It's not as simple as it may seem. I'll be honest and probably sound callous. Frankly, I'm too tired to really care much right now. I say that with love. ;)
Before we sat next to Zeb on that silent drive to the Guest House from the Care Center on August 23, and for the prior 11 months of our journey to him, he was just that, Zeb. Not Zebdiyus or Jebewidos or Zebediyous or any of the dozen other spellings to his name. Just Zeb and we were happy with it. Zeb did not respond to "Zeb" anymore than he would have responded to Mike or Sarah when we were in Ethiopia. We met his dad and talked to him about Zeb's name and heard his dad say it sweetly to this little boy. That was awesome and unforgettable and full of sounds that our ear and tongue do not register. We also heard unfriendly voices at his orphanage boom "ZEBDIYUS" across the yard. We heard raucous boys taunt him by chanting "Zebdiyus". We heard the sweetest social worker at the Care Center use his name gently and with kindness.
His name is his past and it is all he has that belongs to him in this big, scary world. His past is in part beautiful and in part broken. Broken in ways that are unimaginable to you and I as we sit in our comfortable, warm, safe homes in our free, enviable nation, sipping clean, cold water, while grabbing a fresh apple from a full fridge of safe foods, much of which will probably go to waste this week.
This child hears an Amharic speaker and the tears start flowing. Why? I can't say for sure, but I have my suspicions. We can't communicate beyond looks, basic words, and affections. I say "Zebdiyus" and his eyes are emptier than when I say "Zeb". His story is his and not mine today. Someday, I hope. But, for today, God placed him in my care and my mama-gut says that he needs the sense of belonging that comes from being named by us--his parents. Zeb does. I'm surely in no way saying that all adopted children do. Nope. Not at all. I am solely speaking of Zeb and of our little family wading through this stormy, uncharted sea, clinging to each other and to His word to keep us afloat. I'm not exaggerating. Anyone who tells you that adoption, especially international adoption, is all beauty and wonderfulness and bliss is lying. Period. It is beauty tempered by reality, hardship, grief, culture, exhaustion and messily held together by God's glue ... grace.
So, as we waver on Zeb's first name ... we are preserving his full given name, but moving it to the middle as two middle names, just like our Jack has two middle names ... it is not because we are fickle or selfish. It is because we are searching our souls for just the right name that speaks to this little boy that only we know right now and who is navigating his place in our family, too. It's a process, like every.other.moment that has passed over the last three weeks. Naming him also deepens the bond that we are creating with him. Adoption does not equal instant desperate sacrificing love for another. It is a dance with new steps thrown in each new day. Some days we fall, a lot, and some days we shine. Above all, we are grateful for every grace.