Renaming an older adopted child?

I received an email from a mama about renaming a two-and-a-half-year-old that she and her husband are adopting, and she specifically asked for feedback from all of you. She writes,

We are a family built by adoption and we have named all of our children with different levels of biological family involvement … [Friends of friends have custody of their two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and] have asked us to adopt him … we initially intended to keep his name and perhaps consider a different middle name, but his grandparents had intended to change his name if they were to adopt him and have encouraged us to change his name … I am not sure how I feel about a 2 year old getting a name change, or how to transition to a new name … I would love it if you would crowd source opinions about changing names at this age.”

She also said that if they decide to change his name, it would only be because the grandparents asked them to, and they would ask the grandparents to help them choose the new name.

Please weigh in with your thoughts and experiences! I’ve posted about adoption and names several times, and I thought this post in particular might be helpful (great comments on it!), but any advice or thoughts you have for this specific family would be great. Thank you!!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)


Birth announcement: Sojourn Hyssop Arise!

I’m so excited to share that Katheryn — whose experience with adoption and naming I spotlighted here, and whose last two babies’ birth announcements I posted here and here — has welcomed another baby girl! She and her hubby have given her the ah-MAZ-ing name … Sojourn Hyssop Arise!

Katheryn wrote on Instagram (and gave me permission to share here):

SOJOURN “a temporary stay in a place.” To us the name Sojourn evokes a sense of waiting on God and trusting Him in the unknown, and the refocusing of our hearts completely on Him, our true home. The Bible is full of times (40 years wandering in the desert, Abraham, etc.) where God calls His people out to sojourn for a time and learn to wait on Him. It’s usually a time that He uses to bring them to a greater trust in and reliance on Him. She is named after the sojourn of the Holy Family in Egypt and after St. Peregrine. (Peregrine means “sojourn”)

HYSSOP is my great-grandma’s maiden name. Hyssop is the plant used for purification ceremonies in the Bible. It was what the sponge was put on to lift it to Jesus’ mouth on the cross. It is also what was used in Exodus to paint the lamb’s blood over the door posts for the angel to pass over them. All of our girls have one botanical name.

ARISE is from “Talitha Koum” when Jesus brought the little girl back to life and from the book of Ezekiel when God told him that nothing was impossible with God and to prove it he told him to tell the dry bones to arise and He made them into an army. “Arise” reflects the healing power of God and is a testimony that nothing is impossible with Him. It is also after her birth mom since her name means “rising.”

I mean really. !! I’m always blown away by the thought and meaning that Katheryn and her hubby have put into the beautiful, always unexpected names that they’ve chosen for their babies — each one is such a testament to their love for their little ones! I’ve always admired, too, how they’ve made a point to work a connection to their birth families in, each time. ❤

Congratulations to Katheryn and her husband and big siblings:

Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne
Gethsemane Juniper Anne
Bosco Willis Yard
Hyacinth Clemency Veil
à Kempis Exodus Praise (“Exodus”)
Zephyr Wisdom Clove

And happy birthday Baby Sojourn!!


Sojourn Hyssop Arise

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

[Not Fun] Friday Question: How to approach naming in a foster-to-adopt situation?

Happy New Year to you all!!

This is the latest in my “Fun Friday Question” series, but it’s more sobering than fun, hence the title. A reader asked,

As foster parents, I often think about what we would do if we adopted from foster care (which we hope to do at some point). With the kids being older, changing names often doesn’t seem like a possibility or in the best interest of the child, but I worry about their names setting them apart from the rest of the family, since our kid’s names are more traditional and our girls names especially follow a pattern and we’ve very intentionally included saint and family names in our children’s names. I’m curious what other people do in similar situations. Maybe we should have given less matchy names so that adopted children would be able to blend in easier (too late for that now, but should that have been a consideration earlier on). Or since we have no idea if an adoption will ever happen, is it best that we used the names we really wanted. How should plans to adopt from foster care affect naming of biological children? What are some ways to help incorporate an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it? How should someone respond to comments of one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest?

I know there are a bunch of you who have fostered and/or adopted — I hope you offer your thoughts/experiences!

My initial thoughts, for what they’re worth, are: I think it’s so loving that this family is grappling with this question! What a wonderful thing, to try to do everything possible to enfold a child into the family.

I would think that using the names they want for their biological children makes the most sense, especially since — at least for this reader — there’s no guarantee that “an adoption will ever happen.”

Some ways of incorporating an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it could include bestowing a nickname similar to those of the other children (e.g., if they all have Skip/Buddy/Princess-type nicknames, it would be fairly easy to come up with something similar; if all the biological children have Spanish names, maybe a Spanish nickname for the adopted child’s name or similar could work).

