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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's in a Name?

Before we left for our in-country adoption process, Hubby and I discussed whether on not we wanted to change our future child's name. We decided that as long as it was a name that didn't have negative connotations in English we would keep the first name and give a new middle name, as well as our family name.

After meeting Buddy, we had a short talk and decided to keep his name as it was, with a direct English translation. I had never met anyone with Buddy's name before, but it is a lovely and unique name (for the western world, at least). Plus, as so many things in our journey, his name fits right in with mine and Hubby's.

We were sitting with Buddy and his friends the next day when we were told we needed to supply the name we had chosen in order to get a move on the paperwork. Thank goodness we had already given it some thought and we were able to make a snap decision. We had Buddy confirm the correct pronunciation of his name and picked letters in the English alphabet that most closely coincided.
Petition requesting a name change due to an adoption, 1851
People often mispronounce Buddy's name. One day after being home for a few months Buddy said to me "why didn't you just give me an new American name, no one knows how to say my name. Not even you!"

I had been trying so hard to make my mouth contort into the foreign pronunciation. It turned out I wasn't doing as well as I had thought. Buddy's first language and English are very different, so I totally understand how what I thought I was saying and what he was hearing were not the same. It took some time and practice, and patience on his part, but we finally worked it out.

Buddy goes by his legal name or a family nickname at home. At school, he goes by a nickname that is easier to pronounce. We have told Buddy he can introduce himself however he wants in public. Sometimes he uses his school nickname, sometimes he uses an anglicized version of his name, sometimes he gives an "American" name that kind of resembles his. Very rarely does he use his legal name.

And that's just fine with me.

Still, I am glad Hubby and I decided to keep Buddy's name when we adopted him. In order for Buddy to join our family, he had to give up so much: his country, his language, his home. He had to say goodbye to birth family and friends, some of them probably forever. The list of his loses goes on and on. We wanted him to keep the only thing he could, his name.


  1. Hard to pronounce names are tricky. My daughters has a name with a really tricky spelling and we call her by that name as well as her American name we gave her. I want her to know both but she has chosen the short, common name to go by at school. But I love that there are people in our life who still call her by her original name and she likes it too.

    1. That's really cool that she has both options. Buddy is trying out a new nickname at school this year that is the easiest by far - fitting in is really important to him right now which I totally get. But I'm happy he still has the connection to his birth name as well.