I had my future all planned out. I would marry at 21 and have six children (my poor uterus, right?). The first would be a girl — if for no other reason than I’d simply decided it would be so — and I planned to name her Evangeline Rosebud. I know, it sounds like a Cabbage Patch doll name, right?
My friend Tracy wrecked my little teenage world one day when she announced that she also intended to name her first daughter Evangeline.
“But that’s my baby name!” I wailed. “I’ve been writing down Evangeline Rosebud in my Trapper Keeper for the past three months.” It didn’t matter in the least that neither of us had any imminent plans for reproducing.
Tracy shrugged. “You didn’t call dibs. Besides, you can’t own a name. I can name my baby Evangeline if I want to. It’s a free country.”
Fast forward a few decades. Tracy and I both have daughters. Go figure, none are named Evangeline. Tracy has probably forgotten about our spat over a stolen baby name, but it seems like baby-name stealing is quite the thing now:
“I was going to name my son Jackson, but my coworker just told me her daughter named her baby Jackson. She stole my baby name!”
“I’ve planned to name my daughter Annabelle since forever. My sister-in-law just announced she’s having a girl, and they’re naming her Annabelle. She stole my baby name. And no, the fact that I’m not currently pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not matter.”
“My cousin and I are both pregnant. It looks like it will be an epic cage match to see who gets to claim the name Xander. I lie awake at night and worry about that cow stealing my baby name.”
Google “stolen baby names” if you don’t believe me.
People are getting their bloomers in a twist over who has the rights to a certain name. Friendships are ending and family relationships are strained because someone named their baby Hannah Rose “first.”
If someone “steals” your baby name, here are three possible courses of action:
1. Call the police! Report the theft ASAP! Alert your neighborhood watch group and maybe even the security guards at your local shopping mall. If law enforcement officials don’t take you seriously (or hang up on you) don’t hesitate to take your baby-name-stealing lawsuit straight to Judge Judy. She’ll surely straighten things out.
2. Never speak to that person again. They’re dead to you. Unfriend them on Facebook. Cross them off your Christmas card list. If they happen to be your neighbor, consider moving. If the thieving baby-name-stealer happens to be a relative, though, you might have to settle for giving blatant stink-eye at family events and referring to the other child as “that copycat Emily.”
3. Do nothing. That’s right. Just deal with it. Be a grownup.
You can’t “steal” a baby name. The very discussion of name-stealing is such a ridiculous first-world problem. Names are not property nor are they copyrighted, and no, you can’t buy the rights to a name. You can’t call dibs… well, OK, you can but dibsies aren’t enforceable. If you like a name and want to bestow it on your offspring? Guess what — you can! When it comes right down to it, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you.
Yes, things may get confusing in a large extended family if all the cousins are named Samantha, but a parent shouldn’t have to feel they settled for second best when picking their child’s name. Kids are going to make their own way in the world and move in different circles as they grow up. They might be the unique snowflake in a sea of people with ordinary names or they might find themselves sharing cubicle space with a half dozen people that share their name. You never know.
Every generation has a handful of those popular names: I attended elementary school with a handful of Stacys and Cynthias. My son has three kids named Aiden in his kindergarten class alone.
And think about it this way: who’s really going to saddle their child with a name they don’t like just because you happen to like it? “I really don’t like the name Lindsey, but I think we’ll use it just to tick so-and-so off?”
If you’re worried about someone swiping “your” baby name, just don’t be. Trust me, there are so many other things associated with parenthood to be legitimately worried about. And did you know there are some 5 billion people living on this planet? There aren’t enough names to go around so if someone names their kid the same thing you’re naming your kid, just chillax and stop with the “you stole my baby name” accusations, m’kay?
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