When we adopted our daughter, we chose her name with her birth mother

Portrait of baby smiling wrapped in a soft blanket
Cecile Lavabre/Getty Images
  • My husband and I didn't want to give our children hyphenated last names.

  • We decided they would have his last name and use middle names from my side of the family.

  • When we adopted our fourth child, we chose the name with her birth mother.

Before we became parents, we thought we'd give our children different last names. We rejected hyphenation since my last name is quite long. Instead, one kid would get my husband's, and one would get mine; we'd flip a coin for who went first.

Once pregnant with our first child, I remembered all the teasing I'd gotten as a kid. How many people couldn't spell my last name. "Let's give all the kids your surname," I said to my spouse. Middle names would be from the maternal side of the family, we decided. This organizing principle worked well.

And then, we planned to adopt a baby — our fourth, only one through adoption.

We chose the name with the birth mother

Maybe a month before this baby was due, our shared social worker gathered us and Caroline, the intended birth mother, who was pregnant. We all planned on an open adoption. Our social worker asked, "What are you thinking about the name?"

Had I been pregnant, I would have placed my hand on my rounded belly just then. I hadn't realized this until I noticed my eyes went straight to Caroline's round belly. It was barely winter, but there was snow outside, and a bright sun streamed through the window across her.

She said, "I do like the name Jasmine."

"Jasmine is really pretty," I agreed immediately. I'd tossed that name out for a theoretical girl during other pregnancies. It hadn't stuck. By the time we sat around this dining table, I understood that I'd been waiting for over a decade for Saskia or Kezia, the original girl names we'd had, names my husband, Hosea, and I both still loved. I said, "We have two names we've thought about for a long time. If there's one you like more or that you hate, we want to know; we want you to love her name, too."

My husband, Hosea, said, "One is Saskia, and the other is Kezia."

Caroline thought both names were pretty, and Hosea described how the kids had his surname and maternal side middle names, so we hoped she'd suggest a name from her family. Caroline shared her mother's maiden name with us.

Her birth mother's maternal family name is her middle name

We grew quieter, all of us. While the sun streamed in, it was quiet enough to take notice of the warmth beaming through the window, as if to support the hope that this shared name would carry this baby through the complexity of life begun with one parent and continued with others, knowing we all loved her forever.

"Both are really pretty," Caroline said, "but I like Saskia a lot. Saskia Raine."

"That's beautiful," our social worker declared.

About six weeks later, that full name was on the baby's birth certificate.

With adoption, the birth certificate issued just after birth isn't the final one, though. Many months later, on a different early wintry day when huge, pounding rain fell atop slushy snow, her same full name appeared on her second birth certificate. This new, amended one issued after the adoption was finalized no longer listed Caroline. Instead, my husband's and my names appeared. I felt like all our names belonged.

At the courthouse, adoption ceremonies are just about the only happy events, and the staff makes a big fuss. We were handed a Polaroid of our family with the judge in a clear plastic frame, along with a certificate.

The picture didn't tell a whole story. Neither birth certificate did. The name doesn't either, but it tries.

Read the original article on Business Insider