On Naming Delia


(Image from www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com)

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.

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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!

8 thoughts on “On Naming Delia

  1. I always love your baby name stories! I love Delia’s full name and…Bea gets to go with you?! How FUN!!!! What a blessing and unforgettable time that will be for her.

  2. So happy the three (& then four) of you will share the early days together. Praying for you all!!

  3. We were once considering adopting from foster care and the girl’s name was Emily. It seemed an insurmountable issue to me that our daughter was named Emma Leanne. We just couldn’t have 2 Ems in the family! The girl was later taken by her Grandmother and it worked out wonderfully. I know now that it was just my anxiety talking and if she had become our daughter the names would have worked out just fine. Names are kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I love your kids’ names. So sweet and interesting.

  4. How did it take me so long to read this?!? Thanks for sharing your journey…as always the details made my heart sing:)

  5. Love the name! I have struggled with names for my adopted children too. I kept my oldest son’s birthname (adopted from US foster care) but never liked the spelling (looks like a made up name: Tavone (pronounced Tay-von)). Then was set to keep my youngest son’s name as middle name unchanged (Russia ‘blind’ referral…as in his name was listed as a number in the agency waiting child booklet). Then turned out his name/middle name was Karen! Since Kieran plays on my speech impediment after much agnst went with middle name of Kharen. But that didn’t seem to ‘go’ with my hoped for first names either Arkadius or Graham…ended up as Jonas Kharen. He did NOT take to name though and corrected me every time with ‘nyet, ya ne Jonas ya Karen Aveticovich K..’. Used his full birth name, somehow that morphed into Kharan…pronounced Kha-ron by most…during preschool. Even in my family everyone pronounces it different: me = Kahren (aka Renny sometimes), grandma=Ky-ran (Tavone = Ty-von to her too), aunt = Kuhrun, Tavone=Kah-ran! Except in church where he comes back from Sunday school with everything labelled Jonas. Can you tell I’m conflicted?! Gotcha day is coming for me 12/8.

    I once during foster care held off committing due to a name (I had many files to review so wasn’t only reason but still). The 9 year olds first name was William-Wallace..middle name James.umm William-Wallace Wilbur…I put him at bottom of stack. In US though I new sometimes they give ‘fake’ names and sometimes not in profiles. Tavone was Tom, and before learned actual name I would ‘play’ with Thomas/Tommy/etc..

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