When we received those 3 precious photos when we got our referral, we looked at them a gazillion times searching for clues to our daughter's personality that might help us choose a name for her. We knew we wanted to keep part of her Chinese name as her middle name & upon researching her names we discovered that her surname was one very likely given to all children at her CWI and means "Party" and is a government driven name. Upon discovering this we dropped it and decided to keep the rest of her Chinese name, YuChen, as one of her middle names. China has since decided that orphanages will no longer be permitted to use her surname as well as others that could possibly identify a child as an orphan so we are glad we did the research ahead of time. When we decided on Frances we now had a name to go with those pictures and we busied ourselves with getting ready for Frances to come home.
Well we got to China and we didn't meet Frances, we met Chen Chen. Chen Chen was her Chinese nickname, it is common practice to take the second part of the name and double it as a nickname for younger children. We weren't meeting a baby, we were meeting a 3.5 year old who had a name and identity and the minute we met her she was Chen Chen and has been from that moment forward. We have called her Frances once, in the hotel room in Xi'an, and it just sounded awkward. This sweet little girl was about to be stripped of her country, her culture, her language, who were we to take away her name if that was something we could retain for her.
I wish I knew more about her name, who named her? Does it have any meaning? Part of her name is the same as the individual listed on her abandonment certificate as the one who found her...is that how they named her? For now the answer is "I don't know", we would love to travel back to China in the next 2 years and visit her CWI (I have been diligent about using my United MileagePlus Visa to rack up miles!) and maybe we can get some answers for her then.
I was torn when she started daycare 3 months later...should they call her Frances or Chen Chen? This would set the precedent as to what her name would be going forward in school and we wanted to make the right decision. We thought about it over night, took her in for her first day and let then know what name to put on her cubby, Chen Chen. Unlike some Chinese names, it is easy to spell and pronounce so there was no reason to switch it. They are working on writing their names at pre-school and she is working on Chen Chen, she still has a way to go before she can write it as she is in the pre-writing stage still, but I love hearing her spell it...C-H-E-N C-H-E-N!
I continued to blog about her as Frances to somewhat protect her on the internet, but we have been pretty open about the rest of our journey so going forward she will be Chen Chen. Frances is there for her if and when she decides to use it, she may even go back and forth and try them on for size in the future, but for now she is our Chen Chen although right now she likes to be called Baby Panda :)