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The day I changed my baby’s name : A cautionary tale.

Posted on: by Kate : 27 Comments
Home » Family » The day I changed my baby’s name : A cautionary tale.

domestic adoptionWhen we were all of a sudden going to be adopting a newborn that was to be born any minute we were kinda thrown off guard.  One of the many things that threw us was that now we had to come up with a name, and quickly. Here’s how we ended up with Ruby Roo.

special needs adoption

Considering all of the really important stuff we had to do paperwork wise the name thing seemed like no big deal.  All we knew is we didn’t want to name her Claire or anything with Claire in it.  Claire is the name we had picked out for several months as the name we would give the little girl we had hoped to adopt in Eastern Europe.  We actually planned on keeping her given first name and Claire would be her middle name, anyway we referred to her as Claire and while my husband and I love that name there was no way we could give it to another child.  Claire has a very special place in a weird little purgatory in our heart, so anyway  – that name was off the table, but just about everything else was.

Our daughter’s legal name is a name we had liked before, and it was something that was literally decided over a phone conversation during my husband’s 10 minute snack break between class.

That is not how you name a baby folks – but it is how we named her.  Poor, poor Baby C.

We actually did give it some thought – C and her birth father share the same first letter in their first names, and her middle name is a form of her birth mama’s name.  And that was sweet.  Here’s the problem – it didn’t really stick to her.

I used to roll my eyes at people that were like “Oh, we have to meet the baby first and see if it works on them.” I am sorry for the laughing…. I was wrong.  So very wrong.

When we went into the hospital with J we actually had a set middle name and a top three first name list.  J was our first choice of the three, but we had back ups, and when our oldest made her appearance we thought about it for a couple hours and then it was official.  She was stable and healthy, there was nothing really to worry about except her name.

We saw several pictures of S before we even met him, and after several trips back and forth (calling him by his Russian name the entire time until he was legally ours) it was easy enough to call him S.  We eased into it.

C was different, my assumption is that it would be like J but it just wasn’t.  Her name was the least of our concerns.  Our main concerns were her feeding issues, her bum ticker, and the fact that she hadn’t opened her eyes in three days.  And unlike J, we had headstarted some of our paperwork before she was born, and it would have been such a hassle to change it even if we had wanted to – but we honestly didn’t.

Well fast forward to six weeks later.  We had been home for about two weeks, while our baby was not healthy, she was stable, and then it hit me.  We gave this baby the wrong name, and now I knew what it was, shoot, this is gonna get complicated.

changing Baby's name

So I just sat there looking at my little baby girl and I said “Your name is Ruby huh?” she didn’t object so I just called her that the rest of the day, like a total crazy person.  Who just changes their baby’s name six weeks in??  Ruby was never on our short list, I honestly don’t know where it came from.

So then Harry comes home and sees me sitting on the couch with my newly named baby.

“What?” he says because he can tell something is brewing.

I slowly turned C around and said “Tell me this baby’s name isn’t Ruby?”

Blank stare.

“I’m totally serious, you know how we have said C doesn’t really fit but that she would grow into it, I think we were wrong, I don’t think she is gonna grow into it, because it just isn’t her name – Ruby is her name right?” Me

“She does look like a Ruby.” Harry

“RIGHT?!” Me

“Babe, you can’t just go around changing a baby’s name at 6 weeks.” Harry

“Oh well OK, can you go find Vanya and let him know that he needs to put his shoes away?” Me

“Yeah, but Babe that is different, we can’t just change her name.” Harry

“Why?” Me

“Well, I just think it is crazy and it is going to be a bunch of paperwork…” Harry

“But C isn’t her name right?  And Ruby is her name right?” Me

“Yeah, I mean, I agree, but I don’t want to do more paperwork.” Harry

“So we are gonna to call her C and NOT call her Ruby because we don’t want to fill out some papers? Now that is crazy.”  Me

Well then he said something that made a lot of sense.

“Kate, you know she is gonna look like a completely different baby once her lip is corrected right?  What if she looks like a C then?” Harry

Blake stare by me.  This was a good point.

And this is where the story gets really convoluted…..

I changed my baby's name

We decided we really couldn’t make that decision officially until she had her surgery.  Her first lip surgery she was 10 months old.  The whole time we called her both.  We have discussed double middle naming her.  We LOVE her given name and we love the meaning it has with her birth parents (who LOVED the name) – but her name to us was Ruby.  We discussed double middle naming her, but a bunch of people said that is mean to do to a kid, apparently it will be a pain in the butt for paperwork as she gets older and God forbid she grow up and want to hyphenate her name when she gets married.

We’ve tried combining her names for a sweet nickname – but it always gets shortened.  So we have decided to let the kid just name herself.  The joke is that she is going to rebel and on the first day of kindergarten she is gonna insist her name is Bridget.  I really hope not, but it would totally be my fault if she did so I will have to live with it.

adoption newborn

For now, there are four names she will respond to “Ruby” “Roo”, as well as her full name “C” and the shortened version of that name (I am sorry I don’t give out their names, but I hope you understand) – she will point to herself when you say “Where is Ruby?” or “Where is C?” and so on – she honestly isn’t confused, but everyone else is, and I am really sorry for that.

