Hyphenating your baby's last name is a way to give him or her both parents' last names. Belle Wong and her husband Ward Jardine, of Pickering, Ontario, chose to name their baby Dylan Jardine-Wong. Wong says, "I have some ambivalence about it. What if he marries a woman with a double last name, too? If the whole thing gets to be too much for him, I feel totally open to his dropping the Wong when he gets older." But the decision to include her name was important to her. "Because I'm Chinese, it's nice that Dylan's heritage is reflected in his last name. I guess Dylan's name reflects the relationship Ward and I have. We are equal partners and there are no strong gender roles in our marriage. I know that normally it would have been Wong-Jardine, but we both just liked the sound of Jardine-Wong better."
Wong does find that people can have difficulty understanding. "We seem to have to explain it all the time. I know Ward's family thinks it's rather bizarre. When we call the doctor's office for an appointment you can hear the confusion in their voices. Ward always sticks the hyphen in when he calls. He will say 'Jardine hyphen Wong.'"
Another option is to give your baby two last names. Jeannette Moninger and her husband David Spurlin from Greenwood, Indiana, did just that when they named their twin sons Chance Garey Moninger Spurlin and Campbell Martin Moninger Spurlin. They considered hyphenating their last names for the children but felt it was too long and confusing. "I was content just knowing that Moninger was on the birth certificates and their Social Security cards. Keeping the Moninger name in some form in my children's names was important to me because they are, after all, half Moningers. There are three Moninger men in my family who can carry on the Moninger name, but so far none of them are married. I felt like I was doing my part to ensure that the Moninger name didn't completely die out."
Because the boys are only three, Moninger and Spurlin have not explained to them that they have two last names and so far have only taught them the last name Spurlin. Moninger also has not explained to the boys that her last name is not Spurlin. "I figure it's something I can correct later when they're older and can understand the reasons."
New Family Names
Some parents decide on a non-traditional family name that everyone in the family can share. Denver, Colorado, parents Susanna and Mark Donato chose to use Susanna's surname for their family and for themselves (Mark's given last name is Ritchey). "When we married, I wanted to keep my name," says Donato. "Mark wasn't particularly attached to his name, and his family has a variety of names from divorce, changing names, and so on, so he said he would rather our eventual family all have one last name."
When their daughter was born, they named her Lydia Grace Ritchey Donato, intending that she would have both Ritchey and Donato as last names. "The biggest problems are the logistics. For instance, Lydia's four names are on her Social Security card. But when we file taxes each year, the program usually kicks it back to tell us the IRS has a different last name, meaning that both last names don't match her Social Security number." The IRS is unable in this case to recognize two surnames.