I've been pondering the names of our twins a lot lately. So much so that I wrote a question about names to a group of adult adoptees that blog and let adoptive parents ask them questions. And then it came up on the yahoo adoption board that I am a part of today.
Some of the circumstances of our girls' story is hard. And we are fortunate to know a lot about their story and we know some of their birth family (father's side). I am so very thankful for this. But it means we know a lot about choices that were made and how those choices affected their lives.
My own personal story (on my dad's side) is hard too. And there were some choices made that affected my life in significant ways, but I have always wanted to stay connected to that side of my family. Because they are a part of me. When I got married I didn't want to part with my dad's surname (my maiden name) and I added it to my middle name. Good or bad, it is my heritage, part of who I am and keeps me connected to my past.
Adopting children removes so much from their lives, it takes so much away (it also gives a lot as well). They lose their country, their family, their culture, they sense of connectedness and belonging. They lose any connection to their past. And many times they lose their names (if they are known). And they don't get a choice about that.
After writing my question to the group noted above, what finally sunk down deep in my heart was that my question was not a valid one in some ways. I think what finally hit me, is that it shouldn't be my choice whether to keep their dad's surname or not in their new name. It is their choice because it is their name. It's theirs. It's not my name to take away from them. I realized that I was asking the question all wrong. Of course I should include their father's surname in their name. It's their name. As much as adoption brings with it a new family, it doesn't erase the past, their family, and the genetic connection of that child to that family. It doesn't mean that I should wipe it all clean and start over. I love that they re congolese, I love their country. Every moment I spent with their birth family was precious. The name of their father is a gift to them (the good and bad), it is precious, a gift I have to give them that not all adoptive parents have to give to their children. Maybe one day when they are adults they will change their names in a different way. And you know what? That will be okay with me. They will have a lot of names to work from and two families that love them with names to connect them to their past, present and future.
(These are my thoughts and personal opinions, I know there is a wide range of beliefs about names. Mine is one of those. And I'd love to hear others as well.)
ADDENDUM: Our girls were not given any first names at birth, they had their father's surnames however. We gave them first names. Their middle names are currently the first names of significant women from their birth family and then our last name.