goodbye Keanan, hello Kembe

I know our son's name has thoroughly confused many of our friends. We had every intention of calling him Keanan, and referred to him by that name for the past two years. However, at the orphanage he was still called his birth name (Kembert), which I was reluctant to keep for fear of sentencing him to a lifetime of spelling and pronunciation issues. But now that he's home, it just doesn't feel right for us to change his name at this point.

So, we've settled on Kembe. It's pronounced the way his name was already pronounced at the orphanage in Haiti - KEMbay. (You can actually click here to hear it pronounced). And while it's not the most phonetic spelling in English, it at least avoids him having two totally silent letters in his name.

What confirmed this for me when, the other day, I heard a friend use the phrase Kembe Fem, Haiti. Turns out, Kembe is a word in Creole. It means MAINTAIN. Kembe Fem means "maintain strength".

We like that. Kembe it is.


33 comments:

  1. Well, yea! I am glad to know, because I've been wondering this very thing, but it didn't seem like any of my business--so I'm very glad you invited us into your business! I love the sound of it and the meaning. So great!

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  2. Oh, I'm GLAD! We did the same thing, btw.. we had every intention of nicknaming Emmanuel "Manny".. but he wasn't having it.. and he has always pronounced his name Eh-man-YELL.. so, so do we. Yes, it is a hassle to explain to everyone and his brother, but, whatever. It is who he is.

    We also have to spell out Virlande. Every. Single. Time.

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  3. Also means, "hold" or "keep." (but as you've probably learned, many Kreyol words have many different meanings, depending on the context) Love your boy and miss him!

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  4. I think that is perfect!

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  5. I also don't feel right about changing my son's names. We will probably adjust spelling but that is it. Thanks for sharing, I love your son's name!

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  6. It's wonderful! (I was looking for the "like" button... a sign that I'm on Facebook too much)

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  7. Perfect name. And you'll be happy to know that I clicked the link and listened repeatedly. Then I said "Kembe" out loud followed by "Kembe, come here" in preparation for babysitting.

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  8. i love that kembe's rocking the family tee:)

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  9. Yep, we had the same issue with one of our boys. His name is Richnigthder and although it is pronounced as it appears, it is a most unusual name here in the states. However, that is HIS name and HIS identity. We have no intention of changing it and love that he feels so strongly attached to his name given by his birth parents. Good for you and I am so glad to hear he is keeping his Haitian name.

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  10. Anonymous5:38 AM

    I live in Tennessee so when I clicked, I was hearing BEE instead of bay? So sounds like KimBee? I have been pronouncing it KimBay, so after hearing it, I got it now! Very cute and LOVE the meaning... He is just SUCH a doll! Thank the LORD you finally have him home.
    Rachel
    Soddy Daisy, TN

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  11. I think it is perfect. We kept a part of both our boys and think that is so special.

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  12. Anonymous1:13 PM

    so "keanan" would have saved him from a lifetime of pronunciation and spelling issues. keenin, keenan, kienen. and kembe is better? really? so is that pronounced Kem-bay or Kem-bee and is it spelled kembay or kembee or kembe or kemby or ...? You could have continued to use his GIVEN name, one of the only things he has left from his birthparents. How hard is Kembert to spell or pronounce? The kid has already lost his birthparents, been through a scary as hell earthquake, and had his adoptive mom flee to save her own ass, leaving him motherless and alone in the ensuing havoc. If, for whatever reason, his given name did lead to "a lifetime of pronunciation and spelling issues" - could it even compare to anything he's already been through? Speaking of names that are hard to spell and pronounce, what would jesus do? Hmm ... is that jeezus, Geezuss, or ...?

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  13. Anonymous, couple things:

    1) We are keeping his given name. We changed the spelling. He's three. I don't think he'll notice.
    2) Yeah, it was pretty hard to leave him in Haiti. Not my choice - denied by embassy. But rather than stay in Haiti so my baby daughter and I could become another homeless mouth to feed, I came home and launched a (fairly successful) media campaign to get my son home on humanitarian parole a week later. I think I made the right decision.
    3) Looks like you forgot to log in. Surely you didn't mean to leave such a nasty comment anonymously? That would be juvenile. So I'll go ahead and post your IP address for you. 69.121.129.232 :)
    4) If you don't like me, don't keep visiting my blog.

