How Freya Poppy Got Her Name

It began as a challenge – almost as a joke: could we name a little girl after her two grandfathers?

We had named a lot of little girls, and even a couple little boys, after the women in our families: two grandmothers, four great-grandmothers, one great-great-grandmother and three great aunts, to be precise!  But the men of our families had been sadly underrepresented.  It seemed time to honor our two fathers, especially since Lewis and Verity had recently been named after our mothers, but it really seemed best to try to honor both of them at once.

For a boy, we had chosen a name (which, naturally, we didn’t need) early on in my pregnancy that solidly linked to both grandfathers.  Their names, by the way, are Peter Godfrey Young and Bruce James Gilbert.  But for a girl?  Was it even possible???

We had fun playing around with it for a while (and when I say “we”, I primarily mean me and my name enthusiast friends, not me and Trevor.  He generally enters the scene a bit later in the name game, by his preference!). She could have been Godfrina Jamesine or Gilbertine Petra or Brucetta Petrice – there were some very colorful possibilities in those early brainstorms!  But it did start to look like it might not be a realistically achievable goal.

But then there was Freya.  A name we both really loved that had maybe just a close enough tie to her Grandad’s middle name, Godfrey, to do the trick.

Freya is a Norse goddess of some lovely things like love and beauty, but also of some rather less lovely things like warfare and sorcery.  Pagan dieties are not usually our cup of tea, but family names are, and the actually meaning of the name is “noble lady”, so we pressed on.  (Also she drives a chariot pulled by cats, and you have to admit, that’s pretty cool.)

But how to honor Pop-pop?  We were just about to give up on the whole crazy idea when Poppy entered the conversation.  A sweet nod to Pop-pop, and also a perfect fit with our little bouquet of floral girls’ names (Pippa Violet, Juniper, Delphinia).  The whole combo just sparkled for me, and was more or less settled by the beginning of my second trimester.


Now here is a fun fact about this pregnancy that we mostly kept to ourselves: for the first time in eight pregnancies, we knew we were having a girl!

On the day of my 20-week ultrasound (the one that actually turned out to be my 24-week ultrasound), only Pippa went back with me while Trevor waited with the gang in the waiting room (they all got to come in for a quick hello to baby at the end).

I told the tech we didn’t want to know the gender, and she let us know when we should look away from the screen.  Unfortunately, poor Pip, who hadn’t thought she would recognize much on an ultrasound anyway, accidentally glanced back up a moment too soon in time to see the words “It’s a girl!” typed proudly across the screen (why?!?  I have no idea!). I knew as soon as I saw her face that she knew.

Trevor and I talked it over with her, and since she said she was happy to keep her secret, and we still didn’t want to know, we carried on as we were for three excruciating weeks.  When Pippa finally slipped and called the baby “she”, I was flooded with both relief at the secret being out and, much to my own surprise, absolute giddiness about having another girl!

As of when she was born, more than half the immediate family knew she was a girl, plus my sister and a whole bunch of people at church and random strangers (because I always panicked when someone asked if I knew what I was having!)  Niko and Junie so staunchly did NOT want to know the gender that they turned down the gender reveal cake Pippa had baked to let them in on the secret and took themselves off to bed! (Despite this, poor June accidentally found out she was a girl while I was in labor!)

Knowing that she was a she, and therefore knowing that she was Freya Poppy, before she was born was such a fun and unusual experience for us.  It’s not something we ever would have chosen, but we definitely now see the appeal of taking a peek ahead of time!

And that is the tale of how (and when!) our new girl got her name.  We hope that despite the somewhat less obvious namesaking, both grandfathers will feel loved and honored by her name, and perhaps relieved that we didn’t go with Brucetta Petrice!


