Sometime before Jason and I became foster parents—when we were still assuming we’d have kids the usual way—we decided that we’d name our first daughter Anna. I’m a name lover. I’ve been keeping lists of favorite names for as long as I can remember and it was on my list. Anna means gracious.
My dad’s mother’s name was Anna Maria. She was a lovely Swedish woman, kind, gentle, generous, encouraging. She also had a sweet tooth that led her to hide Nilla wafers in her bedroom, even after she had diabetes and was not allowed to have sweets. She was spunky like that. I can understand because I’m a lot like her. When she was younger, she decided she wanted her name to sound more America so she went by Ann Marie. I’ve always loved the name Anna, though.
Jason’s dad’s mom is named Anna Mae. She’s the last remaining grandparent between the both of us. Sadly, we don’t see her very often because we live so far away. I don’t know her well but she seems like a lovely woman, too. Jason’s grandfather often called her by her first and middle name together so Jason was particularly fond of also using Mae. Mae doesn’t really mean anything other than the month of May, but a friend told me it means beautiful in Mandarin Chinese (with different spelling). I haven’t confirmed it but it works for me.
Jump ahead. We accepted that as foster parents, we probably won’t be renaming our kids unless the circumstances are right. Then, much to our surprise we were placed with a 2-month-old and learned quickly that we’d be adopting her. We could have changed her name to anything we wanted and it would not have been much of a transition for her. But as it turned out, we really liked her original first name. (I’m purposely not stating it here.) Before we filed her adoption paperwork we milled around many different possibilities of how we could modify her name without totally changing it. I wrote out our top choices on the chalkboard door of her bedroom. Seeing them scratched out there, the solution was obvious.
We took the first part of her original name and added our favorite name behind it. We had gotten used to calling her Ali for short and didn’t want to completely replace her first name. As a nice surprise, Mae not only sends a nod towards my name, it also honor’s Ali’s birth mom’s name. I cannot think of a more perfect name for our beautiful daughter, a gracious gift from God.
(Cross stitch art above was made by my mother-in-law, Grandma K, as an adoption day gift.)