Monday, August 1, 2011

What's with her name?

Before Dustin and I received the pictures and name of Penelope, we had decided that we would give her an American first name and retain her Ethiopian first name as her middle name.  Then we got her name: Bamlak.  I'm ashamed to admit the train of thought that happened from here...

Bamlak.  It just didn't sound "American" enough - it was such a strange sounding name to me that it just kinda made me go 'hmmmm'.  And then we toyed with the idea of keeping her last name as her middle name but it was Feker - and, well, I don't have to tell you that that seemed to present enough problems of it's own (Think "Meet the Faulkers" - yeah, I know!)  So I began looking at other Ethiopian names that might have some softer vowels in them since that is what seems to constitute a pretty name here in the states.  I found one that fit fine and thought we were settled.

That is, until I got to Ethiopia and asked about her name.  

The first day of our trip we were sitting down to dinner and chatting with the hostess at the guest home.  She had a friend visiting her that evening and so we were laughing and sipping coffee and carrying on.  I thought I would ask them if they had any insight on Bamlak's name.  So I asked.

"Do either of you know what Bamlak means?  I haven't been able to find out if it has any meaning behind it."

They both looked at each other with big eyes and then back at me. "Oh, wow!  Bamlak is a very pretty name here.  It is a name that many girls wish they had.  She is very lucky to have that name.  It means from God.  It is popular with the Orthodox tradition."

What?!  Seriously?  I had no idea!  And I was going to toss her beautiful name out the window because it didn't sound "American" enough - oh please Heidi!  I had been grieving that we might not decide to use the name that her Amaye had given to her and now I just couldn't bring myself to let that name go away when she became ours.  She absolutely was "from God" and I want her to know that!

So then I asked them about her last name.

"Do last names mean anything here?  Do you know if Feker has any significance?"

Again, they replied with wide eyed amazement... "Yes!  Feker is our word for deep love."  Yep, pretty far off from my first inclinations of attaching its meaning to a movie title.

"And, in Ethiopia, we often refer to last name first.  So Feker would be first and then her first name, Bamlak."

I rolled that around in my head as the full and God-given meaning of our daughter's name began to take on a completely new dimension for us:

"Feker.  Bamlak.  Love from God.

LOVE FROM GOD!!!   Get out of town and shut the front door!!!  That is sooo awesome!  Chills.  Goosebumps and Chills and how God has ordained this child into our lives.

Needless to say, we have decided to keep Bamlak as part of Penelope's name.  And in order to stay true to the full meaning of her name, we have given her a 2nd middle name - Love.

Penelope Love Bamlak DeMaio

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