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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Little Girl _________ Dinkenesh Sanderson, Sister to Faith and Eli

Jaime writes:
I heard about your blog today from my husband's cousin. I LOVE to talk about baby names and have never had a problem coming up w/ baby names for my children before....until now!

We have two children right now. Faith Kinder Sanderson and Eli Burkhalter Sanderson. (Kinder and Burkhalter are family maiden names). We are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. She is 3 1/2 years old. (Just 10 days younger than our son.) I do like for sibling names to go together but not be matchy. We have a few "rules" when it comes to naming our kids. I think I may have to bend them a bit for our new daughter in ET.

Here are some of our rules (or preferences)
1) Biblical first name....but doesn't have to be a Bible character's name
2) we use family maiden names as middle names
3) we use the first name as their name (don't like to "go by" another name)
4) easy to say/spell....HATE "unique" spellings

I CANNOT come up w/ a name that fits our new daughter. Since she will look different than her siblings, I REALLY want her to have a name that fits her but also makes her feel apart of our family. I think we have decided to use her given Ethiopian name as her middle name (this bugs me a little b/c we are not giving her a "family maiden name" like her big sis and bro have....but I also want to honor her culture too, so I am feeling better about using that. We will definitely tell her "her story" and teach her about her culture. Her Ethiopian name is Dinkenesh (pronounced Dink--en--esh).

Here are some of the names we like:

Scout-- LOVE this name, but don't think it "goes w/" Faith and Eli very well. It's not obviously Biblical, but it is in the Bible when the spies "scout" out the promise land. It's a stretch, I know and doesn't have the Biblical feel that Faith and Eli do. I also LOVE the character from "To Kill A Mockingbird."

RuthAnn--I don't like the name Ruth by itself and Ann is my SIL's middle name so that is one way to give her a family name but RuthAnn Dinkenesh Sanderson is quite a mouthful. I think Ruthie is a cute nn for a little girl and she can grown into RuthAnn. Not sure she looks like a Ruthie/RuthAnn though. Hubby is not a big fan of this name.

Honor--I really like this virtue name. I don't like Hope, Charity, Gracie b/c they sound too matchy w/ Faith.

Esther--like this one, not sure she looks like an Esther though

Naomi--like this ok, but not "lovng it"

So....our request is for a first name. We are pretty sure the rest of her name will be Dinkenesh Sanderson.

I know you requested a "due date" and since she is already here, we don't have one :) We are hoping to travel in late February/early March for our first trip. I am REALLY wanting to find a name soon so that we can begin to "bond w' her" and get used to calling her by her name. This will help our kids a lot too! Right now we are calling her Dinkenesh. (which sounds like a normal name to us b/c we use it so much, but others keep asking us to repeat it and have a hard time pronouncing it.)

I appreciate you reading this long request and look forward to any feedback you can give!


I think Scout goes fine with Faith and Eli, but there's no stretch stretchy enough to make it a biblical name. Since Faith isn't particularly biblical, either (it's religious-sounding, but doesn't belong to any specific religion), I think you could just change your mind about using biblical names---unless there's some particular reason you're working with that restriction.

Regardless, I suggest using a more serious name than Scout, since your first two children have more serious names. The Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird was not actually Scout but rather Jean Louise; perhaps that would be a good candidate. Jean Dinkenesh Sanderson, or Jean Louise Dinkenesh Sanderson. Or spell it Jeanne to reference Jeanne d'Arc, if you want to continue the religious theme.

Honor sounds too matched with Faith to me, especially if you say just the girls' names: "Our daughters Faith and Honor." The name Joy is a possibility: it definitely matches with Faith, but the meaning of the word is so nice for this situation, if it were me I'd be more willing to tolerate the matching. Joy Dinkenesh Sanderson.

I think Esther and Naomi are both wonderful and underused names, and very good with the sibling names. Either of those would be great, I think.