A Gift from God

I promised an update on Tuesday, and I did not deliver.  Sorry! In fact, Tuesday ended up being a completely uneventful day.  We stayed home, we did school, we went to small group Bible study.  But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Last Monday morning, I woke up to an email from our agency, simply stating: It looks like we may be okay for Trevor to travel without you (?!) Below that was a forwarded chain of correspondence between our agency and the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  While parts of it were unclear, it does seem that there is an exception for Trevor’s type of residency visa, and we have it in writing now that he can complete the adoption without me.  This was an answer to prayer, a gift from God beyond what I had even hoped for (though Trevor was praying for exactly this)!

And now, I want to tell you a story about a little boy with no name.

We found out about our newest little man from my dear friend Kelly, whose son came from the same orphanage.  She came home with her boys two years ago desperate to find a family for little “DiDi”, back when we were just at the start of our process to adopt Lewis.  Adopting a second little boy with Down syndrome wasn’t even on our radar yet.

We found other adoptive moms and agency advocates who knew him, always by the name of DiDi, the word in his language for “little brother”.

One mom shared with me that her husband had asked an orphanage worker what his name was, and she had answered, “He doesn’t have one.  He has Downs.”

Let that sink in for a minute.  The people looking after our boy did not even think he was worthy of having a name.  Words cannot express how this broke my heart.

When we received his file, we discovered that his name is, indeed, just Di – also the character for little brother.  It seems that when his file was prepared, they just wrote down the name he had always gone by.

Well, we aim to give this boy a name.

We are calling him…

Thaddeus Merit Young

We will call him Teddy for short, to echo DiDi, the name he has so long been called.

His “Di” is still in there (he WILL be a little brother, after all!) but his new name, Thaddeus, means “gift of God”, and that is exactly what he is.

His middle name was my grandfather’s.  An English word denoting worth or value.

This boy, once deemed unworthy even of a name, is a gift from God.  He has immeasurable worth.  He is worthy not only of a name, but of a family, of a home, of love, and we cannot wait give him all of those things.

Verity Laine: About the Name

Verity.  From the English word meaning “verity, truth”.  This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.



I’ll admit that Verity’s name has left me a little stumped in the “name story” department: how do I spin a name story about a name we have just loved forever?

With each of our babies, we (mostly I, let’s face it) had compiled a list of names, most of which we had considered for previous babies.  Names would come and go from the list, rising and falling from favor based on what middle name we were trying to accommodate or how they fit with the other kids’ names.  Over the years, certain names started to feel like “our names” even though we had never used them.  But with each of our girls, something new arrived on the list to tempt us away from “our names”, and without exception, it has been that sparkly new name that has ended up stealing our hearts and being “the one”.  Until this one.

I blame getting older.  For some reason, this time nothing new was taking center stage.  At the same time, the names we had loved for years seemed to speak to me with an urgency they’d never had before.  If we don’t use them now, who knows if we’ll ever get another chance?  I’m no Spring chicken these days, after all!

So, as the months ticked by, the list stood with names we had loved since way back when we were naming Pippa and Romilly, oldies but goodies that felt almost as familiar and beloved to me as the names we have actually bestowed.

Meanwhile, in the middle name spot… It had been our intention for a long time to stick to family names above our parents’ generation.  That way we would never have to choose to honor any one of our parents before another.  We thought we had a perfect opportunity while we were adopting Lewis to honor both my mother and Trevor’s mother at the same time, but I suffered a miscarriage that summer.  Lewis was still named for my mother as planned, but Trevor’s mum, Elaine, never got her little namesake.  When we learned we were expecting again, we knew that somehow, this little one would be named for her.

Elaine is a beautiful name, but it just wasn’t playing nice with first names that ended in vowel sounds, which was most of our list.  When we considered shortening it to Laine, lots of possibilities opened back up to us. I found myself particularly drawn to word names like flowers and virtues that were transformed into idyllic little street names when paired with Laine.  (Plus, do you hear how the E-laine is still there when you say her whole name outloud? That makes me happy, too.)


(A not-so-idyllic street sign, compliments of google.)

