Friday, February 5

Losing Korea

Things are feeling different. I am not surprised each day to find that our daughter is finally home. It doesn't seem weird to see her playing happily in our family room. It's starting to feel like she has always been here.

As time passes... as we start to feel and live our new normal.. I feel like Korea is slipping away. Maybe it's because our trip isn't so fresh in my mind as when we first came home. Maybe it's because we no longer have or are using as many Korean items which were in some way a comfort to me... like we still had pieces of Korea with us. The little reminders of Korea aren't there each time I make a bottle... our Korean baby formula is long gone. I have just a couple of Korean diapers left, the toys that Eden brought from her home in Korea now sit at the bottom of the toy box when they used to be her favorites, no more Korean bottles or pacifiers, and even with the extras we bought her favorite Korean snacks are just about gone. Although I think about Eden's foster mother each and every day... the guilt and wondering of how she is doing don't occupy my thoughts as they did when we first came home.

I wonder if the same thing is happening with Eden. It must be.... and it makes me sad. I don't want to forget and I don't want her to forget Korea. Sure we will visit Korean restaurants, celebrate with a traditional Korean first birthday party, watch movies of our trip, and do what we can to incorporate some Korean culture into our family.... but it is sooo not the same. It's like a really watered down American version of Korea... not real. I am forever connected to this place... this beautiful place that stole my heart. I miss Korea and if I miss it after only being there less than a week... I know that she misses it a whole lot.

Our trip to Korea put into such perspective the loss that is involved with international adoption. To experience only a fraction of it as a parent is so powerful. The loss is raw. It is felt throughout your whole body... each of your senses, your heart.

All of this may explain why I am having such a hard time calling Eden... "Eden." We have been using her Korean name, Sei-in, since meeting her in Korea. At first it felt strange to call her Sei-in because for so long she was "Eden" in my heart and mind. We used her Korean name because she recognized it. Now, after a month, I have a hard time calling her anything else. Some of it is just habit but some of it has much more to do with not wanting to lose what's left of her life before coming to the US. I feel as though so much has been taken from her. Really... what's left? Her name... it's like the last piece. Each time I say it... it's a comfort, a reminder, a little nod to the life and people she had before. Her birth father gave her that name and everyone who has loved her and cared for her has called her by that name... who am I to take it away? So... it's hard for me. I didn't expect to feel this way. I wanted to give her an American name. I had read that many adopted children prefer American names because they already feel "different" and having a foreign name draws even more attention to that fact. I love the name Eden and have known for years that if I were blessed with a daughter I would use it. Now I just don't know what to do. Will she regret that we changed her name? Will she see this as just one more loss? When she learns that her birth father named her, will she feel that the one connection to her birth family was taken from her?

I feel so pressured right now to make a decision on one name or the other before she gets much older.

I am struggling with this.
Any thoughts?

15 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Can you call her Eden Sei-in? That is probably too much to say, but the only thing I can think of. Maybe then she will recognize her given name from Korea, but will start to recognize Eden more, too.
Sorry, I am sure it is so hard. I can imagine I will feel how you do - I hope someone else that has already adopted has some good thought on this for you!

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

We did what many people do as far as using an American first name and the Korean middle name. We stopped using Matthew's Korean name around the house shortly after bringing him home. Sometimes it seemed to make him sad...too many memories? I'm not sure. His name was given by an intake worker so I don't have that "birth family" connection. We had a harder time letting go of his surname which was his mother's last name.
I think if it was me, I would name her Eden Sei-in. That way she would have the option of either when she is old enough to decide. Many children have special nicknames, terms of endearment, that only their family use, and it may turn out that she is Eden at school and Sei=in at home.
And don't forget, her birth father gave her one name, but the mother who is raising her gave her the other name. They are both precious in their own ways!! Just my two cents...

Debbie Sauer said...

I'm sure she will want an American name. Use her Korean name as her middle name. She can always change things when she is older if it really matters to her.

Love for Lilly Yin said...

I remember feeling the same way. We used Lilly as the American name, and her Chinese name together to form a first name. So her actual first name now is Lilly Yin. That way she can go by either, and if she decides she can be called Yin. For months and months I called Lilly by her Chinese name. People kept asking when I was going to start using her new name. She was 5 adoption. We have been home 8 months and I still use Yin...and sometimes I use Lilly. She tells me she likes Lilly better, but she will answer to either.

Elizabeth Frick said...

