We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

The naming dilemma

For those new to adoption, please know that naming takes on EPIC proportions in adoption-land. Adoptive parents talk about claiming the child through naming (why not just stick a flag in the kid?). Other adoptive parents want to keep a name from the first family or at least the first culture. Et cetera, et cetera.

I obsessed over names with both boys. Mr. Four sure loved that!

So here’s our naming story and my current heartache. You might want to sit down and grab a piece of paper to follow all this.

Bug’s first name is an Ethiopian name from his first family. Bug’s middle name is a family name from my family. His last name is Mr. Four’s last name. So he has a name from all his families. And it’s perfect, just like him! (You may wrinkle your nose in disgust now… or, alternatively, nod your head in agreement.)

After Bug’s adoption, Mr. Four and I decided that if we had another child, that child would have my last name. (Actually, it was more like I suggested this and Mr. Four agreed since at the time he thought Bug would be an only child. Heh.)

Originally I wanted to hyphenate Bug’s last name but the poor kid has enough to deal with in life without having a last name like Smiggledeaux-Turphenteras.

Giggle’s Ethiopian name was Giggle (well, as much as it’s his name anywhere). We kept it because it seemed sucky to change the name of a kid who knew his name perfectly well and whose name suits him perfectly well. In fact, he already knew how to spell it (though his teacher in Addis taught him a different spelling than the legal English spelling, so he is re-learning how to spell his name).

Giggle’s middle name is a family name from my family. And his last name is Mr. Four’s last name. Same pattern as Bug.

So what did happen? I totally caved! Under pressure from myself!

Once we decided to move to Egypt, I got this idea that life here would be more complicated if Giggle didn’t have Mr. Four’s last name. What if someone suspected these children who look nothing like us didn’t belong with us? What if someone thought my adopted children were illegitimate?! Is that even possible? (Giggle was born right around when Mr. Four and I married. So he’s like my out-of-wedlock illegitimate adopted kid. Or something.)

So I caved.

End of story, right? Wrong! Because Giggle is old enough to have an opinion. And the first time he heard his new last name (I’m so proud of his writing skills that I asked him to sign his passport), he informed me right away that I was wrong. He knew his name. It was Giggle HisEthiopianFather’sFirstName, as it should be.

Giggle finally came around to his middle name when he discovered it was also my middle name. But now he’s decided that his last name should be my last name! I swear he did this with absolutely no prompting from me.

So now this wonderful little boy is insisting that his last name is my last name. When really it’s Mr. Four’s last name. When really I’d love for it to be my last name.

We’re not going to change it, again. But I wonder if I should have stuck to my guns. Maybe with the next kid? (Ha, gotcha Mr. Four!)


7 September 2007 - Posted by | adoption, bug, giggle, parenting


  1. Why not leave it up to Giggle to change it, if and when he wants? I’ve never named anybody, but it seems like an adopted kid will have had plenty of major things decided for him. When he’s legally (or emotionally?) able, he could pick his own name.

    Comment by Monica | 7 September 2007

  2. Monica, I think you have it exactly right.

    Comment by egypt4 | 8 September 2007

  3. Having a great time following your blog!

    We had a similar naming plan although the girls would get my last name and the boys would get Dad’s last name. Of course there never were any girls so now I am the odd one out in the family.

    I did a mid life last name change. Not due to marriage but before. I changed from my father’s last name (also my mother’s last name) to my mother’s maiden name. It was easy (even if it took a long time) and they even issued me a new birth certificate as if I had always had that name (although this was not in the US).

    Giggle also doesn’t necessarily have to use the names on his official papers. I know as a society we generally only ‘allow’ nicknames for first names but why not have alternate last names as well?

    Comment by Friend in Carrboro | 11 September 2007

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