How I Named My Baby: Adira Jane

How I Named My Baby: Adira Jane

Caroline (left) and Melia Orrell, a communications project manager and emergency management consultant, live in Tallahassee, Florida with their daughter Adira Jane.

Adira was born on May 30, 2022. Below, we speak with Melia and Caroline about how they named their little girl.

Tell me Adira's name story!

Melia: I was one of those kids looking at names constantly in middle school. I wanted to know what every name meant. Melia is a relatively unique name, especially spelled with an E, unlike Malia. I always liked that I had a unique name. Caroline didn’t care as much about the name.

Caroline: I’m sad to admit that I didn’t know about Nameberry until Melia introduced me to it! I like names but I’m not the name partner. There can only be one!

Melia: We’ve been together for 10 years and have talked about names the whole time. At one point, Caroline found the name Adira. She found it, not me!

Caroline: I remember scrolling through baby girl names and seeing Adira. The meaning, "God's strength," also drew me to it. Adira is simple and different enough that she will hopefully stand out in a crowd.

Melia: My dad is a pastor so he had to take Hebrew classes when I was growing up. He used to call me Simcha because my middle name is Joy. I love that Adira is a Hebrew name.

What’s the story behind her middle name, Jane?

Caroline: We chose Jane as the middle name because it's my mother, Melia's mother, and my grandmother's middle name. I appreciate the flow of names. Jane is monosyllabic and it just felt right.

Melia: Her initials are AJO, and “ajo” means garlic in Spanish. We both speak Spanish, and Caroline also speaks Russian and French, so we wanted a name that would sound similar across multiple languages.

Caroline: In Russian, they have a lot of diminutive names, so sometimes I call her Adya or Adirshka — my own little Russification of her name.

What were the other names on your list?

Melia: About three weeks before she was born we had a mini-crisis. All of a sudden, I was like, “What if we named her Wilhelmina instead and called her Willa?”

Caroline: I wanted to wait till the baby came out then take a look at her and decide. So I didn’t know what we were going to do if we looked at her and she wasn’t an Adira! We had a bit of cold feed and tried out Wilhelmina, but it just didn’t fit.

Melia: I was fighting hard for Ottilie, but Caroline was like, “Heck no!”

Caroline: Melia’s last name already starts with an O, and the baby has Melia’s last name. I thought Ottilie O. would be too much, but I did have Odessa on our list. Odesa, Ukraine is one of my favorite places in the world, and one of my great aunts was named Odessa.

Melia: Caroline did a Fulbright in Moldova, just south of Ukraine. She would go to Odesa on vacation. But once the war started, we thought we should steer away from the name.

Caroline: One of the other names we considered was Nora which has skyrocketed in popularity. But Melia will not let me give a child a name in the Top 100. It’s insane! Nora was my great-grandmother’s first name, but we were still able to pay homage to the matriarchs in our family with Adira’s middle name.

Did you consider boy names at all?

Melia: We decided that we were going to be team green, but when we went in for our 20-week appointment, the ultrasound tech told us she definitely knew the sex of the baby.

Caroline: Melia folded like a lawn chair.

Melia: A lot of the boy names we liked were a lot more popular. I wasn’t happy about that, but it’s harder to find boy names that are unique. Caroline’s grandmother’s name was Joan, so we liked Jonas or Jonah as a nod to her.

Caroline: We also liked Jude but that’s more popular now. Melia liked Avery but now it’s mostly girls. We struggled to find a boy name!

Melia: We never really settled on a boy name. My aunt is named Hollace, and we considered Hollis for a boy.

What would you have wanted to name a baby when you were younger?

Melia: Avery Jude was my favorite name. My taste was very literary — Matilda, Ramona, Beatrice. These were names that I would come across. I liked Simon and Avi for boys, and Jonas from The Giver.

As a kid I always had a huge list of boy names, not girl names, and now I can’t find boy names!

Caroline: I was a very charismatic child and I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about future baby names. I was not on the websites like Melia! It was the flavor of the day for me. I did have a Beatrice phase in seventh grade.

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

Melia: There are a lot of Becketts in Adira’s daycare, and girls named August and Penelope. Stratton is the newest baby — I’d never heard of it before!

Caroline: There are classics like Madeline and Henry. She has a Piper in her class. We’re in Florida, so there are also Southern-style names like Oakley, Oaklynn, Magnolia, and Kinsley. The babies in our lactation support group are Penelope, Frey, Urias, and Leo.

Melia: There was a Malia at daycare! I was shocked. The only commonality is that everyone is trying to differentiate.

