Rebekah Diane. Pretty cool name, huh? I really like it. It’s my given name. If I understand the story correctly, it’s the name my dad chose for me. I think it has character. Rebekah is an unusual spelling in our society – though straight out of the Bible – and that sort of appeals to me. I’ve been told the name “suits” me – which makes sense because it’s the name I’ve worn for more than 37 years.
But it’s not my original name. Jennifer Kay is.
I suspect many people play a “what if” game at some point in their lives. They reflect on a major decision they’ve made and ask themselves what if they would have chosen a different course of action.
I’ve played a “what if” game my entire life. My “what if” started when I first talked with my parents about being adopted. “What if” I had stayed with my natural parents? “What if” I had been able to convince them to keep me? “What if” I had a whole different life?
For me, the “what if” game became a little more serious on the day I opened my identifying records from the State of Tennessee. In the stack of papers was a birth certificate bearing the name “Jennifer Kay.” Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I typically have a lot of common sense, but not on that day. As I looked at the record, I seriously wondered how the State of Tennessee could get my records confused with another individual’s records and send me a birth certificate belonging to this “Jennifer Kay” person. I mean, the mistake could be a little understandable – after all we shared the same birthdate and were born in the same hospital – but still, how could that happen?! And then it hit me, I WAS Jennifer Kay.
I had two identities – two clear, legal identities. Yeah, I know, one was wiped away legally at my adoption, but still – I have been two people. Let that sink in for a few minutes. And then play the “what if” game in your own head – knowing you have two distinct paths open before you, with neither in your control. Pretty deep, huh?
You see, when most people play “what if” it’s because they are looking at a “fork in the road” moment. My “what if” is deeper than that – it’s about the difference between being Rebekah Diane and Jennifer Kay. It’s the difference between two complete identities. It’s the difference between two separate lives. That is what’s in a name for me – two paths for a single life – over which I had no control. Interesting, huh?
File this under things I wonder. You’ll be reading lots of things in that category if you keep reading this blog. I have 37 years worth of wonderings.
4 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”
Wonderful start to your journey. I look forward to being a passenger. It takes someone special to allow passengers on a journey that some would say is too personal to share. I’m so glad you don’t feel that way. 🙂
Becky, I will probably starting thinking of you also as a Jennifer since my second daughter is a Jennifer. Do you suppose you do some things as Becky and other things as Jennifer? Another personality to blame things on or give credit to. Do you think Jennifer might have been smarter than Becky or more talented? I doubt it but…I know you will explore this (what if) identity to the limit and I look forward to more blogs. As I told you a few days ago, I really enjoyed meeting your other Mother. You are not by yourself on this journey, we are here with you and for you and love you. betty
Betty: those are interesting questions.
I don’t see myself as Jennifer at all – in fact, that seems weird to me. But I have “gotten in touch” with the 5 year old me – that’s when I found out I was adopted, so it’s a crucial age in my journey. I can see some of this experience through her eyes, which is pretty cool. She’s still me, but a unique lens for sure. Thanks for your comment and for your support!
I really liked this article and the identity issues you address. I also wrote about my experience as an adoptee if you are interested. http://ohiasia.com/2013/01/06/anlac/