What You Were Born To

I’ve got a confession, a question, and a request.


Before I ever got pregnant or really seriously realized that I could, I had two girl names and two boy names; I wanted to have two kids, probably, you see. I kept tweaking the second boy name, but the others were sure. And then, when I was pregnant with Cricket—knowing that his name would be changed—I didn’t give him any of them. They’re all family names, or at least all have family names in them, and Cricket wasn’t going to be part of our family, so. I gave him a family name after all—his first name is the same as his birthdad’s—and then I picked out an excellent saint for the middle. I’d give that middle name here, but in the end, they kept it. Who knew. Here’s the thing: I didn’t give him the name I would have given a boy I thought of as my son. I feel a bit guilty about that now, but I can’t imagine giving him one of the two only to see it changed and gone.


Which brings me to my question, which is also my request. How have other people done this? If you’re an adoptive parent, do you know whether the name on the OBC is the name your child’s firstparents would have given a child they planned to raise? Did you all pick out a name together? Did you keep whatever name the birthparents chose? None of the above? For other birth/first parents . . . shoot, you can see this one coming. Did you give a name you would have named a child you planned to keep? Did you get to name your child at all? And any adoptees: What do you think about all of this? That one’s also for everyone, I reckon.


I also want to know how bad I should feel, which probably no one but Cricket can tell me. Joey’s name is top to bottom Book ancestral stuff, first, middle, and nick-. It is very not Jewish. I think a little of my guilt on this is tied up irrationally with the fact that when Ruth and Nora were deciding between their top two name picks (and wanted my opinion while I was in labor, I suspect as a tiebreaker) I didn’t like either one, and don’t like their choice still. Of course they still would not have kept his birth name if I had given him one of the “really my child for real” names, and I still wouldn’t like his name now, but I’m not a super logical person.


Well, I’m writing this post on Wednesday night because I’m going to be cooling my heels at the airport come the posting hour—so I’ll write about a few random things. First: where my pseudonym comes from!

When I was 2–4 years old, I would sometimes put a doily on my head and explain to my bemused mother, “Look, mommy! I Susie Book!” My mom maintains that I spoke and acted completely differently while I was being Susie Book. I don’t remember making it up, and I have no idea where “Susie Book” came from; my middle name is Susan, but I’ve never gone by it or “Susie,” and I certainly wasn’t reading at that point. At any rate, when it came time to pick an adoption handle, the me-who-ain’t-quite-me piece of my past appealed strongly.

So our open adoption agreement calls for Ruth and Nora to send us hard copies of pictures with captions twice a year. We got the first set in May, with a note explaining that they planned to send pictures around Mother’s Day and again around Cricket’s birthday every year. That first photobook had no captions, but that was okay. Well, as Cricket’s birthday approached, I started to expect pictures again—but now the year is essentially over, and we have no second set. I don’t think this is because Ruth and Nora plan not to send pictures—they still link us to pictures online every couple of months—but I think it’s just not on their minds right now. So I ordered prints myself from the website they use to share pictures with us, and I’ve made up a photo album that is what I secretly wanted all along. I thought this would be an encouraging adoption anecdote—look, I problem-solved!—but it looks slightly less optimistic written down than I anticipated. Ah, well.

I’m wearing a maternity dress to my sister’s wedding, and it’s creeping me out a bit. She wants us all to wear black dresses, doesn’t care beyond that; I only have one black dress, and can’t really afford to buy another right now. This dress doesn’t look super maternity-y—it’s a Gap dress, and gathers at the breasts. I of course haven’t worn any maternity clothes since Cricket, and when I pulled it out of the box, I was mildly uncomfortable with the idea of putting it on. Hopefully I won’t have a little meltdown on Saturday.

Let’s end on a high note: I made candied limes! And covered them in dark chocolate! And then made some white chocolate orangettes. I used to cook for my family all the time, so now I try to bring or make something when I visit. I’m worried that the limes will be a bit bitter—I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.