As we await our toddler match, many have asked us if we plan on giving our child a name. Some argue that giving our child a new name would bring her/him additional trauma and establish an unnecessary colonial dominance, especially since we’re adopting an older child. Others say that perhaps it might bring about feelings of hope and a new start for the child who may have ugly memories with which to wrestle as well as give the adoptive parents an opportunity to “claim” their new daughter/son as a member of their family. And even others might advise that it’s acceptable to keep the child’s birth name along with a new given name – whether that’s a new name plus birth name or birth name first and given name as the middle name – and see what s/he decides to be called. We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.
A recent NYT Magazine article discusses some hard realities about adoption, especially among older kids. As I watch the documentary Wo Ai Ni (I love you, Mommy) by Stephanie Wang-Breal, I am overcome by the feelings of strangeness that “Faith” experiences as she grows to learn to be with her new American family and struggles in missing her Guangzhou family too. I wonder how challenging the adjustment will be for our toddler who will have to leave her/his orphanage and possibly own foster families. No doubt, wrought with obstacles though we will not be a transracial family (unless our child happens to be multiracial). Adoption for an older child into a new family is difficult enough given unknown history, distant and not-so-distant memories, unfamiliar new family, and our anticipation of being first-time parents. The comforting reality is that A. is very familiar with having to adjust to a new family and new surroundings, and no doubt he will apply his personal adoptee experience to parenting as we wait . . . to grow our own family.
Mahal kita, Anak