Posts Tagged ‘ adoption baby names ’

Baby Names and Adoption

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

November is National Adoption Month, and it’s well celebrated in my household—both of my daughters were born in China, and joined our family through adoption. And that’s brought many wonderful things into our lives—we’ve learned more Chinese culture and Chinese language than I ever expected I would (I can tell you that I like to eat strawberries in Mandarin); we’ve developed strong friendships with other families we know who’ve adopted; and most of all, we’re proof of the fact that you don’t need to share genes in order to have that immense, walk-into-a-burning-building love for another person.

One of the most intriguing parts of adoption is the fact that your children come with a past, before you were in the picture. Both of my daughters spent their first year of life in an orphanage, and came to us with a personality, a few baby photos and a name. And just as I want to preserve those precious few baby photos I have of my girls, I also wanted to hold on to their names.

My daughters both had beautiful Chinese names, AiLun (which means being lovely and beautiful, according to our agency’s translator), and YingHui (which means bright and clever). We decided to keep those names as their middle names, along with a new first and middle name that had strong ties to our families. My daughters’ middle names are their grandmothers’ names, and their first names are from other beloved family members. That way, my daughters always have options—they can stick with the more “American” names we gave them—and if they decide they’d like to go by their Chinese names, that’s open to them, too. And besides, with names that had such lovely meanings, how could I not keep them as part of my daughters’ names?

We’re not alone in keeping our daughters’ original names—that tends to be how many families who’ve adopted handle the whole naming thing these days. They opt to keep some or all of the baby’s name, to preserve a tie to the baby’s birth family or birth culture. To me, it’s simply a way to honor and celebrate their past, their lives before we became their family. It’s the least I can do for the families and the country who were generous enough to share these two amazing girls with us.

Family by Ideldesign /

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How I Named My Baby

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

We’re celebrating my oldest daughter’s birthday this week. She was born eight years ago in a small town in rural China, and spent the first year and a week of her life in the loving care of a foster family, before we were able to adopt her.

And so, like so many adoptive parents, we opted to honor both her old and her new lives in her name.

Our daughter had the Chinese name Ai Lun, a name which translates to “being lovely and beautiful,” and it was an apt name for our gorgeous baby. We decided to include that as one of her middle names, to honor her Chinese heritage. She has chosen to use her Chinese name in certain circles, such as at her Chinese language school.

We wanted traditional names for our daughter, and wanted to give her family names. We felt like it was a wonderful way to connect her to some of our most beloved family members. I already wrote a bit about the drama over the spelling of Katharine. But there was no argument that we would give her the same first name as my husband’s grandmother, a sweet woman who lived with my husband’s family throughout his childhood. Katharine is a Greek name that means pure and innocent, and the spelling comes from Katharine Hepburn, one of our favorite actresses. One thing we loved about the name is its flexibility. She had a ton of nickname options. We chose to call her Katie, but at various times in her life, she’s decided to go by her full name, Katharine.

For her other middle name, we chose Caroline, a tweak on my mother’s name, Carol. Caroline is in the top 100 baby names for girls, and means “beautiful woman,” making it a wonderful match for her other middle name. Plus, this name has German roots, which suits my family’s heritage.

Admittedly, it’s a very long name. But since the name is so full of love and meaning for my beautiful girl, I think it works.


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