With two or three old favorite virtue names already on our list, I went on a brief quest for more that I hadn’t thought of (Velocity… Humidity… Manatee..!? It got a little silly.) before finally accepting that “the name” had probably been right under our noses all along.

Then, on a longish drive home from a family day at the lake, Trevor told me that he was already thinking of her as Verity, and I felt that little thrill I’d been waiting for for almost 8 months (the latest we’ve ever agreed on a name!)  It was perfect.  It was “the name”.

As with Lewis’s name, I had a friend I needed to check with first (and, for the record, it was the same friend!) She graciously assured me that name -sharing was considered an honor in her family, and I went home that night filled with that long-awaited peace of having chosen a name I absolutely adored for our baby girl.

Verity was all but named.  All but the small detail of not knowing whether she was a boy or a girl.  But we did know, really, didn’t we?

The Name, As Promised

We have been completely blown away by the generous response to our Lifesong grant.  In just over a month, we have soared past the halfway mark and are closing in on three-quarters!  So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.  And I owe you a name.  And a story.

If you’ve been around for a while, you have watched our approach to naming our adopted children (who, of course, already have names when they come into our lives) develop over the years.  As I shared in my stories of naming Niko and naming Delia, we really demand a lot out of our adopted kids’ names, and they always manage to deliver.  We want a name that connects strongly to the birth name in some way, if possible making reference to both given name and surname.  We also need to work a family name into it somewhere, and we’re not really two-middle-name people, so this is often a tight squeeze!  Also, all the other rules! Finally, and this is the real sticking point, we have to both love it.

So, shall I tell you the end from the beginning and then take you along on the journey that brought us there?

Our new son’s name will be:

Lewis Christian Young

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When we first received his file, I scoured every inch of it to find his birth name (I confess I looked for it before I read any of the medical information!)  After all, the quest for the perfect name couldn’t even begin without the raw material.  Unfortunately, everywhere that his birth name appeared, it appeared in Chinese characters (which, um, I can’t read), and everywhere that it appeared in English, they had substituted his pseudonym Caden.

Thankfully, not long after we received his file, my friend Rachel and her lovely little tribe were over for a playdate.  I was lamenting my birth name conundrum to her, and having adopted from China herself, she asked if she could take a look at his file.

She scoured, too.  We scoured together.  Still just the Chinese characters and the English pseudonym, everywhere we looked.  We were about to give up, when she had an inspired idea, “Wait a second, show me those pictures again!”

Lo and behold, in every single photo, he was wearing a name tag with his name both in Chinese characters (we cross referenced his name on the file to make sure they were indeed the characters of his name) and written out in English letters:

Loo Chew Yee

(not actual spelling)

Now we were in business.  Rachel helped me to decode the Chinese-ness of his name.  Loo is the surname, Chew Yee would be his official name, but more than likely he’s used to being called Yee Yee.  We pretty quickly ruled out trying to find an English name that would actually sound like what he was used to being called, especially since we were only guessing on that anyway.

I set about searching the meanings of his birth names.  Chew yielded the best meaning, “at the beginning”, and I was so hopeful we’d find him a name that meant the same as his birth name, like Delia’s  But the closest we could find on that front was names containing “Arch”, the Greek word for beginning, and nothing was popping.

I was just beginning to consider abandoning the birth name angle altogether when my long-time name-nerd friend Lindsay astutely observed that his last initial is already Y, like ours!  If we gave him the first two initials LC, he could keep his initials and maybe even have a name with the overall same flow and sound as his birth name.  This was something we could work with (and, glory be!, we hadn’t used an L name yet!).

I made list upon list of L names, but it was always Lewis.  It had such a strong and obvious connection to his birth surname, and it was a name that had been on our boys’ list for years anyway.  CS Lewis is a very positive association for us (I just finished rereading Mere Christianity, which everyone should go do!); in fact, Junie’s middle name is Lucy after the Narnia series.  It just felt like his name from the moment we first considered it.  Doesn’t he just look like a Lewis?

