It never occurred to me until that moment that naming our child could become controversial. It never crossed my mind that she would ask to participate in the naming, even if it was as simple as asking that the name start with a certain letter. For the record, that was not a simple request.
We have discussed names numerous times over the past five years, trying out different name combinations and trying to come up with something we both liked. This is nothing new…not for us, not for any couple who is expecting. The sticking point for us was that when we named our first son, I reluctantly agreed to let my husband use a name for our second child (assuming that child was a son) that I didn’t particularly like, provided that it was a middle name, and not the name by which he would be addressed for the rest of his life. So though I wouldn’t get to choose a full name that I liked, I would get to choose his first name.
The birth mom’s request derailed the direction we were going completely, and I (we) had to start over. She made the request because she has two other kids, both of whom have names beginning with K, and even though she wasn’t keeping this baby, she still wanted to have this connection. And though I didn’t love the idea, I was sympathetic to her desire. So we started experimenting with new name combinations, still incorporating my husband’s choice, and we came up with something we liked. I told our birth mom at her next doctor appointment, she seemed to like it.
At the meeting with the counselor (where we met the birth father for the first time), we learned that she (they) had vetoed the name. They didn’t like it. Not only that, they had chosen a name they liked, something they thought would go well with our choice for a middle name. Wow! I was not prepared for that, and I left that meeting – an otherwise positive meeting – feeling very irritated about that change. It ultimately boiled down to the fact that I got removed from the name choice entirely, and it hurt my feelings and made me angry. I wanted to be involved, and if we decided to accommodate them, I didn’t get to be. This never occurred to them, obviously…they were simply thinking of something that would make them feel connected to their (our) baby.
I talked to both our social worker and our birth mom’s social worker, and I learned something else about naming. When it comes to adoptions, names can cause huge problems. HUGE. And they can derail an adoption plan. They have derailed adoption plans. No one felt that it would in our case, and we had no obligation to use the name they wanted, but I was reminded that, when measured against the fact that they were surrendering their child to us, the name was not that big of a deal. They were right. I didn’t want them to be, but they were.
I talked to my husband. I asked my husband if we had to use the name he wanted. His response? “You promised.” He was right…I did. I just never anticipated not getting to choose at all. we continued to discuss it. He knew I was really, really hurt by this, and ultimately he became, “Whatever. Choose whatever you want.”
I didn’t want that either. I didn’t want him this to be a point of contention for us, which it would have been for a while, and I was really struggling with doing what I knew was the right thing. After some real soul searching, and some begging (yes, begging) God to turn my heart on this and make me OK with what I knew I needed to do, I agreed. The caveat was that I got to choose the order, and that he would be called by the other name regardless of the order. My husband agreed, though he did say at first, “Well, I’ll just call him “…”, and you can call him “…”.
No. Really, no!
In the end, the birth parents got the name they wanted, and that was the right thing. My husband got the name he wanted, and that was the right thing. I got to choose the order and the name by which he would be addressed, and yes, even that was the right thing. And the truth be told, the name – his whole name – suits him perfectly. It is masculine and strong, just as he is and will be, and it is just right.