For those of you who don't know our family personally and have been reading from the beginning, you may be wondering, "who is Zeke?" We mention him in the first post, but then only talk about Ella, Owen, Cate and Obsa after that. The short of it is that Obsa is Zeke. For whatever reason, I felt it made more sense to speak of him as Obsa when he was Obsa and Zeke when he was Zeke, but have realized that it may have been confusing to readers. We didn't expect to change Obsa's name. We never want him to feel like we are trying to "take the Ethiopia out of him". We thought it would be important for his identity to keep the name his birth father gave him. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I was a tad judgmental of those who had decided to give their child a new name. Weeelllllll, that all changed after we got home. Here's the story of how Obsa became Zeke...
I was very much prepared for the possibility of Obsa having a difficult time bonding to us and that we may have to do things to encourage a bond. What I didn't expect was that I would have a hard time bonding to him. When I looked at his pictures, I felt like he was my son, so I would obviously love him right away...right? Wrong. My favorite way to explain this is that my biological kids were born with a pair of rose colored glasses. Yes, I knew they could be highly annoying at times, but just look at them...they're so stinking cute, how could I stay mad at them for long? (The first problem with this statement is that they actually weren't as cute as I thought they were at the time. I look back at some old pictures and think, "ouch. that's a face only a mama can love"- but I digress) For me, Obsa did not come with a pair of these magical glasses. In fact, it seemed he came with a pair of magnifying glasses instead. Everything he did was much more annoying to me than it would have been if one of the other kids did it. I was holding on to so much resentment from our experience in Ethiopia that the poor kid didn't stand a chance. Granted, he has a tough personality, so it's not like he was sitting there like a little angel and I was just mad and him for no reason. I was beginning to fear that the bond would never come. Everyone else could look at him and talk about how cute he is, but I wasn't seeing it.
Luckily, I'm not one to keep my feelings inside and I immediately started acknowledging my feelings to anyone who would listen - anyone that could offer some support - and even to those who couldn't and just stared at me like a deer in headlights. Hey, I always tell people, don't ask me how things are going unless you really want to know! I think I was just short of telling the pizza delivery boy all about it just because it made me feel so much better to talk about it! Becky from YWAM (the adoption agency) called a couple of days after we got home to see how things were going - and boy did she get an earful. I just started sobbing, "I am worried we made a mistake", "I don't feel a bond to him", "I feel like I have post-adoption depression". Luckily for me, Becky was extremely supportive and told me that how I was feeling was normal for someone who has adopted a child Obsa's age and with his personality - not to say everyone experiences it - but it's not uncommon. She set me up with another YWAM family who had gone through similar things. It was helpful to hear someone else say they once felt the way I was feeling. They were only 4 months ahead of us in the process, so they were still doing work on this too, but at least they were able to tell me it gets better.
I started feeling like I needed to do something that would make this process familiar to me. Something that would make him feel like mine and not just some kid I was babysitting. The only thing I could think of was for David and I to chose a name. David was reluctant at first, but he could tell it was something important to me, so he opened up to the idea. For me, the name Ezekiel was perfect. I was just drawn to it right away, but then when we found out that it means "God strengthens", I knew it had to be his name because boy did I need some of God's strength now. Once David was onboard, it was time to tell everyone else. I thought they were going to kill us because they spent so much time trying to figure out how to pronounce Obsa and now we were changing it on them! Although, I think people have come to expect the unexpected out of us. Everyone was very understanding and agreed that it made sense. The kids were pretty confused for a few days - except for Zeke. He immediately answered to his new name, even better than he ever answered to Obsa (at least for us). We didn't want to completely get rid of his Ethiopian names, though, so we added Obsa and Birhanu (his birth father's name) as middle names. So, now the poor kid has the very long name of Ezekiel David Obsa Birhanu. I thought that it might be important for him someday to know that his Ethiopian names were still a part of who he is. I think of them like rings on a tree - a storyline of "becoming Zeke". First, he was Obsa Birhanu. Then, once the adoption was final, the Ethiopian government changed his name to Obsa David (every child, boy or girl, gets their adoptive father's first name as their middle name). Then we added the Ezekiel. I didn't want to lose any of that story, so we just added it all in there.
There's so much more to say about the bonding issues...too much for one post. I can tell you that one year later, things are sooooooo much better and I feel bonded to him, but it was a long road. I have a lot to say about it, but not tonight.