But I'm drawn most to Ruth because of the famous "Your people will be my people" quote, which was meant for a mother-in-law but feels extra meaningful and poignant for an adoption. I would use it without the Ann: I think the repeating AN sound in Sanderson (as well as the -en in Dinkenesh and the -on in Sanderson) is what makes RuthAnn Sanderson seem like a mouthful. Ruth Dinkenesh Sanderson is perfect. I hesitate pushing this name only because of the matching -th ending with Faith, but I think that's fine.

If you'd like to continue the tradition of family maiden names, remember that you can use two middle names. We've done that in our family, and the hassle has been minimal---even less than I'd been expecting. You could name her Ruth Dinkenesh [family maiden name] Sanderson, or Joy Dinkenesh [family maiden name] Sanderson, for example. It's a lot of name, but it's very rare for middle names to be said. This makes her given name a special bonus name---instead of a replacement for the family name. But I also think it's fine to not use a family maiden name: the idea of using her own first name instead makes so much sense.

Name update! Jaime writes:
I am SO EXCITED to report that we passed court earlier this month and our new daughter is officially ours!! We loved all the feedback we got from you and your readers. We have decided to name her, Eden Dinkenesh Sanderson. We love the name Eden for many means "delight" (which she is to us!!), all the letters in Eden are in her Ethiopian name, it's Biblical (like her big sister and brother's names) and it has a strong "D" sound like her Ethiopian name. We will continue to call her Dinkenesh until she is ready to make the switch to her new name. Children her age are really attached to their names and since she has to adjust to so many other changes in her life, we want her name to stay the same. We LOVE her so much! Her name just fits her! Here are a couple pictures to share!

Thanks again!


Mandy said...

May I suggest Leah? I am biased, as it is my daughter's name, but I think it's lovely. Leah Dinkenesh Sanderson sounds very nice.

Mary said...

I vote Mary. It's a great name, everyone can say and spell it and it's not nearly as common as it used to be.

Mrs. Haid said...

Keep her name as a middle name! She will probably be able to talk and respond to it. I don't think she will really care that she doesn't have a family maiden name. Or perhaps you can find her birth mother's name, too. I would also talk to the people at the orphanage (at Addis, right? they are so nice!) to see if maybe one of your names is "normal" to Eithiopia. Maybe Faith or Ruth or Esther is kind of a normal name, and that would honor her heritage as well as fit with your ideas.

My good friend kept her son's Eith. names for their middle names because they were so long. The boys came here at age 5 and their new names begin with the same letter and sounds as their other names. Think Diana, or Dina or something. That could work and could be a really easy transition to your family.

I agree that Scout seems too informal with your other children's names. It almost seems like a pet's name compared to the other names.

I think Ruth nn Ruthie is really great, especially with the verse Swistle mentioned!

I also think Leah Sanderson sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I suggest keeping her first name, but calling her Dinah. I think it fits beautifully with her siblings' names, allows her to retain the name she has had for quite a long time (my daughter would have a very hard time going by a completely new name at 3.5), and is simply a great name.

Then, you can choose Scout for a middle name, or some other meaningful name from your family.

Lizzie said...

Of your list, I like Honor the best. I'm going to go ahead add names that haven't come up yet:

-Ruby (Proverbs 31 reference)
-Phoebe (once you get over the Friends connection, which will be obsolete before too long, you realize it's a great name and it's in the Bible)
-Haddie (this is a stretch, but Haddassah is the Hebrew for Esther)

beyond said...

From your list I like Esther and Naomi. (Especially Esther!)
I suggest:
Joyce (I like Joy but's a bit matchy with Faith for my taste, so Joyce might be just perfect.)
Good luck and best wishes!

d e v a n said...

I actually really like Honor with Faith and Eli. To me, Joy sounds more matchy for some reason. I still like it too though.
I also love Ruth and Dinah as suggested above.

Megz said...

