Identity

identity-theft-protection
The question came up about whether adopted children lose their “identity”.
This was a discussion among professionals.  And I think it is a good question.
A long with that question was whether changing names was  a good idea or not,
and whether information should be open or closed.

I would like to explore some of that from an adoptive moms perspective, and also from the perspective of my girls.

We have done our best, as an American family living in Texas, to help our children keep their original heritage alive.  But honestly, I am not really sure how much of what we are keeping alive is their actual “heritage” that they would remember at all.
The reason?  They never really experienced their “heritage” other than language.
They  did speak Russian, living in Eastern Ukraine, but they never went outside of the walls of an institution!  There was no travel to see beautiful sights, or the ballet, or the hearing of great books from famous authors.
There was no real “Christmas” or “Easter” or Birthdays for that matter.
Every day was the same.
EACH AND EVERY DAY.
Even though this is true, we have done our best to educate our girls on the origins of their birth country, and to help them keep their Russian skills up.
We take them regularly to the Euro Deli in our area so they can have foods that might be familiar.
We celebrate Orthodox Christmas with Ukrainian traditions, and recognize other Ukrainian holidays.  We cook Russian and Ukrainian foods regularly.
They are proud of where they have come from.
And they are also proud to be Americans.

Because of this conversation, it got me to thinking about America.  Honestly, there are great variations within our own country!  I am a California Transplant, living in Texas.
There are big differences between California and Texas.  Here, children say, “Yes sir and Yes Maam!”  Not necessarily so in CA.  Clothing is quite different, and speech is very different.  But I have learned to embrace both places.
I am proud of my California Heritage and proud of where I live today.
I am a blend of both societies, and on one hand I could say that I don’t fit completely into either anymore.  But that has not caused me to lose my identity.  It has just enriched it!

How we see our own identity,  can be greatly effected by our upbringing.
Of course if there is loss, there will be crisis in identity, but it does not mean identity is destroyed.  It is just deeper, with more layers and it makes us even more interesting! 🙂

Our daughters like that they are from a different country, and they like that they are family.
They feel special both ways. 🙂

Each of them had different names at one time.  Many people have a real problem with names being changed.  I can see that and understand it on one side, and I can also see the other side of getting a new name for a new start.

We had no intention of changing our daughter’s name when she came home at 5. She insisted on changing it.
When we would call her, she wouldn’t answer unless we used the name she picked.  We finally decided that she needed the change, so when we finalized the adoption, her new name was given to her; the one she chose.

When our second daughter came, she found out that her sister got to pick a name, so she picked one too.  It was actually perfect for her, and she LOVES her name.

Our third daughter, was in Ukraine and we had to go and get her.  We decided since we had to have a name for the adoption, we would give her a choice to keep her name, or to have an American name, or an American name close to her last name.  She picked the American name that was close to her last name, and loves it.
For each of them, we included their other names as middle names.
With our last daughter, her name had been changed after her second adoption and we were her third.
We were not about to change her name.  She was much older at 11.  However, we did give her the option of her original name.  She said no.
So she has a variation of that name that her 2nd family gave her.

Each of our girls were very happy with their names until this year.
Our Sweetie 1 has decided to call herself a blend of her original name and the other name she chose.  She is experimenting, and that is OK.
So we are calling her, her new nick name and she loves it.

It is normal to want “identity”, adopted or not.  I went through a stent in Jr. High where I wanted to be called by my middle name because I thought it was much cooler than my first name.  That didn’t last very long because everybody would forget. 🙂
I believe our daughter is experimenting much like I did.

I think we can get lost on “heritage” and “names” and forget that our children
are individuals who need to be accepted for who they are and honored for who they are.
Their identity is not lost in becoming American or having a name changed.
Identity is lost when they are not accepted for who they are or how they look!

There is also the issue of birth family knowledge.  Adoptions can be open or closed.
International adoptions are even more complicated, not just by distance, but by circumstance and culture.
We have the names of our children’s birth parents and we know a little about them.
We have shared what we know.  Our girls have seen their parents hand writing in our paperwork.    For now, that is all we have to give to them.
One of our daughters has a picture of her with her birth mom.  She keeps that picture by her bed. 🙂
Our youngest daughter has a picture of her baby brother who was adopted by Russians.
She doesn’t have any pictures of her parents, but we have been on Google Earth and visited the village she grew up in!  Google Earth is quite cool! 🙂

Being open about our girls’ origins helps them to have a strong self identity.
They are proud of where they came from and proud to be a family together.

Our children’s identities are deep and vast and wonderful and they have opportunity to write their own story on the tapestry of life.  Those identities will be beautiful threads
woven into history, and they will not be lost. 🙂

an addition:
It is important for all of us to remember that looking up history, does not change who we are.   There are no magic answers that will be life changing and bring dissatisfaction to satisfaction.  It is important to remember that if we are unhappy with our circumstances,
looking into our history is not going to make us happy.  We have to make peace with the present in order to have a clear look at the past.
Our joy and satisfaction is found in the Lord.  We must be at peace within ourselves
that we are where we are supposed to be.
There is peace in the fact that God is in control; even in the little things.

Comments warmly welcomed!

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