Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Something Struck Me About This....

I'm currently reading Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina. The first chapter was difficult to get through, but I pressed on anyway. Chapter 2, Adjustment of the Family really hit home with me when I realized we were doing something right without even knowing it. Guess everyone can throw out all those blonde jokes I've heard for years.

Seriously, I learned that even infants have an adjustment period, especially if they are over 6 months of age. Prior to six months old, they cannot distinquish between individuals. I did not know that. I've found through reading this book that there is much I do not know about child development and adoption. This chapter goes on to say that three to six-month olds are more adaptive to change (knowing we'd be with her now was even more difficult after reading that since Pickles is currently 5 1/2 months 0ld). Six to twelve-month olds are vulnerable because they become attached to a primary caregiver. Even more interesting is that a child in this age will experience signs of grief, which can be expressed in uncontrollable crying, depression, withdrawal, disinterest in play or food. Typical with the 5 stages of grief, any of these signs in infants can occur simultaneously, repeat, and/or occur out of sequence.

So, with that said, WHAT are we doing right???? Even though Chapter 1 was challenging to get through, what caught my eye was the section on "naming and renaming." We had many discussions prior to our referral about what her name was going to be. My step-son-in-law has a strong opinion about us maintaining some of her identiy and kept drilling us on how we planned to incorporate the Ethiopian culture into our own family traditions. At the time, I did not have any specific answers to his questions. But as time has elaspsed during the adoption process, I've had multiple "realizations" regarding culture, names, etc. and how to address the transracial issues that we know we will be facing.

Many advised us to change her name, make it more "Americanized." Originally, I had the same thought and was pretty convicted that americanizing her name would only be in her best interest. The morning of August 1st, the day after we received and accepted Pickle's referral, both David and I were convicted that we needed to keep her name. At the time, I could not tell you why I had such a strong change of heart. Last night I read this: "It is important to many adoptees to know the names their birth parents gave them. If the birth parent gives the child a name, the adoptive parents should make every attempt to keep that name in some way. Doing so acknowledges the importance of the birth parents to the child." Raising Adopted Children, Melina, Lois Ruskai, pg. 20. WOW.....that is profound! And here we are doing something right and not even know it!

When we travel in October (hopefully), arrangements are being made to meet Pickle's birth mother, grandmother and half-brother, who is 7 years old. I'm sure this meeting will be emotional for all, but I will stand proud when I tell Pickle's birth mom that we will keep the name she named her, in honor of her. We will always honor her courage and strength in the decision to relinquish her child in the hopes of a better life.

Amharic is the language of Ethiopia. Pickles means "lucky" in Amharic. Not only do we feel "lucky" to be able to bring her into our family and raise her, we feel blessed and honored that we were chosen to be her adoptive parents.

1 comment:

Christine said...

When we started our adoption process, we were planning to adopt an older AA sibling group. We knew that they would likely have distinctly AA names. We had met families that changed the names of older children. We refused. So, we went through a list of AA names (adding our last name), just to start to embrace our future children.

We were not chosen for a sibling group we were waiting on. Their names were very unique. We loved them. I was praying for them by name.

Long story longer ... we were approached about a seven month old girl who was waiting in a foster home, because their were no domestic couples open to an AA child when she was born.

Her name is Precious. She's our baby girl. And yup ... she's Precious!

People ask all the time, "Who named her?" I used to say, "Her first mother." Now, I just reply with "Why do you ask?" That usually shuts them down real quick.

She's older now, and I don't want her to hear people judge her name. I want her to hear us embrace her ... and her birthfamily.

Funny ... everyone in our life always comes around weeks later and says something like, "Ya' know, at first I couldn't figure out why you didn't change her name, but now I can't imagine her being called anything else."