The middle name took a bit more wrestling.  A C family name seemed like it should come pretty easily.  Only it didn’t.  The only male relative either of us had with a C name was Charles, a great uncle on Trevor’s side whom he had never met.  While I love the name Charles, it just didn’t pack the sort of meaningful-family-name punch we were looking for.

C surnames in our collective family tree?  Not a one. We then considered everything from meaningful place names to abstract word names to just keeping Chew as his middle name (and not giving him a family name!?), but in the end, it was right under our noses all along.

My mother’s middle name is Christine (and her initials are LC, too).  She was named after her grandmother, who was also Christine. Christian was the nearest masculine version, and I was delighted to discover while looking through some old documents that my great-grandmother’s given name was actually Christiane (so pretty, right?!), though she went by Christine her whole life for simplicity.  I even loved the (very, very) subtle nod to the meaning of Chew (beginning) in the concept of a Christian’s new beginning in Christ.

One final thought nagged at me, though.  Christian was also the middle name of a dear friend’s son, who tragically passed away about a year ago.  I loved the idea of honoring him as well, but only if it would be meaningful rather than a sad reminder to my friend.  When she told me she would be honored if our sons shared a middle name, our boy’s name became officially set in stone.  Loo Chew Yee would become Lewis Christian Young.

In writing all this down, I realize what a collaborative effort naming Lewis has been, and that is fitting. His life so far has been a collaborative effort. Many have poured themselves into our boy: a birth mother brought him into the world, gave him a name, and made the unfathomably hard decision to let him go.   Who knows how many nannies have cared for him, hopefully with tenderness and affection, and our friends and family have risen up to support us in bringing him home.  In the end he will be our boy, but we realize he couldn’t have become our boy without so many others helping along the way, and for that we are extremely thankful.


Uncle Adrian’s Epic Christmas Present

On one of Adrian’s first night’s here, we were looking at Christmas photos on his laptop when a photo folder titled “Names” caught my attention.

“Ooh, what’s this?” I asked him.

“Oh, you can look at those.  Go ahead,” he answered, all cool and casual-like, as if what I was about to see was no big deal at all.

What I found was photo after photo of my children’s names, all lovingly located on UK street signs, mostly in London.  He found every. single. one of them.  No photoshopping of any of the names (though Niko’s was a barber shop rather than a street sign).  Do you have any idea how much I love this?!

Uncle Adrian presented each of the kids with a lovely print of their name photo (I intend to frame them), but I felt that a trip to the craft store was also necessary in order to display them in their proper splendor.

Here are the results:

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Oh, how we are going to wear these shirts out.  I love them, love them, love them.

How She Came To Be Annis Octavia

 Star Anise-700x700

Star Anise, from

The story of Annis’s name really begins in the middle.

About seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my third girl, I ‘met’ a woman online who was expecting her eighth.  Girl.  Her girls all had lovely, classic names and she was seeking advice on naming her newbie.  In the end, our little group of name enthusiasts persuaded her that her daughter’s middle name absolutely had to be Octavia (meaning eighth child).  And so it was.

But I thought to myself way back then, if I ever had an eighth child, I would use Octavia as her first name.  It is the loveliest of lovely names, but really only suits an eighth child.  Of course, back then, that was a purely hypothetical scenario, because who has eight kids?!

I never forgot about Octavia, and when we discovered we were indeed expecting our eighth child (note: last time we were expecting, it was our fifth child.  How is that even possible?) I said to Trevor, “You know this one is Octavia, right?”  We both loved it, and for a while it seemed like it might be her name, but nothing is ever that simple with us and names.  It’s a beautiful name, but what would we call her?  We couldn’t seem to find a short form we both loved (or, to be precise: I liked several short forms and Trevor vetoed all of them) so it seemed we were back to the drawing board.