As for questions about one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest, I’d try to come up with some go-to reply, like, “Yes, isn’t it lovely?” Or, “It has such a great meaning that totally fits his personality,” or … ? Something that doesn’t focus on its difference, but rather its strengths, and maybe avoids the fact that it doesn’t match the other siblings’ style? Or maybe embracing its difference is better? I know you all will have some great ideas!

Have a great weekend!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Michael Dominic!

I posted a consultation for Vanessa and her husband two years ago this month, when they were hoping to add to their family via adoption. Vanessa let me know that they were able to bring home a long-hoped-for baby this past summer — a boy! They gave him the saintly, handsome name … Michael Dominic!

Vanessa writes,

This email is a long time coming…I don’t know where the last few months have gone! On July 6, our sweet Michael Dominic came home to us. We are grateful and overjoyed to have a new baby in the house — thanks be to God! So how did we decide on the name?

We ended up throwing out some of our ‘rules’ as his name seemed to ‘just happen.’ Rule #1 — a name that cannot nickname easily — Michael almost immediately becomes Mike at some point in life to most Michael’s but we’ll just call him Michael within the family and hope we can keep it going. As he gets older, I guess he’ll decide! We loved the link to St. Michael the Archangel and we pray that prayer daily. It turns out St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of the sick and we learned that AFTER we decided on his name. This seemed appropriate & affirmed the name to us because Michael was born with a significant kidney issue that will need to be followed and could potentially lead to a kidney transplant. For now, Michael is doing well and we’re grateful for that but any prayers your readers could spare would be greatly appreciated!

Also, Michael was a name that originally we’d only considered as a middle name, if at all. But for some reason for THIS child, Michael was the first name that came into my mind when I got the first call from our social worker. When I told my husband about the call, he immediately said, “Maybe this baby should be Michael David” (his name is David!). After a few days of thinking about that name, he suggested Michael Dominic — since we love the rosary and St. Dominic was entrusted with the rosary by Our Lady… it seemed to just fit. Plus as my husband said, “I think he should have his own name.”

I also thought Michael flowed well with Nicholas, John, Mark and Mary. I especially love that the last three children begin with M! Not sure why, but it fits for me!!

So it stuck. Once we thought about it a few days (and this seems to happen to us with each child), we couldn’t get excited about any other name. And we only had 10 days from that first call until the day he came home! Our other children were absolutely thrilled to have a new baby. We waited to tell them until the night before and they nearly didn’t go to sleep! We all drove together to pick him up and it was a beautiful and memorable day.

On another note, our 4 other children loved the name Dominic and even called him Dominic for the first week or two. It was funny because many of our friends and neighbors were confused about what his name was! When they’d speak to our children, they’d refer to him as Dominic! We didn’t correct the children and we knew they’d eventually get it right — of course they did! I wonder if you or any of your readers have had any situations like that!

I loved every detail of this story! Doesn’t Vanessa’s joy just flow out of her email? I love the combo Michael Dominic and all the significance it has for Vanessa and her hubs!

I’m interested, too, in Vanessa’s question: whether or not any of you have had the experience of your other children calling the baby by a different name than the intended call name? The only experience we had that was sort of similar is when we intended the baby to be called exclusively by a nickname, but the older boys called him by his first name for a while after birth. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this!

Please also keep Michael in your prayers, in regards to his kidney issue.

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big siblings Nicholas, John, Mark, and Mary, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

(Some of these photos are from Michael’s homecoming day! ❤ )


Michael Dominic with his family ❤

Birth announcement: Azelie Patrice!

Last summer I posted a consultation for Robyn and her husband for the baby girl they hoped to adopt, whose name they wanted to go well with her big brother Ezra, who is less than a year older than her. I’m thrilled to share the news of the baby’s birth and the finalization of her adoption! Robyn and her hubs gave her the gorgeous name … Azelie Patrice!

Robyn writes,

As you may remember, we adopted a baby girl who arrived on Sept.14th! She was incredibly tiny at only 4 lbs but completely healthy. (Thank you, dearest Lord and Blessed Mother) We just finalized her adoption this past Monday so it is all official and legal, SHE IS OURS FOREVER!!!!!

We decided on AZELIE PATRICE for her name. We call her Zelie and Zelie Patt and her big 4 year old sis calls her Pumpkin Flower;) I think the names Zelie and Ezra go so perfectly together.

I loved the name Zelie right from the start. When I first came across the name I immediately put it with Patrice after my beautiful mother who passed away in 2010. I got chills right away but when I ran it by hubby, he wasn’t so sure. He thought it might not age well. He was certain that the name had to be Italian. So, we put Zelie on the back burner and played around with many, many other names and eventually settled on one. Then hubby, totally out of the blue, brought up Zelie again. He was learning more about the Saint and that her given name was Azelie. He liked that Azelie gave our daughter more options as she grew up. He still wanted an Italian middle name so we thought Lucia or even Catherine. Isn’t it amazing how the Holy Spirit works!!!!!

