open adoption roundtable: naming

As part of Open Adoption Roundtable #6, Heather at Production Not Reproduction asks open adoption bloggers to answer the prompt: “Write about names/naming and open adoption.”

Naming is such an interesting topic in adoption. There have been some great recent posts explaining how certain families have handled this delicate issue. Click through the roundtable contributions and read for yourself.

Naming is a way for parents to “claim” a child, to acknowledge the child as their own. It is such a personal issue — for the parents involved and especially for the child. So what’s in a name?

Some prospective parents — adoptive or not — have chosen a name long before a child is ever conceived. I know women who have dreamed up names long before they ever tried to build their families. Naming can be fun, creative, exciting, joyful. A name can be an honor, a tribute, a tradition, a symbol.

For adoptive parents, naming a baby can feel like the only thing they can contribute to that child’s beginning. For some, it can feel like a name is all you can offer after infertility has taken so much. When I first realized that naming could become a joint decision with an expectant parent — long before we met K — I remember feeling reluctant to share that one thing I could bestow on our child after having lost so much already.

But I also knew it wasn’t about me. A name is about the child.

Sure, people give children family names all the time, honoring relatives and ancestors out of tradition or duty or respect. With adoption, there is a whole other set of wishes to consider. We knew that an expectant mother (and possibly father) might also feel strongly about naming their baby.

Maybe we could do it together?

But it is hard enough for two people to agree on a name. Right?

One afternoon while we were shopping for maternity clothes, K asked if we had started thinking of names. We hadn’t begun getting serious, as she was just five months pregnant and the next four months seemed like an eternity away. But we intended to approach the issue with K and see what her thoughts were.

One thing was clear. We would not discuss names with anyone but K. No one.

I asked whether she had thought of names and she said that afternoon that this baby was ours to name. I told her to think about it and we’d discuss it again, but she never wavered. We said that as we got closer, we’d like to propose some names and get her input. Also, we wanted to honor her with a middle name and we’d want her approval.

For the next few months, we bounced our short list of names off K. We asked if she wanted to suggest some names. While she never proposed any herself, she gave feedback on each name we listed. She helped us eliminate some and she favored a few. Essentially, K had lots of influence and veto power.

As we got closer to her due date, K reminded us that we’d have to come to a decision soon. When we felt pretty solid on a boy’s name we all loved but could not settle on a girl’s name, K actually sat us down and said it was time to narrow our list.

So we had the short list, but we all agreed we’d have to meet the baby first before coming to a final decision. And we did. We all spent a few hours with Baby J before finally agreeing on her full name.

In the end, we chose a first name we loved that we had considered for a long time. We gave her two middle names — one to honor the natural world over which we had bonded, and one to honor K. Both middle names appear on her birth certificate.

The first middle name was also in honor of my dad, who helped make this possible and on whose birthday we first heard from K. For the second middle name, we chose a variation on K’s nickname or pseudonym (as if someone else named my child Luna). We first proposed our choices for the name to honor K one morning after breakfast when K had spent the night. I wrote the names on a post-it and passed it to her, and she smiled and began tearing up. Then I started crying too and wondered whether her tears were happy or sad. She said the names were beautiful. We realized these were the first tears we had shared, but certainly not the last.

For the last name, we used K’s to have that connection, but it will be changed once the adoption is finalized. We already have a copy of the original birth certificate with K’s last name printed, which will go in our book for Baby J to have forever. Along with the post-it.

~ by luna on August 30, 2009.

9 Responses to “open adoption roundtable: naming”

  1. Damn, lady– you sure know how to make me tear up first thing in the morning. Beautiful story. So much love and consideration. Hopefully this story will help baby J understand how much she is loved and wanted.

  2. That is a beautiful post. It is great that all three of you were connected to the naming of your daughter. I also wanted to see my child before naming him or her, I think it’s an important part of choosing the right name. I love that she carries the names of everyone who loves her.

  3. I love how thoughtful you are, Luna, and how beautifully you express your thoughtfulness here on your blog. Little J is so blessed to have you as her open-hearted, brave, compassionate mother.

  4. Yeah, my DH isn’t as enlightened as you two – so I’m not sure how we’re going to handle it. I think perhaps though that I will forward him this post later on….

    I have two middle names myself so perhaps he’ll understand that there’s room to make everyone happy.

  5. Lovely, a perfect way to name a child, honoring all who worked so had tobring her into a family,

    Also, have you seen this?

    Looks intersting….

  6. Another completely beautiful and selfless post, luna. What a sweet story for Baby J to know and the meaning in that simple post it for you all is amazing.

  7. […] mom Luna at Life From Here: “One thing was clear. We would not discuss names with anyone but K. No […]

  8. […] dreams for the future. We talked about the baby and felt her move in K’s belly. We discussed names and painted the nursery […]

  9. […] story. Just as we wanted to honor Jaye’s story and Kaye’s role in her life when we chose her name. This baby’s story began and existed before we even knew it was possible. While this child is […]

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