(Orphan Sunday inspired me to think of our adoption story, which begins here.)
Talitha Ruth -- You saw her name in the first sentence of my husband's sweet letter agreeing to adoption. We had already named our daughter even before we knew she would be ours.
As we'd waited for the births of our other children, we'd spent months considering names, thinking about meanings, about admirable people whose names we might use, about the sound of the names together. We wanted a child's name to have significance and to sound good when spoken.
As we thought and prayed together about whether to adopt, Johnny said one day, "If we were to adopt, what would we name her?" Pretty wise question to be asking, considering that we hadn't decided our last child's name until he was actually born--we'd needed every possible minute, and still were almost late.
He went on, "We still have four perfectly good girls' names we've never been able to use. Should we start by thinking of those?"
But this time, against custom, I said, "I think I already know her name." I wasn't sure what he'd think about a unilateral decision on such an important thing as a name.
For a couple of years, I'd often been going to sleep praying, maybe with tears, for a particular little girl that I hadn't met and maybe never would. I prayed that God would protect her, that he'd save her life. I prayed that maybe, perhaps, someday, he might let me know her.
At some point, I thought of the story of Jesus raising a little girl from the dead. He called her "Talitha." Mark 5:41 interprets the name as "little girl." In Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, the word means "little she-lamb," and so it was a tender nickname for a little girl. "Little girl." That seemed like the right name to call the unknown child I was praying for.
Then later, I thought, "This little girl, this little Talitha," may be almost alone in the world. She needs to know the anchor of a family. Ruth was my mother-in-law, who had died in 1974. She is "Oma" to my children. In my prayers, "Ruth" was added to the little girl's name, honoring my mother-in-law whom I so much missed, and through her, honoring her son, my husband.
And so I said, "I think I already know her name, if it's okay with you. I've been praying for Talitha Ruth for a long time. If we decide together to adopt her, I think this is Talitha Ruth."
(to be continued)