One of the delights of a new baby is finding out the name, and I always wonder about how it was chosen. Perhaps you’ve wondered the same thing about Nathan. If so, this post is for you!
After we contacted Nathan’s birthmother (we call her Mina) about adopting, the first thing I wanted to do while we waited for her response was to pick a name. Tim (very wisely) vetoed that idea until much later in the process–he knew that naming this child needed to wait until we were more certain that the adoption would take place. I chafed a bit–naming is a big deal, kind of scary, and so permanent; I wanted plenty of time to come up with something just perfect. But Tim was right, and we waited until after we’d flown out to meet Nathan’s birth family in late February. God blessed that meeting, and we returned home with the weighty knowledge that we were Mina’s first choice for her son.
Here’s how naming works with an adoption: the birth parents name their child at birth, and the name they’ve chosen goes on his birth certificate. It is his legal name for about the first year of his life. The adoptive parents also name the child. Sometimes the parents work together so that it is the same except for the last name (that’s how it is for Nathan). Sometimes it is completely different. When the adoption becomes finalized (between 10 and 12 months) in court, a new birth certificate is issued with the child’s adoptive name. Until then, the adoptive parents use the birth name for the insurance paperwork, at the doctor’s office, and when flying–and the adopted name for everything else.
We wanted to pick Nathan’s name ourselves, but we also wanted Mina to be involved. We have an “open adoption”, meaning we keep in touch directly with Mina by e-mails, pictures, and visits. She would use the name we picked often; we wanted it to be one she liked. Here’s the solution we came up with for the first name, Nathan:
We sent Mina an e-mail on March 9 (Nathan was born on the 19th; yes, we cut it a bit close!) with four names we liked, and let her choose. We were happy with all of them, and all of them described what this child had already been/done for her and for us. Our options were:
Nathan-“he (God) gave” or “gift”.
Joel-“God is God”.
Seth-“placed or appointed”.
This worked really well for us. Mina easily identified her favorite, and whala! We had a first name we were very happy with–Nathan truly is God’s gift to many who know him, we not excepted.
Nathan’s middle name is Cornelius. Mina had chosen a name for Nathan before we became involved in his birth; Cornelius was the middle name she had picked after a character in Thumbelina (a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson). After we had thought about it for a bit, Tim and I realized that Cornelius held significance for us, as well. My maternal grandfather was named Cornelius. Also, Cornelius is an exemplary Biblical figure of God’s adopting work in Christ (you can read about him in Acts chapters 10 and 11)! This was amazing to us. Cornelius is not a name we would have come up with ourselves–but now we see it as one of the many ways in which God worked to remind us of the real meaning of adoption–that we who were born into sin and Satan’s family can be adopted into God’s family, can become the very children and heirs of God Himself! Wow. Every time we think of the name Cornelius (and more often), we pray that God will bring Nathan and all those who love him into His family, that we all might rejoice together in knowing the God of the Universe as our very own Father:
Romans 8: 9-17
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers,we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”