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  14. Congrats on getting your Kembe home! "M pa konprann, I don't understand" might help when he gets super chatty ;)

    Praying for you guys as you continue to settle in as a family.

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  15. Don't pay any attention to people who hide behind their anonymous comments. I'm so grateful that you share the details of your journey here - you have a beautiful family.

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  16. Kembe is a beautiful name, any way you spell it!

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  17. I wonder why people follow blogs to trash people? Ignore people like them. You don't need to justify ANYTHING to anybody. I think you are amazing for what you have done and I bet your kids do too. Who cares about people who have nothing better to do with their time than to write nasty notes.

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  18. Ditto to Marnie's comments!

    I am a member of Overlake and started following you when Pastor Mike posted a link while you were in Haiti after the earthquake. I've really enjoyed your blog and appreciate how you've shared your heart. I've been praying for you. God bless you on this awesome, fun, difficult journey!

    Terri

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  19. Anonymous1:24 PM

    I am totally enjoying your accounts of life with four children and how you are all adjusting. Kembe is an excellent name. I am happy you decided to keep that name for him. Maybe the person who was so snarky did not mean to be anonymous, I find that is the only way I am able to post a comment from all the given options. I am a recent empty-nester (youngest off to college last August) and kinda miss the chaos (three kids two years apart). So maybe it will help when things are a little overwhelming to remind yourself that there will be a time for a clean house and a perfectly organized life...later...now is for enjoying your babies!! Best wishes to you all. Deedee

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  20. Kristin1:31 PM

    Two statements from Jesus came to mind when I read the mean-spirited comment from "Anonymous":

    "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do"

    "Pray for those who persecute you"

    Apathy is worse than anger because a least an angry person is passionate and God can redeem them and use that passion for good (e.g. Saul). Let's all pray for him or her to experience God's great love and use his or her passion for good.

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  21. as someone who is named aida, I have had a lifetime of people asking me how do you say that, how do you spell that, what's your name, it's not spelled right, there shouldn't an A in the front, why do you spell your name like that, and of course there have been hundred different pronunciations that I have heard. So, I strongly affirm your decision Howerton family in the spelling of Kembe's name. Love your family and your beautiful kids!

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  22. My name is very common in French speaking countries and is mangled in the USA. After years of hearing my name mispronounced and seeing it misspelled, I have adopted a nickname derived from my middle name. I wish my parents had done so for me or at least suggested it. Good for Kembe that his parents have the foresight to make at least one thing easy for him.

    Let us all pray for the negative folks among us and send good thoughts their way.

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  23. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Love your blog and your family! Don't let the anonymous comment get to you. I have one 18-month old son and I'm exhausted, so I can only imagine what you're going through. Your children are so obviously happy, healthy and loving you and each other. When you're at the end of your rope, just remember that. I love Kembe's name and he is a beautiful boy. My sister and her husband adopted a little girl from another culture and I can't imagine my love for her being any stronger if she were my sister's own biological child. I've just never thought of her as anything but my flesh and blood and it's clear you feel the same. All the best to you and your family.

    P.S. Again, I am anonymous only because I can't figure out any other way to post a comment.

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  24. Patty2:06 PM

    First of all, I'd like to say how much I admire you for all that you do and your positive attitude! I'm an adoptee myself, so your stories really touch my heart.

    Secondly, I just had to post how sad I feel for Anonymous. They must really have a very sad life if they feel like they have to learn all they can about someone, only to try and bash them. They must have nothing meaningful in their life to focus on, so they take it out on others who are actually doing good! So pityful.

    Anyway, you are just soooooo awesome!!!! :-)

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  25. While reading through your past blog post, I came across this one. My 3 year old son crawled into my lap and said, "Who's that?" (Because of the Superman shirt.) I told him his name and he said, "He's my brother. No, He's my friend!) All because of the t-shirt. Aren't 3 year olds just the sweetest?? Well, when their not making us pull our hair out. ;) Happy weekend!

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  26. he is a beautiful boy with a beautiful name!

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  27. Anonymous9:46 PM

    Hello Howertons :) This is so funny - I met Kembe and India this weekend at RH in childrens church; they are such special children!! I had never heard the name "Kembe" before, so sat down tonight to google the meaning. After typing in "meaning of the name Kembe"...your blog popped up, lol! You have such a beautiful family :) See you at church! -Kimberly

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