Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Keeping His Chinese Name
Originally, when we traveled to China to adopt Wenxin, we gave him an American first, middle and last name. We followed the advice of books, social workers and other adoptive parents. We called him his Chinese name in the beginning, and then, while still in China, we introduced his American name through our interpreter. The plan was to gradually transition from calling him his Chinese name, to using his American name all the time.
Wenxin, however, felt strongly about keeping his Chinese name. He didn't want to change. We heard his concerns and decided to incorporate "Wenxin" as a "second middle name " in his legal name. We call him "Wenxin" in everyday life. If he wants to go by one of his other names later on, it will be his choice.
"But aren't you worried that people won't be able to say it?"
No, not really.
If you've only seen Wenxin's name in print, you are probably mispronouncing it. The "x" throws people off. His name is pronounced "Wen Sheen," just like actor, Charlie Sheen. Once we say that, everyone gets it.
And the America of today is a nation of many ethnicities and many ethnic names. We have a president named Barack Obama. Probably, most Americans had never met a "Barack" before President Obama, but we all learned to pronounce his name correctly.
Older children adopted internationally have almost all their choices taken from them. They have to accept new parents, move to a new country and learn a new language -- whether they like it or not. He was almost eight years old. We simply couldn't take his name as well.
Most children adopted from China transition to an American name. I think we are the exception, not the rule. Time will tell if it was the right move or not. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
If you have an adopted child, did you keep his/her birth name, change his/her name or do a little of both? What were your reasons? How did your child respond?