My parents got a new dog. He doesn’t have a name yet. I spoke with them earlier today and they told me a few of their ideas, one in particular. I ran it by my husband.
“I don’t like it. It’s not him.”
“What? I love it.”
“How did we name anything?”
“Stickers on cars.”
“Well, and one dog came with a name in place.”
We named our youngest son on the way home from an ultrasound. We wanted him to have a J-middle name, but felt clueless about what his name-name should be. The car in front of us at the light before the courthouse had a sticker with a football and a name.
I read it aloud, followed by our last name. We looked at each other and shrugged.
We owned baby name books. We read them over incessantly with both boys. Ridiculous names. Strong names. Presidential names, whatever that means, Donnie. Irish names. Gaelic names. Names names names. Then we saw that name on the back of a car, and everything felt right.
I later worked with the mother of the child whose name was on the back of that vehicle. She’s a smart lady.
Someday, probably when he is in the process of choosing baby names—or even dog names—our youngest son will question our procedure. But when he arrived and we looked at him, all fresh and new and so different from our older son, he just seemed like him. Now, at almost 10, he is simply himself. He resembles his name. He his who he is.
The adoption agency told me not to give my daughter a name.
“It will cause you to think of her as yours. And she’s not.”
Prior to falling ill at 18 weeks, I toyed with some names. Classic names. Names I had written with young boyfriend’s last names to see what they looked like, as I did with my own. But they told me it wasn’t my job, to name her. So I didn’t. I still can’t tell you what I would have chosen, though some birth mothers can. There are two that sit deep in my soul; maybe they would have combined to her fist and middle names. We’ll never know.
When we named our first dog, we sat in the darkening night and ran through name after name, the old baby book on my lap and a smartphone I hand. I hate that it feels like I put more thought into my dog’s name than my daughter’s name. But no one told me, “You don’t have a right to name your dog.”
Just my daughter.
This is one of those adoption issues I can logically recognize; the adoption industry used my lack of knowledge against me. They knew that mothers who names their babies were more likely to make the—lawful—decision to parent. It’s the same reason why they told me not to breastfeed. But still, I hate that I didn’t see it for what it was. I was so naive, so green, I couldn’t see what they were doing.
Someday, if my daughter ever asks, I will share the two names that sit with me. She might hate them, and knowing her as I do, I’m not sure they fit her. But I will tell her. If she asks. If she lets me back in. If.
I named the baby we lost to miscarriage, Rose. After my great-grandmother, after the roses in my flower garden. We don’t know if she was a girl, but the name fit. She fit, so briefly, in our lives.
I hate my given name. It was the number one name the year I was born and a handful of years on either side. Our youngest, our sticker car baby, has a name in the top ten of his birth year and some surrounding years. Maybe he’ll hate it. Maybe he won’t care. Our older son prefers the shortened version of his name, even though I prefer his given name.
I don’t know what my parents will name their dog. I’ll love him no matter his name, just like I love my children and all of their names. But more so. Because they’re my children.