Whether to change an adopted child’s name is always a hot topic for adopters and adoptees. Some people are passionately for it, others passionately against it, and most somewhere in the middle. Over the years we have received many comments about our daughter’s name. Questions on how to pronounce her name… questions on how to spell her name… and before her adoption, questions on if we were going to change her name.
At this point I can’t imagine ever considering anything else. She IS Mariyah. It suits her. But there was a point in the very beginning that we considered changing it.
I almost hate to say this now, but it’s the truth so here it is: I considered changing my daughter’s name because I was worried it sounded too black.
I’ve mentioned before that I work in post production. At the time we were completing paperwork for our kid’s adoption, my company was doing post services on a documentary called Freakonomics. I admittedly have not seen the entire film nor read the book. But we were running off copies of the movie and I would randomly go check the progress of it, over and over again I would view this certain clip on names. I can’t find the clip online to share with you, but basically it pointed to a study where two resumes were sent to various companies. The two resumes were identical except for the names. One resume stated it belonged to DaShawn Williams, the other resume stated it belonged to Jacob Williams. Guess how many interviews DaShawn was called in for? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t nearly as many as Jacob.
As I watched this clip over and over I began to worry about my little girl’s name. Should we change it? Would she be doomed to an unemployable existence merely because her birth mother had chosen a unique name for her? The case was heading toward adoption and our adoption caseworker had asked us numerous times to let her know our plan for the kid’s names. Apparently she needed it for some paperwork and my uncertainty was holding things up.
When the children first came to live with us James (who had some speech delays) was unable to pronounce Mariyah and had pronounced her name “Maya.” Maya had became a bit of a nickname for awhile and Mariyah answered to it. Although it had been ages since James called her Maya, I decided to test if she still responded to the name, and found that she did. I began to think that perhaps we could change her name to Maya, and miss all the identity problems of changing an older child’s name.
“Do you think Maya’s are more employable than Mariyah’s?” I asked my husband one evening.
“I think you’re obsessing. And anyway, I like the sound of Mariyah.”
“But what if she never ever gets a job because her name is too black?”
“She IS black. Changing her name isn’t going to change that.”
It was true. She WAS black. Our daughter was black. No matter how white her name sounded, she would still be called into an interview and show up black.
I pondered this further. At the tiny company I worked, half the names sounded ethnic. They all got hired. Perhaps her black name could even weed out a few racist companies. If they didn’t want my black sounding daughter, I certainly didn’t want her working for them now did I?
There are three major things our children’s birth mother gave them.
2) Their stunning good looks
3) Their names
I was thankful for all three. Mariyah it would stay. Beautiful and unique, just like her.
(And if you’re wondering how to pronounce it, think Mariah Carey)