I would definitely keep her Ethiopean name as her middle name. You don't say if your other two children are your biological children or adopted. If they are yours then think of your rule as being "a family name from their birth family". Personally I would keep her original first name and call her by a shortened version, but that pretty much breaks all of your rules.

I like the names Esther, Naomi and Leah.

But I think Dinah is the best name for you. It is Biblical, easy to say/spell, and is so similar to her current name that she would be able to get used to being called that easier than if you called her say Polly.

Dinah Sanderson

Dinah Dinkenesh Sanderson (a bit unusual to a Western ear but tells a great story)

Faith, Eli and Dinah (I like the way they all have i's in the names and the girls have three same letters but are completely different)

Congratulations and I hope your little girl fits into your family well.

StephLove said...

I love Ruth, both in and of itself and because of the meaning Swistle mentioned. Joy is good on both counts, too.

And I like Esther and Naomi and Leah.

Rebecca maybe, or Rachel.

StephLove said...

I also think it would be acceptable to call her Dinkenesh even if it's hard for Westerners to pronounce at first. It is the name she's used to.

Anonymous said...

I have to put in a strong vote against RuthAnn because it's my real name, spelled and capitalized and unspaced just like this, and I must testify that people have a horrible time with it. Over time, I have become resigned to the name, but it was rough growing up and constantly explaining the name to new acquaintances, teachers, and friends' parents. I live for the nametag so that people can see my name in writing when they hear it for the first time. So, yeah... I'd go with Ruth, especially with the longer surname.

However, I love Esther and Naomi so very much. Whatever you choose, congratulations on your adoption!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of keeping her name and finding a nickname for it that works for you---Dinah would be possible, but so would other briefer forms of it like Essie, Kena, etc. Alternatively, you might wait and see if she would like to choose a new name once she settles into her new family. You could make her middle name a Biblical name or a family maiden name.

This is obviously a personal decision, but I will say that it really bothers me when children's names are changed by others once they are old enough to know and respond to their names---whether it's due to adoption or simply coming to a new country. A better solution might be to get to know your new daughter first and then, together, choose a new name if she wants one. You could use it as an opportunity to talk about how each member of your family has a name that is similar in certain ways, and now hers is too, because she's part of the family now. She will have so many transitions to deal with that it seems wise to keep some consistency in the few areas where that's possible---and one of those is her name.

The Sandersons said...

Thanks for all the feedback so far, guys! Love it!

My husband is a minister so Biblical names (or words from the Bible) are really important to us.

I did want to say that we will call her by her ET name for awhile. She won't speak English when she comes home. Our agency director recommended giving her an American name too. We will transition her into her new name after she has settled in. I do think it's important for her to have an American name/one that fits in our family. I don't want her to feel left out and be annoyed trying to tell everyone how to pronounce/spell her name when she is older. I have an unusual spelling for my first name and I hate always having to spell it for people. I want her to be able to say her name and everyone know what she's saying and spell it correctly :)

P.S. Thanks for the feedback on Ruth. I am liking it more now w/o the Ann. (RuthAnn--thank you for your input on living w/ the name!!).

I hate to say that I don't like Dinah b/c so many of you like it. A childhood acquaintance ruined that for me.

Keep the comments coming! I love having the feedback. This is way harder than I thought. So much pressure to pick the "perfect" name.

Anonymous said...

Naomi, Zion, Bethany

Carolyn said...

I vote for Dinkanesh in the first name position, and although I know a stipulation was no nickname, I feel like Dinkanesh already is her name and identity. A nickname would be a good way to then "Americanize" it. If not Dinah, what about Nesha or Nessa? In Hebrew, Nessa means "miracle".

If a totally different name is preferred, then I think Miriam would be a nice nod to the adoption, as she is the one who found Moses in the nile and adopted him. Eli, Faith and Miriam would be lovely sibling names.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say Scout is a precious name but trying to stretch it into a Biblical name is pretty hilarious. You can find a million words in the Bible but i don't think that makes them Biblical names. If you want to use it, I'd just let go of the Biblical name requirement but it doesn't sound like you want to do that. I love, love, love Ruth, esp with the associated verse.

kanah said...

