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Monday, November 7, 2011

Five-Year-Old Girl Voisey, Sibling to Ezekiel, Basil, September, and Soren

Karla writes:
You've helped me before: http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2008/06/baby-girl-or-boy-voisey.html.
We ended up having a boy, and we named him soren micah.

NOW, we are adopting a girl, and based on your help (and suggestions) from last time, I would choose Iris Mabel in a heart-beat. And am still very open to that...
BUT, our daughter is going to be close to 5 1/2 when we adopt her, and her name right now is Yan Rui (pronounced Yonna Roo-ay, with Rui prounouced as one syllable).
While we believe giving her a name that we have chosen is an important means of communicating her place in our family (I know there are different thoughts about this, but that's where we stand right now), we wonder if it is best to keep it as similar to her name now as possible.....OR if not that, to at least choose a name that is similar in meaning.
If we go by meaning, her name means "happy" and "lucky". Names that we have found that mean similar things are Felicity, Felice, Aida...I don't mind any of these, except Felicity Voisy sounds weird. And Aida is too close to Adeline, our deceased daughter, and we're not comfortable (nor do we feel its appropriate) to make our newest daughter any type of namesake (also based on Swistle fan commments from last time).
If we go with names that sound similar, we have only come up with Anna (pronounced Onna) Rae. What do you think?

Thanks again

I see what you mean. I feel the same way about names: that giving a name, because it's one of the official acts of parenthood, can be an important symbolic relationship-establishing act---but that when the child in question is five, it's more important to let her keep her own name. I'm imagining my six-year-old daughter and how she'd feel about changing her name to something else (even if it was something that meant the same as her name), and it's giving me a wrenched feeling.

I wonder if it would work to use Yonna or Yana? It would be translating her name from one language to another, which is a common thing to do with names (especially if the name was originally in another alphabet), and as I say it and think about it, I think it's a very pretty name. It'd distinctive and a little exotic, but easy to pronounce, and familiar because of names like Donna and Brionna. For unusual names, I love if there's an easy thing to say to help someone understand the name, and Yonna has a perfect one: "It's like Donna, but with a Y instead of a D." Or "It's like Brionna, but without the Bri." I also think it goes well with the other sibling names, and especially with the sister name: Ezekiel, Basil, September, Soren, and Yonna is a nice mix. And I like it with your surname: Yonna Voisey.

Yes, I think that would be my first choice. I think I would translate her name to U.S. English and spell it Yonna or Yana; I'd leave her middle name spelled Rui because pronunciation issues are no big deal and even kind of fun when it's a middle name; and then I would give her a second middle name of your choice, anything you like (though a name like Felice would very pleasing symbolically), and I'd make a big deal about how that is the name you are giving her now that she is your child and a part of your family.

What does everyone else think the Voiseys should do?


Edited to add: Karla writes:
I am sorry for the confusion....seriously, this is my LAST time writing you, because this is our last kid. :)  but apparently, there are various ways to say our soon-to-be adoptive daughter's name, depending on tone (or something?)  While one Chinese friend told me one way, we finally got in touch with someone who is in contact with the orphanage, and our particular child's name is not pronounced Yanna.  It is pronounced Ian (Ee-yen).  
While lots and lots of people suggested we not change her name, does that advice still hold when her name is an American boy's name?  My opinion is that we should keep her name.  She is five.  We have already named our kids pretty unique names (Basil, September, Zeke, and Soren), so it's not like she'd be in a family with a bunch of kids with really popular, normal names.  So if her name doesn't follow trends, that might be okay.  Secondly, while we thought we were giving our boys names that were old-fashioned, but obviously male names, (Basil, Ezekiel, Soren), many, many people have assumed Basil is a girl if they haven't met him yet.  And people aren't sure about September's gender either.  So....while there are not many female Ians that I know of (except the model Eyen), I wonder if people will just get used to it when they meet our daughter...Besides, are there enough gender-neutral names (Dillon, Reagen, Madison....) that are similar enough that Ian will just fit in?  Finally, if you agree with me on not changing it (even with this new information), I am curious how you would suggest spelling it.  I really don't want to spell it Ian, like the boy name....I would like a different spelling....something more female....kind of like Leigh looks like a girl name while Lee would lean towards boyish.  I looked into different spellings and thought the British spelling, Iain, seems the most girly.  I KNOW she would need to tell everyone how to say her name, but at least not every teacher would look at it and think "boy".  What do you think? 