Reluctant to part with our long-beloved Octavia, we moved her to the middle and went in search of the perfect first name.  If you are familiar with our Rules, then you know that this was no simple matter.  One of the names has to be a family name, and reserving the middle slot for Octavia would force us into a Juniper configuration, with the family name first.  It was a tall order.

Complicating matters slightly (or perhaps simplifying them?  I’m not really sure…) was the fact that we didn’t really have one particular person in mind this time to honor, just a certain branch of the family tree that had been too-long-neglected.  With each of our other girls we had honored first all of their great-grandmothers and then several special great-aunts, but when you’ve already named six girls, you begin to run out of people to honor!  I asked Trevor’s mum for as thorough a list as possible of family names on her side, and then set about ‘working the list’.

I tried out female forms of male names from family tree.  I tried smooshing two names together to honor two people at once,  rearranging letters to make new names, forming nicknames out of initials.  Nothing was sticking.

Until Annis.  I was playing around with Trevor’s great-grandmother’s name Anne sometime around the halfway point of my pregnancy when I stumbled upon this lovely, ancient gem.  It is (I discovered, thanks to this blog post) actually a medieval form of Agnes that was once as common as Mary but has been out of use for at least a century.  As it happens, I have a great aunt Agnes as well, so she has a double family name pedigree!  (It also bears mentioning that Annis is pronounced like Janice without the J, since a few people have asked for clarification there.)

I pitched it to Trevor, and he loved it.  We both loved it.  So simple, so pretty, so old.  We loved the connection to the spice anise, the licorice-ness of it.  It was perfect.  We niggled a bit over the spelling, but I eventually agreed to Trevor’s favorite and he was officially sold.

We had several hours of blissful agreement before I happened to refer to it as “a family name”, to which Trevor replied, “It’s not a family name.”  I reminded him that his great-grandmother was Anne.  He said he didn’t even know that, and therefore it doesn’t count.  “Nevertheless,” I urged him, “your great-grandmother’s name was Anne, whether you knew it or not.”  Nope, not buying it.  We could still use it, he said, but we weren’t counting it as a family name.  Sigh…

This discussion, believe it or not, continued off and on for weeks (months maybe?) until we arrived at a tenuous agreement:  Annis is sort of a family name, though slightly stretchy both for being a bit too far up the family tree to be super meaningful as well as for it’s questionable tweakedness.  Octavia is also sort of a family name, since it acknowledges her special spot among her siblings.  Two sort of family names make a pretty solidly meaningful name, and that’s good enough when we both absolutely one hundred percent love a name and agree on it.  And we do.

For the record, we never did have a boys’ name this time around.


On Naming Delia


(Image from

Back when we were naming Niko (click the link to read his name story), I discovered that naming an adopted child was a completely different animal than naming a child born into your family.  You know us: we have a few rules about naming anyway, but naming a child who already has a name?  Whole different ball game.

Having been through the process once before, I felt even more strongly that I wanted Delia’s name to be connected to who she was before joining our family.  I wanted it to reflect her birth name in some way.  I wanted it to be all her, and yet all us.  It’s a tall order.

But if we learned anything from the process of naming Niko and watching him become that name, it was this: we could have called him anything we wanted to, and it would have been fine.

A little back story: about halfway through our process to bring him home, while watching a video of little Niko swinging in a swing with one of his caregivers, I heard something that rocked me to the core: she called him “Kolya”!  I should have known.  It’s a common nickname for Nikolai in Slavic countries, and Niko certainly isn’t.

So here we were, calling our boy Niko at home and to everyone we knew, feeling like we were doing the right thing by keeping his name intact, and he was used to hearing a completely different-sounding name. I agonized over it for days.  Maybe weeks.  But in the end, we just stuck with the plan and called him Niko.  And do you know what?  when we picked him up, he understood that Niko was his name from day one.  It didn’t traumatize him; it didn’t even require any explanation.  It was just the new name for him, just like everything else had a new name in this strange new language he was suddenly surrounded by.

