What Should I Do with My Child’s (First) Name?

because1If you’ve been following EMN for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of birthmother counselor Patricia Dischler. Today her KIDSAKE newsletter (Feb 09) has the following article, which I’m reprinting here with permission. (If you’d like to subscribe, see below).

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Naming your child is a big event in the process of becoming a parent. It ranks higher than deciding how to decorate their room, buying the outfit for their first trip home and being sure you have enough diapers on hand. There seems to be so much pressure on making this decision. Do you pass on a family name? What will the initials be? Can it be rhymed with something bad that other kids will use to tease them? Your mind is constantly trying new ones on for size and then analyzing it from every direction in order to decide if it will make your “list.”


While this pressure to find the perfect name is a standard for any parent, for adoptive parents there is a door that opens up to a whole new set of questions that can become completely overwhelming. The birthmother. Will she choose a name first? If she does should we keep it or change it? If we have the opportunity, should we discuss it with her and decide together? What if we have a name we’ve always wanted? What if she doesn’t like the name we do? The questions can flow over and over into an adoptive parents mind like waves crashing on the shore, erasing each idea that was written in the sand and washing it out to sea.


As an adoptive parent how do you face these questions? As a counselor, what kind of advice can you offer them, or the birthmother? Is there a “right” way to do this? We are unique individuals. This is why each adoption is so unique, and also why making a decision for a name will be unique as well. But understanding what some of the options are, and taking the time to discuss them openly will be your keys to finding the answers that are right for you. Most importantly, understand that your opinion DOES count. Talk about how you feel, be open and honest. On the other hand, also be respectful of what you hear from others and how they feel. When everyone approaches this with respect and honest emotion, the answers will come. When I placed my son for adoption in 1985 I was told that if I wanted to name him, I could, but that it was likely the adoptive parents would change it. I was okay with the idea of them changing it, they would be his parents and I understood how important naming your child can be and didn’t want to take that from them. But I also didn’t want my son to be called “the baby” for two weeks. So, after much thought, I named him Joseph Paul. My little gift to him, it would go on his original birth certificate and always be a reminder of his beginnings. And that was enough for me. Then, later that year when the first letters from his parents arrived, they extended a gift to me. His mother wrote that they decided to keep the name I had chosen because they felt that I must have had special reasons for choosing it and it was their gift to me. He wouldn’t be leaving his “beginnings” behind, but rather would keep his time with me forever – represented through his name. They said it also represented names within their family so it was the perfect blend between my family and theirs. I could not have been more honored and happy. At that moment my heart totally broke open with love and trust for this couple. Their sign of respect for me came full circle as I then became full of respect for them. This became the foundation for an amazing relationship.


Today, there is typically more communication between birthmothers and adoptive parents in the beginning. Adoptive parents who let the birthmother know they respect her opinion and would like to hear it will do much for building a respectful relationship. If the birthmother’s suggestion is something that works with your family (such as in my case) then it would be a wonderful symbol to agree to keep the name. If not, you may wish to use it as a middle name instead, or suggest something close to it.


When choosing names it is important to “remember the why.” Adoptive parents who understand why a birthmother chooses a particular name will have a better foundation for making their decision. For example, if a birthmother picks a name simply because she likes the sound of it, it may be there are other names she will like as well. But, if she picks a name because of the significance to her or her family (as I did) then the adoptive parents may wish to give it more careful consideration before choosing to change it. Anytime you can show respect for BOTH families in the choosing of a name, the better.


Even when there is no contact with a birthmother, as in many intra-country adoptions, your child may have been given a name already. Consider incorporating this into the name you choose as a sign to your child of respect for their heritage.

The focus should always be the child. Sometimes, a name is just a name. And that’s okay! Sometimes it holds great importance, and that’s okay too. Take the time to discuss it, share expectations and respect what you hear from each other. With the thousands of possibilities of names in this world it seems incredible that both parties wouldn’t be able to find one that everyone can agree to – especially if their focus is on the child and not themselves.


Names reflect who we are, what our parents were thinking about at the time of our birth, our heritage, and so much more. Taking time to respect these issues when choosing a name for an adopted child will give them a story of love – and a name – they can carry with pride!

Reprinted from KIDBIZ Newsletter, an ezine by child care author and speaker, Patricia Dischler. Subscribe at www.patriciadischler.com. If you like this newsletter, please pass it on to your fellow colleagues.