Thank you AGAIN.....

Name update! Karla writes:
I know I emailed you again, for advice on our soon-to-be adopted daughter's name, but we had to make a decision for the paperwork, so we did. 
While most of your reader's suggested keeping her name when we all thought it was pronounced "Yanna", which is what I was originally told, I wondered if their advice would be the same if they knew it was pronounced Ian, which is how it is actually pronounced (as we found out recently), since there is such an association with a boy's name in America.  Well, we discussed it, and decided there were enough Dillons and Morgans and Reagans that were girls, so Ian would have to fit in! :) Especially since that is already her name!  So, we kept her name as suggested, but changed the spelling to Eyann, to make it look a little more feminine.  Thanks for everyone's feedback.

36 comments:

StephLove said...

I agree 5 is late to change her name (I'm also thinking of my 5 y/o daughter in a new family with a new name to boot). Changing the spelling to match the pronunciation might make things easier for her down the road. If you do change the name I'd keep it as close to her old name as possible, making Anna Rae a better choice than Iris Mabel.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it should remain Yana, Yonna, or Yanna, and that for a completely foreign name, it's actually quite lovely and in keeping with contemporary tastes. The middle name could stay Rui or it could be Ray or Rae - again, in keeping with contemporary tastes. If I got a Yana Rae in my Sunday School class her name would fit fine with the others. I agree that changing a child's name to something completely different is a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

If you were to use "Yonna," I would spell it "Yana," as that is an old, established, beautiful name.

Carolyn said...

I have to agree with the writer and previous posters. Nearly 6 years old is VERY late to change a child's name and Yonna is beautiful. I think giving her your last name would be more than sufficient in letting her know her place in your family. Good luck and I hope you send an update when everything is finalized.

Anonymous said...

I like Yana (or Yanna)

gail said...

I, too, am in the keep her name but adapt the spelling camp. I think Yana is the closest to Yan. I love her mn, Rui, and it lends itself to the delightful nn of Roo. Actually, her name is absolutely beautiful! Adding another mn would be a way of choosing another beautiful name to add, but, I agree with the pp that giving her your last name already confers belonging. I'm not sure most children care what their names mean; this tends to be more common among adults who love names and name meanings. congratulations!

vanessa said...

I would NOT give her a new name. Iris Mabel is pretty, but will just be confusing and even hurtful to her.
I love Yana, though. Yana Rui is lovely and fits well with your other children's names.

Anonymous said...

She may have a foreign name, however it meshes just fine with your childrens names as they are all very different and eclectic. What about the nn Yoni? I used to work with a woman named Yoni. Good luck and congratulations on your new daughter.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I misread the correct spelling, Yani would still be a great nn. and her full name is fine too.

Swistle said...

I think I would avoid the spelling Yoni.

Anonymous said...

I'm an adoptive mom too. We kept our daughters name. Only changed her last name to ours. It is not a name I would have chosen. But it suits her perfectly. And there is no name I had in my list that suits her better. I'm very happy with her name now but it took me at least a year to feel this way and feel comfortable and confident with it. But I'm so glad she has retained her identity. I'm going to add that her best friends name is Yan. I was told it means bright smile. And it's a lovely name. Her Chinese mother pronounces it Yan. Like Jan with a Y. All the best.

Lauren said...

If she is five you could probably ask for her input. There will be so many things that are out of her control in this situation, it would be nice to give her some choices. I would definitely keep Yana on the list since she's been using it for five years already.

Good luck!

Fran said...

I agree that it would work best just to change the spelling of her name but keep the pronunciation. One note on that though, spelling it Yana makes me say the "a" like in "ant" and I don't think that is what you are going for. I would suggest Yonna for the spelling. Best of luck!

KWILY said...

I tend to agree with all the other commenters. Yonna is a nice name already. Although if you decide to go with Anna Rae, maybe consider Anya Rae too which keeps that Y sound in there. I love the name Anya.

AmyRenee said...

