April 5, 2006

What's in a Name?

"What kind of a name is DaHee?" asked the priest who baptized our daughter.

"A Korean name," I answered, "that means 'much happiness.'"

"Oh."

Although he didn't say it, I could tell he wasn't pleased that we hadn't selected another saint's name for our daughter. And there wasn't time to explain to him how important it was for us to preserve her name.

Names are much more than symbols of adoptee's birth languages. They are direct links to the adoptee's birth countries and to the people - birth family, perhaps, or first caregivers - who cared for them and loved them. For children old enough to remember having been called by those names, their very sound may evoke the memory of those early years. It's not for adoptive parents to decide for our children that their names have no value. Indeed, they are priceless.

Our daughter's name is beautiful, as is our son's. They both think so, too. And with many friends with names that represent the myriad of cultures in our community, having Korean names is something that helps them fit right in.