So here is the deal – I kinda wrote this letter for reference for friends and family for when they say “Sooo, like for real what is her name? I don’t know what to call her.”

So here is how it works for us – at school, church, the doctor’s offices, when meeting new people, etc – we introduce her as her legal name “C” because that is her name, it is what is on all her paperwork, and she responds to it.

I have had a handful of people say “Why don’t you adopt another girl and name her Ruby?”  Well I don’t think “I really need another kid simply to name them” is enough of a reason to adopt again (that isn’t to say we won’t adopt again – but it won’t be just to name them).  But the point is we feel THIS little girl is our “Ruby” – our sweet little ‘semi precious’ (OK – completely precious) Ruby Roo, her legal name is just her formal name – we’ll keep it, and call her it, but to us, this little lady is our Ruby Roo.  I hope that makes sense.

cleft lip repair

At home we sometimes call her C or the nickname for C – but more often than not we call her “Roo” – like a nickname, the same way we call our son “Bubs” and our oldest “Scout”.  Nobody is confused by those nicknames – but because “Ruby” is a real name it is kind of confusing.  Our extended family and friends also call her Roo or Ruby, Grandma only calls her Ruby.  She refers to herself as “Woo Woo” or her own mispronunciation of her legal name.  Oddly enough, our fear that it would confuse her was for nothing – she totally gets it and she seems comfortable with her names.  Again, my sincerest apologies to those we have confused.

So here is the deal – I am writing this to share with folks who we have confused – but I am also writing this to caution future parents.  You can’t just throw your favorite name at any kid and know it will stick.  I was convinced you could until our little C came along, but I was wrong.  Just keep that in mind when naming your kiddies!  It can be complicated!  Haha!

Until Next Time ~ Kate
27 Responses
  1. Such a sweet story, she’s adorable no matter what you call her.

  2. I can see how that might confuse folks who know you, but the important thing is that its not confusing to her. I like the idea myself for an adopted child. It’s sorta like her legal name is given to her by her biological parents, but her everyday casual name that her loved ones call her is Ruby or “Roo”. I think that just seals the deal more as your daughter that way. Its very sweet as is she!

    • Kate says:

      Thank you! Yes! We want to honor her birth parents – we love them so much! We came up with her legal name but it was ‘approved’ by them and we specifically chose names that were forms of their names & they really liked that. And they are names we love! People have said “Why don’t you just adopt one more girl and name HER Ruby?” – I say ‘I don’t necessarily want another child just to name them – I just think her name is Ruby” – LOL – Thank you! People always seem to agree that Roo is a good fit for her – but it is a long silly story for sure_

  3. I miss her gorgeous little face!!

  4. Carissa says:

    Whenever I see pics of her, I immediately think “Roo.” Oddly enough, when I first started reading this, I totally couldn’t think of what “Roo” was short for, but I usually can remember “C” after “Roo.”

  5. Jodi says:

    She is adorable and I love the name Ruby for her, and even Roo (too cute!) . There are a few children I know(3 that immediately come to mind) that have different names outside of school. School usually sticks to their “formal” name and outside of school it is another name, not just a nickname. I think it is perfectly fine.

  6. alicja says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing ! We actually left the hospital without naming our baby boy because we just couldn’t decide ! We did end up going back a few days later with a good solid name that is meaningful, easy to spell and pronounce and all that but yet, I still call him by a completely different name all the time and he is now 4 years old ! I’ve always thought to change it but, after reading this (and because I don’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork and confusion!) I guess I’ll just call him what I call him and that will be that 🙂
    Oh and his God father calls I’m by his middle name every single time (even on facebook lol!) just to add to poor baby boys confusion ! ugh…names

    • Kate says:

      LOL – our kids may need to join a support group some day! 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    • Nancy Barrett says:

      My step-dad still calls my daughter by her middle name once in a while (especially when he wants to tease her). He claims that since we put her name to a ‘family and close friend’ vote (J.N. vs N.J.) and he voted for N.J., he has the right to call her that. Of course, once she turned the tables and started calling him by his given name instead of his nick-name, he changed his tune.

  7. It took meeting our 3rd child to be ready to name him – I think it is just different for each and every circumstance. You’ve got a great story to share with Ruby when she asks why she has two names ; )

  8. Nancy Barrett says:

    Sounds like it’s working fine for right now 🙂 When you all DO settle on a name as she gets older, I’d recommend having it legally changed if it’s not some variation of C. My mom has been called by her middle name since she was a baby and it’s been a real pain for her to continue to explain to a multitude of people over a 70 year period that her given name is Doris but that she goes by Jeanne. She says the only plus side is that she knows if someone on the phone asks for Doris they are from a medical office, the bank, or a utility company – LOL!

  9. laura says:

    I can’t believe how big she has gotten!!

