What is in a Name?
Once upon a time, we had a list of baby names. Names we wrote down when we both liked them. They were stored in my cell phone so that they were always with us, so we could add/delete whenever we felt like it. We both held the power of veto, so only names that we both liked could be added. We have a decent amount of girls names picked out, and only a few boy’s names.
When I was looking in my phone, I realized that we still have the list. We just haven’t looked at it in months, maybe even years. Somewhere along the way we just stopped talking about baby names, so I hadn’t thought to look at the list.
Yet, now we find ourselves talking about names again. But with a new uncertainty that we didn’t think too much about when we chose open adoption. Quite frankly, I think adoption naming is a bit different and probably a little bit more complex given the nature of the number of people directly involved. Our child will likely come with a name, chosen by their birth mother (and possibly father depending on the circumstances). Depending on the circumstances of our match we may be able to talk about this with the birth mother leading up to the birth, or we may not.
So, we’ve been thinking and yet not thinking too hard.
We do know that even with adoption we envision our child to have three names – first, middle and last.
As for the first name, we still have our list. But honestly, we don’t know what we will choose to do. As we are doing infant adoption, as opposed to adoption of an older child, so we will very likely choose to change the name to our first choice name. Honestly, if we don’t like the name chosen by the birth mother, we will change it because I cannot imagine not liking my child’s name. I’m going to say the name millions of times in my life, so I had better love it. Maybe we’ll keep it as a middle name. But maybe not. We really just don’t know right now.
As for the middle name. We always known the middle names of our child, boy or girl. They were names of individuals who have had significant impact on our lives. Names of people we would like to honour. And more importantly, we wanted their middle names to be a reminder to the characteristics of those people, the characteristics we hope to instill in our child – like being compassionate, looking out for others, and being willing to forge their own path and to live with integrity. We viewed the middle name as sort of a reminder of greatness that we hoped would shine through and inspire our child.
However, now I have no idea if these middle names will ever be used. We may choose to honour the birth mother with the middle name, because quite frankly, the birth mother seems like the right person to honour. Clearly, she will have a significant/massive/huge/giant/colossal place in our hearts for the rest of time. Or, we may choose to use the first name our birth mother gives the child as their middle name. Or, lately I’ve been thinking Hope could be a really good middle name for a girl (if we have a girl), because honestly, hope is what will have brought her into our lives. Or we may choose one of our first choice middle names. In many ways I think the middle name might just be the hardest name for us to choose.
We know, that no matter what, we will change our baby’s last name to match ours – we are a family and we will share our name. There is no doubt in our minds about this. (Side note – I didn’t want to change my name when we got married. It was fully my choice without pressure from Mr. MPB. I do not like hyphenated last-names for children and ours would have sounded stupid together. So, in the end I decided I wanted to share my name with my child, which meant I assumed my husband’s name).
Honestly, this uncertainty around the child’s name, and trying to get it right to respect the birth mother and our child is a challenge for us. In many ways this might be the biggest challenges left for us to reconcile. I believe naming a child is a gift, it’s something they will carry with them for the rest of time and will influence all their first introductions throughout their life. I want that to be a gift we give our child. But, with open adoption it’s just not that simple, and part of me is really saddened by that. It’s hard to know what’s right to do to respect everyone involved. I don’t want to place my needs at the bottom of the pile, but I also don’t want to short change our child or the birth mother.
It’s really weird going into this, knowing that we really have no idea what we will decide. Really, there are so many unknowns that we just don’t have the ability to plan. We anticipate that it will likely be a decision we cannot make until we have our child in our arms. We don’t know the birth mother right now, so we have no idea how she will feel about naming. We don’t know what names she will choose, so we have no idea how we feel about them. Part of me hopes that we will be able to talk to the birth mother before the baby is born and we can all be part of naming the child together right from the very beginning. Part of me hopes that she doesn’t want to name the child and just leaves it to us. Part of me hopes that we just serendipitously love the name she gives the baby.
Really, I just have a lot of conflicting feelings about this. I don’t know what will be best, and I don’t think it is even something I have a say in right now.
The name is a huge deal to me, and I want it to perfect. I want to be able to pick out our favourite names again with excitement and joy. But right now it just feels too complicated. I’m afraid of the complexities and the unknowns and so I’m afraid to get my heart set on anything.
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