Monday, May 20, 2013

His name is gone

This whole adoption process has been very emotional. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We try hard to be present in every circumstance as it occurs but it seems sometimes it has been so overwhelming you don't know how to feel it all as it comes. From the first time we saw Isaac, to the first time we held him then the first time we took him home and he became ours.
Strange things along the way have brought about surprising emotion for me. This is one of them.

This was Isaac's last night in the orphanage. We passed court this day and went to the orphanage directly after we were done at the court house. It was around 5pm. They brought Isaac straight out to us and Arnie got to hold him for the first time. That was emotion enough, but that was expected. We held him for two hours, until he fell asleep in my arms. We changed his diaper then put him in his sleeper. At 7pm it was time to go. I carried him in to his room and laid him in his bed for what would be his very last sleep in it. We kissed him and said goodnight. You can notice the little white sticker on his headboard, it has his name in Amharic written on it. It was bitter sweet leaving him that night. We wanted to take him right away but we knew in the long run it was better to come back and say goodbyes the next day. But, we were happy. We were happy because we knew this would be his last night. He was no longer an orphan, he was no longer just a child in a line up of cribs. He had been chosen, called out, placed. So we went home with tears and a smile in our hearts. Our son would soon be home.
We came back the next morning where we found him just waking up in the same little bed we had laid him the night before. We hope he recognized us, at least he willingly went with us. It is tradition that when a child leaves the orphanage, a coffee ceremony is held on their behalf. The director was not there this morning so we were asked to return with Isaac on another day to have his ceremony. We returned four days later. We had the ceremony, played with the kids and toured around the orphanage again.
It was all very emotional, but this was what caught me by surprise.

We went into his room again to say goodbye to all his baby roommates. I looked at his bed and saw that his name had been removed. I instantly started to cry. It hit me like a tonne of bricks. He was no longer a part of this orphanage but a part of our family. He did not belong here anymore.

God places the lonely in families.

We struggled for a while with Isaac's name. We knew within 5 minutes that we were to name him Isaac, but his first name is the one we have struggled with. We wanted to keep the name the orphanage gave him, Kalid, as his middle name. But as the time went on we grew increasingly bothered by keeping this name. We wanted to keep it for cultural reasons, so he could have a part of his heritage with him. But we learned that this name was a muslim name, a very strong one at that. We are Christian and plan on raising Isaac with Christian knowledge and values. We started to feel that the name, Kalid, was no longer to belong to this boy. We felt that God had called him out of his circumstance and therefore wanted to give him a new name, a new identity. Just like in the Bible when God renames his people at pivotal points in their walk with him. When he calls them out, when they find him, when Jesus changes their lives. We feel he has done this to Isaac. Not to disrespect where he has come from, but to say this is no longer who he is. He is no longer Kalid the orphan, but Isaac the son. He was taken from the street and placed in our arms. God redeemed him, took this baby in it's desperate state and called him by name, he placed him in a family and rewrote his identity. So he will be named Isaac Szabo. No middle name as none of the Szabo boys have middle names. He belongs to this family, to their traditions and ways. He is 100% a part of who we are. So from May 1, 2013 and on, Kalid with no last name will now be Isaac Szabo, a boy who belongs in a family and therefore will take their name.


  1. I've been following your journey with interest and am so happy for you that things seems to be going well! I hope your visa comes soon!

    The naming/renaming issue is controversial, without a doubt. I have blogged about the issue myself.

    Because we are Christians, and because it was also important to us, we gave our Ethiopian-born children new first names, and chose names from the Bible. We also kept their Ethiopian first and last names as middle names (and would have regardless of their cultural or religious origins), because we believed that these names were more than part of their culture and heritage...their first names were part of their identity and always will be. Our kids have told us over the past two years that, although they love and want to keep their 'new' first names (the ones we gave them), it was important to them that they kept their Ethiopian names as well, given that they lost everything else when they joined our family.

    I'm more than a little hesitant to speak up because I've been following your journey with much joy for you, but for whatever it's worth, I do disagree with your point that "this is no longer who he is." It will always be part of who he is...his identity has surely been added to in the joining with your family, but I don't believe his identity has been re-written. He was designed by the Creator for his first family and through the brokenness of this world is now also able to be part of a second and loving family who will also treasure him just as we treasure our Ethiopian-born children; but who our children are at birth will be part of their identity as much as who they are as children adopted into our families.