We were privileged to be at Zelie’s birth. One of the nurses who helped us and birth mom was just so sweet and considerate (as the situation was a little unique). As we talked we found out that she adopted her 3 children as well. We felt an immediate connection and her name was Patricia, my mom’s name!!!!!! We felt it was as if my mom was there is some way. When my husband asked what her name was as I was holding Zelie for the first time, with tears streaming down my face I pronounced, Azelie Patrice and he whole heartily agreed. It was the perfect way to honor my mother and in a special way for us to honor the Blessed Mother, because it was my mother’s very deep devotion to Mary that led me have a close affection for her myself. I can’t wait to tell Zelie Patt (that is how my mom shorten her name with two t’s) all about her Grammy and how much she loved Mary.

Azelie is 6 months old now, rolling over, cooing and babbling, sleeping through the night and absolutely has all of our hearts! All the children adore but especially Ezra, who at 16 months says “baby” and smothers her with kisses! 😉 She is a amazing gift to us and we are so grateful to her courageous birth mother and to our loving and generous Heavenly Father!

Were you all as moved as I was at this story! How wonderful!!

Congratulations to Robyn and her husband and big siblings Noah, Elijah, Aaron, Gianna, and Ezra, and happy birthday Baby Azelie!!


Clockwise from top left: Azelie Patrice; “Sister Snuggles”; “Our Three Adopted Blessings”


The whole family at Zelie’s baptism ❤

Birth announcement: Zephyr Wisdom Clove!

I profiled Katheryn and her beautiful family and her amazing taste in names in this post, and then was thrilled to post a birth announcement for her youngest son, and today I’m so excited to post a birth announcement for her youngest daughter, the incredibly named … Zephyr Wisdom Clove!

As with all her kiddos’ names, little Zephyr’s name is full of meaning. Katheryn writes,

She is named after Mary Seat of Wisdom and also after the Holy Spirit, Who played a big role in bringing us together. Zephyr means wind which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and then Wisdom is also the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit. Clove is her birth family connection name, and all our girls also have a botanical name so it is in keeping with that theme as well and is after St. Clovis. Zephyr is also after St. Zephyrine and the prophet Zephaniah, specifically this quote; “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

I have always loved the way Katheryn and her husband knit together meanings into one gorgeous name combination, and this little one’s name is no different. Amazing!

Congratulations to Katheryn and her hubs and big sibs:

Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne
Gethsemane Juniper Anne
Bosco Willis Yard
Hyacinth Clemency Veil
à Kempis Exodus Praise (“Exodus”)

And happy birthday Baby Zephyr!!

Zephyr Wisdom Clove and her big brothers and sisters ❤

Birth announcement: Gerhardt Joseph!

I posted a consultation for Mary and her husband back in July, and Mary’s let me know her little boy has been born and given the amazing name … Gerhardt Joseph!

Mary writes,

I have a birth announcement! Gerhardt Joseph was born 9-19, 7lbs 3oz, 18 3/4 inches … Gerhardt was named for [hubby’s] great grandfather John Gerhardt and we are calling him Hart. Joseph you may recall is [hubby’s] middle name 🙂 “

Gerhardt nicknamed Hart!! I love that so much!! And Gerhardt fits in so well with the theme they’ve already established of using family surnames as first names — love love love!!

Congratulations to Mary and her husband and big sibs Curtice, Leavitt, Hayden, Johnston, and Larkin, and happy birthday Baby Gerhardt!!


Gerhardt Joseph “Hart”

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 5 needs a name that fits with the very cool style of his siblings

Mary and her husband are hopeful adoptive parents, set to welcome a baby boy into their family this fall — their fifth son! Big sibs are:

Curtice Andrew (nicknamed Curt)
Leavitt Thomas
Hayden Matthew
Johnston James (nicked Johns)
Elizabeth Anne Larkin (called Larkin)

I love love love this family’s style, as all the boys have family surnames as first names and their daughter goes by a family surname as well! So well done!

Mary writes,

Our daughter joined our family through an open domestic adoption. We chose Elizabeth Anne with her birth mom as her first name as a nod to Larkin’s mom’s step mother who passed away and my beloved grandmother.

This little guy will also join our family through an open adoption, God willing. [A surname in his mom’s family] is Bennett so are tentatively planning to use that as his first name but are open to Duncan, Collins, and to a lesser extent Thomas as a first name only because we have used Thomas already and it doesn’t really fit with the others. Basically the only remaining suitable boy surnames.”

I love their whole mindset, and such great names to choose from!

