Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's In a Name, Part 2 - Son of the Sea

Our son's name is Dylan [V.'s Last Name as Middle Name] [M's Last Name]-[My Last Name].

This isn't what we planned, but we are very happy with all four of his names. They are each significant, and they each suit him already. I want to tell you about them.

First, the last name. This was a dilemma we discussed for a long time. Neither of us particularly wanted to change our last name to the other's, for various reason. So we were excited when we came up with an entirely new name comprised of syllables from both our names. It seemed appropriately non-traditional (kind of like us), but not too weird.

However, when the rubber hit the road, and the birth certificate needed to be signed, we had second thoughts. M. in particular realized that it was more important to him than he anticipated to continue his family name. He felt that this significant link to heritage is especially important for our adopted child. I told him I thought it would be great for our son, the only male "heir," to carry on his family's name.

But M. felt that it wouldn't be right to just represent his family in our child's last name. He advocated for including mine as well. This wasn't important to me, initially. But M. was persuasive. He talked about other cultures that hand down names from both parents' families to their children. He said that if we included only his family's name, my cultural heritage would not be represented, and we thought it would be nice. Plus, we'd be following the patriarchal convention we were hoping to avoid.

Ultimately, we decided to hyphenate. Screw our former argument that such a complex name would just defer a difficult decision to our kid. Yes, that might be true. On the other hand, maybe its a good idea that if and when he wants to change his name (say, to blend it with his partner's), he'll be the one to determine what's important to maintain, and what can be altered or abandoned.

Though I'm sorry we weren't able to make this decision until late in the game (and after we'd shared the other name with V. and some close family members - who tried well and not-so-well to hide their dismay), I am really happy with where we've ended up. I especially like that M. and I are also using the last name, and that already most of the gifts and cards that have arrived in honor of our son's birth have been addressed to the [M's Last Name]-[My Last Name] Family!

Next, his middle name. This didn't go as planned either, though we also pleased with this new direction. When M. and I fantasized about our hypothetical child and his or her name, we settle on middle names early. This is because M's sisters share a middle name (Marie), and we wanted to honor them if we had a daughter. Oddly enough, my parents have the same middle name (Martin - it was my dad's father's name, and a last name in my mom's family). So if we had a son, we'd like to give him that as a middle name.

But then reality walked in -or rather, e-mailed us! As we got to know our future child's birth mother, we found that we wanted our child to have something in his name to reference and honor her. We asked her if it would be okay to give him her last name as his middle name, and she was delighted. She said that this would be especially meaningful to her own father.

I love that our son's names connect him with all of his parents...(well, except for his birth father...but that's another story).

And last but not least, the kiddo's first name. In an early conversation with V., well before we were officially matched, she brought up names, and it was clear that this was important to her. It was quickly obvious we had quite different ideas, but that we wanted to work together to find something we'd all love.

We all developed lists and would tentatively float new suggestions to the others. Inevitably, we'd get excited about one, but someone else would have a negative association to it. Slowly but surely, though, we developed a short list. We ended up agreeing on two names - one that we suggested, and one that V. did. We hadn't considered it, but ended up really liking it. We decided we should wait to meet the little guy to see which name suited him best. When our son was born, we hung out with him awhile before settling on what to call him.

Dylan. I love the way it sounds, alone and with all of his other names. And its pretty easy to pronounce but not too common.

V. told us that the meaning of names was important to her so I was thrilled when I looked up Dylan. It is a Welsh name that means "son of the sea" or "of the ocean." Since M. is a surfer and I've always been drawn to the ocean, it seemed almost like fate.

But we still weren't sure. Though we didn't tell anyone we knew well what the top two contenders were, we told a few of the nurses and others we encountered, and gauging their reactions was interest.

In fact, we told the nurse who would spend the first night caring for our little one in the NICU. She said, with a wonderful Jamaican accent, "Oh, those are both good names. X, that's a strong, politician's name. And Dylan, he's an artist."

So, above are some photos of our little artist, our son of the sea, taken on his first visit to the beach, just a few days after we brought him home.


Leigh said...

what a lovely post!

MCH said...

Thanks for the sharing that naming story! My daughter also has a hyphenated last name, since I didn't change my name when I got married either. She is definitely in the minority among her friends (she has one or two friends with last names like hers), but 10 years later, I still feel it was a good decision. It will also be nicer for you when Dylan starts school and his last name contains both of yours. Congratulations again!!

Anonymous said...

What fabulous pictures! Lovely post.