How I Named My Baby: Cosmo Nuri
Allison Young, a stay at home mom, and Russell Richardson, a software engineer, live in Princeville, Hawaii. They adopted their son, named Cosmo Nuri Young Richardson, on September 28, 2020.
Here, we talk to Allison about how she and Russell chose the name Cosmo for their little boy.
When did you know you found “The Name?”
I knew it was right when I finally didn’t feel guilty about giving him a new name. As an adopted child, the idea of renaming him made me feel like we were trying to rid him of his heritage or past when we don’t want to do that at all. But I think we found a nice balance of a name that we love that honors the name he was first given. Cosmo means “world” or “universe” and his birth name, Nuri, means “the whole world” in Ancient Korean.
I also learned while searching that St. Cosmas is one of the patron saints of physicians. We had quite a journey in the middle of the pandemic to travel to Korea to adopt Cosmo, so having a name that has ties to the medical field seems appropriate.
I was also thrilled that Cosmo ends in an O like my older son’s name, Leo.
What strategies did you use to narrow down your name choices?
I don’t know if it’s a strategy, exactly. I chose names that seemed cool and emailed them to our adoption agency. But then I would have name regret and email them with another change. It got to the point that they told me no more name changes, so he immigrated with the most recent name I had picked; the adoption agency said we’d have to register the legal name change once he was home with us in the US! One of the unused names was Jet, but when we met him in person he totally did not seem like a Jet and I insisted we had to choose something else!
Did you ask anyone for advice about baby names?
I asked basically every Korean American adult adoptee that I knew. Adoptees have very well thought out opinions about names and I really appreciated them.
Is your baby named after anyone?
I have actually never met anyone named Cosmo or Nuri before!
What name did you hate to let go of?
I hated to let go of his birth surname, which is Kang. I thought Cosmo Kang would be a nice name due to the alliterative sound, but one thing I repeatedly was told by Korean American adult adoptees was that giving him the option of going by his Korean given name was important, and that having this name in his legal name was also important.
What would your younger self have liked to name the baby?
I love Hawaiian names, but since we do not have Hawaiian heritage, I didn’t think we should give him one. But we are currently living in Hawaii and I love learning words and hearing the beautiful names.
How do you feel about your own name and how did that influence your choice?
This is actually the reason why I had the most terrible time choosing a name. I am also adopted, and my legal name does not include any of my birth names. I do feel like I lost some of my heritage and identity. To remedy this, I have unofficially replaced my middle name of Elisabeth with my birth surname Lee.
What would your baby be named if it were the opposite gender?
Hmm, good question. Both my daughters Yuna and Miri have Korean names that are easy to pronounce for English speakers. But if we had adopted a daughter, I’d probably want to honor her birth name in some way, too. One girl name I love but never got to use was Zara.
Did you decide on middle name(s) before the first name, or vice versa?
I didn’t take my husband’s surname when we married, all of my other children have my surname as their middle name. This is actually a tradition in our family now because my husband’s mom didn’t take his dad’s surname but gave all of them her surname as a middle.
We knew that his birth name would be used as a middle as well and accepted that he would just have four names in total, whereas our other children only have three.
How important a consideration was the flow of the first, middle, and last names?
I’m not sure his name flows at all (sorry Cosmo!), but the placement of each name seemed the most logical out of all the options. I did consider the flow of saying all 4 of my children’s names: Leo, Yuna, Miri, Cosmo! I didn’t want any long names since their last name is pretty long already.
Which partner had more fun with the baby name process?
My husband cannot take naming seriously and only comes up with joke names until after the baby is born (or in this case, adopted and when we got custody). So, I guess it would be me, although while it was fun it was also a bit stressful because I was obsessed with finding the “perfect” name!
What advice would you give someone just starting the baby name process?
My advice for someone would be to go for what will be meaningful to your child. A name is a part of your child’s identity and a way to connect them to their family and culture.
Thank you so much, Allison!
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