The Story of a Name

Several people have asked how I arrived at Katie’s name. The short answer is I’ve always loved the name Katie, as well as Kate. You can do a lot with a name like Kathryn, and I like that versatility. I also love Katharine Hepburn and the strong, smart-mouthed characters she played in so many films. I wanted some of that sassy nature for my future daughter.

Like so many things in my unplanned life, the true answer to that question is, well, a bit more complicated.

Summer 2012.

Summer 2012.

My ex-husband’s mother, who died by suicide when he was 19, was named Catherine. On our first date Michael told me he was ready to have children and somehow in the ensuing conversation we agreed that two children were too few but four children were too many. We both wanted at least one, if not three girls, and I said I was partial to the name Katie, which was a coincidence because that was (sort of) his mother’s name. (Michael’s mother actually went by Cay, but like I said, it’s a versatile name.) At the time, the combination of his mother’s name plus his last name seemed like a sign that we were meant to be together. Katie was cute, but Katie Murdoch was downright adorable.

After that rather strange and premature conversation, I didn’t think about names until a few months into our second year of marriage when I had surgery for a rare retinal disorder. It took three months to learn if I would fully regain my vision. During those long, lonely hours sitting in a recliner I imagined my future daughter—a child who, it had dawned on me, I might never see. I named her Katie and for the next eight years as we waited for a real child, this fantasy version stuck with me.

When I finally saw my daughter, an hour after her birth, she looked exactly like the child I’d imagined eight years earlier. So I never considered another name. She was already Katie.

Katie’s birthmother had suggested two names: Sophia (because she loved it) and Frances (after the birthfather’s deceased sister). While I liked Sophia, Robin and I agreed that it went better with her husband’s last name rather than Michael’s. So I suggested Katherine Frances. Given that my mother-in-law was named Catherine, I’d assumed we’d go with Katherine. But when my ex learned that the original Frances had been killed by her ex-boyfriend in a murder-suicide, he insisted we spell Katie’s name Kathryn. “That’s too many violent deaths for one poor baby.”

I was surprised, but readily agreed.

After our divorce, I was glad we’d gone with Kathryn rather than Katherine (or even Catherine), but her last name chafed. Why was my daughter linked to the man who’d refused to adopt her? I needed to change her name. But what should I change it to?

Eventually I came upon the perfect solution. I plan to change Katie’s name to Kathryn Frances Sophia Patton. I know it’s a bit of a mouthful, especially for a child with a speech delay, but I like what the name represents. If anyone asks, I’ll say there are three names to honor the birthfather, the birthmother, and me. Plus one just for Katie.

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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2 Responses to The Story of a Name

  1. jason ravanell says:

    got a GREAT ring to it! love you guys!

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