Kofi and I have been talking about his adoption and the early days together lately. As Eric is preparing to travel to Ghana and visit his village, we have had many wonderful conversations and I am learning a lot from his point of view. With his permission, I wanted to share a recent conversation about keeping his name, Kofi, after the adoption.
“Mom, I don’t know too many Kofis” is how the conversation started. It’s true, the name is not common here, but we talked about some famous Kofis like Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of United Nations and Kofi Kingston, a popular WWE wrestler. Kofi in Ghana means “born on Friday” and traveling in Ghana, one will meet many boys and men with this name. Here, it is uncommon to meet another Kofi although we have a few times. I wasn’t sure if Kofi was happy that his name was unique or sad to be different. As the conversation went on, what he really was asking about, was the choice to keep his name.
I explained to Kofi that before we met him and to protect his privacy, our agency had given him an alias that we knew him by. We had a name picked out that was significant to us but we also recognized that his current name may have special meaning to him. My preference would not be any greater than his first family’s, so we approached this with openness to change our minds at any point. He would have two names; one from his first family and one from us. Which one he would go by and which one would be listed first was up in the air.
It was clear that Kofi identified with his name and wasn’t interested in changing it. While some families choose to call their child by their new name right away, we started with Kofi until we could ask him. He was nearly 7 so we figured he would get to have an opinion. Once he had learned enough English, we had conversations about his name. His sister was quickly getting used to her new name and actually preferred it to her previous one that we kept as her middle name. She loved the short name that suited her well: Joy. But Kofi, he loved his name and we began to think that it suited him better than our chosen name. I wanted it to be his choice, yet at the same time I wanted him to know that there was another name, chosen by us, that would welcome him into our family.
Kofi kept his name and to this day he tells me he is happy to we gave him a choice. When so much was changing around him, his name was a constant and comforting. It was the name he heard since he was a baby. It was the name he heard during a hard transition into our family. It is the name that was given to him by his culture. It is a name that helps other Ghanaians recognize him as one of their own. He is proud of his name that is as unique as he is.
Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!
This week, our topic is NAMES. I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences on names and adoption.