When I went into the city centre in Leicester with Jah, I received many negative comments and they were always from black people.
“You shouldn’t call him Jah!” one lady muttered angrily.
We knew that Jah is used by Rastafarian people to mean God.
We spoke to our social worker Pat about this and explained that Jah himself kept asking when he would have a new name. He meant that he wanted to be able to use our family SURNAME, but he also wanted another first name, as he had discovered that all the others had two first names.
We spent some time discussing this. As a Christian family it was hard to justify using such a Rastafarian name, unless Jah himself wanted to continuing using the name.
One option seemed to be to add the name Joshua, derived from Hebrew. It means approximately ‘God is salvation’/’God saves’. It was the closest name to the sound of Jah that we could think of. Then he could choose whether he preferred to be called Jah or Joshua. Pat was entirely happy with this. It was good to be able to talk things through with her. She was an excellent social worker.
The next step would be to consult him. We might need an idea in advance of when to introduce this new name. We felt that it might be best to wait until he started ‘big’ school after the summer, but he might want to change as soon as possible. A lot would depend on him.
Some people might think that it is “wrong” to change a child’s name when he or she is adopted. It was what was expected when we adopted baby Sam. He came to us when he was only a few weeks old. Jah of course, was already a four-year-old child and had been called Jah all his short life. However, it was Jah himself who was talking about a name-change, so we felt that we should consider this.
To be honest, some people are very hostile to the idea of white people adopting “children of color”, as the Americans say. Of course this attitude affects me. I can see how much easier it might be for a child to be adopted by people of the same colour. I also know of the mistakes one can make when bringing up a child of a different colour, but the fact remains that when we adopted Sam and Jah, there was a lack of people of the “right” colour. I was so surprised to discover that the situation is still the same today. I had assumed, when I saw all the advertisements in council magazines, on bus stops and in newspapers, that by now enough would-be adopters of various races were coming forward. Apparently not.
This blog does not give rise to an easy choice of illustration, but since I do like illustrations (not for nothing am I am picture-book writer) I’ll attach two pictures of children at play. Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Jah. Where did you get that hat?
There were many times when we agonised over certain issues. If things became really deep and worrying, sometimes we could just look up at the children at play and feel full of wonder at their power of imagination. On other occasions they did such funny things that we were able to laugh.
Laughter is a good medicine. And at times we needed that.