On Choosing a Name

The Next Family

By: Lex Jacobson

Though we are nowhere close to actually having a baby in our arms, Devon and I have started to talk about baby names. I think we initially felt as though this was pretty innocent “work” – a lot easier than thinking about weaning off medications or choosing a donor, but I’m slowly realizing that picking a name for our baby is an incredibly daunting task.

We are essentially choosing a huge part of our future child’s identity for his or her entire life. I think it’s especially important to Devon and me, as both of us changed our names when we reached early adulthood. Devon went through an entire name change process with the government, which was a lot of work and a lot of money. I decided not to go through all of that, though I absolutely hate that all of my legal and important documents still have my birth name on them. I may still make the change. I think we both feel as though our parents failed us a little bit in that regard. Our old names didn’t suit us at all.

My name has actually changed twice in my life. My mother named me one thing, but my father changed it shortly after I was born and before my mom woke up from the anesthetic (horrible birth). Apparently I didn’t suit the name that they had both chosen for me. But how in the world did my father know?

We want to give our child a name that s/he is proud of and that suits her/him… but how the hell do you know whether it suits a child when a name is (usually) given the instant s/he is born?

I never really understood the people who waited a month or two before naming their child – I just thought it was strange. Though we won’t go that route, I now understand why people do it. A name is so intertwined with a personality, and personalities can’t really be detected a few minutes after a birth.

Do you grow up to suit your name? Does your name actually shape your personality?

I can’t help but think there is an extra layer to choosing a name when you are same-sex parents. Devon really likes a particular name for a daughter that is mostly used as a boy’s name. I like it too, but I can’t help but picture her being teased for being a dyke because she has lesbians for moms and a boy’s name.  I also don’t want to choose a name that rhymes with slang words for homosexuals… for (I think) obvious reasons. Am I being too ridiculous?

I just don’t want to make a mistake. Like these people did.

We have a long time to obsess over this, and though our list of favorites is currently empty, I trust that there will be one name out there that resonates with both of us, and hopefully, our kid as well.

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