Hello Duana,

I've been reading Lainey Gossip for years and have been a fan of your name blog for quite some time. I'm a lawyer and love your SJC name test. Anyway, after a long process, my husband and I were recently approved to adopt a baby. We are not sure when we'll get the call - it could be next week or 3 years from now - but we need to be ready for a new baby. We've got everything set up for him/her with the exception of... a name!

We both have fairly traditional 70s/80s American names – think ‘Ashley and Chris’. We're both genetic mutts and since we won't know the genetic/cultural background of the baby, we're also not too concerned about honoring a specific culture/country/etc. Our last name is two syllables ending in L, so it goes with a lot of names, though we'd like to avoid alliteration and therefore no "L" first names or first names that end in "-ville." 

I have found that I do love French sounding names but we can't agree on many. He's less picky than I am - he'd actually be fine with most generic, popular names, and says he's happy to just veto/approve my picks rather than come up with his own - but his one rule is that the name must be easily pronounced (i.e. no names like Aislynn or Sade). 

The only girl name we've agreed on is Delphine and he doesn't love that. He's partial to Gemma, another pick of mine which I like but don't love (partially because it seems to be growing in popularity). Final thought: my mother's maiden name is Clements and I love Clementine for a girl, but he  thinks it sounds too hokey/Southern. 

For boys, we've only agreed on Julian, which we both really like. I also like Fontaine but that was ruled out; he’s also okay with Roland though he says it sounds like an "old man name" as does Harmon.  I'm not usually a nickname fan but I could also do Percival ("Percy") or Francois ("Frank") and he is okay with those, too. 

So those are our ideas, but no real must haves. Anyway - if you could provide assistance with names we haven't considered, we're listening! And hopefully using your advice sooner rather than later!

Happy Thanksgiving from Boston,



Congratulations on being approved! I know the wait to adopt can be interminable on both sides of the referral, so I’m very excited for you. But it’s kind of fascinating, what kind of hitch it can put in your naming game. Unlike parents who look at the end of pregnancy as the ticking clock, by the end of which they must decide - you could finally land on a name, only to sit with it for 18 months and then realize when you finally meet your baby that it’s not right at all. Or you could take the pressure off, thinking you have lots of time and wind up with the third member of your family arriving next week! 

For your sake, I hope it’s exactly as long as you want but no longer. To that end, though, I have some thoughts about what you guys are up to, name-wise. 

I have some bad news: you haven’t agreed on any names. If you’ve ‘agreed’ on something but he doesn’t like it, that doesn’t count. Ditto for a name that you like but he doesn’t. I’m sorry to tell you that eliminates both Delphine and Gemma… if the baby was arriving tomorrow, I’d say to choose between them, but knowing you have time (in theory) to sit with them, even though you don’t love them… I suspect they are not in it to win it. 

Here are some other names they made me think of, though – Elise, Cleo, Elodie (which is-but-isn’t an alliterative choice. What do we think about this?), or Ramona – fairly unusual, but easy to say and spell, that evoke thoughts of maybe being from another place or time, but aren’t right up in the Gaelic-spelling levels of difficulty. Or maybe something like Astrid, Helena, or Penelope… a little longer, a little more exotic, but still totally pronounceable? Are any of these ringing a bell for you? As for Clementine, I definitely agree that it has a twang to it.  There are some people, even those who are far from southern, whose blood runs straight to rockabilly and for whom this is the greatest name there is, but if it rings false it rings quite false. 

I’ll interrupt before we go to the boy names to say that if you’ve been reading this column for awhile you know my position on people who only shoot down the suggestions you make – I’m not into it, because it’s way easier to say “Nah… let’s stick with Gemma” than it is to come up with something new.  For you guys, though, where the arrival time is a little different, I might try a different exercise. Maybe eliminate all the names you’ve chosen thus far, and split it up by week, or by month: “From the 17th-24th, your job is to convince me one of your choices deserves to be on the list. Then we’ll switch.” The more invested he is in the labour of finding the names, the more likely he is to consider them more in depth…

That said, I’m not sure you need to worry as much about boys’ names, because Julian is great. However, if your babe arrives and it’s not right for one of a dozen reasons, which way would you go? 

I have to admit I was surprised to see you jump to names like Harmon and Francois – there’s nothing wrong with them at all (though by the strictest rules, Francois could be confusing to read and pronounce, depending where you are. Am I underestimating people now?)  How about Pascal, which I like more every time I write it, or Rupert, which might each feel 10% more wearable than Percy or Roland – not that I mind Roland either? Harmon, I feel, is pretty on-trend with the Finleys and Harrisons who are in daycares across North America. It makes me think of Wesley and Morris, and the spattering of Holdens who are now in grade 3 with the Islas. Maybe Anton or Duncan might be up your alley, or there’s the Armin/Armand corridor to consider as well…

Please let us know. In fact, give us a progress report of how your negotiations are going, whether or not your little one arrives before you have a chance to decide or not! May it be the first of many times you plan and your kid surprises you… lol.  Can’t wait to hear!