Fast forward a year or two to our earliest discussions of adopting Delia – and you must understand here that we named her well before we ever actually committed to adopting her – I knew before we even started discussing it that naming her was going to be much harder than naming Niko.  The name she went by, a nickname for an absolutely stunning name when spoken in her native language, sounded like “Raleigh”.

In those earliest conversations, when Trevor was ready to plunge straight back into the adoption process and the boy was about fifteen minutes off the boat, I was feeling a little bit… less ready.  I am ashamed to admit that, among other completely absurd reasons I gave for not wanting to adopt “Raleigh” at the time, I actually spoke the words, “We can’t adopt a Raleigh.  We already have a Romilly!”  I was only partly serious, but that part of me was deadly serious.  I am so eternally thankful that the Lord changed my heart on the matter, and almost equally thankful that we managed to find a name for her that makes my heart sing.

Without further ado, that name, which came to me while walking the dog (that’s when most of my best baby name epiphanies happen) and was almost instantly approved by Trevor on my return home is:

Delphinia Mary

We first considered the obvious option of sliding her birth name to the middle spot and giving her a family name as her new first name, but nothing was popping.  Then we began to research her given name and discovered it was, of all things: a flower name!  Her name was the actual word, in her language, for the larkspur or delphinium flower.  Bestill my heart, she had a botanical name – this girl was meant to be my daughter after all!

From there, it took a bit of dog-walking to wrestle her name into just the right translated form and nickname combo, but once it clicked, it was love.

Her middle name is in honor of both my great aunt Mary and my oldest and dearest best friend Mary.  Like Niko’s middle name (Dickson), in addition to being a family name, it also echoes her birth surname, which began with Mari****.  Click, click, click.  Perfect.

*  *  *  *  *

PS  It was a pretty ordinary day today.  Nothing much happened here.  Oh yeah.  Except that we bought three-and-a-half round trip tickets to a certain little girl’s country!  Bea is delighted that the tickets are bought and she is actually – for sure – coming with us.  And I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that in less than three weeks Delia will be in our arms and ours forever!

Two Lovely Days… And a New Name

Trevor has had exactly half of his visits with Little Lady already, and the reports have been even better than I could have hoped.  She smiles and laughs (her medical report states that she “rarely smiles”).  She sings and dances and loves picking and eating apricots from the tree at the orphanage.  She likes to run, and Trevor says it will be a long time before we can trust her in our fenced in yard without careful supervision, but she sounds like she has so much life in her.  She has some very limited speech, but any speech at all is so encouraging.  And most importantly, her Daddy is still so, so crazy about her.  And that makes me even more crazy about him.  The pictures have made my heart smile.  Big.

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Meanwhile, on the homefront, things have been hot and sticky and very busy.  But while this Mommy has had a few moments of crankiness here and there, the kids have been absolutely delightful and such a help to me.  It is in situations like this, when my hands are at their very fullest and my own weakness is glaring at me, that God’s grace is at its most tangible in my life.  He has answered our prayers mightily on both sides of the ocean this week.

Oh, yes!  And, as promised: the grand unveiling of Little Lady’s name.  I’ll save her full name and the story behind it for another post, but for now, let me shout from the rooftops the name we have been calling this little girl in our hearts for over a year (but for the odd week of typical Trevor and Jodi name drama here and there).  Allow me to introduce our lovely…

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{{{    Delia   }}}



You wouldn’t know it from her smile that this sweet girl has been twice dethroned from being the newbie of the family in the last seven months!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that the Social Security Administration released it’s name data for 2011 on Monday.  When I have my act together I like to do a whole post about the year’s name haps.  This year, not so much.

I will highlight for you the most significant finding for me this year: two of our children’s names are in the top 1000!  We’ve never even had one there before!  Well, Niko and Nikolai were both already there, and I can hardly be blamed for that.

You might have been guessing that Pippa made her first ever US chart debut thanks to Ms. Middleton, but you’d be wrong.