One issue that Mary specifically noted is that all of their boys have apostles’ names as middle names, but there are issues with the remaining apostles’ names. As she writes,

We need help with a middle name.

We are considering Peter (my dad) or Michael (Chris’ dad) but don’t know if we want to use two middle names and my dad doesn’t really like his name, but it does follow the conventions we have followed thus far ie apostle middle name. Our thinking there is the first names are a little modern so we wanted strong middle names they can use,

We thought about Phillip but it doesn’t feel right.

I like the idea of a Marian boys name or perhaps even Joseph as a nod to my husband [it’s her husband’s middle name].

Or maybe Gabriel, my confirmation name? or Mark, Chris’ confirmation name. Maybe expand and consider Luke or Paul?

So my first thought regarding middle names for boys is to change from “apostles’ names” to “New Testament names” or even more broadly “biblical names.” My guess is that if they were to give this little guy the middle name Luke, for example, no one will look at the boys’ middle names and say, “Wait a minute. The first four all have names of the apostles while the fifth one doesn’t!” Rather, people will think, “New Testament names” if they even have a thought about their style at all. Andrew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Peter, Michael, Joseph, Philip, Luke, and Paul are all such common names (and I don’t mean “common” in any negative way) that I think they’re less thought of as “biblical names” and more thought of as “traditional, masculine boy names.” Certainly parents who are choosing names are tuned in to the nuances, and those who love names might notice, but I don’t think it would register to even me that the first four are specifically apostles’ names. So I hope that gives Mary and her hubs some peace about branching out! It wouldn’t be breaking from their tradition, it would be renaming it.

That said, I do have some ideas of how to retain their apostle theme while still working with the parameters and name ideas Mary provided.

Before I get into that though, I wanted to comment on the names they’re considering. I mentioned already that I love Bennett — how crazy awesome is it that a family surname in his mom’s family tree is so well suited to being a first name! I think it’s a slam dunk, truly.

If they wanted to be talked out of Bennett though, I can think of two little niggling points: (1) it ends in “tt” like Leavitt. This can be either a pro or a con — a pro in that it links his name in really closely to one of the older boys, which can be really sweet; a con in that they would have two with the same ending. But thinking about it more, Hayden, Johnston, and Larkin all end in the same sound, and I didn’t even realize until I checked to see, so I’m sure Bennett and Leavitt are fine. (2) While I really do love the connection to his mom in the name, I wonder if there’s something a little off about having this baby’s first name NOT be from Mary/Mary’s husband’s family tree, which all the other kids’ names do — might this new baby feel a little left out? I know this is a sensitive topic, and I don’t have answers — I just want to raise the questions so they’re sure they’ve thought it all through.

If they were to ask my opinion, I would definitely say to take Thomas off the table. It’s a great name! But there are lots of great names, and I’d love to see them choose a new one.

I like both Duncan and Collins, and I thought Collins a particularly promising choice because of another idea I had: considering surnames that are derived from biblical first names. Collins can be derived from Nicholas, which is a New Testament name, which — if Mary and her hubs could get on board with that idea — could free up the middle name spot to do something different than a biblical/New Testament/apostle name.

I love Gabriel, Joseph, and Luke — I would consider them all Marian (Gabriel and Joseph because of the significant roles they played in her life and motherhood, and Luke because his gospel is the most Marian and contains her Magnificat), and they’re all New Testament names, which fits in so nicely with the others. Luke especially has the same feel as the others, due to his being an evangelist like Matthew and John. I like that Joseph is Mary’s husband’s middle too, that’s a really nice thing for their new baby. Mark and Paul are fine names too, and also keep with the feel of the others — I bet a lot of people think Paul was one of the original twelve, and Mark being an evangelist gives him the feel of an apostle for many people.

Okay! Now on to new ideas. I know the reason Mary emailed is because she wants new middle name ideas, but honestly, I could only think of one: Simon! They’ve already considered Peter and Philip, and I don’t think Nathanael/Bartholomew or Jude/Thaddeus are quite right for them (in those forms anyway; see below). There were two Simons in the twelve — Simon Peter of course and Simon the Zealot — and it’s a great name, it’s got a bookish feel that I think goes well with surname first names. Bennett Simon would be quite nice. It doesn’t have a great flow with Duncan or Collins though. I wonder if Simon could also be used as a nod to Mary’s dad? I think most people think of Simon Peter when they think of Simon, so it could be a way of honoring him that doesn’t use his name.

