“Why Lucas?” That was what one of my family members asked me recently while on a visit back home. I had to think back six months and try to remember. It seems like it was a long process though I’m not sure why. How hard is it to pick a name for your kid? If memory serves, it turns out really hard. There are infinite possibilities because you can, if you choose, call him or her whatever you want. The on-line baby-naming databases make it especially challenging. Aside from selecting names for baby girls or baby boys, there are names derived from other languages as well as those commonly identified with other ethnicities. I could even choose to name my baby after the offspring of some celebrity—though I’m not sure why I would want to. I suppose if I did, the likelihood that he or she would ever come in contact with said celeb child would be slim to none so what would it matter.
The difficulty lies in the sheer number of names. When my parents were handing out name cards to their six children, they used a method common back then—being good Catholics we would all be characters from the Bible. And since one of the six was born on Christmas Day you can imagine what that sibling’s name turned out to be. We didn’t have those constraints. The world was wide-open in the name department. I gravitated toward more formal names, often those that are also last names: Carter, Anderson, Redmond, and my all time favorite—Lincoln. Yes, I know it’s a little odd, but the nickname is fabulous—Linc…as in the dude from the Mod Squad, the hip partner to Julie Lipton and the curly haired white guy. How much cooler can you get? I got over-ruled on that one. I still don’t understand why.
We tried finding interesting meanings, names associated with great people including family members. We worked on getting the precise mono- or multi-syllabic structure so that it would all have the right cadence. Given his hyphenated last name, we didn’t want him to have to live with some unfortunately long-ass name that would be a life-long burden. I suspect that there are lots of little girls and boys running around these days with double last names. Most important of all—what would all of his little friends end up calling him as he grows up? Sure you want to make certain that you don’t give him a screwy name like Buster if your last name is Brown, or something that some child can turn into something awful. But you also have to remember what he will be called in daily life. Like, I like the name Garrison, but I didn’t want him to be called Gary (no offense to the Garys out there).
Okay, so it may seem that I was over-thinking it a bit, but you only get this one shot. I mean do you want him to be five years old and suddenly you think, oh my gawd I named my child Mortimer—what was I thinking?! Also, we have never been through this before. T came with a name as do all foster children. Naming is not part of the process. Even in adoption you run the risk of the child already coming with a name. When you are matched with an expectant mother and if there is contact she might even indicate a preferred name. Sure, when the adoption is finalized you can put down anything you want to—birth mother’s don’t get to choose—that’s part of the deal. But then you have to be prepared to explain to your child one day why you changed his or her name. It isn’t that you shouldn’t, it’s just that there are ramifications for all of the actions we take as adoptive parents.
So, why Lucas? I’m not sure. It seemed right to both of us when we went through the short list. And I really like it shortened—Luke—which is what he is likely to be tagged with when he is in school. When we saw him the first time there were no fireworks about it—ahhh—yes—Lucas—definitely. No, it was more a shrug of the shoulders, like, okay, he doesn’t look like a Lucas. When we first saw him, he didn’t look like anything accept maybe bar-fight baby. But as he has grown, so has the name upon him. I think after hearing T say his name with emphasis—Loo-cuz—I began to imagine them as little boys shouting each others names in the house; the friends calling after him in the school yard; the girls (or boys) asking for him on the phone, “um, is Loo-cuz there?”
And no matter what, someone, someday, somewhere will do something funny with his name as T did recently. “Lucas has mucas! Ha-ha-hee-hee!”