Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's In a Name?

What’s In A Name? Even if you’ve never seen it or read it, most likely you are familiar with the classic line from Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name?” In the play, Juliet is basically telling Romeo that it doesn’t matter what their names are as long as she can call him her beloved, that she is his and he is hers.

But names are important, and for most of us we’ve had only just the one name and maybe a nickname. This week, we found another source of information on Lily’s first few of months of life. After she was found, she was taken in by nurse caregivers in her city of Pingdingshan. Translating the post, they noted that she was very tiny and beautiful (still is!), but we discovered something new….they called her Elim. It means fine jade, jewel.

This made us realize that in just the 2-1/3 years (1017 days) between her birth and Gotcha Day, she has had 4 names. Her first name we will never know. This name was given to her by her birth parents. Was it whispered in her ear as she was left at the hospital knowing they wouldn't see her again? Is there a mother in China who looks at the same moon we do and wonders about her daughter? Her first name is one of her first losses.

Little "Elim" when she was found by the nurses at the local hospital

She was taken into care in late December 2010, and that is where she was called Elim by the nurses, a little jewel left at one of the hospitals in Pingdingshan.  But, she wasn’t there long before she would be sent to Angel House in Beijing. Another name lost…

At some point between Pingdingshan and Angel House she was given a new name.: Li Meng Di (Meng - dream, Di - to teach, to follow, and Li is a generic surname). Meng Di was roughly 4 or 5 months old when she arrived to Angel House. She stayed at Angel House, affectionately earning the nickname of "Jumping Beans" (Doh Doh) because of her spunk and energy.  At some point during her stay, apparently she was in a foster family who wanted to adopt her, but could not afford too. The paperwork history is sketchy for us to get a good handle on that part of her life. Regardless, here was yet another loss of someone who cared for her.  
Then, January 2013 came along. We were then matched with her and blessed to get her in August. As part of her adoption, we changed her name to Lily-Mei Claire Mengdi Steinberg. This was her fourth and final name change, until she marries! We felt it was important to keep the only Chinese name we knew as part of her current name, hence Mengdi as a middle name, but she now she goes by Lily (or the full Lily-Mei if she's being a stinker!). She picked up on her new name very quickly and calls herself Lily.
One of the referral pictures of Li Meng Di
Lily in July, approximately a month before she joined our family

When she sees pictures of her time in Angel House, she can get sad. Her fourth name represents another loss for her. This little one averaged a new name every 8.5 months. It breaks our hearts to think of all of the loss she has experienced in such a short time; so many changes for such a young one to go through and everyone of her names symbolic of those changes. Out of all of that, we can echo the same sentiment expressed by Juliet, because through all of those names what truly matters is that we get to call her ours and she can rest from those changes and forever call us Mommy and Daddy.
The many faces of Lily-Mei since she has been home with her forever family

Our God loves to take messy things and make them clean, to take the broken and make them whole, and to fill up the empty. He crafts life from our mistakes and, if we let Him creates beauty from ashes. We are so blessed to have her (and all of our kids) in our lives, through smooth times and rough, and to have friends who care about our story.



  1. This is beautiful, David. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much. So well spoken. She is blessed to have you as her parents, not wanting to take away her heritage but instead embracing where she came from, including her names, expanding her heritage, not choosing to ignore her roots, her culture. Blessings to you and your family.

    in Him,

    Cheri :)