    These thoughts informed our choices two years ago; but I certainly understand that these issues are controversial and, obviously, the choice is yours. I guess it just made me a little sad because, now two years home with our kids, I ache every day to see how very much they have lost in order to join our family.

    The written word is easily misunderstood or misinterpreted, so I'd just add that my intentions in writing this are good and that I fully respect your (different) decision. I am so happy that Isaac has been placed in a loving, godly home and know that he will flourish.



    1. Thank-you for your response. I appreciate what you have said. We have spent a lot of time in prayer over this subject and our original plan was to keep his first name as his middle name. We wanted to do this to respect where he has come from. We automatically put it as his middle name, but through what we feel God has asked of us, we decided not to use this name anymore. It does make me sad because I do think it is special for him to have an Ethiopian name, but for some reason we did not have peace keeping this name. WE thought of giving him a different Ethiopian name, but his name, Isaac is EThiopian so we are happy with that. They pronounce it Esaac. Also as we debated a middle name, we had to take into account that none of his uncles, cousins, and his father have middle names in this family. I will always tell him his story and be very open about it... maybe one day he will choose to put Kalid back in his name, but we have chosen to not have it for now. I love who he is and where God has brought him and will always tell him about it. I'm not trying to cover up his story by any means... we just had to do what was in our hearts.

    2. We are not intending to say that Isaac is no longer Ethiopian... not in the least. We are saying he is no longer defined by the name Kalid. We believe names speak meaning over who we are, that can be debated by many. Maybe it's the intentions of the person naming the child that is spoken over them, or maybe not. What's in a name is a personal definition. If it is felt that we will forget his culture that is completely misunderstood. We chose to do the long stay so we could learn about his culture so we could later teach him this. We are learning the language and are making lasting ties to his orphanage so we can always teach him where he came from. We love EThiopia and we believe we will raise him in a way that he will know that. We also pray that God will give him a love for his first country and we plan on bringing him back here as often as we can. I hope this shows more of our heart for our sons country and I apologize for not being more vocal about this.

    3. Also my husband added that his life history includes being abandoned at a police station at 2 weeks old without a name or any identity... and the name Kalid was a government default name with no middle or last name given. Needless to say his first name holds very little significance to us in the overall picture. We rather cling to things like Harar, his birthplace, the 2 orphanages were he experienced his first year of life and his caregivers. This would have been a different subject if he would ve been 4 and spoken the language, but he was 11 months when he arrived in our care, and in the first week completely forgot his name. Almost 3 weeks later he responds only to Isaac, and we are very grateful for that.

  2. Rebekah,
    beautifully written... we too struggled with names... for numerous reasons. Part of joining a family in our culture is to be given a new name, whether by birth or marriage, even through adoption... your last name and often first name change. I did debate over and over, even for months after they were home giving our children new names, chosen by me their forever mom... not to erase who they are, but to embrace their part in our family. I chose each of our other children's names, and it seemed odd to not be a part of that process. ( Hilina ( name given by her first mom) , wasn't even called Hilina in abenezer, she was called Aneayae - which I still call her) We chose to keep their Ethiopian given names, because their first mother who loved them so much chose these names, because our children were older and knew their names, with loosing all that they loved we decided this wasn't a loss we wanted to add to the list...
    However, with Judah ( adopted at 3mths) we chose to give him a new first name, not because his first mother didn't love him, or choose a beautiful first name, but for the same reasons you wrote above. It was a different experience...It seemed significant for us to name him. we too prayed about it. It wasn't an easy choice, I didn't rename him without thinking hard about it, or without feeling a sense of loss... I think this is why this topic can seem controversial, but really each story is different, each choice based on beautiful significant reasons.... <3 Under Isaac's circumstances, I think giving him a name from his mother is perfect... a mother should name her child, whether it's the first mom or the forever mom, a name should be chosen with love & thought...
    Isaac is blessed, orphan he is no longer... that makes my eyes leak... <3 How beautiful is our God to write such amazing stories into our lives...
    Congratulations Isaac Szabo <3

  3. WE received our court decision papers through email today, on it it says his name is Kalid Found Abandoned. As to say Found Abandoned was his last name :( I'm so happy that as his mommy I get to name this boy from my heart!

  4. Oh, Bekah, you just kill me!!!!