I’m sorry but, how do you spell that?

I wanted to write this post because a) I have not written in forever! and b) There is a lot of controversy about this topic. Of course, reflecting back, there is a lot of controversy with pretty much everything. Regardless, this is how I see growing up in a culture that is different than the one I was born into.

I read a lot of posts over the past month (yes, adoption was running in my mind despite there being no posts about it) about how to keep and/or remove culture, name changes, forgetting and/or accepting the past but focusing just on the future. Now, I am no social worker, birth mother or adoptive parent, but what I am is a young adult who was given a ridiculously and unreasonably long name, parts of which are Canadian, Thai and Sanskrit.


Now, putting my full name out there is indeed a recipe for being stalked, but I also am aware that I am most likely one of the only people who possess this name anyhow so if someone wanted to stalk me they would have done it ages ago when I joined social media networking back in the day.

Let’s break it down:


Say what?!?! To this day that is still the typical response and it is made better by matching it with an equally confused face. I order Starbucks from this one particular chain in the mall, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I HAVE TO SPELL MY NAME OUT FOR THEM. Just put “Orn”, I say constantly. Talk about inconvenience, especially when ordering the damn latte takes so long too (can you say, “grande non-fat soy caramel macchiato with sugar-free syrup, no whip”?) Anyways, this name is Sanskrit and is the one that the social workers put as my first name instead. Thinking about it as a translation, I would have much preferred to be known as wood or as a lotus flower (you’ll read about this later) than having to live up to being “diligent and obedient”. You heard it, it means “diligent and obedient” and when I told people that when I was younger they believed it-now…not so much (for obvious reasons, stupid adolescence). Despite this name being tediously long, I have never been a fan of common names either (apologies to those who have such names). Never once did I wish that I had been named something common, but my god how I would have loved to have a name that sounded a bit more….Canadian and/or have less expectations glued to it.


This was the name given to me by my birth mother, it means “lotus flower”. This name, I still reject…unfortunately. I still remember turning beet red when my mother attempted to explain how to pronounce it for other parents, it ended up sounding sort of like, “boowuah” and at the time I was in French immersion, so saying it a bit faster it translated as the french word for “wood”. Yep that’s right friends, my name in french is “wood”! Slow it down and it becomes, “booyah”. Several reasons to dislike this…”heyyyy…booyah!”
So you can see how this rejection of this particular name started rather young.


I’m sticking these two together because they both represent people in my life who had such an impact on my parents that they felt they belonged in my name. Isn’t that how it always works?


I am very, very glad that my parents hyphenated my name. Because I do not think I could pull-off an Asian “Coach Baxter”. I am sorry to say this but that look and name simply does not work. I would have been equally okay with just being named Ornmadee Lovo, but the hyphenated name makes me even more searchable in the phone book. Also, on days when I am upset with the parents a true threat to humanity is when I drop a last name on Facebook :/ *GASP See, you can’t do that with just one last name.

Okay, the point of that breakdown is that EVERYBODY, adopted or not, will have something about their name that perhaps they are not pleased with. In fact, if I had been named “Mary Agnes Baxter-Lovo” I would be horrified too. My name, as strange and sometimes frustrating as it is represents more things about me than any “All About Me” school project ever could. My thoughts about my name when I was ten are vastly different now that I am older. It happens but my name is my name. Your name is important, and while I do not want to plead with the public about this, if you do rename your kid at least keep one of their original names.  For god’s sake, their name could be something so ridiculous (like mine) that it would seem inhumane to keep it, but that is for your kid to decide when they get older-not you.

With that in mind, I think we all have our five cents about the subject and I could pull in several scenarios that would go against my arguments (school bullying, identity crisis, etc.) but when you think about, stuff like that happens anyways and if it’s not about a name it would be about something else, adopted or not. A name does not protect you, nor is it a shield against teasing or bullying. While I wish my parents thought over the order of which my name came in (example, not having “Ornmadee” as my common name) I do appreciate that when people talk about an “Ornmadee”, they are 99.9% of the time talking about me, and how diligent and obedient I am. Ha. As if.

And that ladies and gentlemen is what happens when an 18 year old drinks an eggnog espresso and starts typing. In a world full of cheerios, sometimes it is okay to be a fruit loop.

Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.

Sincerely, a proud,

Ornmadee Bua Yvonne Rose Baxter-Lovo


9 thoughts on “I’m sorry but, how do you spell that?

  1. Surina says:

    Hi. I just started following your blog because we are in the process of adopting a 9 year old girl from Thailand. Your post is a blessing from God because just today we were trying to figure out what our daughter’s name would be once she came to America. She will be 10 when we bring her home and we are thinking about letting her decide if she wants her given Thai name to be her first or middle name. Any thoughts? What if she goes by a nickname and doesn’t even “know” her given name? 🙂

    • ornblovo says:

      Hi Surina,
      Of course I can give you some advice, but again it is just in my opinion so it is ultimately up to you and your family. Her being 10 she is perfectly old enough to decide this, if she has been called a particular name most of her life it would make sense to keep calling her by it. If it is a hard name to pronounce in English, a nickname is always good, I have one that is a shorter form of my name. Almost every Thai person does (fact!) It is still unique, but people tend to take to it faster because it is easier to pronounce. The order of which it comes in I do not think makes much difference, as she will call herself whatever she needs/wants to, regardless of whether it is her first or middle name! I know plenty of people who go by their middle name because they prefer it over their first. Because she is older, I think it would be only fair to have her play a major part in this decision. She is ten, and may choose to go with a completely random name, but at least the power is in her hands and you showing an interest in this is really important. I hope that helps!

  2. giapatoi says:

    We didn’t change the name but a simple translation : Maksim / Massimo

    P.S. “Bua ” in italian is the word we use for the little children wounds . i think that lotus or wood is definitely better :0)

  3. polwygle says:

    I loved this article and laughed quite a bit. But seriously, this should be required reading for anyone who is planning to rename their adopted child.

    [Speaking of names in other languages, I was told mine means to urinate (although a more vulgar way of saying it) in Iraqi-Arabic.]

  4. Zoë says:

    Thanks for your blog post. we are adopting too and determand to keep our child’s name, lets hope it is something pretty like your name.

    but just to say that I agree with you that adopted or not people have different feelings about their name as they age. When I was little my name “Zoë’ was not common. My mum LOVED it and always wanted to call her daughter Zoë so for her it was like she knew she loved me before she met me – when she called me that name.
    but for me, when I was a little girl in the 80’s. Well people always said to me ‘THAT’s an unusual name!”. “what is Zoë short for??” and “your name is WHAT? Sally? Nowley? huh? how do you spell that?” etc etc
    I just wanted to be called something cool like Tiffany or Vanessa. not Zoë.

    But of course then I became a teenager and apprieciated having a more unusual name. and then everyone started calling their kids Zoë – now it is everywhere! even sesame street! LOL.
    so yeah. I think your advice is good – take the good with the bad, and just stick with what you have. chances are – it will grow on you 🙂

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