What’s in a name?

On June 26, 2012 my name changed officially. The last name I’ve had all my life is now a second middle name. I’ve now moved up in the alphabet to E with the name Enjaian.

All growing up I thought that I would change my name once, when I got married. I knew without a doubt that I would take my husband’s name and give up “Wood” entirely. (I’m far too attached to my middle name to give that up.)

Many years have passed since the time I thought I would be married. That’s obviously not God’s plan. The thought of changing my name for any other reason never crossed my mind…

… until I started my thesis research.

In May I started reading as much as I could about the Armenian Genocide, my thesis topic. I knew I was passionate about the topic but when I started reading I learned just how passionate I was.

This is my heritage. I feel a sense of connection to this tragic event in history not only because I am 1/4 Armenian but also because as a historian I want to right a huge historical wrong.

I’ve always felt very connected to my Armenian heritage. I grew up as part of the Enjaian family, though without the name or the looks. I grew up eating lamb cooked the right way (out on the grill as chops or shish kebobs) at family meals not knowing until I was much older that most Americans think that lamb should be served with mint jelly. I heard plenty of stories about how my great grandmother would speak in Armenian when she didn’t want her grandchildren (my mother and siblings) to understand what she was saying. Being Armenian was part of my culture growing up and thus part of me. I had nothing external to show for it until now.

The thought of changing my name first occurred to me when I was volunteering at church and reading about the Genocide. This was the second or third week of May.

I did a little research but quickly put it to the side knowing that this was not something to be undertaken without a lot of thought and prayer. I spent the next week doing just that off and on.

I mentioned this thought to my mom who supported me if that’s what I chose to do. When I finally decided to do it for real I talked to her again and she advised me to talk to my father. It was his name that I was giving up after all.

I made the appointment with a lawyer from our church and then finally squeezed in a dinner with my dad the night before. I cannot say enough that I am extremely blessed to have the parents that I do. Dad told me that while it was hard for him, he supported my decision and knew that I wasn’t rejecting his name. (If I had wanted to reject his name after my parents’ divorce I would have done this a long time ago.)

Later that night he texted me and suggested that I keep my old last name as a second middle name. As soon as I saw the text I knew it was the answer. I would have 4 names. I love the number 4. (I am a nerd/a bit OCD.)

I met with the lawyer the following morning, filled out paperwork, got fingerprinted and paid a little more money than I expected. The process was started. Only one step, signing the petition to send to the judge, remained before I reached the point of no return.

That was six weeks ago.

Two weeks ago I headed back down to the law office to sign the petition. Another undetermined wait lay ahead. However, a week later I got a wonderful email from the paralegal. The judge agreed to sign the order without a hearing. My name was changed.

Five weeks after I first signed the paperwork and seven weeks after I made the decision my name was changed. A week after that, today, I now have a new driver’s license (among other official name change stuff) and proudly declare that I am Jeni Enjaian.


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