What's in a name? According to the Bard:
"A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet"
I suppose that true, and who am I to question the great Shakespeare, but lately I've been thinking.
My mother loved the name Laura. The author of her favorite children's book, the Little House on the Prairie series, growing up my mother fantasized that one day, should she have a little girl, she would name her Laura. Laura comes from the Latin name, Laurus, which meant "laurel" and my mother loves flowers. Surely she could think of no better name!
Then came the day when she found out she was pregnant with me. Since you are reading this post from my website likely you have gathered my name is not Laura. As it turns out right around the time I was due my uncle was going through a nasty divorce from a woman named (drum roll please) Laura. I'm not sure why my mother thought her family would think they were naming me after her soon to be ex-sister-in-law, but nonetheless she went with her second favorite name: Jennifer, meaning fair one.
Now the kicker is three years later my mother became pregnant with another girl. She was delighted! And can you guess what my sister's name is? Laura.
All of these thoughts circled through my head as my husband and I stared at the photo trying to come up with a name. Did he look like a Henry? A Michael? An Anthony? This was a fully formed person, not just a glint in his father's eye. As every adoptive parent will tell you the decision to name or rename your child is one fraught with anxiety. How old is too old to rename a child? Is it okay to even do that? Should you maintain a portion of your child's "original name" to link them to their cultural heritage?
For my son, his nickname was Kun. In Mandarin, this means someone who is endearing, a lovely trait to pass on to our child to be sure. I tried it out "Kun" (pronouncing it with a long "oo"). Huh. Then I thought, maybe it could be his nickname. I practiced calling him on the playground "Come here my little Kun it's time for supper!" My husband laughed and said, "Say that out loud one more time." Let's just say that Kun is not the nickname for a little boy in the southern state of Virginia.
Then we thought about what it means to have a name. A name is what represents you. It defines who you are. In reality, my son was given his name by the administrator of his orphanage. It was not a name that was lovingly and thoughtfully picked out for him.
In the end we chose Jack Wesley. My husband's Uncle Jack grew up on the same street as my husband. He devoted his life to working as a Catholic priest and went on to become a wonderful missionary in India. In fact he knew Mother Teresa and helped many an orphaned child in his work. We chose Wesley as it is my father's middle name. And was his father's middle name, and his father's father's middle name, and his father's father's father's middle name.
Jack. Wesley. In those two simple words my son's name expresses every generation and every choice that led to him. And he wears them just beautifully.