Other people have had some trouble understanding the family name as well. "Grandparents still send us mail addressed to the Donato-Ritchey family. But new people, schools, etc., know us as the Donato family. Usually people just say, 'Oh how liberated.' Women tend to think it's cool."
Donato doesn't know if she would be so insistent on keeping her own name if she had to do it all again, but says, "I think it's easier for us to have one family name, so things being what they are, I'm glad my husband did what he did."
Other families choose a name that is completely new to both of them, such as Michael and Rebecca Rohan of Buffalo, New York. Rebecca's last name was Carey and Michael's was Rook. She didn't want to change her name when they married and considered hyphenating before deciding it wasn't for her. When she got pregnant with her first child, "We met another couple who were expecting their first baby and were finalizing their forms to change their last name. I had never considered this option before and I decided this was what we should do. I didn't want my kids to have a different last name from me, but I still wasn't comfortable changing my name to my husband's."
Her husband finally picked a name, unrelated to either family, with which they were both comfortable. The couple then went through a simple court procedure to legally change their names. Then they were able to use that name on their child's birth certificate.
The reaction from family was generally negative, but despite that, says Rohan, "I feel good about it. I enjoy having our new identity. I feel like we're forging a new path together."
Choosing a baby's last name can require as much thought as a first name, and with the wide variety of options available, you can find a name that works for you.