But I did have a lot of ideas for first names that help grapple with their issues and maybe help them look at things in a new way and come up with some new ideas. For example:

(1) Pierce (or Piers)
I really really like Pierce for them. It certainly has use as a first name, but it’s also an English surname that really fits the vibe of their other kids I think. Best yet, it’s a variant of Peter, so it would be using Mary’s dad’s name in a new way (thus hopefully working around the fact that he doesn’t like his name), which is also an apostle’s name (so they’d be able to stick with what they’ve already done in the sense of giving each of their boys an apostle’s name; let’s leave for the moment the fact that the others all have the apostle’s name in the middle and this would be putting it up front), AND I’ve seen it used in honor of Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword, which gives it a Marian character. They could also consider the variant Piers, which takes away the Marian element but is another cool way to honor a Peter. This is a slight departure from what they’ve done already in terms of the strict definition of using a family surname; but at the same time they can argue it’s the same as they’ve already done — used a surname as a first name that has heavy family ties.

If they used Pierce, they could put Michael in the middle and get both grandpas there in one name. Pierce Bennett feels perhaps too surname heavy, but Bennett is actually a medieval diminutive of Benedict, and I really like Pierce Benedict. Or would that take it too far from the connection to the mom? Benedict/Bennett means “blessed,” which can also point to Our Lady, which I love. I also love the idea of two middle names for this baby — different from his brothers but something he can share with Larkin, who came to their family in the same way, and would open up another slot for fitting in a name from his mom while still allowing Mary and her hubs to honor their family members.

(2) Miles or Mitchell
Anyone who’s been reading for a while knows that I push Miles a lot! I love it because it has traditional usage in Ireland as the anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I love that! But, I’ve also seen it connected to Michael — I’ve seen it as a nickname for Michael, which I think is so cool, and I’ve seen it suggested as possibly originating as a variant of Michael (read more about it here). So Miles can be another surname-type name that could work as a first name with their theme while also honoring Grandpa Michael.

Mitchell is another idea along these lines. You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in The Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Mitchell was listed as a style match for Curtis, which I thought was a reasonable stand-in for Curtice. Mitchell’s use as a first name comes from the surname Mitchell, which came from the first name Michael. So another way to use a name with a similar feel in the first name spot that nods to an important family member!

(Fun fact: Miles is also a style match for Bennett!)

(3) Elliott
When I saw Elliott listed as a style match for Bennett, I immediately thought it deserved a mention. Like Bennett, it’s a medieval diminutive of a different name — in this case, Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah. Elliott became a surname, and then a first name, so it’s got that surname history and biblical origin. Of course Elias/Elijah is Old Testament rather than New, but if they broaden their theme to “biblical” it works.

(4) Bates, or Bartlett
Two surnames that derive from Bartholomew are Bates (how cool!) and Bartlett. Bartlett might be too similar to Bennett? Like, if they’re going to consider Bartlett, let’s just go all the way and do Bennett? But Bates is awesome. It takes care of the apostle theme, and then they could do any of their family names in the middle. I love Bates Michael, Bates Joseph, and even Bates Benedict (how scholarly sounding!). I don’t even mind Bates Bennett, the pleasantness to me of the alliteration balances out the possible negativity of two surnames in a row. Or Bates Michael Bennett, for example, which is also really handsome.

(5) Judd
Judd isn’t as clean an idea as some of the others — my sources mostly say it’s a variant of (and surname derived from) the name Jordan, but the Surname Database, which usually matches up quite well with my reliable sources, says Judd has three possible origins, one of which is as a variant of Jude. So that can work for Jude Thaddeus. I like Judd Michael, Judd Simon, Judd Benedict/Bennett, etc.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest that fit with the names and theme they’ve already used?

Baby name consultation: Formal name for Lola or Lulu?

Consultation post number 3 for this week! Hooray!! 😁😍🎉

I posted a consultation for Emily and her husband nearly two years ago, and then a birth announcement when their little guy was born, and now they’re naming another sweet little one! Their new little girl joins big sibs:

Gwenevere Marie (Gwen)
Avalene Ruth (Avie)
Gideon Elias
Woodrow Ignatius

SUCH a fun and fabulous bunch of names!

Emily writes,

We are in the process of adopting from China! This will be our fifth child, and third girl. She will be three in May, and we hope to get her home in the fall.

Obviously she has a name already. Her name is Le Le, pronounced “luh-luh” in Chinese and meaning “Joy and gladness”. While we want to be respectful of her heritage, we also want to integrate her into our family completely. She actually goes by “Lola” in her foster home. We had been calling her “lay lay” before we found out we were mispronouncing it. We have been thinking of calling her “Lulu”, as it’s very similar to what she is called, and what her name is.

We have now thoroughly confused our children on what her name is! We’re sort of stuck. We want to give her a name from us, as is tradition when welcoming a new child, but not totally overwhelm her with change. As far as we know, she understands when spoken to, but is, as of now, nonverbal (she has Down syndrome).

Lulu seems to be more nickname-y, and we hoped we could give her a more formal name.

