Ask a Korean! Wiki: What to do with Asian Names?

Dear Korean,

We are adopting a sweet little boy from the Seoul area. My husband is Lebanese/American and I am European/American. We were planning on keeping the name his birthmother had given him which is HaJin. However a Chinese/American male friend didn't think this was a good idea. My friend stated that growing up Asian was difficult enough, and he and his Asian friends were grateful to have been given more English sounding names. What are your thoughts on this?

Paige K.

That issue is a tricky one not only for adoptive parents, but also for a lot of young Asian American parents. Paige's Chinese American friend is not wrong -- it is tough enough to look different, and adding the extra effort of telling people how to pronounce your name all the time, only to see them never remember your name, could be a rather alienating experience. But on the other hand -- especially for adoptees, who have a difficult time retaining their heritage culture -- using the given name could serve as a good reminder of one's heritage. One form of compromise among Korean American parents is to choose a name that can operate in both in English and in Korean (e.g. "Mina".)

As for the Korean himself, he hopes to give the Korean Baby a Korean first name and an English/Christian middle name, so that while the child could go by the English name, the priorities would be clear, especially when it comes to everything legal.

Having said that, let's hear from our readers. Asian Americans, how do you feel about your ethnic names? What did/will you do with your children's names?

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