Names: Olympic and adoption

Sabrina requested the other day that I write about Olympic names, so she (and any of you who are interested) will be happy to know I just submitted my August CatholicMom column, which will post next Wednesday — all about Olympic names! So sorry you have to wait until then to read it, but in the meantime I’d love to know what names are your favorites of these 2016 Summer Olympics (I was tweeting a bit the other night about some of the ones I loved: here, here, here, here).

Secondly, I had a request to write about names for adopted children — I plan to do some research and write a fuller post and/or article, but I’d also like your feedback on this if you have any experience with it. What issues do adoptive parents need to aware of? Any other advice?

Thanks! 😀

66 thoughts on “Names: Olympic and adoption

  1. One of my faves is definitely Katie Ledecky with Kathleen Genevieve. I just kinda love Kathleen, so Kathleen Baker too.

    Simone Manuel too, who beat one of the Campbell sisters (I think Bronte!).

    There’s an Italian swimmer named Frederica Pellegrini who is awesome and Frederica is so cool.

    There’s a French swimmer named Coralie which is very pretty.

    Just notable, another swimmer is Cammile Adams, but her first name is Natalie. Also, that spelling of Camille makes me sad.

    I love Maya Dirado, and her full name is actually Madeline, so it’s interesting to see Maya from Madeline.

    Steele Johnson’s name is just unfortunate 😛

    (I think it’s clear what sport I like to watch most, lol)

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  2. I love Bronte too and think it’s interesting that there are two (at least?) Simones on the US team. On the Australian field hockey team the names Edwina Claire and Jane-Anne stood out to me. Not sure of the country but I saw one of the swimmers was Franziska- love that name!
    Also for the guys I like Cameron McEvoy’s name.
    And this isn’t from 2016 but I’ve always thought Picabo Street is one of the most unique Olympic names. 🙂

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  3. Regarding adoptive names, I have a relative adopted from Russia whose birth name was Olga. As a toddler, she was renamed Marie Olga with new initials MOL…and called Molly!

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  4. Alicia Paulson of the blog Posie Gets Cozy (not Catholic, but beautifully crafty, and, well, cozy 😍) adopted a baby around the time I became pregnant with John, so she’ll be four in October. Her name, Amelia Jolene Beatrix, came from a combination of factors—birth father wanted her to have two middle names, birth mother suggested Amelia, Jolene was a family connection to the birth family, and Alicia & her husband chose Beatrix. I thought the collaboration between both families was really lovely. It was an open adoption so she will grow up knowing her first family to some extent. (Which, the older I get and the more people I meet with connections to adoption, the more I believe open adoption is preferable if at all possible.)

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  5. Oh, also, Kerri Walsh Jennings’s children have interesting names! The boys are Joseph and Sundance, and the girl, with who she was pregnant when she won gold in London, is Scout. I think they might be Catholic, too, because I thought I spotted a statue in their home during a spot about their family. At least Christian, though, because there was definitely a cross on the wall!

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  6. Adoption– I have an adopted niece, and a soon-to-be-adopted one year old sister! For my niece, adopted as a newborn, they went with the first name my sister has loved since she was a little girl, and the middle name is the same as the birth mom’s (who is also a family member) middle. (But a great fit, and flows nicely!) For my sister–she was in my parents’ home as a foster child for the first 11 months, and so they called her by the name given by her bio mom of course. When it was clear the bio mom was not going to regain custody, and my parents decided to adopt, they wanted to change her first name. They ended up deciding to move the original middle up to the first. For the new middle they chose Josephine, as St. Joseph is the patron of foster families!! (and at my and my husband’s suggestion, us being the Godparents). So… taking into account birth mom/family’s preferences, saints related to foster/adoption, and age of the child are all factors that might make adoption naming a bit different.

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  7. Regarding the athletes’ names, I agree with Grace: KATHLEEN GENEVIEVE, nicknamed Katie, is undeniably gorgeous! I also love SIMONE, a Catholic, sweet and unusual name with a French appeal, too. RAFAELA is great, just as its bearer (although I slightly prefer the original Latin version, Raphaela). What can I say about the Hungarian names? Very, very interesting: HEDWIG (as St. Hedwig of Poland), TÍMEA & ÁNDRAS (Hungarian version of Andrew) are my favourite ones. In the UK team I love ELISSA, nicknamed Ellie, which was Dido’s Phoenician name – so quite unlucky – nevertheless it’s similar to Alyssa & Melissa and, at the same time, an alternative route to Ellie. In the Austrian team there are such religious and saintly names: BEATE (that means nothing less than blessed), BERNADETTE and CLEMENS. And I absolutely love the Spanish names: MIREIA (currently popular in Spain; Catalan version of Mireille) and the Argentinian athletes’ names LEANDRO (Leander; there are even 2), LISANDRO (Lysander), JOSEFINA, MAGDALENA, MARÍA JOSÉ (literally Mary Joseph), EMMANUEL (the name of 2 athletes, 1 of them nicknamed Emma). Last but not the least: my favourite Italian names are ARIANNA FEDERICA, PETRA, CARLOTTA (Italian version of Charlotte) & MARCO, STEFANO and FABIO.

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  8. Oh!! I cannot believe that I forgot Canadian gymnast Ellie Black. Ellie isn’t the interesting part (even though I love it) but her full name! Which is Elsabeth, not Elisabeth as I originally thought!

