1. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    Naming orphans?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lorraine Johnson, Sep 7, 2013.

    So was thinking of starting a story with one of the characters being an orphan (in her twenties now). She was never adopted and shipped through foster home to foster home throughout her life, feeling like dirty laundry.

    Does anyone know where she might get her last name? I figure first names can just be appointed, but is there any pattern to giving them a last name? I was thinking she was one of those babies left on the doorstep of a church or a fire station (haven't decided yet, very early plotting stages).

    Also, does anyone have any good young, male, French names to suggest?
     
  2. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Depends on what you mean by a good name. Are you looking, common, rare, interesting or something in between, does it have to fit the character's personality? And when you say French, do you mean from French origins or a common name in France.

    Regardless I don't know anything off the top of my head but you could either try googling a baby name site and finding something that fits or use a random name generator.
     
  3. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    Not sure really, I just don't know any French names other than Pierre, Jacques and Jean. Something common I guess
     
  4. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Try doing a quick google search, I don't know what will fit your character but a few that stood out were Adrien, Alain, Antoine, Blaise, and that's just in the first 20 or so that I found.
     
  5. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    Blaise sounds nice.
     
  6. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    Glad I was able to help :)
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know how the child welfare system works in France, specifically, but I can say that if the child is only 20 (meaning your book takes place over the last 20 years), in most western nations, it would have been extremely rare for a baby/toddler to languish unadopted by a family. Where the kids usually start going from foster home to foster home is when they are older, particularly when they are teens (and therefore they already have names).

    As far as the last name, again, I don't know about France, but I know in many countries babies will all be given the last name of, perhaps an orphanage or an orphanage director, or sometimes a province or some geographical landmark or area where they were found or first entered care. Generally, some administrator who is in charge of getting documents (such as a birth certificate) would just pick a name. But the most likely situation would be that some family intended to adopt or care for this child, particularly if she were an infant, so they would probably give her their last name. (Maybe you have this family die or something when she is a child -- 5 or 6? I'm sorry to be stuck on this point, but it just strikes me as so unlikely for a baby to languish -- in the U.S. the best guess of families wanting to adopt a baby to available babies is 100:1. And whenever there is some sort of news story about a baby being found or the lone survivor of some tragedy, people start calling and saying they want to adopt the baby. So in most well-off, industrialized nations, there is no shortage of people who want to take care of a baby.)

    In this situation, you have some latitude as far as making up this piece of info. But again, beware that there could be some quirk in France in particular, so research that as best you can.
     
  8. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    She's not French, my other character is. Yea, if no one can answer my question, I'm guessing I just go with dead parents from a young age.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel like both of your questions have been answered -- what is lacking in the responses you've received? As far as French names, the response about googling "French names" or "French last names" or "French first names" is the best option, and should give you all you need.

    It is likely there isn't anyone on here with direct, specific knowledge and experience with the French child welfare system, in particular. So you would have to do some research on that. But what is done in other countries can be enlightening as far as what might happen in France. If the character who was in care did not grow up in France, you should find out what generally would happen in whatever country she is from.

    You could very well have the girls' parents die when she is very young, and she could informally bounce around between a few relatives -- there could be relatives who didn't like her parents, or for whatever reason, didn't view her fully as their child, or couldn't or wouldn't care for her as much as parents might. If you want her to enter foster care at a later age, you could still have that happen.
     
  10. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    That's an idea, going between relatives - kind of Harry Potter under the stairs type of love. Still building up the back story in my mind but I do need her to feel like she's been 'unwanted' all her life. Thank you.
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're welcome. I recently read a brief account of a young man whose father had died when he was a baby and his mother died a few years later. He was being cared for by relatives, I think possibly including a grandmother who then died (I might be remembering incorrectly). He was living with some aunts and cousins. At some point, some family member from another state came and picked up all of the children and everyone in the family moved, except this boy, who was 11 at the time. He somehow had slipped through the cracks and no one was aware he was living on his own. (I don't know how this happened.) He was adopted as an adult, in his 20s by a woman who had dedicated her life to taking care of kids who aged out of the foster care system. But I can't even imagine an 11 year old being abandoned like that. He has a very difficult time forming close relationships.

    This illustrates that blood relatives aren't always the best people to care for a child. The genetic relative thing is a common thread in the world of caring for children. But just because they are related doesn't mean they will have the best interests of the child as any sort of priority.
     

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