So I have a bit of an interesting situation… I just recently stumbled across your blog, so I’m not sure if this has come up before. My husband and I are adopting a little boy, who is due next month(March 12th) and will hopefully be joining our family shortly after that. The little boy’s mother is my husband’s cousin, who lived with us during her first year of college a couple of years ago. We became close, and when she began seeking an adoptive family for her son, she contacted us, having been living with us when we started researching adoption. We’ve been discussing names with her, because she’s a hardcore name fanatic. We’re letting her choose the middle name, and she’s chosen Arlo(it’s a combination of her name and her boyfriend’s name).
Plot twist! A couple of months after beginning the adoption process, we discovered that I was pregnant as well. A little girl will also be joining our family in about two months(April 5th). My husband and I are having trouble figuring out what to name these children. The problem is this: our children are going to begin their lives with enough differences as it is. We want to avoid clashing names. My husband and I, however, both dislike names that feel too matchy-matchy. No alliteration, no rhyming, and we don’t want to have a clearly matching theme.
For both children, we want at least their first names to clearly be one gender or the other, and reasonably easy to spell and pronounce. I was blessed with the name Kayleigh, and it is seldom spelled or pronounced correctly. I’m sure my parents meant well, because my maiden name is extremely common, but it was hard. It still gets mispronounced to this day, but I’ve come to terms with it. I don’t want either of my children to have the same problem; however, our last name is Brown, so I’m trying to find a different solution for the same problem.
Other general details: My husband’s name is Eugene. Since our names don’t really match, we’re not super picky about our children’s names going well with ours. We also don’t really care if their initials spell words, as long as they don’t have any directly negative connotations.
For boys, we tend to prefer Biblical-sounding names; for girls, names that are fanciful without being weak. In both cases, we prefer that the names have at least a couple hundred years’ history tucked under their belts. I personally like names that lend themselves easily to a nickname, but it’s not a must-have. We also gravitate to names that have around three syllables, and never a monosyllabic name(not with our last name).
Thankfully the selection of Arlo has helped eliminate some names due to flow or alliteration problems: Asher, Arthur, Cyril, Elias, Elliott, Luke, Oliver, Levi, and Simon. Names that haven’t been crossed off include: Sebastian, Jasper, Tobias, Frederick, Gideon, Matthew, Isaac, and Joseph.
For our daughter, we’ve rejected the following for spelling/pronunciation issues, trendiness, negative associations, relatives using these names, or just ‘not feeling right’: Eloise, Abigail, Minerva, Alice, Jillian, Margery, Madeline, Phoebe, and Valerie. Still in the running: Gwendolen, Penelope, Thalia, Evelyn, Amelia, Cecily, Rebecca, and Miranda.
For her middle name, we’re leaning towards modified spellings of the Irish names of my grandparents’ generation: Eva/Eve, Orla, Enya, Ashling, and Siobhan(she-VAHN). Frances, Ellen(or Ella), Meredith, and Juliet, and Rose are also in the running as family names from the relatives who aren’t quite so recently off the boat.
I’ve also recently fallen in love with the names Bellamy and Everly, even though they both absolutely violate everything I’ve ever told myself I dislike about names(trendy, recent, almost too cutesy, potentially gender-unclear). I’m not really sure what it is that’s drawing me to those names, but I’m enchanted by them... and I have yet to mention them to DH.
Thanks so much in advance for all your help!
I often recommend that parents think ahead to future sibling names when naming their first child. It's an interesting twist to be actually choosing two at once, without twin issues to consider!
Bellamy and Everly do indeed seem like they fall outside your usual style. It's possible to get smitten with a new sound, but then find the crush fades with the novelty. I also think neither is quite right with your surname: Bellamy Brown seems too alliterative, and Everly Brown seems too surnamey.
Looking over your lists, I see tons of good names; it seems like at this point it's just a matter of choosing which ones. Here are a few sets I like:
Sebastian Arlo and Thalia Frances
Sebastian Arlo and Gwendolen Orla
Jasper Arlo and Miranda Eve
Jasper Arlo and Penelope Ellen
Tobias Arlo and Cecily Orla
Frederick Arlo and Evelyn Meredith (Freddie and Evvie)
Gideon Arlo and Rebecca Siobhan
Matthew Arlo and Amelia Juliet (Matt and Mia)
Isaac Arlo and Rebecca Orla (Zac and Becca, Zack and Beck)
Joseph Arlo and Miranda Juliet
I avoided the middle name Rose because it's a color name like Brown.
I like how Orla is a rearrangement of the letters of Arlo. It plays up the "almost twins" status of the two children.
Will names with a one-syllable nickname bother you with your surname?
What pairings would you make?
Names update! Kayleigh writes:
They're both asleep, and I don't know when that will happen again(and DH has to go back to work in a few days, eek!), so here's my update, which I can say with certainty will be the only thing I will actually get done this week. By the way, I don't recommend having a baby, adopting a baby, and moving all around the same time. Yes, it's crazy, but in fairness, we were supposed to have at least three weeks in the new house before either child made an entrance. And yes, this is going to be kind of a novel, much like my original post, but I can't figure out how to shorten this and still fit everything in. Also, I really hope this makes sense, because I've been having trouble forming proper sentences in the past couple of days because of reasons.
My husband and I were all set to go with Sebastian Arlo and Gwendolen Orla. We hadn't even noticed the Arlo/Orla connection before, which just shows the value of bouncing name ideas off of others! The original name was spelled Orlagh, so I guess we still had that silent 'gh' in our heads every time we thought about it. We also loved the way the Sebastian and Gwendolen just barely rhymed.
Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans... as with many adoptions, the biological parents in ours had second thoughts(which we were supportive of). After a few days, they decided to go through with the adoption, but they had already given him a name. After a discussion with another family member who was also adopted, we decided to keep his name mostly intact. And so it was that Logan Orion [Sounds like Handlock] was born on March 3rd, and became Logan Orion Handlock Brown on March 8th.
Of course, that changed our name plans for our daughter, who made an early appearance on the morning of March 10th... which, yes, is two days after Logan joined our family.
Because we had 'lost' Sebastian, we didn't feel comfortable using Gwendolen. We also wanted to choose something that would be at a similar level of popularity. Amelia was our first choice, but of course the child came out with a head full of bright red hair. As DH and I are both avid Doctor Who fans, Amelia was just a little TOO fitting. So we finally settled on Evelyn Frances Meredith, which felt right the minute we said it. Evelyn and Logan have that same end sound that we had loved before, and they're in the same popularity bracket. Both got a literary+surname double middle. It's a pattern we're comfortable continuing.
For the commenters wondering about how we're going to handle the twin question, we're just going to say yes when asked. They're only a week apart, after all, and they actually look really similar right now. The answer may change as they get older. If they're happy being twins, they can stay that way. If they'd rather make it clear that they are different ages(even if it's just a week), then we'll just say that they're very close in age.
Again, thanks so much for posting our question and taking the time to give us some much-needed reassurance and feedback! Thanks also to your readers who commented- you all had some wonderful ideas that have helped us modify our name lists for future children. Thank you so much!