My Girl 2.0

By Any Other Name

While pregnant with baby number two, I looked long and hard for her name. I found many beautiful possibilities, but when I presented them to Steve he pooped all over them. We have very different tastes in names and argh, it was frustrating! Towards the end of the pregnancy I thought we had found one we agreed on, but after she was born, Steve decided against it. So, we were stuck. There was a cute little dark-haired baby with squinty eyes, waiting to be named. People started coming to visit, asking what her name was. We were starting to feel the pressure, so we chose a name. It was a compromise for both of us, and neither of us really loved it, but we felt it was the only one we could agree on. Thus, Jolie Grace Brown was named and made herself at home in our hearts.

At first the name felt strange to say, since I had my heart set on something else, but I thought I would get used to it. Months passed, and it still never felt quite right. I remember confiding in a friend, when Jolie was about eight weeks old, that I didn’t really love her name, and I felt so guilty about it. I adored her big sister’s name and felt as though I had cheated our new baby. 

I assumed that the feeling would pass, but it never did. Add to that the fact that 90% of people mispronounced it, and I was growing less happy with it by the day. I spoke with Steve about it a few months ago and told him that I really didn’t like the name, to which he replied, “Well, I’m not all that crazy about it either.”


At that time we didn’t have a different name in mind that could replace her current one, so we just left it at that. Then a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a name. Not just a name, but A Name. As soon as I saw it, it leapt into my heart and hasn’t let go. I loved it, and told Steve about it. He liked it too (although not as fiercely as I) and advised we just sit on it for a while and let time be the judge, not wanting to rush into anything.

Since then, I have grown more frustrated and disappointed with “Jolie” and more pleased and excited about the new name. I shared these feelings with Steve (pretty much every day, much to his annoyance) and he finally agreed that yes, we can change her name.

So, I’d like you to meet Karenna Jolie Brown.

I know you might think we’re crazy for doing this, but hear me out. She’s still young enough to only be mildy scarred by a late name change, and I figure that if kids from foreign countries who are adopted at 18 months can go from being called a name in their mother tongue to something totally different, then our girl will be just fine.

To transition, we’ll probably call her by both names (Karenna Jolie) for a while, and if later we (or she) decide to go back to her original name, she’ll be able to legally use her middle name without any further paperwork required.

For many of you this is probably coming out of left field, but those who know me in real life know how bothered I had become by her old name. I know this is drastic and a little nutso, but I figure there’s no point being dissatisfied with her name for the rest of our lives if we don’t have to.

*Updated to add: Karenna is pronounced Ka-RENN-a, with a soft “e” sound, not Ka-REEN-a, for those who were wondering.


  • That name game is hard. We were hemming and hawing over our use of the name “Seamus” (which no one knows how to spell) and calling him “Shea” (which is a common girl name now). But it was one that we loved from the beginning of our naming lists and still did, so we knew that we couldn’t give it up. I’m certain that if you love it enough, how couldn’t anyone else love it.
    And out of curiousity…were you wanting her name Jolie pronounced really french, with a softer J? or were they actually calling her Jolly?? I hope you don’t have mispronunciation problems with Karenna, as it looks like previous posters are.

  • So … I was out camping all week and unable to check my e-mail. I got a text from my mom while sitting around the campfire about this blog post. My first thought was “WHAT?!!?” I knew you weren’t happy with the name Jolie but I thought you’d decided to stick with it. I wasn’t sure what I thought about the name change at first. But right now, reading this blog for myself, I get it. I scrolled down and saw that picture of Karenna and my heart did this little leap thing and I felt “Wow. That’s her. That name is her.” As if her little identity was finally complete to me.

    So yeah … I don’t think you are that crazy after all. :)

  • My sister in laws sister did the same thing when her daughter was 1, they changed from Lauren to Claudia and it worked, people got used to it really quickly. I think it’s pretty, I think she’s pretty!

  • I’ve been wondering if you would (I noticed you had said something about it a while back)… and I love it! You’ll be so glad you did it in the long run!

  • I think it is wise to change her name now if you don’t like it.

  • Her revised name is great! I have a dear friend with the name Carena and I’ve always loved how it sounds. Good for you for being brave enough to go against the grain and change it. Congrats on bebe Karenna :) (which I just looked up the meaning and apparently it means “pure.” that’s beautiful!)

  • I thought Jolie suited her, but now that you say it she’s most definately a Karenna. So beautiful! Congratulations!

  • I like it. And I could pronounce it the moment I saw it written. Congrats, not only on finding a name you love, but for having the guts to implement the change. Cheers!

  • don’t feel bad. My aunt didn’t name her little boy for over… um 2 years I think? we all called him “baby boy”. crazy eh?

  • I was the same way about my youngest! It took a while to actually feel like he WAS a Maddox and I started to feel like maybe we should have waited until we saw him before we named him but now? He’s totally Maddox and I wouldn’t be able to accept him with any other name. just fits. I applaud you for knowing Jolie just didn’t suit her properly and making the change to something that felt *right*. Good for you!

    And least she’ll have a cool unknown to most people fact about her when she’s older!

  • The kindly old gentleman formerly known as “Bumpa” now wishes to be called “Afi”, the ancient Norse word for grandfather.

  • I think both names are beautiful and I am so happy for you that you finally found a name you love and that fits your sweet girl. I love my daughter’s name, but wasn’t sure I would when we named her. It felt long and awkward at first and I was sure I would shorten it to a nickname (her name is Giuliana, I thought I would call her Giuli) but now that she is 20 months old, I just can’t bring myself to call her anything but Giuliana…it’s just so her. That’s how a name should be, I think. Glad you found Karenna’s!!

  • Karenna is a very pretty name and goes well with Jolie. One of Al Gore’s daughter’s names is Karenna. I remembering hearing how he and his wife took the name from Anna Karenina, and how I thought it was a unique name.

  • Congratulations on the beautiful name! It’s not crazy, plenty of people acquire nick-names or start going by their middle name and continue doing so by choice for their entire lives. It’s great that you put so much heart and thought into your childrens’ names.

  • That’s a really cute name, Amanda! My Mother-in-law (who is working in the kitchen beside me while I peruse the internet) said she LOVED the new name, and ‘Karenna Jolie’ flowed so nicely together. I’m glad you’re so happy with the change!

    PS- For the record, I also really like “Jolie”. Like “Julie” with an ‘o’ (hmmm… I WONDER why I like it so much!?!!)!

  • I have friends who are twins and when they were around 5 their parents changed both of their names. They’re now my age (34) and no harm, no foul. Karenna Jolie is a beautiful name and I’m happy you’re at peace now!

  • thanks for naming her after me! ;) haha!

    I have to agree, beautiful name!

  • I completely support you and don’t think it’s crazy at all. Names are an important thing. My little sister is named Elisabeth. My parents started out calling her Beth or Bethany. I wanted to call her Lisa. She was named EliSabeth because my parents asked me what I wanted to call my baby sister and I said Lisa so they went with the s spelling and they liked Beth as a nickname. When Lisa was six she found out the whole story and was adamantly opposed to being Bethany. She insisted she be called Lisa. So she was Lisa, and still is Lisa (real name still Elisabeth) and I can’t imagine her being a Beth or Bethany at all.

  • I think Karenna is a beautiful name and if fits that little one perfectly. Kudos to you for doing this.

  • Oh, I forgot to mention that I didn’t know my name was Will until I started school and I turned out relatively Okay.

  • You might be a little crazy, but I think that is why I like you so much ; ) Beautiful name and if it feels better to you, than it was the right decision. I know two people that have changed their names as adults and that to me was a bit weird, but Karenna will never know the difference.

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