An Adoption Conversation

Paul and I were looking through photographs on the computer and came upon pictures of Zack as a baby. Zack joined our family as our foster son when he was 3 months old with the name “Derrek.” When we adopted him at 18 months old, we changed his first name to “Zachary,” although he is “Zack” the most.

Changing an older child’s name at adoption is controversial. Some adoption experts are completely opposed to the idea because names are so strongly tied to identity. Yet other experts believe it can be beneficial. In some situations older children choose their own new name to signify a fresh start, or sometimes a child’s name is changed for safety reasons.

To be blunt, our reasons were not as noble. Call me selfish, but I’m Zack’s parent and one of the privileges of being a parent is getting to choose your child’s name. I like the name “Derrek” but it’s not my first choice, and I’m going to be using this name for the rest of my life. Whether spoken with intense joy, spoken through tears, or hollered across the backyard, I wanted a name I could fall in love with along with the boy I had fallen in love with.

Today Paul and I had this conversation:

Paul: “Mom, why did Zack’s name used to be Derrek?”

Mom: “Zack’s birth parents chose the name Derrek as his first name, and when we adopted him, Dad and I decided we wanted his first name to be Zack. We kept Derrek as his middle name to honor the name his birth parents picked.”

Paul was quiet for a bit.

Paul: “So Zack is adopted too, like me?”

Mom: “Yep.”

Paul: “It’s a good thing we are brothers.”

Mom:  “Why is that?”

Paul:  “We are both adopted so we understand each other.”

Mom:  “Yes, I think God knew exactly what he was doing when he put this family together.”