When my husband and I decided on adoption, we spent the long drives between our home and our parents' houses discussing baby names. My husband, I'm sure, would have preferred to discussing something else, but I was enthusiastic and adamant that we have the crucial baby name conversation time and time again.
Girl names came easily to me. Boy names not so much. I'd throw out a name only to have it rejected. My husband would throw out a name only to have me laugh or tell him that I had a student with that name who drove me crazy. (I've been teaching for five years and teach two to three classes per semester---so, that's a lot of names).
The conversations grew more complex as we tried imagined the races of our future children. I asked myself, "How would this name I choose affect a child who is black? Who is white? Who is Hispanic?" (By the way, our last name is SO white....)
We've all heard that employers will statistically select the resumes of white sounding individuals, based on their names, over individuals whose names indicate that they are of another race.
We hear white people remarking and sometimes poking fun at the odd sounding, hard to spell, or hard to pronounce black names. Or I've heard white people snort (literally) at names like Precious or Princess that AA women give their baby girls.
I once posted on an adoption message board about my conflicting ideas---how to name a child of another race? I remember some women getting very upset that I would even think that I had to be careful about how I named my child because he/she might be black or Hispanic or Asian or another race.
I didn't want to name my daughter Shaniquia simply because I wanted to help my child affirm my child's blackness. And then, how stereoptyical of me to even think of a name like Shaniquia and align that with any sort of indicator of how black my child would be perceived as. (How's that for good grammar?) I didn't want to be desperately trying to make up for the fact that she has white parents. As if a name could "make up" for that. As if I need to make up for anything.
The truth is, I want my daughter to be proud of her name and her family. The two very well have no connection. Or maybe they are connected, intricately, deep down, somewhere. I don't know.
The story continues now, a year after we adopted, because we call my daughter a shortened version of her first name. However, I find myself sometimes introducing her to people of her same race as her full first name because it sounds more black. Because I want the approval of strangers. It's bizarre. On one hand, who cares what anyone else thinks? On the other hand, the approval of the AA community (which I feel through individual encounters) matters to me. I don't want my daughter to be the white-black girl. She's black. And I'm out to prove that to the world. Stupid mommy.
Before you yell "shame" on me, please be patient. I'm trying to do the best I can. I'm trying to figure this whole adoption/transracial/parenthood thing out. It's going to be trial and error, like with many things in life.
"A good name is more desirable than great riches [. . .]"