  10. Becky says:

    My oldest son was named LONG before he was born. It was a combination between my dad and my husband’s dad – J.T. But my favorite story about J.T. is his kindergarten S.S. teacher coming up to me and saying, “J.T. doesn’t like his name. He says his name isn’t initials – it’s JAMES!” We smiled and have called him James ever since. When he reached high school age some of his football buddies found out his nickname from when he was little and started calling him J.T. – just an evolution…He will always be BOTH in our hearts.

  11. Kate says:

    Hi AJ – I know – such a jumbled mess we have made! But luckily she is ok with it all and I am hoping explaining it will help people a bit. She really goes by all right now but my guess is she will tell us her favorite someday =) For now it is quite a silly story!

  12. Ann says:

    What a story and what an adorable little girl you have.

    My legal name is Helen Anderson XXXLast Name.

    My entire life I go by Ann. That is on my drivers license and my bank accounts. Only my passport has Helen Anderson XXXX. And it has been NO problem.

    Starting in first grade my mother enrolled me as Ann.

    So don’t worry about it. Ruby C sounds cute together.

  13. Kristina Rodriguez says:

    My sister in law’s name is Lisa Stephanie, but soon after she was born her parents realized it should have been the other way around and just started calling her Stephanie.

    Also, I used to work with someone named Caesar Chavez and he was kind of embarrassed by that so outside of his family or formal stuff, he went by his middle name Alejando/Alex for short.

    I think its pretty common!

  14. Marilyn Coffey says:

    I know I am late on this chat but it helped to read this. I legally changed my son’s name when he was close to 11 months old. Just did this – was a long process and tried to make peace with the first name. The father and I fought about it in the hospital and I gave in to him because he was impossible to reason with and I struggled mentally for a long time because of that. It is not so much the name that bothers me (the name is nice) – it is the loss of control and resentment that cones to mind every time I think of it. My son is beautiful and smart and I love him more than life itself. But I had a hard time just accepting the name chosen. (The father had picked all three names – even has his last name). I even saw a therapist about it who encouraged my changing of the name. I am with the father but our relationship is weak and that was all tied in with it. I felt crazy doing it and feared people would think I am selfish but I devote my life entirely to making my son and my two year old daughters happy so I figure if this was my biggest problem then so be it. My peace of mind is important to being a great Mom. I am glad I did it yet using the new name feels a little awkward. (Although I love it). The old name is now his middle name. I hope and pray that he does not get too confused or my toe year old daughter. I am glad after reading this and these comments to know that I am not alone. 🙂

  15. Marilyn Coffey says:

    I know I am late on this chat but it helped to read this. I legally changed my son’s name when he was close to 11 months old. Just did this – was a long process and tried to make peace with the first name. The father and I fought about it in the hospital and I gave in to him because he was impossible to reason with and I struggled mentally for a long time because of that. It is not so much the name that bothers me (the name is nice) – it is the loss of control and resentment that cones to mind every time I think of it. My son is beautiful and smart and I love him more than life itself. But I had a hard time just accepting the name chosen. (The father had picked all three names – even has his last name). I even saw a therapist about it who encouraged my changing of the name. I am with the father but our relationship is weak and that was all tied in with it. I felt crazy doing it and feared people would think I am selfish but I devote my life entirely to making my son and my two year old daughter happy so I figure if this was my biggest problem then so be it. My peace of mind is important to being a great Mom. I am glad I did it yet using the new name feels a little awkward. (Although I love it). The old name is now his middle name. I hope and pray that he does not get too confused or my two year old daughter. I am glad after reading this and these comments to know that I am not alone. 🙂

  16. Lupita Theresa says:

    My family calls me a nickname that comes from my first name. My hometown friends call me my first name. 13 years ago my boss at the time asked if I would consider using my middle name because my first was hard to remember and to pronounce properly. I started using my middle name then and to this day use it. Of course I also answer to “mom”. 4 names later I answer to all 4 with absolutely no problems. Crazy how the brain works!

    I applaud you not giving out your childrens names. As a society in the twenty-first century we give out far to much information with little to no thought on privacy and security. Especially when it comes to our kids.

    • Kate Hamernik says:

      Thank you for sharing Lupita! And I agree – I think we can never be too careful! I almost didn’t even tell her nickname “Ruby” but thought a non legal name was hopefully OK.

  17. Jenni says:

    I love this story! It’s something I would do because sometimes children choose their names as I have found with older child adoption. Great post!!!

  18. Laura says:

    Ruby is a sweet name! This absolutely reminds me of my husbands friend. My husband has a friend named Charles. When I met Charles’ sister, she said “Oh it’s so strange hearing people call my brother Charles!” I started wondering how I could have possibly gotten his name wrong for the last 6 years…so I asked her why. She said that her parents had really wanted to name him Daniel, but for whatever reason ended up naming him Charles. So, his entire family calls him Danny and everyone from work calls him Charles.

    • kate says:

      that is so funny! we have a neighbor who goes by her first name in some circles and her middle in others too – I think it is a wee bit more common than we originally thought but it is still confusing to explain – haha!

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