Wednesday, August 18, 2004

What's In a Name, Part II

Over the last couple of days I have been checking out some different adoption web sites, reading other people's various posts and stories. On the subject of birth names, one birth parent asked this question:

My question for the adoptees is----Would you perfer that your bmom share what she would have named you, or does this not seem important to you????

It got me to thinking about how I came to me "Marty" and not John, or Bert or Frankie. For every person who ever asked me, "How did you get Marty from that?", here's the story in my response to that post:

I wasn't adopted until I was 3 so my parents called me Marty even though they changed my legal name. It wasn't until I met my [birth] mom that I found out the 0riginal name on my birth certificate- John Martin O'Connor (yeah- my mother is Irish).

The interesting thing is that even though my bmom never even got to hold me after I was born (due to complications), when she started looking for me, she also referred to me by my middle name. So the transition to "Marty" was a breeze to her.

I catch her now and then referring to me as Martin (no one ever called me Martin growing up because my legal name is Saybert Francis Johnson). However, it really never bothers me.When I met my bfather he also referred to me as Martin, because in my first contact with him I referred to my birth name in the letter, and my bmom called me Martin in a letter to him also.

When I went to Nigeria to meet him for the first time, he arranged to have a very formal ceremony in my grandmother's village to give me an Igbo (tribal) name. In all actuality, I was quite honored to be given a traditional Nigerian name.

So now, I have many names. My legal one still has high priority because that is the name that my family gave me. But in the grand scheme of things- It is fine with me to have three names I can reference. (Or just one really long one.

Saybert Francis John Martin Chinenye O'Connor Ogike Johnson

But you can call me Marty!

Now that I look back at my post, I have a slight correction to make-

Saybert Francis John Martin O'Connor Chinenye Martin Ogike Johnson.

Many of my African relatives also have a Christian name, thus the second Martin.

Chinenye translates into "God Gives."

But you can still call me Marty!

One other thing that is interesting to note. As I mentioned in my last post, when my parents changed my legal name, the named me after my two grandfathers- Saybert Hanger and Francis Johnson. When I met my birth mother, I found out that one of my sisters' name is also Frances. Plus, my natural grandfather (on my birth father's side) was Francis, and my youngest Nigerian brother's middle name is Francis.

Related post- What's in a Name?

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