Banana-nana bo-baHUH?

The most common question we get about our adoption process is, "Do they speak any English?" The answer is, "We're assuming not." Usually the questioner then smiles and says something to the effect of, "Well that's going to be..." at which point interject with, "Yep! It sure is!" and smile back.

The second most frequent question asked is, "What's their names again?" Habtamu and Yordanos is the short answer. From what we know of the Amharic language, the letter 'A' is pronounced 'ah' and we've been told that the accent is on the second syllable for both their names, but in all honesty, we haven't heard their names yet. The question in itself doesn't bother me. I understand that these are very foreign sounding names and not ones that 'stick' in our American brains. I totally get that. I keep hoping that someone, while searching for some kind of schema to which they can relate their names, will actually come up with something. Yordanos and Jordan are probably as close as you are going to get. But seriously, they are African names and unless you have some Ethiopian connection already established in your mind, their names are going to require straight up rote memorization for most of us.

What's getting under my skin are the helpful souls that keep trying to fix their names for us or offer up multiple nick-name suggestions. Initially, this was really interesting to me. You'd be surprised how many different logical conclusions can be drawn for nick-names when you're unfamiliar with the root. Charles to Chuck is not really intuitive, but it's a common accepted association. I kind of thought that people's collective brains would eventually converge on some naming convention, but so far they really haven't. Which tells me that whatever names they go by, a bunch of people aren't going to think it makes any sense anyway.

So, the short answer to the question, "Well, what are you going to call them?" is "We don't know. We'll see." Since our children are not entering our family as babies, we've accepted the fact the joy of naming kids is not going to be part of our story. Our children will come to us pre-named. And frankly, that's about all they've got at this point. There are opposing views about whether it's better to let newly adopted children keep what little history/heritage they have, or if an Americanized fresh start is more appropriate. Due to the ages of our kids, we fall in the former category. And that goes for nick-names too. We really haven't thought about them a whole lot, mostly because we figure they probably already have nick-names, we just don't know what they are yet. The other reason that hasn't been a big priority is probably from bad habits we've picked up trying to name pets. We generally use the 'Spaghetti test' for naming cats... just keep throwing different names at them until one sticks. Not a whole lot of forethought, just the belief the right name will present itself.

So, having said all that (if anyone out there is still reading...) We got several pictures through email on Friday of the kids opening the care packages we sent, and then posing with the shirts and gifts. We were starting to worry that maybe we'd actually beat the mail to Ethiopia, or that they were holding the gifts until we got there, but that's not a concern any longer.

Also, one of the pictures was named, "Yordi.jpg" How cute is that?

Yordi... I suspect folks could get used to that. :-)


Jori said...

I am so excitted to "see" your kiddos! We are really praying for 2 so I am "watching" you. (Hope that doesn't sound creapy!) Just passing the time ... waiting.
Blessings, Jori
WFR 02/19 either x2

Jill Coen said...

I've had the English? question...I usually say, "well, he's only 5 months old so he doesn't speak anything yet." ;)

You guys are great! I can tell from your posts. :)


Yarnsmith said...

Jori - I lurk on so many blogs that I would never judge you! :) Also, as Tom Petty so eloquently put it "The waiiiiiyating is the hardest part..."

Chris :)

Yarnsmith said...


That's hilarious... That people would ask if your BABY speaks English. He's adorable, btw. I'm so grateful for the pictures you sent of OUR children and I'm excited to show Yordanos your blog when we get home... so she can watch the progress of that baby she kissed!

Chris :)