First of all, know that you're not alone in these struggles. The grieving you're experiencing over the loss of Eden's "Korean-ness" is totally normal. I remember being very nostalgic over losing Olive's little bits and pieces of who she was. But tough as it may be for you, it's even harder for her. And her grieving period is certainly not overwith. Other mamas and I have found that several months after placement, there tends to be a pretty intense grieving period. Sadly, not all the tough times are behind you.
But enough Debbie Downer! Enjoy the fact that she's absorbing her new life so well! Plus she's growing up. So the toys, formula, bottles, etc. are just things she may not want or need anymore. But she may revert to them too. She's just a growing girl :)
The name is totally up to you. We did what most people did and kept Olive's Korean name as her middle. We're 100% OK if she ever decides she would prefer to go by that name. In our opinions, that's her decision. I think giving Eden the option is what's important.
Sorry to blather on and on. Just trying to help...

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing how you are feeling... I feel the same way right now too. We miss Korea dearly, but can only imagine what is going through Will's mind right now.

One of the things I decided to do was to make a big effort to use Korean (which isn't a whole lot) in my daily language with Will. He really responds to Korean and I have a hard time with the thought of taking his native language away from him. So... I guess that's one way of how we try to keep a little more of Korea in our home and in Will's life.

Also, We are using Will's Korean name as one of his middle names. Will is actually his first middle name. But from time to time I will call him by his Korean name.

kelly said...

Gosh, this post really made me cry. I can see myself feeling the same way some day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'll be interested to hear what other mamas of kids adopted from Korea have to say about this important issue.

Btw, I started reading your blog recently and your daughter is adorable. We received a referral in December and are waiting to travel....

Mary Ellen said...

HI! we did change our son's name and I regret it. Even though he was not named by his first family over there, I feel like we should have kept his Korean name. All the Korean people we know call him SeiJin and he has expressed a wish to change that to his only name (but then he changes his mind, back and forth--he's only 10) I can't even really explain why I regret making that change but I do and we will fully support him if one day he does decide to take that back as him first or only name. Just my two cents......

Anonymous said...

I like this post on the subject. What about keeping Eden as the middle name?
http://chinaadoptiontalk.blogspot.com/2008/10/whats-in-name.html

Jenny said...

great post, very thought provoking. it makes me sad to think of all the loss our children experience. i don't have an answer for you but whatever you decide, i'm sure eden will have no doubt that the decision was made with her best interest in mind.

Isabelle et Sijia said...

Our baby girl is from China and it was so clear to me that she will keep her Chinese name as her middle name. When we got the referral, we felt in love with her Chinese name. We got use to call her by her Chinese name and finally, we kept her Chinese name as the first name and gave her a French name as a middle name. We completely changed our mind ;o) The decision to keep as 1st name or not can depend if people will have problem pronouncing her name, if she will have to spell it all her live or if it means something inappropriate in English. Here are my personal thoughts about keeping or not her Korean name as 1st name. It's a personal choice.

isabelle, proud mom of Sijia

Jen said...

I really love this post. And I love your pictures. I do understand you dilemma on the name. Even though I went 180 degrees with the name change and didn't even keep her Korean name as her middle, I still feel guilty and wonder if she will be sad about that. It took us a long time to pick out a girl name, I never had one...well except for the one we used on our failed previous adoption, so before referral I told myself that if her name was chosen by her birthmother in Korea I would keep it, and if not, I wouldn't. Her name was given to her by her social worker so I felt free to change it. I do still call her by her Korean name, from time to time, and I like it. If I were in your shoes, knowing that birth father named her, it would make the decision that much more difficult. But here's the best piece of advice I have, and when all else fails it is what I fall back on and it never fails me:
go with your gut feeling, not what other people tell you to do. Your gut is almost always right, IMHO.
Love love love your blog.

Heather said...

I suggest keeping it for her middle name. I understand what you're saying that it's her last connection to Korea and someone put great thought into giving her that name. But there is also the flip side that she will be growing up in America. You also put thought and love into giving her the name Eden. How lucky to have parents that don't want her to lose her identity even though she's a world away. When she gets older she can always go by her middle name but it would be difficult growing up in the US. We gave her an American first name and I really wanted to have my daughter's middle name after my stepmom who passed away but also did not want to lose my daughter's Russian name. We're not sure if her birth parents gave her the name or it was just the next on the list at the hospital but either way it is her last connection to her birth country. As a result her Russian first name is now part of her middle name and she's now one of those crazies with 2 middle names. It's all a balance of knowledge and heart. Whether or not you keep her Korean name does not necessarily dictate the connection to her heritage, that's all through your other efforts through the years.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to this party and perhaps you've already made a decision and feel at peace with it. Just adding my voice to the mix...I think she will treasure her Korean name as she grows older. To me it seems wonderful that you have a strong instinct to call her by it. It's a beautiful name.

Jacqueline Susan said...

I think I will alway call my son Parker Sang-tae, I feel exactaly as you do. I just used up the Korean formula and watch all of it slip away. We visited a Korean restaurant and he did not even respond to the language...I hope you are at peace with your decision.