My husband is totally against calling her Joy, which I first suggested.

I don’t blog anymore but we have a youcaring page, which I try and update and a Facebook page dedicated to the adoption.”

Can you believe how loving and generous this family is? What a blessed little girl Le Le is! I’m so very happy to think of name ideas for her. And I’m really intrigued by this naming dilemma! I immediately latched on to both Lola and Lulu, as they’re both kind of on-trend for girls right now. And I know a little girl with the given name Lulu! Just Lulu! So I think these names will fit in really well with the name landscape Emily’s kids are part of.

I also love the meaning of Le Le’s name, and I actually love Joy as a possibility (don’t tell Dad! 😉) … it makes me think of St. Catherine of Siena, who was so joyful as a child that she was called Euphrosyne, which is Greek for joy! At first I thought it could help Emily and her hubs with their dilemma, as I assumed the first syllable was said like “you,” and I did find one place that said it you-FRAH-zee-nee, which kind of mirrors the sounds of Lulu, but then I listened to another pronunciation of it that’s more authentically Greek and it sounds like it’s more like ef-raw-SEE-nee. So I don’t know if any of this is helpful at all!

Back to Lola/Lulu, some formal names that I think could get to Lola, which I also think can work for Lulu, are:

— Violet Louisa (or vice versa)
— Caroline Lucia (or vice versa)
— Lourdes (do note that Madonna’s daughter is Lourdes nicked Lola, a surprisingly beautiful choice compared to other choices she’s made)
— a Mary- double, like Mary Aloysius, Mary Olivia, Mary Ophelia, Maria Lauren, Marie Lorelei; I also like the idea of hyphenating: Marie-Olivia or Marie-Olive, Maria-Ophelia, Maria- or Marie-Lauren, Marie-Lorelei — really, Mary + anything with O and L sounds
— Lulu is especially perfect for Louisa or Lucia/Lucy
— Juliet (with its long U and heavy L)
— Elodie (this could work for Lola too)
— really probably most L names. In fact, I don’t even think Violet or Caroline need an L middle name to make Lola/Lulu work as a nickname for them.

Additionally, Lola is actually a traditional nickname for Dolores (meaning “sorrows,” from the Marian title Our Lady of Sorrows), and the fashion designer Lulu Guinness was born Lucinda Jane.

Oooooh wait a minute!! I just remembered some L names that mean joy!! There’s Laetitia, which comes from the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy), and there’s the related title Our Lady of Liesse, where Liesse is French for joy! I particularly like Liesse, such a pretty name.

And those are my ideas for this beautiful family and their beautiful little girl! What name(s) would you suggest that connect to Lola, Lulu, and/or “joy”/”gladness” and that fit in well with her big sisters and brothers?

(Please also consider donating to the adoption fund through their page at youcaring, if you’re able, and follow their updates on Facebook.)

Baby name consultation: No. 5 green bean 🌱 — solid, saintly, no nicknames

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day/Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

Vanessa and her husband are hoping for baby No. 5! Vanessa writes,

My husband David & I have a unique situation in that we’ve adopted our 4 children. We’re on “the list” again and there’s no telling when (or if!) our next little one might arrive. We could receive a phone call next week, in 3 months, in 2 years or not at all (you get the picture!)…Also, we have no idea if we’d be adopting another boy or another girl next time as we are not able to specify a preference.”

A new little one will join big sibs:

Nicholas Benedict (“his birthmom chose his first name Nicholas but we changed his middle name to Benedict. We LOVED the name Nicholas but had never considered it as a first name – when he was already named Nicholas, we immediately loved it! (As it turns out, he inherited much generosity from his namesake, St. Nicholas!) We received the call about our son when Pope Benedict was in the US for his historic visit in 2008. We decided while watching the news coverage to pray to St Benedict for his intercession and at that point decided if it worked out, we would change his middle name to Benedict. Of course, the rest is history!“)

John Paul (“we gave him this name after St Pope John Paul. We had always loved and admired the beloved Pope and we wanted our son to have a wonderful saint and holy Pope to look up to. Of course, John is very loving, just like the beloved Pope was.”)

Mark Thomas (“we gave him this name after St Mark and St Thomas More. We chose Mark because we met his birthmom on the feast day of St Mark (April 25). We have always loved and admired the fortitude and perseverance of St Thomas More and we loved the idea of using this name. Ironically, Mark’s birthday is the birthday of St Pope John Paul and he came home to us on July 11, the feast day of St Benedict! Clearly, he was born to be our child – God knew he would be in our family!!“)

Mary Catherine (“we gave her this name after Our Lady and also after St Catherine Laboure. We have always loved the miraculous medal and we loved the name Catherine. Mary was born on the sixth anniversary of the day Nicholas came home to us! (It was even a Thursday, just like in 2008!) Also, she came home to us on 5/19/2014, the day after Mark’s 2nd birthday.”)