In fact, Juniper is the sneaky popular name out of our girls, finally breaking into the charts at 970 this year.  I saw it coming a couple years ago when we (gasp!) met another Juniper at a Chick-Fil-A play area.  It’s been all over the name blogs and message boards lately, and, well, it is a pretty spectacular name if I do say so myself.  I can hardly blame those 262 moms for wanting to give it to their baby girls, can I?

On Naming Niko

Nikolai Dickson Young


Confession time.  When we first began considering adoption, one of my earliest and most persistent concerns was the name.

You know me and names.  Naming is huge for me.  It’s how I prepare for a new little one, how I bond with them after they arrive.  I have to love the name, and I adore the process of choosing it.  But I began to understand pretty quickly as we got into our adoption process that there is more to naming an adopted child than the usual poring over name books in search of the. perfect. name.

Many adoptive parents feel strongly that if the child is of a certain age (younger than you’d think), it is very important to let him keep his name.  It is one of the few parts of his identity that he can hang onto through the huge transtition of moving to a new country, learning a new language, and joining a new family.  Letting him keep his name is the family’s way of saying, “We love you exactly as your are, no need to change a thing in order to join our family.”

At the other end of the spectrum are those who feel that bestowing and receiving names are important rites of passage when joining a family.  They believe giving an adopted child a completely new name symbolizes the beginning of his new life.   I could see it both ways, and it was a lot to think about.

As it became clear that we would likely not be adopting an infant or even a young toddler, we found ourselves pulled strongly toward the that’s-his-name-and-we-can’t-take-it-away-from-him camp.  I began praying about it, and I very quickly felt certain that whatever our child’s name was, it would be perfect.

In place of my usual mental name games (using the letters on license plates as initials to inspire perfect name combos and the like… what, you don’t do that?), I began imagining different Slavic-sounding names and what we would do with them.  If we adopted a Dimitri – perfect!   This is the nickname Trevor’s brother always gives to our babies while they are in utero.  It would make a perfect middle name, but was a bit lacking in nickname options.  We came across a little Teodora… if she had been our daughter she could have become Theodora called Thea for short – love!  If we had adopted a Vladimir or a Sergey… well, I’m sure we’d have figured something out.

But instead, he was Nikolai.  From one of the first times I saw his sweet face and name, I began calling him Niko in my head.  Nico is a European nickname for all sorts of Nic- names (A nickname for a Nic- name – ha!) from Nicholas to Nicodemas.  I had come across it in my earlier years of baby name fascination and it had been steadily growing on me ever since.  Perfect.

With the first name and nickname locked in, we began the arduous quest for the perfect middle name. We first considered using our long-time favorite boy name, which of course I’m not going to tell you here.  We let that idea simmer for a while, but then Trevor’s mum pointed out (quite rightly) that that would make him our only child with no family name, so we went back to the drawing board, and the family tree, for something better.

We decided the name should come from my side of the family, since we were taking turns and we already knew that Coraline’s middle name would be coming from Trevor’s side.

One contender immediately rose to the top of the list.  It would have been Pippa’s middle name had she been a boy, and Ro’s if she had been.  One of my favorite family names based on sound alone, but in this case, it brought a little something extra to the table as well.

Niko’s middle name is Dickson.  It is my grandmother’s middle name, but was a family surname before that.  She has probably always hated it (her sister’s middle name is Jane!), but I have always loved it and hoped to use it for a son someday.

Niko’s surname before we adopted him was D***ev.  You can quickly spot (if you see and hear the name) a visual and sound resemblance to Dickson, but we also loved the fact that almost all middle names and surnames in Niko’s county are patronymic, that is, they mean “son of” someone.  So, Dickson is a (very) approximate translation of his former surname, yet it is plucked right out of his new family tree.

Isn’ that just like adoption?  He’s still who he was, but he’s every bit a part of our family now, too.  And I couldn’t love his name any more if we had come up with it from scratch.