Up until a few months ago, we hadn’t given any thought to changing Samuel’s name. His name was not hard to pronounce, we liked it, and since he was older we thought that he’d be pretty used to his name by now so no reason to complicate things. Then one day at church a friend gave me the book Adopted For Life (by Russell Moore). She was letting me borrow it for awhile. We got started talking about some of the ideas expressed in the book and she said, “Have you ever thought of changing Samuel’s name? The author talks through some of the reasons why he and his wife changed their son’s names when they adopted. I was just wondering since you will soon have two Samuels in the house…..” Hmmmm. I hadn’t really thought of it. But I was interested to hear what the author had to say about it. This friend gave me this book to borrow right before our last trip to Ghana in June, which was supposed to be Samuel’s homecoming. I was reading a different book for the flight to Ghana, and then because of the chaos of our time there and emotional trip home, I didn’t get a chance to even open this new book.
In early July I was out for a run. And, as I was running, Samuel’s new name popped into my head. It was like one second I wasn’t even thinking about the subject, and the next second his new name was sitting right on my brain. In the days following this, I mentioned the new name idea to Jake and he loved it! So we decided to pray about the new name, and I asked God to make it clear if we should change it.
Then in early August, Yaw’s family came to visit. One morning Esi and I were alone and driving in the car together, and I decided to bring up this idea of changing Samuel’s name to her. I was really wanting some feedback from her of how she thought Samuel would react to us wanting to change his name. And I also wanted her opinion culturally….if this sounded like something that was going to be largely detrimental to not upholding his culture/African heritage. When I explained our thoughts about it, she looked at me, smiled and said, “You know, a few weeks ago I had a dream that you would change Samuel’s name.” She said, “I don’t know if subconsciously I had been thinking about it, and that’s why I dreamed it, or if it was just a plain old dream. But, you mentioning this was not a surprise, and I think that it would be fine.” We went on talking about it for a few minutes, and she assured me that culturally, people in Ghana often have more than one name anyways! I had forgotten about that. Her daughter’s African name is Aku, but her American name is Stella. Esi even has two names…..Esi & Mercy. :)
Now, eventually I did open up the book that I had borrowed from my friend, and when I read the section about re-naming, it confirmed this idea of changing Samuel’s name. I can’t even begin to summarize the great points that the author makes about biblical examples of name changes. But, the point is this: a name is important to one’s identity. And, in the Bible, God often changed people’s names once they encountered him in a personal way. Each time the name was changed, the new name often depicted the encounter with God, or a promise from God of what was to come in this person’s life. For example Abram to Abraham (a childless man wed to a barren woman who went on to be the father of a multitude of nations), Jacob to Israel (so re-named because he had struggled with God and men and won), Simon to Peter (a rock), and the list goes on. If you have any biblical knowledge regarding these characters, you will know that their new names described them well.
Samuel means ‘God Heard’. And I believe this is a perfect description of Samuel’s former life in Ghana. Absolutely perfect. Which is why we will keep this name as his middle name. But now Samuel will start a new chapter. The pain, struggles, and desperation of his cries that God heard will always be part of him. That will always be there. But a new day has come. We are NOT leaving the past behind. We will remember it, talk about it, and continually give thanks to God of where Samuel’s life started and where God is taking it now. We will remember God’s work in this adoption. God heard the cries of Samuel and his birthmother. And now God has given Samuel a new life. And Samuel will get a new name. Which I will share with you all tomorrow. :) For now I wanted to share the name art picture project that I had finished out on our last trip in Ghana. When I put these pictures into the collage to post on here, some of the edges got a little cut off, but hopefully you get the idea and can still make out the letters. I no longer will be hanging this in his room, but I will put this in his keepsake book, because his Ghanaian name will always be a part of him. :)