Naming the Baby, Legally

After much back-and-forth between my wife and me, it appears we have finally settled on a name for Emmett. And…drum roll, please…it’s the exact same name we gave him the night he was born.

At the moment, his name isn’t legally registered anywhere. Sure, we’ve blogged about his name, and my medical insurance provider even sent us an “official” wallet card with his name on it. But he doesn’t have a birth certificate yet. There’s no rush, really. I don’t really need to “prove” that he exists until early next year, when it’s income tax time and Emmett becomes yet another of Daddy’s Little Tax Write-Offs. Until then, well, who cares whether the government knows he exists or not? It’s probably better that they don’t know he exists, actually, becuase then there’s less chance that they’ll draft him into a war for liberty oil.

Our first child, Owen, was born at a hospital, and one of the staff members there took care of the birth certificate paperwork. She simply asked me what his name was going to be. I spelled it for her, and then she completed all the other paperwork.

Kid number two, however, was born at home. I asked one of the midwifes if she took care of the birth certificate stuff, and she said something like, “I can, if you’d like me to, or you can just call the county at 651-blah blah blah, and they’ll send you the papers to fill out.” I’m such a nerd that I actually thought it would be fun to fill out the papers, so I called and got them myself. I planned to blog about the paperwork, but I forgot. Luckily, unprotected sex has granted me another opportunity!

I received nine pages from the Minnesota Department of Health. Some of the papers provide the instructions, one is for entering the birth certificate information, another two are for creating a birth record, another is a birth attendant’s affidavit, and two are for ordering my own copy/copies of the certificate.

One of the instruction sheets stipulates that “You may give your baby any name you choose,” and it even points out that you can bestow the new bundle of joy with mom’s last name, dad’s last name, a combination of the two, or something completely different. So we could name our baby Emmett Skywalker if we wanted to. But thankfully, a family-wide poll yielded only a single vote in favor of this option.

The instructions then clarify that, really, you can’t give the baby any name you want. First, you are limited to 50 characters per name. So Emmett-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is perfectly acceptable, but Emmett-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-antidisestablishmentarianism? I’m sorry, but that’s going too far.

Also, parents are limited in the characters they use. All 26 letters of the alphabet are acceptable, but you can’t use numbers. This is why we aren’t going with “Emm3tt”. You can’t use accented characters, either, so you can’t name your kid Øwen, and certainly not Çéñö! I think this is a bit weird, I know people with such diacritics in their name, and I wonder if those are really on their birth certificate or not…? The instructions are quick to point out that “names can be pronounced as wished,” so we could spell it “Guflerken-werken” and then just pronounce it “Emmett.” This harkens back to my original idea before we had kids, when I proposed that, whatever name we choose, we just slap a silent J at the beginning so that we all have names that start with the same letter. Thus, we’d have Jowen, Jisla, and Jemmett.

The only punctuation you can use in a name are the apostrophe and the hyphen. So, while Emmett! is a clear violation of state law, E’m-m-e-t’t is perfectly fine.

The instructions also call for only a first, middle, and last. But, again, with a 50 character limit, you’re free to saddle a child a big clusterfuck of a name (like the British royal family sometimes does), as long as you don’t tip to 50-letter scale. So, Emmett Bo Bemmett Banana Fannah Fo Femmett would be totally fine for a first name. The middle name, obviously, would then proceed with Fe Fi Fo Memmett – Emmett.

Another interesting sheet calls for the baby’s race/ethnicity. This form makes it easy for white folk, because “white” is listed first. And if you check white, that’s all you need to check…they don’t ask any further questions, like if we’re Italian, or Swedish, or French, or whatever else counts as white these days.

Other ethnicities require a bit more teasing out. For example, if you check “Asian,” they next want to know which subcatergory you belong to. They provide a few boxes, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hmong, and Vietnamese, but then they have a box that says “Other” and a blank line asking you to specify. I wonder if the person who created this form just listed off all the Asians he could think of and then just made an “other” box when he got stuck. Same thing for Black – there are subcatergories for Somali, Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Nigerian. But appearantly Ugandans, Tanzanians, Rwandans, and Gabonese are just gonna have to break down and write out their ethnicity.

Either way, no problems here!

There’s another page that requests “Characteristics of Labor,” and there’s – no kidding – a box that says “none.” I checked that one, because clearly my wife’s labor had no characteristics.

Then there’s a page that says “Place of this birth,” and gives the options of hospital, mother’s residence, or other. What’s funny about this, though, is that the next page says that “the hospital will print a verification copy of the birth record for you to review and make corrections.” Really? It will? Which hospital? And will it really be the hospital, or someone who works there? And does this apply even if the baby was born at “mother’s residence”? or “other”? Should I wait until a hospital prints this verification form? And why can’t I just review the original form itself, since it’s right here in my hands?

Anyway…I’m off to get this thing notarized.

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3 Responses to Naming the Baby, Legally

  1. Jeremy says:

    I know I’m not family, so I wasn’t consulted on the naming…But I would’ve voted for the “Name Game” first and middle names with the surname of Skywalker. Just my two cents…

  2. James says:

    Thanks for the vote, Jeremy.
    Though I have gotten the papers notarized in the hours since I posted this, I haven’t yet dropped them in the mail, so there’s still time to make a change. I will make a note of your suggestion and confer with the powers that be. We will give it all due consideration and report back in due time.

  3. Cory says:

    I second the name choice of Emmett Skywalker…that would be awesome.

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