Child's Name Post Adoption

I was having a discussion with a friend about naming a child after adoption.  Below are a few questions that I'm interested in the answers to after our conversation.  And these are directed at adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents or anyone else who has an opinion or insight.  I'm really curious about every side of the equation with this.  And if this matter, this was discussed as related to adopting from foster care so the child would not be newborn when adoption was finalized.

1.  Do you think a child should/could be renamed after adoption by their adoptive parents?
2.  Do you think some element of the child's birth name should be kept? Or is it okay for the child to have a totally new name (no components of their birth name)?
3.  How would you/do you explain the new name to the child when they are old enough to understand?
4.  If no components of the birth name are used, do you think that is "erasing" the connection/history to the birth family?  Or do you worry the child will view it that way?
5.  Should the adoptive parents keep part of the birth name for this connection to the birth family if they don't truly love that component of the birth name?

I realize these are some load questions and I apologize if they are worded poorly.  I hope you understand what I'm trying to ask.

Re: Child's Name Post Adoption

  • I think it really needs to be on a case-by-case basis. A friend of mine was in that county in NJ where little Adolph Hitler Lastname was in foster care. That child would get a name change. If the child has a unique name that would make them easily searchable/findable, and there was an issue with unstable birthparents, that child would get a name change.
    I have seen anything from a completely new name, to moving the child's FN to the MN position, keeping their FN and putting an adoptive family name in the MN spot, letting the child choose a new name (or new MN), etc.
  • Personally, I would only rename an older child's first name if their name was somehow offensive or inappropriate in their new culture (as in the example given by Dr. L). So much of our identity is wrapped up in our names, and so much else is changing in their lives, I felt it was important to them to understand that their past is still part of them and who they are.  They didn't have to give up that original person to enter our family.

    We did let the boys choose new middle names, since they had no attachment to their middle names (or didn't have one at all), and those names can serve as "Americanized" names if our children ever choose to use them in the future.  I doubt they will.  They clearly identify completely with their first names, regardless of their desire to blend in with their new culture.

    We did change their last names to match ours, so our whole family has one name in common.  We thought that would help them identify as a true and full member of our family.

    I have no qualms about renaming infants or children who do not identify with their birth names.
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  • It depends on the child...I'm a birth mother and an adoptee. I was born to a woman who named me Haley rose-I'm now Emily Louise. Would I like to have the name I was given at birth sometimes? Yes, but I also like my name.
    I think if the child is young enough not to remember it then that would be ok, or if the name was offensive or put the child in danger in any way. However if this was not a foster care situation and you were adopting a newborn I think it would be appropriate and understanding of you to maybe pick out the name with the birthmother, or with her in mind. When I placed my little girl, karly, (she was originally thought to be a little boy) her parents talked to me and said that they would like to honor the name that I had chooses before I decided to place her. So we went with Daniel Joseph until we found out at 33 weeks that he was a she and we picked a name together. I picked the middle and they choose the first :) it meant so much to me to be able to name her with them. It made me feel so much more involved in our open adoption.
  • fredalina said:
    Our LO was a newborn when she came into care. Her name was one that feels like a stereotype to me, and not one we fit or particularly care for. Like, um, at the risk of offending people, I live in the south and have relatives with very "redneck" type names. For example i have an uncle named Darrel Dwayne. Only hers wasn't really redneck. I'm not kidding when I say that every state worker asked us if we would change it if we got to adopt. Every one! At 6 months her worker finally said, "Go ahead and pick a name and start using it at home." We had already picked one but really didn't use it at all until then. We still referred to her as the birth name at daycare and out in public until she was a year old, TPR had been done, our petition to adopt had been granted, and we had a court date. We switched her daycare then so we all started using her new name at that time. We chose a new first and middle and kept her old middle as a second middle name. I don't feel it was necessary but I like being able to tell her that mommy picked her first name, daddy picked her middle name, and her birthmother picked her second middle name. She has not and will not see her birthmother since 2 days old unless she chooses to search as an adult. Also, her birth mom refused to name her for 2 straight days until it was time to check out, so I don't feel like it was a name her birthmother had a huge emotional tie to, kwim?
    Thank you so much for sharing this story!  This is so similiar to my friend's situation.  The child's given name also fits a stereotype that she doesn't want to continue, but struggles with cutting that family tie.  I really like your explanation of the three names!  I'm going to see if that works for my friend- great solution!
  • fredalina said:
    Also, her birth mom refused to name her for 2 straight days until it was time to check out, so I don't feel like it was a name her birthmother had a huge emotional tie to, kwim?

    This was similar to us. DD's birthmom chose a name for her in the hospital, but only so her BC wouldn't say Baby Girl Lastname. It was a pretty name, but not something that we had in mind, and DD's birthmom was totally fine with us changing it to something completely different (domestic infant adoption, so a slightly different scenario).
  • I am an adoptee and my name was completely changed at adoption. Honestly, I have no idea what my birth name was. I have never cared to find out. I LOVE the fact that my parents picked out my name. I was named for a favorite aunt. To this day, I love that I was given a family name.

    My two boys' names had to be changed for safety reasons. I kept parts of one of their names and chose an entirely new name for the other. If they have questions when they are older, I will explain it to them in a truthful way. Hopefully, they will be fine with it. (On a side note, I did keep copies of their first birth certificates in case they want them some day.)

    Mother of two wonderful boys! Blessed through adoption.

  • I don't know if this helps, but here's my experience I had as a birthmother :) After I met her parents and decided (immediately!) that they were "the ones," in our second meeting they brought up the name situation. They asked if I'd thought about anything that I wanted to name her, and honestly, it's hadn't even crossed my mind. They told me the name they had picked out for her, and I was like, "Pretty! Sounds good!" I never felt compelled to choose my own name for her, because in my mind she was never "mine." Later on, they ended up adding an additional middle name for her -- Ellen -- which is my middle name and the first name of adoptive mom's sister. I thought that was a sweet gesture :) That being said, with their first adopted daughter, they asked her birth mother whether she wanted to use a certain name. She said "Azalea," which they weren't really THAT fond of. But they ended up using it for her middle name instead. That's more generous than I would have been with a name I didn't like :) So, my point is that not all birth mothers have any specific ideas/expectations of names in the first place :)

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    Unplanned pregnancy July 2005; EDD 3/27/06; birthdaughter born 3/15/06 (38w2d) (placed for adoption).
    TTC since December 2012, BFP 6/25/13. EDD 3/2/14. Baby Elias born 2/21/14 (38w5d)!
  • well we have  a very different situation our bm called our room in the hospital (we had a room so we could care for our son) and she put the name down that we wanted and even put our last name
  • we told the birth parent the name we liked best for the kid, and they liked it. We asked them to pick the middle name, they did, and we liked it. We left the child's birth last name as a second middle name and gave our last name.
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