What wonderful names! And the name stories! I totally had goosebumps reading all the fun and amazing details!

Vanessa and David have several naming rules/considerations:

1. We don’t really like nicknames for our children. With the exception of Nicholas, our other children’s names can’t really be shortened. This was intentional. We also call Nicholas by his full name as often as possible. We hope he’ll always be “Nicholas.”
2. We definitely want our children to have saints or biblical names so they know WHO they were named after and who they can learn about to look up to and admire.
3. We haven’t ever really considered any names that are trendy or too unique or too far “out there.”
4. We love to consider saints’ feast days for any special or noteworthy days around the birth, placement, birthparent meetings, etc. Since we have no idea when or if a child may come to us, this happens along the way if a match happens.
5. For a boy, we want the name to be a “strong” name – nothing too trendy or weak/feminine sounding. Also, nothing that could pass as a girl name and vice versa for a girl. (No unisex names!)

Some boy names they’ve considered include:

Andrew (“we don’t really love “Andy” or “Drew” so we have shied away from using this name, although it’s still a possibility“)
David (“this is a strong contender if next child is a boy. He would be named after his dad and luckily, there’s a St David! We could use this as a middle name or a first name“)
Christopher (“perhaps for a middle name, but this name doesn’t really work as a first name with our last name (since it starts with “S”)“)
Dominic (“David LOVES this name (and I do too) BUT I’ve always thought it was too close to “Nicholas.” I have always thought this could not be used because of our Nicholas. We love that St Dominic received the rosary from Our Lady“)
Anthony (“We love this name but we do NOT like “Tony.”“)
Joseph (“David loves this name (St Joseph) but see below (nephews). For me, I would think perhaps a middle name, if anything“)

We have 4 nephews: James Michael, Michael Charles, Joseph Brian, Jack David. While my husband David disagrees, I feel we should NOT use any of the first names as a first name for our child. He would strongly consider Michael and Joseph but I would prefer these for a middle name, if at all. After all, these nephews are HIS brother’s children, so they would then have the same first AND last name.”

And names they’ve considered for girls include:

Veronica (“my ABSOLUTE favorite girl name – Mary was almost Veronica, but we felt strongly we wanted to name our daughter after Our Lady, and I didn’t want to “waste” Veronica on a middle name, just in case we ever had another daughter! We love how Veronica wiped the face of Jesus in the Stations of the Cross – what compassion! What a beautiful image (pun intended!)“)
Monica (“I love this name – LOVE St Monica, mother of St Augustine“)
Anna (“I have always loved this name. Love how Anna is the woman with Simeon when the baby Jesus is presented in the temple“)
Therese (“We LOVE St Therese of Lisieux but NOT a fan of “Terry” – also the “s” or “z” sound at the end of any name isn’t great with our last name since it begins with “S.” I think this one is out although it could be a middle name“)

My mother and mother in law both have the middle name “Ann(e).”
My MIL’s name is Ruth and we had a reading from Ruth in our wedding (our favorite verse!). It’s even engraved in my engagement band {“Ruth 1:16-17”}. For these reasons, I could see using Ruth as a middle name.

Recently, especially after reading your post from Lindsay at My Child I Love You, I’ve been thinking Clairvaux or Zelie would be a good name for a girl, although they both go against our past idea that we don’t want anything too unique. While these are definite Catholic references/saints, I think they might be too “out there” for my husband. If I ever won this one, I’d be surprised! Although Zelie could be a fun middle name?

I loved working on this! Regarding the names Vanessa and David have on their list of considerations, first I have to say (which you all already know) that I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. So I had to laugh when I was looking up the names on this family’s list — they’re all style matches for each other! They have very consistent taste!

So I love all their boy ideas. I do think Andrew and Anthony could be “just Andrew/Anthony” if they stuck with it, like they do with Nicholas. David also — I know a couple little Davids, and they all go by just David, never Dave/Davy, etc. In fact, I think these days people are much less likely to automatically nickname a child who’s been introduced as a formal name. So all that works in their favor!

As far as Christopher — yes, I can see why they’d prefer it to be in the middle spot because of having an S last name, but I also don’t think it’s the worst thing ever.

Re: Dominic being too similar to Nicholas — on the one hand, I can see what Vanessa means, especially with Nic(k) being common enough nicknames for both. But, on the other hand, Veronica and Monica both have the “nic” within them, and Nicky is a common enough nickname for Veronica, so I don’t see any reason for Dominic to be dropped from the list if Veronica and/or Monica stays on it. However, that said, I suspect that Nicholas, Dominic, and Veronica/Monica might be too much “nic” for one family, and since Veronica is Vanessa’s favorite girl name, maybe Dominic should bow out. But then, maybe they won’t have another girl? Gah! It’s a hard one to figure out! I am sure, though, that Veronica and Monica are too rhymey for sisters.

