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Naming Your Baby

Ron Reigns:

Welcome. And thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into adoption issues from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:

Do what’s best for your kid and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:

And I know my daughter will be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:

Don’t have an abortion; give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:

All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the executive director, president, and co-founder of the Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:

And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I can combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This podcast is dedicated to naming your baby. Names are very personal and usually chosen with much thought, love, and sometimes sentimental. Some individuals like my daughter have started choosing names for babies for her future. So girls will do this.

Ron Reigns:

Which daughter?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Pardon?

Ron Reigns:

Which daughter? How old?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Emma. 17.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, wow. That’s early.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She is naming her babies already.

Ron Reigns:

She doesn’t even know the name of her husband yet.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. I know, but that’s okay. She’ll be saying, “Mom, this is going to be
my girl name and this is going to be my boy name.” And I don’t like either of them, Ron.

Ron Reigns:

Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

To be honest with you, no, no.

Ron Reigns:

You don’t like them, or do you hate them? I mean, is it Rufus? I mean, hey? Hey, if there’s a Rufus out there listening, no offense.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was going to say, I don’t want to say it because I don’t want to offend anybody, but it’s a new age, a biblical name that I could barely pronounce.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. Fair enough. Can it be shortened to a somewhat normal name?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s going to be. Or I will just call that child something different.

Ron Reigns:

Fair enough. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Some people start choosing these names, and they get set on it. They’re like, my first baby will be this, and it becomes a passion. Sometimes people won’t release names until the baby’s here because they don’t want the naysayers. Probably ten years early, my daughter is telling everybody her names and staking claim to them, so nobody else in the family can pick those names. Couples will banter and try to pick that perfect name. I’ve heard of stories where couples have a baby, and they go home to the hospital, and there’s still no name for the birth certificate because they just cannot decide on the name. They can’t agree. And when you have an adoption situation, that adds another layer. So we’re just talking about newborn babies. We’re not talking about babies from other countries or the foster care system that already have names; we’re just talking about babies.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So this can be a touchy subject with birth mothers and adoptive families. So the way that it works, at least here in Arizona, is when the baby is born, the birth mother fills out the birth certificate, and she can put whatever name she chooses.

Ron Reigns:

And you’ve seen some doozies, haven’t you?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oh yes. Hundreds of times. And then, when the adoption is finalized, a new birth certificate is issued, and the adoptive family can put whatever they choose. That being said, I have seen these go beautifully, and I have seen these turn into a nightmare. And I’m going to talk a little bit about that. So usually, on the original birth certificate, the birth mother’s last name is the baby’s last name. Now and then, you’ll have a birth mother ask the adoptive family, but usually, last names aren’t disclosed, but if she knows it or they’ve disclosed it, is that put on the birth certificate? Rarely, rarely, but you can choose any last name.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You can choose Frederick. If you want it as a last name, it doesn’t have to be your last name. In the best situation-

Ron Reigns:

I never knew that. That’s interesting.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). In the best situations, birth mothers and adoptive families decide on the baby’s name together. And that is the name that is kept. That’s the best-case scenario. Some other situations that seem to be the best are the mother and father. The birth mother each chooses one of Well, the mother, I should say the adoptive family, and then the birth family chooses one of the names, the birth mom will choose the first name, and the adoptive family will choose the middle name or vice versa.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And the name is then kept throughout the baby’s life or vice versa. The other best-case scenario is that the birth mother names the baby but understands that the name will be changed when the adoption’s finalized. So to reach this, some ways to make this happen is the adoptive family can get the birth mother maybe three of their top favorite names and let the birth mother choose. The birth mothers, in the majority of cases, want to name the baby. It’s kind of like giving them something that they’ll always have.

Ron Reigns:

Something they can hang onto.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And they can say to them, “Your mom gave you this name.” The adoptive family incorporates the birth mother’s name into the baby’s name with her permission. I’ve seen that. And that usually is very well received. Another way is both sides present why their choice of a name is essential. Maybe the birth mother has a family member whose other children carry the middle name.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She wants that tradition to keep going. And then the adoptive family says, “You know what? That is important. We want to honor that.” So when both sides can’t agree, this is where some issues come up. There are hurt feelings. This can become a red flag for adoption. If you’ve got a very passionate birth mother and a very stubborn adoptive family, that’s going to clash, and that’s not going to go well. So this is something that we want to talk about before the hospital. At the hospital, it can change, but at least we have a plan.

Ron Reigns:

Right. Now, both sides are stubborn about it in a situation like that. Not that that’s bad, I’m just saying. What is your recommendation? Do you recommend it to the adopted families? “Hey, do you think you could give a little and try and recommend the first name, middle name thing?”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I do. Yes. I do. It is honorable when an adoptive family looks at a birth mom and says, “This is going to be the baby’s name.”

Ron Reigns:

Right. It gives her that respect.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s dishonorable when the birth family says, “Oh, yes, we love the name.” And then there’s changing it behind her back. I don’t feel good about that. My birth mother did not name me. She didn’t know she was allowed to.

Ron Reigns:

You were just a baby girl.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Evans. Yeah. Baby girl, Evans. And what was so ironic about that to me later in life is, that is the name that she called me the most.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, baby girl. Really? Okay. Because in a way, then that’s what she knew you as.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. And I hear names, I’ve heard every name, and I can’t share most of them because I don’t want to identify specific individuals by their names. After all, sometimes they’re incredibly unique. A couple of my favorites that aren’t adoptive families, but their situations very similar is there was a mother many, many, many years ago that could not decide. Before the adoption agency, they couldn’t decide on a name.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And the birth recorder kept coming in and saying, “Hey, have you chosen a name yet? We need a name. We need a name.” And she just kept shaking her head. And she looked down at the card on the isolette where the baby was. And she said, “Somebody already named the baby, and it’s beautiful.” And the birth recorder said, “What are you talking about?” And she said, “Female, it’s beautiful. I want to name her Female.”

