When we first decided to adopt, I knew we’d name our child after my grandmother as a way of honoring her for planting the adoption seed in my head at such a young age (she adopted my dad and although she never once gave me the old “you should adopt” speech, her actions made me want to be like her–she was a very special lady).

At the time, we weren’t planning to specify gender since we didn’t have any kids at home and couldn’t think of any good reasons to choose “girl” or “boy” other than I wanted to dress a little girl in funny clothes and my husband wanted to throw a football with a little boy. That said, as with many international adoption programs, if you don’t specify gender in Ethiopia, you tend to end up with a boy referral because there are just more boys out there that need to be adopted. So, clearly, in my head we were getting a boy. I bought “gender neutral” clothes that heavily leaned toward “boy” looks, I decorated the nursery in a “gender neutral” style that leaned heavily toward a “boy” look and we chose a name–

Brayson Taye Cudmore

Brayson was my grandmother’s maiden name and I’d always loved it as a boy’s name. Taye was our favorite boy’s name from Ethiopia. We never picked out a girl name, other than a slight flirtation with “Penelope Amara Cudmore.” A flirtation that ended the minute we said it out loud in front of anyone because everyone was like, “That name is horrible. You cannot name your daughter Penelope.” For the record, we both still like it, and her nickname was going to be “Lo” and it was going to be awesome.

Then the phone rang on a day when I was so swamped with work I didn’t even bother to check the Caller ID (first time in the year and a half we waited I’d neglected to do that), and it was our agency with news of our referral.

“I’m looking at a photo of your beautiful daughter.”

Daughter? What? How the heck did we get a girl? Oh, crap. We haven’t even thought of names.

Our daughter was named “Helen” after the bookkeeper at the orphanage. We thought the name was cute enough, and it was actually a family name for both my husband and I, but it wasn’t “THE name” if you know what I mean. We decided we’d keep it as her middle name, and began trying to figure out what her first name would be.

A stack of name books from the library, and one “Baby Names Around the World” purchase from Amazon later, we still couldn’t agree on a name we both loved. Until I was talking with my best friend (who’s Canadian) and she mentioned something about an old friend of hers from high school who’d just had a baby.

“I saw Amelie when I was home the other day. It’s crazy she has two kids now.”

Amelie. That was the name. I called my husband and he agreed that it was perfect.

Amelie Helen Cudmore.

Different enough that there aren’t two kids in her preschool class with the same name, but familiar enough that it’s recognizable–either from the movie by the same name (which we’ve still never seen), or because you’re Canadian and it’s common there like “Emily” is here. My French friends even schooled me on the proper pronunciation for months while we waited.

A-ME-lee in case you’re wondering.

Then we got to Ethiopia and heard how the nannies pronounced Helen.


And we really liked that, too. We saved “Brayson” for my son when he was born–which was fitting, because my grandmother was able to meet him right before she passed away and he looked just like my dad–a baby she wasn’t able to meet until he was 10 months old, the same age Amelie was when we met her. What’s your naming story?



One thought on “Names

  1. Pingback: Names « Ethiopian Orphan Relief's Blog | Arabic names

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