Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Finally, we are legally all Klepfers in our house. We have new birth certificates, social security numbers and insurances cards. Our teachers, doctors and friends all know who we are, they know our name. Over the months occasionally, our old names pop up, they feel foreign and out of place.
When we knew that adoption was finally ours to claim, the first discussion was about names. I shared with them they would get a new last name and I would like to give them all new middle names, “what about new first names?” I was really hesitant about this, our name is a huge part of our identity. The moment you enter this world you are classified by it, it is spoken over you and declared to you, whether it is a family name, cultural name or a name your parents just liked. You learn to spell and write your name, it is your first identifier. I was worried that changing their names would cause some sort of damage to their little brains, some kind of identity crisis.
I began my research, educating myself on the process it would take, the effects on brains, and then some real hands on advice from foster/adoptive parents. Many kids take only their adoptive families last name, a few want a whole new set, they often view it as a fresh start. My crew actively pursued new names, bringing it up often. I was a little concerned that the motivation was because it was cool and who wouldn’t want to pick their own names, so I sat on it. On one hand I knew that all of their names were tied to their birth family, something I viewed more as bondage than heritage. Had their family desired a different path or course of life besides addiction I would of thought differently, in our case, they were names that would only keep us in generational bondage.
I asked them one day why they wanted me to give them new names, their response was simple, “Mom, it’s your turn to be our mom, we want you to name us, we are yours.” The simplicity of that response broke my heart, I realized I was so worried about it all and doing further damage to them that I overlooked that to them it is simple, they are mine. It was in that moment, tears streaming down my face, I declared we would begin the name hunt.
We began with a list of 50 “pre approved” names, I read the list to each child from there we narrowed it down to about 5 names for each kid. The next step was narrowing those five down to two, I took those two names and paired them with a middle name. Then they chose the new identity they wanted.
I love names and the rich history of what they mean, usually we name our children fresh from the womb, merely imagining who this tiny person will be. I had the honor of picking names based on the fact that I knew my kids, their preferences and their personalities. That changed the way I approached what exactly to call them.
As I continue to adopt, I don’t know that I will always choose to change their names, I really think part of that is up to each child. This time for my crew, new names equaled a new chapter in their life, a fresh start.
For them, it was a step towards freedom, away from the bondage of their past. In our home we talked a lot about the fact that those things aren’t gone and they still exist, they don’t hold power over us but they shaped who we are today.
Our new identities must work in tandem with our past in order for true healing to happen. We must acknowledge where we have been and let that direct our paths. We must not merely forget what we have been through, we can choose to let the things of our past defeat and limit us. Chains of bondage holding us back or we can let the chains go and fulfill our destiny.
Here is a little about our names:
Charlotte Elizabeth- “Free, Pledged to God”
I want my strong, beautiful girl to be free of her past, reminded that she does not have to stay in the bondage of what has happened. That she was created for an incredible purpose and plan, she has purpose. I also gave her my middle name, she is mine.
Daniel Joel- “God is my judge and Yahweh is God”
I want my sweet strong boy to remember to whom he belongs and that at the end of the day, he is judged by God alone who judges the heart. No matter the course his life takes, the choices he makes I pray that he finds his courage to be him and confident in that fact. His middle name is after one of our dear friends, “Uncle” Joel who has taught us to be confident in who we are even when others don’t understand us.
Kennedy Grace- “Armored Grace”
My charming little firecracker, she is grace at its best, walking around oozing it to the world around her. She is strong and armored and will not be moved unless she wants to be. My prayer for her is that she stands firm in her convictions and channels that strength into beautiful things.
I have been thinking a lot about the names I have claimed over the years, the names I have allowed to define me, Unworthy, Unloved and Disposable. The names I have carried far too long, the ones that follow me around like a cloud, they haunt my sleep and echo through my mind. They are a part of my story and have for sure shaped me into who I am today but the time has come, to let them go, along with the bondage they bring and to step towards freedom. My list of names, love, grace, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, free, unashamed!
May we focus so much on the names we are, that these old names feel foreign and out of place. That we identify them as a part of our past but not a part of where we are going. May we find freedom in our new identities, may we own our new names.
What are the names of your past you need to let go of? The things that hold you back and keep you in bondage? Where are you heading and what do you need to change those old names too so that you may pursue the life of freedom you were created for?