What’s in a Name?

One night, early in our marriage, my husband and I were talking about what our future child would be like. I remember it vividly since it was the first time an abstract idea was being discussed as an actual person. While we were years away from becoming parents, it was fun to talk about the possibility of a little Palmer.

What characteristics would they get from each of us? Would they have my full lips and his blue eyes? Would they be athletic like him or clumsy like me?

Our discussion soon turned to names and we starting throwing out potential options. Many were shot down for various reasons, the name of an ex, an annoying co-worker or any other random reason that didn’t sit well with the other person.

I have always enjoyed learning about people’s names. Most of the time there is a story behind them whether it be a family name, a character from a book or an homage to a person who left an indelible mark in their parent’s lives. The common theme is that a name comes from a place that has significant meaning.

At the time we lived in Chicago and started thinking about places that were part of our story that could be potential names. A few strong contenders emerged as we thought about how perfect it would for our child’s name to have a tie to where it all began. By the end of the night we had our short list.

Fast forward a few years and we found out we were expecting. The name discussion once again surfaced except with actual stakes on the table. We were going to be naming someone for the rest of their life!

The middle names were set (I was very adamant on my selections for family reasons) and the short list of first names was narrowed down even further. Soon we found ourselves seriously mulling over two names we had selected. We didn’t know the gender but our two picks worked for either a boy or a girl.

Unfortunately, our little one would never have the opportunity to receive either name. Rather they will forever be known as Poppy, the nickname bestowed upon them for the short time they were a part of me.

As we began the adoption process, everything changed. No longer were the two of us joining to create a life. Our child’s tale will never be solely rooted in our story. The names we selected no longer seemed appropriate.

While our child has yet to be born, they already have a story. One that involves another set of parents, the birth parents. We want to be respectful of them and take into account their thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t mean we will automatically name our child based on their wishes but if there is a name with special significance we are open to considering how to weave it in.

We have heard stories of adoptive parents using the name chosen by the birth parents as the middle name or the melding of two names to create one that represents both the birth and adoptive parents choices. There is no one size fits all approach but it just feels right to keep the door open in regards to the naming process.

There is a part of us that is saddened the names we originally picked will most likely not be used but there is also a sense of excitement. We truly have no idea what the name of our child will be. One day our child will ask how their name was chosen and we want them to be able to connect with the story and be proud of it.