If a colleague passed this on to you and you would like to subscribe, visit: www.patriciadischler.com and click the link “Subscribe to Ezines.”



Weekend Ponderings: Motherly Solitude

play-timeTonight as Sarah and I were getting the kids ready for bed (all of us in one hotel room, which means that I am writing this in the dark as four exhausted kidlets and my co-adventurer slumber blissfully in their beds), I managed to twist my bad ankle. Again. And yet, like a goose I kept right on doing what I had been doing before I hurt myself. I think I was getting somebody some cough medicine, or lovey, or some other such life-or-death errand.

“You know, I COULD do that for you,” Sarah pointed out. And of course she was right. I could have retired to my bed and let her run around on her two perfectly good feet. Instead I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. What a dummy!!!

After I finally settled in bed that night, I recounted the story to Sarah about getting my crutches from the basement. I posted about this at “Mommy Monsters” the other day. What I did not mention in the story was the inner dialogue that took place before I actually hobbled downstairs for the crutches. For about ten minutes, I wracked my brain to think of someone I could call to come over and get those crutches for me … Someone I didn’t mind seeing the carpet full of puppy shrapnel (garbage bag bits, pieces of rawhide, assorted spongy toy bits), last night’s dinner dishes still on the kitchen counter, and a whole basement full of … well, let’s just say a basement full, and leave it at that.

I couldn’t think of a single person. Not one. Those I knew well enough to call either worked or lived FAR away, and those I knew casually … I didn’t have their phone number to “promote” them. So I got the blasted things myself.

“What does that say about me,” I asked Sarah, “that I don’t have any close friends to call at a time like this?”

“I think it means you’re like the rest of us,” said my good friend. “I have one person I could call if I had been in your situation, and when her husband told her they might have to move, I told HIM he might have to take me along, too. Most of my really good friends are online …”

I felt a little better then, but still I knew that this little red flag, popping up as it has so close to Lent, signals a character flaw that needed some attention. The problem was my idiotic pride, not wanting anyone to see the house in such a state. I mean, if someone had called ME to help after they had spent two days trying not to walk, I wouldn’t expect House Beautiful.

The funny thing is … it’s part of womanly human nature to help, to come alongside, to support. It’s infinitely easier to do that … than to ask for help. Even when we know it’s the right thing to do.

When was the last time you felt you needed help … and were too embarrassed/shy/self-conscious/fill in the emotion to do so? If you had it to do over … would you?

In today’s Gospel, from the eighth chapter of Mark, Jesus observes that those who are truly disciples are not those who stand on ceremony, or who are too proud to bend low and admit just how short of perfection they fall:

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.”

In the Kingdom of God, those who labor to project a flawless, seamless image never get very far. However, those who are willing to let go of the things most precious to them (including their own reputations) in order to follow in the footsteps of our Master ….  leaning on Him all the way … attain the pathway to true perfection. “Saints,” we call them. 

Note to self:  Look for an opportunity this week to ask for a little help … exercise that humility muscle! The sacrament of reconciliation is a good place to start. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make a new friend along the way!

Advent(ures) of the Fuzzy Kind


This weekend we welcomed a new member to the family … a six-week-old Australian Shepherd Christopher named Maddy. (This is the picture that induced Craig and Chris to drive halfway across the state to get her!)

Like all babies, Maddy is both a lot of work and a lot of fun. Her blue eyes will turn one day, we’re told. The biggest challenge is persuading her to piddle in the snow at 3 a.m. (I can hardly blame her; I wouldn’t want to plant my delicates in the frost, either.)

At 5 a.m., when I get up with her again, I sometimes encourage the process along a bit with a little song sung a tune from “The Music Man.” (Remember the “Pick-a-little, talk-a-little” number that is sung with “Good Night Ladies?) In case you ever find yourself walking the floor in the wee hours with a puppy, I thought I’d share it with you here:

First the slow part (Good night ladies)

“Good-night, Maddy. Good-night, Maddy.
Good-night Maddy. It’s time to go to SLEEP!”