I think the first thing to determine is what she goes by now. Is she always called Yan, or Rui or always Yan Rui? Is Yan Rui her first name middle name, first name last name, or last name first name - in different cultures, names may be in a different order. If she always uses the full Yan Rui, I would suggest keeping that as her first name, possibly with a hyphen: Yan-Rui or Yonna-Rae if you want to make the spelling closer to the pronunciation. After all, what if someone told you your name was only your first syllable from now on - wouldn't that feel bizarre to you? Then, as far as giving her a name, perhaps come up with a list of middle names and let her chose one with you, as her new "American" name. Many of my friends who's families are Asian have a traditional Asian first name but an American middle name so they can use whichever they like for the situation, or they used their "American" name in school but switched back to their traditional name as adults. Make sure its a name she feels comfortable with - depending on her native language, some sounds may be difficult for her, or some names may be too close to a rude or unpleasant word in her native language. Best of luck to you and your family!

Janet said...

I agree with Swistle here, except I think I lean slightly toward Yana. It's quite pretty, actually.

Yana Rui Felicity would be my pick, I think. I love it :)

liz said...

What they all said, you can ADD to her name, but you can't change it.

If she isn't writing yet, you can change the spelling.

Anonymous said...

Janna pron. "yanna" is very popular here in Germany...I think it sounds lovely. Or Anya is gorgeous too.

Emily S. said...

Is it spelled Yana or Jana in America? I have seen it spelled Jana but pronounce Yana.

Johanna said...

Agree that to change her name too much would be kind of traumatic. My twin daughters are three and are already VERY attached to their names. I cannot fathom changing them... it is a part of who they are.

I really like Yana. Or Janna (like the commenter above suggested). Both very pretty, and the little girl wouldn't really know there was a change, as long as she isn't yet literate. She'll be acquiring your last name, and you can add a special added middle name, either following or preceding Rui.

And congratulations on your newest 'baby'! How exciting. :)

Anonymous said...

I think this could go a couple of ways. My initial reaction is to tell you that if she is capable of spelling in English at this point, you may want to just add an extra 'a' at the end to make it Yana Rui (I think this is an important change to make, otherwise she'll go her whole life correcting everyone she meets). Explain to her that the change is to make it easier for Americans to understand how her name is pronounced when they see it, but otherwise keep her name as is. You could always add an American middle name; I like Yana Rui Mabel a lot, especially when said aloud. If I were five, I wouldn't want to change my name altogether, but I would probably have liked to add a name on! I enjoyed adding a Confirmation name when I was fourteen, after all.

If she does not speak or write English, I think you have a little more room to change things up a bit, because you could give her a full name that is something slightly different, but still call her Yan/Yana for a nickname. I wouldn't stray to far, though. I like the suggestion of Anya, and I also really love Ayana (Ai-yonna).

Shazamy said...

My thoughts, if you are set on changing it, are Ana, Ani, or Johanna. I also love the suggestion of Janna.

Claire Wessel said...

Since most folks can't pronounce Chinese names properly, it is VERY common for Chinese people to choose an American name to go by. I knew Jenny, Suzi, and Lucy in school, but I can't pronounce their legal names! I don't see anything wrong with choosing an "American" name for an adopted child, but if you do, you may consider keeping the Yan Rui name as her middle name legally. As for transitioning, I have seen adoptive families successfully transition names by calling the child by both names for an extended period. For instance, child's birth name is Christopher, parents wish to name him Nathan, they call him Nathan Christopher for a while, then eventually just call him Nathan. Five is still young enough to do this as long as the child doesn't feel you are trying to erase a former life. As long as it is presented as a new name for a new stage of life (as is practiced in many cultures) and as part of becoming a family. Perhaps she can give you all special names from her country of origin as well at that time? Then the whole family will have American names and foreign names (obviously not legally as that would be costly and difficult for the adults paperwork-wise).

As far as name alternatives, I do like Yana and it fits with your other children but I think Iris Yan Rui would also be very pretty.

Jenny Grace said...

I agree with Swistle, and think Yonna is a pleasing name.
I would also add, mostly for trivia, that Naomi also means happy.

The Mrs. said...

I'm conflicted on this one. If your new daughter is leaving an unhappy life, she may embrace the thought of a new first name (keeping her original name as a double middle name).

