What’s in a name? (#5 in a series)

by Heidi

Graceanna Catherine

In the case of our new daughter, there’s a lot of meaning in her name and I’ve been excited to share the story on my blog!  When Steve and I began the application process for our second child, we really struggled with names for girls.  For us to struggle with a name is not surprising in the least.  Gunnar was almost 12 hours old before we settled on his name, and even then, I thought about changing it for weeks.  “Graceanna” was one name we tossed around quite a bit, but we weren’t certain that’s what we would choose or even if we’d stay with G names.  I was really dreading the moment when we’d need to make a definitive decision since it had been so difficult the first time around.

As Steve walked in the door at 7:30 on the morning we received the call from Bethany, his first words were, “The name that keeps rattling in my brain is Graceanna.”  This was confirmation to me of two things:  1.  this baby was meant to be ours and 2. her name was indeed to be Graceanna, because when Janna called that morning she told me that her interim care family had been calling her Anna Grace.

When we met Graceanna’s foster mom, she told us that almost a year ago they decided to do interim care for Bethany babies, and  Graceanna was their first baby.  Their 3 children were really excited about having a baby in the home too.  Their daughter picked the name for their first baby girl, and for almost a year they had been planning to call her Abigail.  But, after seeing the baby she didn’t think she looked like an Abigail but rather Anna Grace.  So, picking our daughter’s name was easy, unlike the first time around. 

This sweet family spent Graceanna’s first 12 days loving her, and bonding with her, and feeding her in the night, and worrying about her stuffy nose, and just treating her as their own beloved daughter.  So, it meant a lot to them that she still has the name they gave her too.  Incidentally, this family is compromised of a mom and dad with 3 children, all of whom came to their family through Bethany.  Though we didn’t know this family, they are in-laws to some of Steve and my most admired Christian leaders and mentors.  Also, the mom’s name is Leanna.  The only other Leanna I know is my dear friend who was my maid of honor.  So, we had lots of super sweet connections with them.

They gave me lots of sweet pictures from Graceanna’s time with them.  With permission, I’m sharing a picture of Graceanna with Leanna on the day she brought her to us at Bethany.  The love of a foster family was evident in her torrent of tears, and the difficulty with which she said good bye.  Also, we were sitting in the same room receiving our daughter where Leanna had received her own children years ago.  What a special moment for me and all of us.


Graceanna’s middle name, “Catherine” is also very special because it is in memory of my grandma.  I have known for years I wanted to name a daughter after her, because my grandma was one of the most special people to me.  Even though she lived an airplane ride away, I spent a lot of time with her.  As a child, we spent long summer days working on sewing projects, watching baby chics hatch, eating ice cream, mowing the grass, picking strawberries from the garden, and Grandma read to me all the time.  I so loved hearing her tell stories about the dogs she had loved, growing up years, and her years in college.  She had a Master’s degree, by the way.  Grandma was the kind of woman who at 85+ was still using a computer and sending emails.  She mowed her own yard and kept a garden well in to her eighties.  She could run circles around any of us.  Every night she ended her day by writing in her journal and reading a couple chapters in her Bible. 

I’m having a hard time really describing our sepcial relationship and the things I loved about her.  But, maybe that’s what makes a person touch our hearts this way.  It wasn’t just one great thing about her.  It was her whole essence and the integrity in which she lived her life.  I miss her terribly. 

Grandma loved children, and in fact the last couple years before she died, she was still tutoring students in math and other subjects.  Grandma was really looking forward to being a great grandma.  This is a picture of Grandma with Gunnar when he was 4 months old, she was so happy to finally have a great grandchild and to get to meet him.  Grandma died when she was almost 93, September 5, 2006  – within 2 days of Graceanna’s birth 2 years later.

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