Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All About Cali

I am so excited to share with you some more details about our Cali Rose!  I will start with her name.  First of all, over on the announcement video on youtube, someone asked a great question today.  He said, "Why would you change their names?"  We have had a few people ask us this question over the years, and I'm happy to share our reasons.  I think that the majority of adoptive parents have found that their newly adopted child prefers to be given an American name.  I know there are exceptions to this, but after spending a lot of time on adoption threads, I really think this is the case most of the time.  There are a few reasons that older children specifically have given for this.  First of all, it is difficult for people to pronounce their Chinese names, and that can quickly become annoying or frustrating.  Secondly, having an American name can make them feel more like their new family and friends-- they feel like they fit in better.  Third, it gives them a fresh start.

All of this being said, we feel like it's important to give the older child a choice.  When we adopted Graci, we told her (through a translator) that we loved her Chinese name, Wang Chun Ling, and thought that it was beautiful.  We told her that we had also chosen an American name for her, and that she could choose which one she wanted to go by.  For the first few days, she wanted to be called Chun Ling.  It wasn't long before she changed over to Graci.  For awhile, we called her both, but she quickly got tired of how Jessica pronounced her name "Ching-a-ling"  (we thought it was cute!) and would tell her, "No, I Graci!"  She now loves her American name.  At nighttime, when we tuck her in, we still call her by her Chinese name as we do our little bedtime routine of, "Are you my little Ling Ling?"  We do this with all of our kids from China.  Every child is different, and Lexi and Sophi were particularly adamant that we not call them by their Chinese name.  It took quite awhile for them to answer to it at nighttime.  I think it's all about that fresh new start and having a name that sounds more like those around them!  Many families choose to keep part of their child's Chinese name in their American name.  We did this with Elli (Elizabeth Mei.)  We also kept part of Lexi's (Alexis Li.)  But with the others, we had names that we loved that were meaningful and we opted out of using their Chinese name in them.  I don't think they feel slighted at all.  They just know they have an American name and a Chinese name.  In fact, I've asked Graci if she would like to incorporate her Chinese name into her American name, and she has declined.  All this being said, I know that some children and parents feel differently, and I think that is fine too!  Whatever works is great.  I'm sure that there are some children who want to keep their given name in some form or other and others who don't.

So, the best part of this, is that we actually have had the HUGE blessing of skyping with Cali!  We have never been able to do that with any of our other children, but because of some various connections, we were able to do so with her.  We asked her through her nanny if she would like to keep her Chinese name or if she would like an American name like our other kids and she immediately said that she wanted an American name.  We will give Conner the same choice.  So I hope that answers your question, Johnathan!  (:

Speaking of names... it took us FOREVER to decide on sweet Cali's name!  When you have lots of people in a family you have lots of opinions!  We discussed Lillianne "Lili", Olivia "Livi", Meredith "Meri", Isabelle "Issi", Madison "Madi", Adaleigh "Addi", Miriam "Miri", and more.  We liked them all for different reasons, but have finally settled on Calais Rose (at least for now!)  When I was young, I fell in love with the name Calais.  It is French, and my dad is a French teacher.  I loved the way it sounded (pronounced Ca-lay, with the emphasis on the lay) and the way it's spelled.  I told my Grandma Nelson that I wanted a Calais someday, and she fell in love with the name too.  She never let me forget that I wanted a Calais, and brought it up all the time.  When we found out we were having a girl (Jessica) she was really surprised we didn't name her Calais, but assured me that I would have my Calais someday.  She died about a year later, and I can't think of the name Calais without thinking of her.  I loved, loved, loved my grandma and she makes me love the name Calais even more.  As far as the nickname Cali, as I'm sure you've gathered, all of us Green girls have a nickname ending in an "i."  Well, except for Emily-- when she was born, I spelled her name "Emmy" (we hadn't really established the trend yet) and it feels weird for me to change it.   I LOVE the name Cali.  One of the sweetest girls I knew growing up had that name (spelled Callie) and she reminds me so much of Tang Min-- sweet, smart, and gentle.  Cali means "beautiful" and "lovely" which are both very fitting for our Cali.  Also, I found a website that claims that the name Cali originated from China-- perfect!  The middle name Rose comes from her Grandma Rose (Jeremy's mother) and also his sister, Tiffany Rose.  I think it suits Cali perfectly.  So there ya go!

On to Cali...  Is she precious or what?!!!   We sent her a care package a couple of months ago to let her know she was getting a family.  All of the kids wrote her letters, and we sent some fun goodies. According to her nanny, she was VERY excited and a little scared.  I would personally be terrified, so I'm proud of her for being "just a little scared!"  This girl is sweet beyond words.  Skyping with her was such a beautiful experience.  Her little high-pitched voice just cracked us up!  She seriously sounded like she was 4 or 5 years old.  She was so shy at first, but warmed up a little at the end.  We found out that her favorite color is pink, her favorite food is corn, and that she loves spicy food, girly things and princesses.  Our girls are SO excited!  She is apparently a whiz at computers and knows how to do power point presentations, but hates math.  (:  She attends a special education school because the regular school isn't wheelchair accessible, and she was very excited to learn that every school in America is wheelchair accessible!  She is 11 years old, and her birthday is in October.  That would mean she should attend 6th grade next year, but we are still unsure whether we'll put her in 5th or 6th.  We'll determine that later.

Cali has spina bifida.  From what we understand and have seen in videos, she can stand up for short periods of time and can walk just a bit if she can lean heavily on something.  It will be interesting to see what kind of therapy and help she will receive here.  I'm sure we have lots to learn.

My favorite part of the skype session was when we said "we love you" and she replied in her sweet little voice in English, "I love you, too!"  Melted our hearts.  We are told she is working very hard on learning English so she will be prepared to come to America. I'm sure it will still be very limited, but we are so grateful she is getting a head start!

The story of Cali's history is her own story to tell, and I'll let her choose later whether or not to share it as she gets older.  As far as us finding her, that is quite a story itself!  It involves miraculous events  with a dear lady named Kristen.  We will be forever indebted to her and to God for weaving such a beautiful story.  I will open up about that later as the time is right.

We love this precious girl and are so grateful for the privilege of being her family.  We can't wait to bring her home!!!

Here are a few pictures of the care package we sent her, and pictures of her taken over the last three years:

Tomorrow will be All About Conner time, so tune it. (: