Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Rachel

Ok, so sort of like Dear Abby....I welcome your questions via e-mail!   I'll ask your permission to post your question (modified for length and clarity), your name and general location (only if you want), and my answer to your question.

Thank you to the numerous women who have been e-mailing me and sharing their adoption stories and questions!  If you'd like to submit a question in which you want a blog response, e-mail me at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.      I always keep questions private unless you give me permission to share. 

So, here we go!

Jodi asked (in a nutsell):
My husband and I (both Caucasian) cannot agree on what to name our AA daughter (we are adopting from foster care), and I hope you can help.    He read in a transracial adoption book that adopted kids should be treated like any other member of the family (just like our six biological children).     I agree with this.   What we can't agree on is changing the baby's name, which doesn't start with the same letter as all our other kid's names.     The name I have chosen isn't a traditional AA name.    Is it ok to change the baby's name to fit in with the letter theme of our family and to change her name to something that doesn't sound like a typical AA name?


I'm so glad you asked this question!   I struggled with this issue as well.    I feared that naming our girls a "white" name would damage them for life.   (Yeah, a bit dramatic, right?)      I also worried that I would regret not keeping our daughter's birth names, since that is something their birth parents gave to them. 
Striking a balance is important.  My advice is to give your child the J-name as her first name, and keep her original first name as her middle name.    If, when your child is older, she wants to revert back to her original name, her middle name, she can.    She has options!    Both of my girls have parts of their birth names in the names we gave them, as we combined their first-birth-names with the names we had chosen.    (By the way, we have an E-theme for our kids, so I totally get it!)  

A name doesn't make a child "black enough" to be culturally accepted.   Cultural acceptance is complicated.   There are many things you can do to support your child as a black girl----including live in a diverse area, put her in a diverse school, take her to cultural/racial events, read books on Black history, place AA artwork in your home, learn to style her hair, etc.   

But at the very end of the day, you'll be her mom, she'll be your daughter, and a name, well, it's just a name.  :)

I hope this helps!


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