I always said that I wouldn’t accept a match if the expectant mom wanted to name the baby and ensure that the adoptive parents kept that name. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I have loved the name Cassandra since I was eight. Cassandra Cooper appeared on Little House on the Prairie, which is still one of my favorite shows of all time. I’d never heard the name before, and I fell in love with it. Cassie. Awesome!
There’s actually some controversy in the adoption community about changing a child’s name. With older children, there are often compelling reasons to keep their names. Of course, there are can also be compelling reasons to change their names. It depends on the situation. When naming babies, a few adoptive parents like to do so in tandem with the birth parents. Some adoptive parents use the birth parents’ name choice as the middle name. Most adoptive parents simply name their children. It is the adoptive parents’ right to name their children. My opinion is that anyone who has an opinion on this topic should keep their opinions to themselves, unless explicitly asked.
Back to Cassie’s name…
One day, out of the blue, I got a text message from Laine: “What do you think of X Zaishay?”
“X” was a name, sort of. It’s a word, but not typically a name. It was pretty, but it wasn’t Cassandra. I asked Laine how you pronounced Zaishay, and she called me. It turned out that the social worker may have told her that adoptive parents and birth parents typically name the baby together. When I actually met the social worker, the day we met Cassie, she did say that she encouraged birthmothers to name their children. She didn’t seem to have any opinion about the fact that we were changing the name Laine gave her.
Laine does not like the name Cassandra. She thinks it’s too common. When I told her that the only other name we had considered was Tabitha, she replied, “Well I don’t know what to tell you about that.” So… For several days, I worried that the match was going to fall through. Our facilitator actually advised us to agree to Laine’s name, then change it without telling her, rather than risk the match falling through. I decided that wasn’t how I was going to start the relationship. Ultimately, Laine was cool with us changing the first name and keeping the middle name, while she called Cassie by the name she gave her.
We never did have a middle name that we really liked. The first middle name I wanted was Noreen, after my maternal grandmother, Norine. There were several problems with that one, and ultimately Max vetoed it because he wasn’t going to name his baby after someone he had never met.
Next, I went to my maternal step-grandmother, Diane. I don’t particularly like the name Diane, but I do like Diana. However, Cassandra Diana just didn’t sound right. Also, her initials would be CDC, and the Centers for Disease Control and I don’t really get along.
Next, I thought about combining the names Diane and Joseph, my maternal grandfather. That would make Joanne, which is also the name of Jackson’s godmother. Joanne was a real contender.
I started thinking about my mom’s name – Kathleen. I thought about taking the “Kath” from Kathleen and adding the “r-y-n” from Robyn and making Kathryn. Cassandra Kathryn. Cassandra Kathryn and Cassandra Joanne were always the top contenders.
I also thought about Marianne (for Max’s grandmothers, Marie and Anne), Robyn (if Dads can do it, why can’t Moms?), and Tiana (the first black princess).
Ultimately, though, Laine had an idea, we liked it just as much as any other name, and kept it. Cassandra Zaishay. Zaishay, by the way, is pronounced “Zuh-SHAY”.
And that is the story of my daughter’s name.