Of the girl names on their list, I think that (besides Veronica), Anna/Anne is one of their best options, since Anne can’t be shortened and I don’t think Annas really ever get shortened either. Both are gorgeous names and really fit their style (according to the BNW). I love Ruth too, and it would be unexpected as a middle name, which I love.

I totally get their feelings on Therese, like Christopher, and though I think Tess is more likely than Terry these days, that doesn’t solve the problem of running into the S last name. It would definitely make a great middle name for them though, beautiful! I’m loving the idea of Anna Therese or Veronica Therese.

And Clairvaux and Zelie! I’m so surprised by them both! They’re both great, and I could see them both as a middle name as well. Anna Clairvaux … Veronica Zelie … they totally work!

Okay! So I came up with a bunch more ideas for Vanessa and David, and while I leaned heavily on the BNW for ideas of names that they might like, I also paid a lot of attention to names that don’t nickname easily:

(1) Clare/Claire
I was going to suggest Clare/Claire anyway, because of its non-nickname-ability, and when I read that Vanessa likes Clairvaux I thought aha! It totally fits the style of their other kids!

(2) Lucy
Lucy is just one of the sweetest names, and isn’t very nicknameable — I love it for this family!

(3) Rose
This is such a sweet one-syllable name — Marian and traditional with a little vintage feel!

(4) Helen(a)
I’ve been seeing Helen and Helena getting a good amount of love lately, and I don’t think most people would think to nickname a Helen (though Nell can be used if one wanted to use a nickname for Helen; Helena can shorten to Lena or I think Nell could work there too, but the one Helena I know in real life has always only been Helena). Dwija from the blog House Unseen, Life Unscripted named her youngest Helen Margaret, so cute!

(5) Hildi
I think lots more people would name their daughters after St. Hildegard of Bingen if her first name wasn’t so clunky! But I do know one little girl who is named after her and goes by Hildi and I just die over how sweet it is! I would totally do *just Hildi*, and I’m loving the idea of Hildi Ruth — I kind of love how antique that combo sounds!

(6) Sara(h)
Sarah was actually a huge style match for this family according to the BNW and since it doesn’t really reduce down I thought it definitely deserved a mention. There’s a St. Sara of Antioch (feast day April 20), and Sarah the Matriarch of course.

(7) Natalie
Natalie and Natalia both did quite well for Vanessa and David in my research as well! I thought Natalie was more their speed than Natalia, and though it can nickname to Nat, all the Natalies I know go by the full Natalie. I also love its meaning — it literally refers to Christmas Day (from the Latin natale domini — “the birth of the Lord”).

(8) Julia
I thought Julia was another name that would be a good fit for them style-wise and also because the Julias I know all go by the full Julia, never Julie/Jules. A lovely, regal name!

(1) Jude
I actually don’t think that Jude is their speed — it has a bit of a hipster feel to me, which I love, but I think their taste skews more classic (not that Jude isn’t a classic — you know what I mean!). But being one syllable, I thought it deserved a mention!

(2) Blaise
As with Jude, I’m not sure they’ll love Blaise, but it’s one syllable and super saintly, so maybe!

(3) Stephen
I was actually inspired by David to suggest Stephen for Vanessa and David — it has a similar feel to me as their other kiddos — classic, handsome, saintly — and I know two Davids who have brothers named Stephen! And they all go by the full Stephen, not Steve/Stevie.

(4) George
I think George might be my favorite idea for this family! Between St. George and Pope Francis (born Jorge [Spanish for George]), and with two other boys being named after recent Popes, it’s a great pick for a little Catholic boy!

(5) Henry
I think Henry is just one of the sweetest names for a little boy! There are so many great Sts. Henry to choose from, and no obvious nickname! (Hank, yes, but not terribly obvious just from hearing Henry.)

(6) Adam
I feel like this suggestion seems a little out of left field, but when I saw Adam as a style match for Christopher I thought they might like it! It hasn’t got any nicknames, and there are a bunch of holy Adams (which I was surprised to discover!).

(7) Robert
Robert is a pretty big style match for this family, and I’ve been loving it recently — it’s so solid and handsome, and I love hearing it in Downton Abbey. 😁 It’s probably in the same category as Stephen and Nicholas — Vanessa and David would have to actively make sure that no one shortens it. St. Robert Bellarmine’s great!

(8) Peter
Like Robert, Peter did really well for them in my research; like Robert, they’d have to make sure no one shortens it to Pete/Petey. But otherwise I love it for them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Nicholas, John, Mark, and Mary?