BUT if she finds the transition overwhelming (which I can only imagine she will) and clings to her name, let her keep it with a second middle name that is "American".

What a blessing for your new daughter and for your exsisting family! We also have adopted, and our son is the most wonderful little guy. Best wishes to you all!

Anonymous said...

I would ask her. See how she reacts? Most kids end up answering to multiple names though, so it just depends on what type of situation she is coming from and her personality and identity. Could Rui become Ruby?

Angela said...

One of my BFFs was adopted from Korea as a baby. Her adoptive parents gave her a new (American) name, but kept her Korean birth name as her middle name. It is very special to her to keep that part of her heritage as a part of her name, and she was never even called by it!

So I suggest if you do give her a new name, keep her original name as her middle name.

Anonymous said...

Yana is very pretty. I like the idea of spelling it Janna too. Also you could give her a name like Ayana, Brianna, Iyana, Liana, Liliana, Dionna or one of my very favorites, Eliana (meaning "God has answered") and still maintain the nickname Yana. When she is a bit older (esp teenage years), she might like the option of having a more common name.

Anonymous said...

I agree that five, nearly six is too old to change a name. While I hear what you're saying about what a name change symbolizes, I just can't imagine how I would have felt at an age when even someone mispronouncing your name feels like a diss.

To personalize her to your family, you could add a second middle name. Or, she's already getting a new last name.

Does she speak any english at this point so you could ask? Would the agency know what she likes to be called?

Patricia (mother of 9, 7 through international adoption) said...

Yana is a very pretty name and, I think, very usable in English-speaking USA. I'd keep her first name, but with that spelling. Since her second name Rui is actually a part of what she's called and so lovely with "Yana", I'd leave it spelled as is, as Swistle suggested, and add a third name of your choosing.

I found Yana in behindthename.com:
YANA
GENDER: Feminine
USAGE: Bulgarian, Russian
Meaning & History
Bulgarian and Russian feminine form of Ioannes (see JOHN)[meaning "God is gracious."].

I don't think it matters that Yana doesn't have the same meaning as Yan. Your daughter can claim both meanings, and both are very positive.

In 2010, 96 American baby girls were given the name Yana. (25 were named Yanna; fewer than 5, if any, were named Yonna.)

I'd keep her lovely name, with the spelling Yana.

Jan said...

Sometime adopted kids prefer to have a name that "fits in" with their new culture. Maybe you could narrow it down to two names and let her help pick. I don't think they necessarily have to sound like her original name or have the same meaning - lovingly chosen is sufficient. I would look for a match with her siblings - Willow, Violet, Eloise?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't spell it Jana or Janna. I have met several women who spell their names that way, and it is always pronounced Jan-uh (like "J" as in Janet). The j-pronounced-as-a-y is sometimes a difficult thing for Americans to come to terms with right off the bat.

plantingoaks said...

I rather like combining Iris with Yana Rui (or Rae) The names work well together in either order.

Iris Yana Rui Voisey
Yana Rui Iris Voisey

I also have several (non-adopted) asian friends with both asian and american names. Very often the legal name is entirely the asian name, but sometimes the other way and sometimes both; and I believe at least one person has changed their name. I think it's important to give her a name linking her to your culture, but don't see any reason to get rid of her existing name entirely. It's a perfectly good name.

Susan said...

I think 5 is too late for a name change, and how lucky you are that her birth name is so beautiful. I would probably leave the name with it's original spelling except for the fact that "Yan" doesn't hint at the pronunciation "YAH-nuh." So my first thought would be to use Yana or Yanna. The one problem I see with with these spellings is that I think most people would pronounce either of them as rhyming with "Anna" (starting with short a as in "apple"), with endless corrections needed. My guess is that people who pronounce "Anna" as "ON-uh" or "Andrea" as "ON-dree-uh" have the same problem. So I think I'd go with Yonna. The pronunciation is then very clear; I doubt if anyone would make a mistake with it. I think it's a terrific name; I love it.

Evergreen Covenant Admin said...

Does spelling it Yahna just confuse matters? Or does it help with pronunciation?

Amber said...

I love the suggestion of Ayanna, and also love the name you've already chosen, Anna. We too are struggling with what to name our future adopted child!