Can You Create Baby’s Last Name?

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Sep 2014
Hero Image
Photo: Thinkstock

If you thought choosing baby’s first name was tough, consider the can of worms choosing a surname could open up.

Of course, if you don’t want to settle on one person’s name, there’s the hyphenated option. But what about an original blend of mom and dad’s last names? That was the choice for  Kim Sarubbi and Carl Abramson. Until they moved to Tennessee.

According to NPR , the couple’s first two children, born outside of Tennessee, we given the last name “Sabr,” a hybrid of “Sarubbi” and “Abramson.”

“We said, 'All right, if we take the first three letters of each of our names,‘a-b-r’ and ‘s-a-r,’ it perfectly combines to ‘s-a-b-r.’ Sabr,” Abramson says. The family’s Christmas card, doormat and even cookware is all engraved with this homespun name.

There weren’t really any issues in Santa Monica, CA. But the family moved to Nashville, and welcomed baby Camden this June. When his hospital records were mailed home, the surname “Sabr” was crossed out.

Apparently, 1970s Tennessee law prohibits combining two names in any way besides the full surnames of both parents. While the family can go to court and pay $150 to change Camden’s name, they don’t want to have to do that. In fact, they’ve filed a lawsuit against the state.

This raises an important question: how important are traditional family names?

“Passing on last names could be becoming less important as divorce is becoming more common and people grow up in families with three or four different last names — and that’s not uncommon,” Laura Carpenter, a sociology professor at Vanderbilt University, tells NPR.

Another important question: why are there so many varying rules for names in the first place? The laws are different state by state. We kind of like Vermont’s loose policy: “You may use trademarked names (IBM), diseases (Anthrax), and obscenities, but we highly recommend against it.”

What do you think: how much freedom should you have to name your family?

You Won’t Believe the Craziest Baby Names Of 2013

Ivy Jacobson
Associate Editor, The Knot

36 Throwback ‘Mad Men’-Inspired Baby Names We Love

Ivy Jacobson
Associate Editor, The Knot

Nameberry Predicts the Most Popular Baby Names of the Future

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
11/06/2018

Baby Name Regret Is More Common Than You Think, According to Survey

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
04/02/2019

Which Baby Names Really Stand the Test of Time?

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/05/2015

Baby Name Trends for 2018

Pamela Redmond Satran
Nameberry
Published
12/15/2017

Hot Baby Name: Penelope!

Rachel Sylvester
Assistant Editor, The Knot
Published
07/09/2012

Can’t Pick a Name? Pick A URL

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor