Leaving our Little Lion Behind

Isus’s New name

When Andy and I began this process years ago, we had many discussions about whether to give our child a new family name or preserve their Bulgarian name.  We ultimately decided it would depend on the name and how it translates over to English.  So, when we received our referral for Isus, we initially thought it was pronounced “Isis” (as in the terror group) because that is how it is sounded out in English.  In reality it is pronounced “I (short i)-soos” and means “Jesus” in Bulgarian.  Because his name doesn’t particularly translate well AND is also a very uncommon name even in Bulgaria, we decided to add to his given name with a name that is meaningful to our family.  However, after we decided on a name, we received videos of Isus with his foster mom, and learned from them that he is lovingly referred to as “Zoosy,”  which we began calling him at home too.  We didn’t want to start using the “new name” until we had met him and were sure it was what we wanted to call him.

So, all that to say that after meeting our son, we decided to name him Leo Isus Sutton.  Here’s why:

It was still very important to us to preserve his birth name.  We believe that it was lovingly chosen for him by the mother who brought him into the world, and we want to honor that decision.  In addition, he already responds to his name.  If we showed him a picture of himself, he would say “Baby Zoosy.”  However, we decided not to keep this as his first name because of the way it translates to English.  We chose Leo for many reasons.

First and foremost, because it is a family name.  Leo Mitchell was my great-grandfather.  I have fond memories of sitting on his lap as a child, and he was a good man.  All of our other children have family names, and we didn’t want Isus’s to be any different.  He will obviously be an equal part of our family, and we wanted to honor that by giving him a family name like his sisters and brother.

Secondly, and equally important to me, is the meaning of the name Leo.  Leo means “lion.”  This  is so beautiful because the lion is Bulgaria’s national symbol.  It is on their coat of arms, it is what their money (lev) is named after, and there are statues of lions throughout Bulgaria.  The lion symbol dates back in Bulgaria’s history to the year 1294!





The third and least important reason for Leo, is that Andy and I just prefer short names for our kids, and Leo fits that “requirement.” 🙂

Now, just saying that his name is “Leo” doesn’t really make it so.  We have started the legal process of changing it, but we still have not started using it when we refer to him.  He is still very much Isus and Zoosy to us. In fact, during our mealtime prayer this week, Andy used “Leo,” and after the ‘Amen’ I said, “So, that’s the first time we’ve used that, huh?”  And he responded, “Yeah, it was weird.”  We have it in our mind that over time, we will transition from “Isus” to “Leo Isus” to “Leo,” but honestly if it never happens, then he will be “Isus,” and people will get used to it…..and if they don’t, it really doesn’t matter.

Leaving our little lion behind was hard.  He is precious and we can’t wait to have him here with us every single day.  I thought I would be okay in between trips, but I’ve already had a few moments of thinking, “Oh, Zoosy would love doing this with his siblings!” or “I wish he could be here picking out pumpkins with us.”  I know that is just the beginning of these feelings as we enter the holidays, but I pray too that this time is meaningful and productive in preparing all of our hearts to join in a few more months.  I just can’t wait for him to be “home.”  We are getting it all ready for him!

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