"When I came out of Jen's belly, did she name me Levi?"
Whoa, that was a big question, springing from no where. I am not sure why the matter of a name rocked my world, but to date, that was the hardest question for me to answer Levi concerning his adoption. Maybe it was because there are parts of his story that I want to be so careful to paint in a positive light. Maybe it was fear that he would ask what his given name was and then insist to be called that instead. Maybe a combination of both.
Choosing my words carefully and speaking slowly, I responded. "Actually, no, she didn't. When Jen asked me and daddy to be your parents, we gave you the name Levi. Herbert Levi."
"Oh, what was my other name?" He asked, so innocently.
I told him, and he just said, "oh, okay," and then I quickly followed with, "Do you know why we named you Herbert Levi Suereth V? Your name represents your family. When you join a family, you get a new name."
I briefly explained maiden and married names, drawing similarities between my former last name and his cousins on one side of the family, and his last name being shared with family members on Herb's side.
I reminded him of a shortened version of his name story and the long standing tradition of Herbert L. I told him for the first time why we changed his middle name (all the other Herberts are Herbert Lawrence) to Levi.
Levi means united.
He let the Herb story sink in, chewed on my Levi definition, and then asked, "What's united mean?"
"Honey, it means that Daddy, you and I were all three different people from three different families and now God brought us all together and we are one family now. We are united."
United in love, even beyond our family of three, carrying on in to our extended families.
Recently, at a bridal shower for one of Levi's aunts, another guest asked me how I knew the bride. I never know in those situations how to respond. Has Jen shared about Levi's adoption with this particular person? Ironically, the room quieted when the question was posed.
"Well, I..." I stuttered.
Jen's mom (Levi's grandma) jumped in, "Michelle adopted Jennifer's son, but we've all adopted her."
I am united in something so much bigger than myself. And that is the beauty and the blessing of family, whatever that looks like.