By Rachael V. (Please note that for Jacob’s protection our last name is not included in this post.)
When I heard that our new foster baby was named Jacob, I was relieved. So many kids coming into care have names with unusual spellings: “Prince Henree Jones,” “Niveah” (“heaven” backward), “Abcde” (pronounced Ab-Ced-ee). You get the idea. And if the birth mom told me not long after that she had named Jacob after a werewolf in the Twilight series, I was just glad that Stephanie Meyer had spelled it the normal way.
My next thought was that it was ironic that his name was Jacob. I knew that Jacob means “supplanter; one who takes the rightful place of another.” Jacob in the Bible took his older twin’s birthright and blessing. When I saw our Jacob in the carseat, the crib, the stoller that had so recently held our beloved foster baby Jenn, I couldn’t help thinking that he was aptly named.
For the last two years we have discussed what to name our son, if he were to stay. He came to us with a first name, two middle names and a last name. Every time we talked of changing his name, the song I Will Change Your Name by D.J. Butler would get stuck in my head:
I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, Outcast, Lonely, or Afraid
I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, Joyfulness, Overcoming One
Faithfulness, Friend of God
One who seeks my Face
These lyrics were so appropriate for our Jacob. He was wounded, outcast, all alone when I first saw him. He is now confident, joyful, and has certainly overcome. I longed to change his name and, in doing so, claim him as our own.
Yet, the name Jacob was fitting, because not only did Jacob take Jenn’s carseat, crib, and stroller, he took her place in our arms and, before long, helped to fill the hole she had left in our hearts, drenched in the love once given to her.
He was wounded, outcast, all alone when I first saw him. He is now confident, joyful, and has certainly overcome.
I knew one thing for sure: We weren’t keeping his middle names. They had been given to him by the man (not his father) who abused Jacob for the first four months of his life, a period ending with a life flight to University of Michigan Hospital and a month of sedation in intensive care.
On Wednesday, January 14th, two years after we first met him, we adopted our son. We named him Samuel Jacob, a name that came from these two verses:
For this son I have prayed, and God has granted me the desire of my heart. -1 Samuel 1:27
I can’t tell you how many times since we learned that Jacob was going to stay with us that these words, spoken by Hannah so long ago, have echoed in my heart.
And the Jacob verses:
For the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye -Deuteronomy 32:9-10
This verse is Jacob’s life. God took him from horror and pain, a “barren and howling waste.” God guarded him and cared for him. God brought good from unspeakable bad, gave Jacob siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends. Jacob is our portion, our inheritance, our blessing from God.
God brought good from unspeakable bad, gave Jacob siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends.
Samuel Jacob. “God Hears; supplanter.”
And, of course, we gave him our last name.