Caroline: I used to teach swim and I remember there being a lot of Avas and Emmas at one point. I think those are done. At least in Adira’s group of kiddos, I haven’t seen an Ava or Emma yet.

What was the most surprising part of the baby name process?

Caroline: That I was the one who ended up suggesting the name that we picked! Because when I tell you I would have bet that Melia would be the one to pick the name… I’m shocked and very proud of myself!

Melia: I was shocked that we came to an agreement so quickly. As soon as I caved and had the tech tell us her sex, Caroline and I looked at each other and said, “It’s Adira.” We knew from the very beginning, even though we had a bit of a setback toward the end.

Caroline: It really feels like it’s us. I love the meaning and hope it’s prophetic — that she grows up to be a really strong person.

How would you describe your style outside of baby names?

Melia: I’m usually much more androgynous. If I could wear a gray sweater and sweatpants all day long, I would. I’m not super colorful. Caroline had to kick me out of my plaid phase.

Caroline: A good lesbian always has a lot of plaid. While I do appreciate plaid, Melia had to graduate from it. We threw a couple of solids in there.

Melia: I try to be clean and simple. It’s hard to be minimalistic with a baby. I aspire to that, but I’m definitely not there.

Caroline: In a way, I’m still kind of searching for my style. Pre-baby I had a more mainstream contemporary style. I really like to wear earrings, and I wore them around Adira. The first thing she did was yank on it! We needed to reboot. I am slowly finding the happy medium in this new phase.

How did you decorate Adira’s nursery?

Melia: Since we like travel so much, we did a travel theme for her nursery. We didn’t want to do anything traditionally girly or masculine.

Caroline: We want to keep things as middle-of-the-road as possible because we don’t know how she’s going to want to express herself when she gets older.

Melia: We have a dark wood circle with Adira’s name on it as well.

Caroline: It’s the only quintessentially Pinterest-y thing we have. Her room on the simpler side. I don’t know if you’ve been on TikTok, but the nurseries on there are insane. It’s more neutral, a little bit muted, but we have plenty of books and toys for her in there. To me, the room is more about the experience we have in there.

Did Adira get any special gifts?

Caroline: One of my great-aunts crocheted a baby blanket for her and it is beautiful. She made it specifically for Adira. I thought it was really nice, especially since my family has struggled more with my sexuality. For someone from my side of the family to gift us something so beautiful for our child was so touching and moving.

Melia: Every night before I would go to sleep, my dad would say the same goodnight prayer. My mom hand-painted it for Adira.

Caroline: One of our good friends who doesn’t want kids gifted us one of her newborn outfits. It was crocheted by her grandmother. I was touched by that as well!

What are the cool things for parents and kids to do in your city?

Melia: Tallahassee is a very outdoorsy place. There are a lot of beautiful trails here. Hiking with Adira is one of my favorite things to do.

Caroline: One of our favorite trails is the J. R. Alfred Greenway. There’s a beautiful bridge that overlooks a lake. We also like to go to the park. There’s a nice one downtown called Cascades Park which we really enjoy.

Melia: They have a theater there where they have concerts. We’ve had older kids in our home too, so the Challenger Learning Center, Tallahassee Museum, and the Florida Museum of National History are great too. We like doing anything that gets us out and moving.

Melia and Caroline's (and Adira's) Favorite Things

Skip Hop Activity Center

Adira loves it in here! She does a good 10-15 in it.

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

This is helpful so you don’t have to hold the baby.

Skip Hop Sit-to-Step High Chair

This will transition to a stepstool when Adira gets older.

Three Sprouts Storage Cubes

It’s a super cute way to store her stuff!

Skip Hop Portable Baby Changing Pad

We take it everywhere we go.

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump

Ameda MYA Pump

I love this pump, but we also would not have survived breastfeeding without a lactation consultant.

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags

These storage bags work better than the generic brands.

And Tango Makes Three

It's a classic LGBT story.

Love Makes a Family

All of Sophie Beer's books are so beautiful!

I've Loved You Since Forever

The first time we read it, I cried!

The Color Monster (Un Monster de Colores)

We got this book in Spanish — we want to expose her to the language.

Click here to see the entire How I Named My Baby Shopping Guide or check out the Nameberry Amazon Store to see all products recommended in How I Named My Baby.

Thank you so much, Melia and Caroline!

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About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top 2020s names, Gen Z names, and cottagecore baby names. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest.

Sophie Kihm's articles on names have run on People, Today, The Huffington Post, and more. She has been quoted as a name expert by The Washington Post, People, The Huffington Post, and more. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at Sophie lives in Chicago.