(Now the fast “Pick-a-little” part):

“Eat a little, poop a little, eat a little, poop a little,
SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP, poop a lot, eat a little more.
Eat a little, poop a little, eat a little, poop a little,
SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP, eat a lot, poop a little more.
Eat a little, poop a little, eat a little, poop a little,
SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP, poop a lot, eat a little more.
Eat a little, poop a little, eat a little, poop a little,
Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep,

“Good-night Maddy…” (repeat).

Okay, I’ll admit it’s a lot funnier at 3 a.m. … I imagine it would work with insomniac babies, too!

Oh… If you’re still reading this, be sure to tune in to Al Kresta’s show today at 3:00 … Yours truly will be in the studio, talking about EMN!

Mighty Mom Monday: “Eek! Mom, Not the Eyebrows!”

Happy Monday!  Every Monday is a happy Monday at EMN … thanks to Sarah (A.K.A. “Mighty Mom.”) Check out her blog at “My Wonderful Life”

No MOM!!! Not my EYEBROWS!!

So, Subvet was gone providing parkinglot security for the Saturday night Mass and as per the instructions he left, I fed the hooligans&hooliganette pizza for supper.

Now, the boys performed their usual magic trick flawlessly, not a bit of pizza left to be found after 2.4 seconds.

Sugars’ pizza, however, put up a fight. Apparently it did NOT want to be disappeared and, from the looks of things, fought tooth and nail against such treatment.

Once I pronounced the fight over. There was pizza sauce from stem to stern on that girl. Which left her with a slightly orange/yellow skin tone.

So, Mightymom takes rag in hand and proceeds to start at the bottom and work my way up.

My kids have long since decided that my name stands for Mean Old Mommy…especially when it comes to cleanup time. I mean to tell you I CLEAN the kids! I get between the toes….between the fingers….between all 4 chins….and yes, even between the eyes!!

So here I am scrubbing away trying to get all that orangeness/yellowness off of her. I’m scrubbing and scrubbing…she’s screaming for Child Protective Services to save her…or at least for Daddy to come home! and I finally have all the yelloworange stuff gone…except her eyebrows. I just can’t get them to come clean. No matter WHAT I do they still look a bit yellow-y.

As I sit and ponder what I can use that’ll get her clean and not require a full bath it dawns on me…..

Her eyebrows are SUPPOSED TO BE YELLOW!!!

Uh, oops.

Sorry, babe.

Mighty Mom Monday: Just Say “No” to Mommy Guilt!

As is our custom here at EMN, today’s post is from the hilarious life experience of Sarah, A.K.A. “Mighty Mom.” Be sure to check out her blog at “My Wonderful Life.”

The number-one toughest thing about being a Mom is the colossal amount of GUILT that we carry.  I’m not talking about simple regret, about things that I just wish I’d done different … I’m talking about true, haunt-your-dreams, cry in your pillow guilt.

Now, friends.  Here’s my advice to you: Just Say NO to Mommy Guilt!

To help you gain perspective and win the battle, I’m gonna share with you things that I’ve felt guilty over.

  • I’ve agonized over the times I lifted my 2lb weights during pregnancy — and after I miscarried, sure that the exercise had somehow harmed my child.
  • Ditto the 2 Advil I broke down and took during the 8th month of pregnancy when my hips hurt so bad I couldn’t move or sleep.
  • I chastized myself for the gallons of chocolate milk I drank every morning I was pregnant … and over the last 6 months my 4-year-old has refused any kind of milk EXCEPT Chocolate Milk!!
  • I wept thinking of my 4-month-old breastfed baby, who CRIED FOR 20 MINUTES before my stepmother realized that the bottle I was trying to feed him needed to be warmer.
  • I obsessed over the fact that my son was forced to wear a short-sleeve shirt (the only spare in his backpack) after getting his long-sleeved shirt all wet … and he was COLD ON THE PLAYGROUND!!! (Though it was NOT cold enough for me to have sent him wearing a jacket).
  • In my battle with cradle cap, I scrubbed all my 1-month-old’s hair off.
  • Putting the baby to bed, I found the cat asleep in the crib … and I didn’t change the sheets!
  • I panicked when I found my kids watching movies (Berenstain Bears) that I HADN’T previewed!!
  • I have 3 kids, the oldest of which is almost 5. And yet, I’ve ONLY ever made 3 pair of shorts.  No other kids clothes! 
  • All 3 kids have had to wear those shorts so I can say they wore mommy-made clothes.