My name is Kanah, which means "of reeds" but is also a river in the Bible. Or, you could spell it Cana, as in the place. I think Leah, Anna, Rebekah, or Norah would fit. This is a very sweet story! Let us know what you pick!

Jan said...

Other Bible-related names: Eden, Bethany, Jubilee, Charis, Tabitha. My DDs are Simone and Noemi (foreign variations on Bible names).

Swistle said...

Maybe Lily, then, for the lilies of the field, or Jordan, or Jubilee, or Eden? Or Lilah, a subtle reference to Delilah? Or Nevaeh (heaven backwards). For something a little exotic, Zipporah or Aquila or Keziah. For something more traditionally biblical, Abigail or Hannah, Rachel or Leah or Rebecca, or of course Eve. Lydia would be pretty, or Elizabeth.

Katie said...


I think Hannah or Eve would go well with your kids names.

Faith, Eli and Eve.
Faith, Eli and Hannah.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your soon to be new addition, how exciting!
I agree with the suggestion to keep Dinkenesh in first name slot, with an 'american'/biblical adaptation as the name she can go by. I love the suggestion of Nessa, for its meaning and its relation to Dinkenesh. Or Dinah. I think that would be a lovely connection to her roots. How about Dinkenesh (Nessa) Ruth Maidenname Lastname? If she chooses to go with a middle name to fit in as she gets older, then you will have one at the ready that readily fits with Faith and Eli. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I was about to make this suggestion and realized its already here! I think you should keep her first name the same (as she is a little person who has been called it for three years now!) and call her Dinah for short. So adorable and lets you give her a family maiden name. Perfect compromise!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I love her real name, I think it means 'you are wonderful' :)

Salome (it seems this name is used in Ethiopia)
Carys - means grace.
Liya - variation of Leah/Lea

Christine said...

I love your Naomi. And the suggestions of "just" Ruth and Leah.

Congratulations on the new addition!

may said...

Congratulations! How exciting!

I don't have much to add, really, except that I always fear for girls named "Honor" when they reach adolescence. I think the meaning is wonderful, but it just sounds too much like "On Her." So, uh, there's that.

Best of luck! I can't wait to hear what you choose. : )

Oh, and sometimes I read a blog called Owlhaven (.net) with this lady who has 10 kids (!!!) and I think 2 are from Korea and 3 or 4 are from Ethiopia. Anyway, she's a Christian lady who blogs about everyday life with all those kids, but she also recently did a series on what it was like to go to Ethiopia to adopt her 2 older girls, who were something like 9 and 11 at the time. I think you might find it useful.

Wow, thought I didn't have much to say. Oops. Anyway, congrats!

Anonymous said...

I think Candace would be perfect.

a. Faith, Eli, and Candace sound great together.

b. Candace was a name/title used by Ethiopian queens long ago

c. Candace is mentioned in the bible.

d. Candace Dinkenesh Sanderson sounds great.

Natalia said...

I love Ruth with the verse. Very fitting.

I love Esther with your other childrens' names in sound. Faith, Eli and Esther sounds great.

Naomi/Noemi is also a great name and is also related to the Ruth story.

I wouldn't go for Scout or Honor, because she is partly foreign, so I think a more international/universal name is more fitting. For this, biblical names are great.

christine said...

She's beautiful! Congratulations on little Eden Dinkenesh :)

Patricia (mother of 2 by birth and 7 through interenational adoption) said...

I think you found the perfect name for your precious little girl. Eden Dinkenesh gives her an English language first name that fits well with her siblings' names and also includes her Ethiopian name. Eden Dinkenesh is a beautiful girl. How fortunate you are to have her as your younger daughter. Best wishes to your family!

may said...

Congratulations! She's precious. : ) And Eden is a very pretty name.