a pretty long and Polish last name she had to write she said "No, no sank you".  Uhh, yeah.  Ya gotta take it. Even Paisley laughed when she saw the last name- those girls:)

And Kat, she said her name was Kat-rin  Monkey.  I assure you that long Polish name is NOT Monkey but it sounded close to her:)

Also of note -- when I took Kat along on trip to adopt Chloe we visited the wonderful foster family Kat calls her grandma and grandpa. We were calling her "Tong Tong" around them- and foster mother very quickly INSISTED we and they call her "KAT".  Wasn't easy for them to say, but they called her that.  Grandma (foster mom) was offended we would call her by her orphan name and WANTED her called by OUR chosen name.  It was very clearly important to her and we complied.

There it is:))

Hope you are still awake- ha ha.

If you are then you gotta know, She called me MOM:)) On her own!   The teens have prompted Paisley, prodded, pushed and insisted.  It's HARD to do for a teen. BUT important because if they don't it gets really awkward when the child stands there waiting for you to say "Do you need something?"  And they will do this. To AVOID calling you MOM.  

The longer that goes on the harder/less likely they are to ever call you mom and dad too. NOT GOOD.  It's so much easier to get them to start out calling you mom or dad.

And today I am "mom".  The best word I heard all day:)


Chris said...

About the name thing. We did not keep our girls' Chinese names b/c one would have been Ping and the other Mo...not great in 1st grade. But our 10 y.o. ..we kept his name and added one we chose BUT he immediately entered Jo-Seph in his translator and it came back with something...I forget...but it wasn't 'nice' We had to explain that ENGLISH names have ENGLISH meanings..and you can't take it to Chinese. Just one more thing to trip us up.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I go on vacation for 1 week and this was the post I started with. Trying to figure out what was going on by reading the posts backwards was more excting than any book I have read in a long time. I will pray for all of you - especially the new treasure.

thesleepyknitter said...

Great post! The last one was, too. :-)

~Monica Utt~ Itty Bitty Land said...

Oh, how wonderful! I love how the other kids are helping Paisley to adjust!! I am so very happy for all of you.

Rebecca said...

Great post! We have had several people ask us why we have chosen an American name for our daughter. I agree with you. I want for our daughter to know she was chosen and her name was given to us by the Lord. All of our kids names start with an "A" and we want for her to be one of them! We gave her the name "Ashlyn" and then discovered that it means "vision of God". We decided on "Hope" for her middle name and then discovered that her Chinese name actually means, "the hope to be a kind person".Coincidence? No way! Thanks for sharing!

molly said...

I'm Chinese-American (as are my parents), and we all have Chinese names (to use when we are speaking Mandarin) and English names (to use when we are speaking English). Almost everyone I know who interacts with both Chinese and English speakers has this. I was given both at birth, but for those born in China they often pick an English name (or are given one by their teacher) when they start taking English classes. All the Chinese/Taiwanese/HK movie stars and singers have both English and Chinese names... I think giving a newly adopted child a English name is not "denying" part of their heritage, it is just adding a new name. My two cents :)


Holly said...

I loved this post! We have not adopted a teen but are adopting a child who will be almost 7 when we meet her and the name thing is something that we have been nervous about. God totally gave us her names too :) He does that sometimes :) Truly happy for you at your addition of Paisley to your family and still hoping things get hopping and we can meet up in GZ. Blessings, Holly

Fee said...

I'm not sure where you got the idea that Paisley had a meaning to do with threads, but its actually a town near Glasgow in Scotland. It became famous in the 1800's for weaving the patterned shawls with teardrop designs, which gave rise to the name paisley pattern.

ronvic7 said...


Baby name book is where we find name meanings, not a dictionary.

Fee said...

Ok :) Then you will know that Paisley is actually a derevation of the Scottish word for Church!

Michele said...

Love this post!! We wanted to name our daughter Lily in honor of my grandmother and great grandmother. During the wait we had several signs that affirmed our choice. When we met YongLi (now her middle name) she was a beautiful eight month old and the name Lily was a lovely fit. Fast forward several years... in a correspondence with the orphanage director I learned that Lily's nickname at the orphanage was LiLi - a doubling of her Li name. So while we thought we gave her the name Lily she in fact had been LiLi long before we became a family.
As my mom (and Albert Einstein) said.. Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.