Now, folks, I hope you see how not a one of these things will amount to a hill of beansprouts in 5 years.  Not a one.  As a matter of fact.  When I think of how guilty I felt over every one of these (and many more) I just laugh.  I mean REALLY!!

So, the next time something happens and you feel that stomach-clenching-guilty feeling stop and ask yourself:

“Is anybody other than me gonna remember this in 5 years?”

No? Then stop the guilt train … It’s time to get off!

Mighty Mom Monday: “Potty Training 101-102”

This classic post is from “My Wonderful Life” . For those who just can’t get enough, here’s installment #3!(June 2007). Thanks, Sarah!

OK, here we are halfway through the summer. I had 2 goals for this summer back in May.

1) Get Alligator’s fingers OUT OF THAT MOUTH.

2) Potty train Sonshine.

Apparently, God laughed and laughed when I told Him these goals. I’ve given up on Gator-Boy for now. He started cutting those 2-year molars and, to tell the truth, it just wasn’t worth the fight.

Sonshine, however, I am working with. So far he’s decided he wants to spend every waking moment in the bathroom, flushing the toilet. I was emailed a video once about a guy’s cat who kept flushing the toilet. At the time I wondered just how huge his water bill must be. Now I know. The thing is, not only does Sonshine keep flushing it, but so does Alligator.

Last night I was on the phone for 15 min. Sonshine was asleep on the couch (it was past bedtime). Alligator-boy spent the ENTIRE 15 minutes running from the chair, where he giggled at the cat (who was non-plussed to say the least) to the bathroom, where he flushed the toilet.

I’ve tried and tried to teach them to at least wait till the potty stops making noise before flushing again. But they seem to think this is child abuse. So, here’s my question to you. We have childproof locks for EVERYTHING. There’s one to keep toilet lids shut, there’s one to keep the toilet paper from being unrolled. There’s one to keep toys out of VCRs. There are even little clips to keep shoes tied. How do you keep the kid from just flushing the toilet over and over and over?

Fortunately (or not), neither of them have mastered peeing in the potty yet … so we haven’t discovered we can flush stuff down the toilet. Once that happens I’m afraid it’ll all be over, the battle lost. I might as well just put a pillow in the bathroom and move in.

And what would you call a contraption that prevents multiple flushings anyway … a Single Shot Potty?? Get a Handle on your Toilet Handle?? One Flush at a Time?? The One Flush Wonder??

Potty Training: The Prequel

Well, it’s been a rough week. So I decided I needed to laugh, and y’all can laugh with me.

So, we’re trying to potty train Sonshine. This is proving more difficult than we expected. In order to help him get the idea of what it is that I want him to do, I’ve asked Subvet to take Sonshine with him when he needs to pee. Show him how big boys do it … all that.

Well, Subvet is a little shy about this sort of thing but sportingly agreed.

So, the time came … and Dad and Son went into the bathroom for the first time to see what it’s all about. I’m in the living room listening to the following conversation. (All from Subvet.)

“Come on, let’s go tee tee like a big boy … Geez, this is embarrassing ….
Yeah, Daddy’s a big boy …  This is how big boys put tee tee in the potty.
(I can’t believe I’m doing this) …

“Yeah, Daddy’s tee tee … HEY, DON’T DO THAT!!! GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THERE!! Come and wash your hands.”

Apparently Sonshine had decided to “play in Daddy’s fountain.” Daddy was NOT amused.


What Military Families Wished You Knew: Guest Post from “Pops”

I’d like to welcome a friend of Mighty Mom’s, “Pops,” who generously responded to my call for an article about military families. As you can see, Pops is abundantly qualified to write on the subject … and I am so grateful to give EMN the benefit of his expertise!

Hi,  they call me Pops, 
I must thank Heidi for giving me the honor and privilege of posting on the Extraordinary Mom’s Network.  I would like to take a moment to tell you about me and my family. 

I am the son of a World War II veteran who is the son of a World War I veteran.  My family tree has been traced back to the Revolutionary War and documented family members in the service during the Civil War.  I was in the United States Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War.  My oldest son served during the 1st Gulf War. My youngest son, who is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, recently returned from Baghdad as part of the surge President Bush ordered. My father-in-law served in the US Army during the Korean War. 

We are by all accounts a middle class, working  family. We are nothing spectacular, most likely just like you and your family.  Continue reading