Ron Reigns:

Family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Female.

Ron Reigns:

Oh female. Okay. Female rhymes with Tamale.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Female. Tamale. Right. So she did. I have heard of everything. I have heard of people naming babies after alcoholic drinks, the first and second names. I have heard of people thinking it was funny to name their baby. They have a unique or last name, a familiar object, or something, and they’ll pick the first name and try to make it funny. I had a birth mother once that took the creepiest horror story individual and named the baby after that. I had a birth family that named the baby after common currency. So we’ve had many situations where it was in the baby’s best interest not to go through life with a name like that. But then again, I mean, the adoptive family sometimes pick names that-

Ron Reigns:

Are just as bizarre. When working in radio, I remember that one of the most popular baby names was ESPN, spelled E-S-P-N, and its birth fathers liked sports a lot. So, who knows?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When he went to culinary school, my ex-husband went to school with a guy, and they were at school, and I guess the guy had taken off his shirt and tattooed A, B, C, D E on his back. And when he asked him, “What is that?” He said, “Oh, that’s my daughter’s name, ABCDE.” It takes all kinds.

Ron Reigns:

You’ll Never forget how to spell your name. I would think, I would hope.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And you’ve got to leg up on the alphabet.

Ron Reigns:

That’s right. See, you got to look at the bright side.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. So I think this is where compromise, understanding, compassion, and empathy come into play. Again, names carry a lot. When I was naming my third, my adoptive mom asked me what I would name her. And I said, “Ava.” And she said, “Oh no, no, no, you can’t do that.” And I said, “Come again.” And she said, “That is the name of Hitler’s mistress.”

Ron Reigns:

Ava Braun.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I said, “So what?”

Ron Reigns:

I’m not naming her after Ava Braun.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No. No. So right after I named her Ava, her longtime best friend had a granddaughter that they also named Ava. And then it became a trendy name after that. But it was funny to me because that was kind of a newer name back then. It’s not a new name, but it was not expected.

Ron Reigns:

But it was getting popular. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But it took off right after we chose it. Not due to anything. It took off and-

Ron Reigns:

You started the trend. Good job.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No. So it was just funny that people have extreme opinions on names. And like I said, my adoptive mother was horrified when I first told her; she said, “No, you can’t do that.” With my son when we were naming him, my husband and I could not decide on a middle name. We just absolutely couldn’t get there. And he finally gave up about three or four days before I had the baby and said, “You know what? You can name the baby, the middle name, whatever you want.” And so, my oldest daughter, Michelle, and I were sitting there and thinking, and we love Winnie the poop. Love Winnie the poo. Just absolutely love it. So we chose the name Christopher as a middle name.

Ron Reigns:

Christopher Robin. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. So we gave him the name Christopher.

Ron Reigns:

I never knew that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And it wasn’t, and when people asked me, “Did you name him after Christopher Robin?” We did. Because again, it worked. Aiden Christopher.

Ron Reigns:

Right. It is not the most bizarre thing out there. I don’t know why people would even question that. I mean, people name babies after crazy, okay? So I did ask you if both sides are holding their ground firmly; I said stubborn, maybe that’s the wrong word, but what about if, and you said that generally you’d try and ask the adoptive parents to kind give a little more, what if in a circumstance the birth mother says Crown Royal, do you kind of try and get her to give in a little bit?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Again, and that’s yes. And if we can’t give her to give in, then we have to go with, okay, then that’s what’s going to be on their original birth certificate, but it will be changed after the adoption.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. So you’ll put your foot down on that side as well.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. Yes.

Ron Reigns:

Fair enough.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. But it’s only fair that she knows that. So we had a situation where there was a post-adoption visit, and it was done at a counseling office. And our case worker went to be for support and the counselor there. And the birth mother showed up, and the adoptive family showed up with the baby. I believe the baby was about 18 months. And the adoptive family was calling the baby by their name. And the birth mother opened her mouth wide and said, “That’s not her name.” Nobody had disclosed to her that the name had changed. And she pulled up her sleeve and tattooed her name down the arm she had chosen. And so, that was awful because there were very hurt feelings on both sides. Not more on the adoptive family side, but they-

Ron Reigns:

But more so on the birth mother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Very hurt.

Ron Reigns:

They must have been devastated. Yeah. So you’re right. Again, we’ve discussed disclosure in the past, which is essential. You need to make sure all sides know what’s going on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You do. And remember, branch out, be creative. I wanted to name one of my girls after my dad when I kept having girls. I didn’t know how to do that because of his name.

Ron Reigns:

Bruce Lee.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. No martial artist. What I did was I changed the spelling of Lee to Lei. So you can be creative and find a compromise that will work. Again, I recommend going into naming with an open mind and an open heart, being creative, finding a way to make it work, and thinking outside the box because there’s more air there anyway.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. Suppose you’re listening and dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption. Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and is available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. That’s (623) 695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to start creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information.

Ron Reigns:

You can also find more information about Building Arizona Families at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks to grapes for allowing us to use their song, “I don’t know,” as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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