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  9. I’m a newspaper reporter and I have interviewed a fair number of adoptive parents over the years. Some of them took different approaches. One family adopted a toddler girl from China and gave her a fairly popular English first name and chose a Chinese middle name for her. It wasn’t the original Chinese name she had been given by the orphanage; it was one they picked from a baby name book for its meaning. She has grown up to be a brilliant student and a very accomplished ballet dancer. She fits the name well, though I’ve never asked what she thinks of it. Another family adopted a 5 or 6-year-old from a country near India. They kept her very long original first and last original names and added their own last name to the end. They felt it was important to honor her heritage and not take her name away from her. They did give her an English nickname based on the original name. I think it was Sally. I also know of an adoptive family with girls from Ethiopia and China. They gave the Chinese born daughter a popular English name with a Chinese middle name. The Ethiopian born daughter was adopted at age nine and they kept her Ethiopian name. It is a meaningful name that refers to a song that is sung in church.

    Based on the people I’ve talked with over the years, it’s nice to keep some part of the child’s original name or culture as part of his name. A baby or a toddler can be renamed more easily than an older child. If the child is old enough, it’s probably a good idea to give him some choice regarding his name.

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  10. My friend Ginny of the blog Small Things has a son adopted from Liberia ar age 8 or so. His birth name was M0ses, and they gave him the middle name G@briel. After some time in their family, he chose to go by the middle name of G@briel, which over time has been shortened to G@be (he’s 14 now). Many of their children go by middle names already so it kind of fits. But he has his birth name as his first name forever, regardless.

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  11. Now that Simone Biles and Simone Manuel(!!!!! :D) won gold last night (good night to be a Simone). I hope the name Simone is on more people’s radars. I feel like it’s such an underappreciated name that would totally fit in with a lot of the popular names of today.

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  12. Hmmmm I love Mireia, Katinka, and Maya. I could also see American male swimmers last name, Lochte being a cute, modern little gal’s name. The whole team of US gal gymnasts have lovely names: Simone, Aly, Gabby, Laurie, and Madison. Michael is such a great name and athlete. Who doesn’t love Michael Phelps? I crack up every time they talk about “Baby Boomer”. I love both Nathan and Adrian (Adrian more). Micah (Christenson-US volleyball), Jake Dalton (both first and last could be fun first names). Ashton Eaton is a male track star. Those are just a few that stuck out to me in the long list of names you see watching the Olympics….

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    • I probably wouldn’t go with Lochte now, eep. We have followed the sport of swimming for many years (well, I was a competitive swimmer myself, so I’ve been following it for nearly 30 years, and now my kids swim competitively and we follow it even more closely), and Ryan Lochte always seemed kind of like an egomaniac to me. But now that he apparently did vandalism in Rio and lied about it, fleeing the country before getting caught… I would never, ever give my child a name so closely associated with him! Ryan could be any Ryan, but Lochte conjures him instantly.

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  13. Oh Kate! You make me blush 😉

    We’re still not getting over the high of Singapore’s first gold medal. Incidentally, Schooling is Catholic (saw a crucifix on the wall when our newspaper was interviewing his parents) and his full name is Joseph Isaac. Lots of Brazilian swimmers are catholic too, and James Guy from team GB crossed himself before his race – forgot which one tho.

    Seeing all Kate’s, Katie’s, etc win medal after medal has utterly convinced me to name a daughter a form of Catherine. Woot!

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  14. WOW! Sabrina that is SO COOL, I had no idea that Schooling was Catholic! I LOVE Joseph Isaac, wow!!! Unfortunately, my CatholicMom article focused almost exclusively on American athletes, because when I googled “Catholic Olympian athletes” I only got American results! But I’m going to mention a few more in my post here on Wednesday, and I’ll def include Joseph Schooling (and congrats to Singapore!!). I didn’t know that about James Guy either!! Gah!!

    Hooray for K/Catherine!!! (I speak from experience that it’s a great name 🙂 )

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  15. And a Greek swimmer with the name Kristian (last name something very Greek 😊)- I honestly don’t think I’ve every seen that spelling but I like it!
    Also, I love hearing all the non-American pronunciations of names!

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  16. I keep meaning to comment with this and then forgetting! While doing some Olympics Googling, I found out that swimming commentator extraordinaire (and 1984 gold medalist!) Rowdy Gaines is actually named Ambrose! I wonder if Rowdy was chosen as a nickname for Ambrose, or if he got the nickname some other way.

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  17. We have a cousin who adopted two Asian children. He and his wife gave the children what we would all consider traditional Catholic names, and at the time of welcoming the children at a Family gathering, there was great celebration of the very different culture from which the children came. I always thought that was a wonderful way to celebrate very different genetic legacies…another opportunity to comment on what a wonderful and loving Family I married into!

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  18. My favorite names among olympic athletes: Gesa Felicitas Krause (from Germany), Siobahn-Marie O’Connor (from the UK)) and Nikolina Moldovan (from Serbia). (Of course there are other beautiful names, but those are more common.)

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  19. The other night I saw there was a Czech female runner named Zuzana, which I think is so cool! And a runner from Kenya named Boniface- prob. one of the least mainstream named out there. 🙂

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