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Baby Name Theft: Are We the Bad Guys?

Baby Name Theft: Are We the Bad Guys?

They found the right name for their son, and he’s due soon. But in the meantime, a cousin gave the very same name to her son – and she probably won’t be happy to share.

S. writes:

I am due in January, and after months (really years) of deliberating had finally settled with my husband on a baby name for our son. We had come up with several girl names that we liked but when we found out that we were having a boy we could really only agree on one name.

My cousin had a baby today and used the same name and even the same middle initial. We are not very close with her, but we live in the same area and our families are close.

She can be extremely competitive and petty. If we keep the name, she will say we “stole” it and it will certainly lead to a few raised eyebrows in the family. But if we choose a different name now it will feel like we couldn’t use our perfect name because she just got there first.

I’m only six weeks away from my due date and already our baby feels like our chosen name fits him. We’re heartbroken and starting over doesn’t seem possible given how long it took us to settle on this name. What should we do? This falls somewhere between sister’s kid and distant acquaintance.

The Name Sage replies:

Use the name you love.

Yes, even though your cousin got there first.

Imagine you both went into labor on the same day, and filled out your sons’ birth certificates just hours apart, without realizing the other child had been born. Then you’d have two second cousins both named Oliver or Everett or Wilder or James.

Your boys would have to share, and maybe there would be some occasional confusion. Your mom might refer to your cousin’s son as, say, “Ashley’s Oliver” to distinguish him from your kiddo.

Might your cousin be upset? Sure. But that doesn’t seem to make you and your husband like the name any less. If anything, the prospect of losing your favorite choice has emphasized that it truly is The Name for your son.

You can’t control your cousin’s reaction. Your only choice is whether this name still belongs to your child. If you’re answering with a resounding yes – and I think you are – then it seems like some possible bad behavior from a relative shouldn’t dissuade you.

I’d address it head on: “Hey, Ashley, congratulations on your baby! We’re so happy for you. As it turns out, our son is Oliver, too. It’s a great name.”

After all, you could change your son’s name from Oliver to Owen, and six months later, your cousin and her family might relocate to Australia. Or maybe one boy will prefer a nickname, or even his middle name as he grows up. Anything could happen.

Use your son’s name. It’s already chosen. Now it’s just a matter of sharing the good news that you both have great taste!

Readers, I’m curious to know what you would do!

About the Author

Abby Sandel

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.