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Naming an adopted baby

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
There was a thread on New Posts called "Do you name baby before he/she is born?" It got me thinking. With our bio kids we had a name picked out. Granted DD's changed a week before she was born but we still picked it out beforehand. With DS's name there was only one that we both liked so it was kind of a default.

With some adopted kids, even ones who aren't newborns (international, often) I have heard people say "Help us bring home baby So-and-so" and they obviously have a name all picked out. With foster kids who already have a name I have heard of changing it or changing the middle names at adoption.

With Baby Bear we decided to wait until we met her and her bmom. If there was a name that bmom wanted to use we'd like to honor that if we can. Also since we have no idea what she'll look like we wanted to wait and see if something "fit".

What do you all think about naming adoptive kids before you meet them? Do you think it helps to pick out a name an cling to it as you wait or is it better to choose a name that suits that exact child?
post #2 of 49
I can't remember if you're adopting a newborn or an older child. If you're adopting an older child I'd be loathe to change their name. That is their identity. I'd say start reconsidering changing their names at 6 or 8 months. If they're old enough to answer to their name, don't change it.

If they're a newborn or a very young infant, then do what you did with your first kids. I didn't want to name our babies until they were born to make sure the name fit them. My husband wanted a name to make the baby real to him. We had a girl's name years before I got pregnant. Of course I was having a boy. We came up with his name a couple days before he was born, though he didn't get named until he was 3 days old.

When we adopted a newborn girl, my husband figured we'd just use the name we had for years. It took until 3 days for me to agree to that as I wasn't sure that name fit her. I'd always imagined she'd have dark hair like my husband, not blonde like me.

As an amusing side, one of the names we considered for our son was Nicholas. However, he was born on Christmas day and we felt that name would be cruel so we didn't use it.
post #3 of 49
I think it's the same as any other child...you can pick one early or pick on when you first meet, and it's all okay.

The only big differences would be in open adoptions...the chance to incorporate both families' names or wishes into one name is a meaningful opportunity. And in international adoptions...from what I've read, most adult adoptees greatly value having their first name incorporated into their English name.

We chose to think of a few names before our daughter's referral, but then picked one once we saw her face and knew the sounds and meaning of her Korean name. We wanted to keep her entire Korean name (first and last names), and thought her English name should fit.

In the end we chose Englishname Koreanfirstnames Koreanfamilyname Ourfamilyname. It's long, but it's lovely, and it's hers.
post #4 of 49
Our daughter's birthmother wanted us to name the baby. We would have been open to keeping a different name, but we had names picked out in advance (boy and girl). We did change pronunciations to make more sense in Spanish. (a short vowel vs. long vowel.)

One funny thing is that we named her at birth, and were happy that she wouldn't go through a name change, but her foster mother called her by an Americanized version of her middle name anyway (for example, "Mary" instead of "Maria.") Oh well.
post #5 of 49
I think its probably much much easier to pick out a name ahead of time (or at least a couple names to choose from), rather than try to come up with a name later, that "fits" the child after they are already here.

My oldest son (bio) was named years before he was even conceived. He was never going to be anything other than "Seamus"...we struggled over the middle name but finally settled on a family name from the paternal side. He came out looking every bit a "Seamus" (the red hair was a surprise!)...

With my adopted baby, i knew that if i got to adopt him, that i would change his entire name. I didnt like his name at all. He was never called by that name (mostly i called him "Baby" or "the baby" for months)....but it drove me absolutely *crazy* trying to come up with a name that fit him. I bought one of those giant baby name books, which only made it much much worse, as i started thinking i should name him Balthazar (not kidding! I thought Baz would be a neat nickname)...then i wanted Oscar (Ozzie for short) but i didnt think that would fly here. All of my "favorite names" didnt seem to fit him (eamon, desmond, declan)....and then too is the issue that once the baby is actually here, everyone wants input. When you name beforehand and just announce it, people might *think* "You're naming her Prudence?? Seriously?!?" but *most* people just nod and smile and say "oh, thats a unique name!"....but it is so very hard to name by consensus(not that you would be doing that, but thats how it ended up for me....i'd run a name by my family and get a negative reaction and think "darn, can't name him that." I really wanted to name him Oliver, but my sister, upon me mentioning it said "OLIVER?! You'd change his name from "D" to OLIVER?!?" uh, ok, i guess not. (His middle name IS oliver though! )

I literally would lie awake at night,and toss and turn and wonder what i should name him. One of my sisters gave me a list of the most ridiculous names.

In the end, i didnt even get to name him...my older son orginally was going to have Keegan for a middle name before we settled on his actual middle. I had mentioned that to him a couple of years ago...and he said he really liked it and if he had a son he'd name him Keegan. Well, somehow, that got turned into me really really loving Keegan (which i did, twelve years ago, now, not particularly), and so my sister tells me that i shouldnt worry about what everyone thinks, to just pick the name i love, and lets call him keegan, and my older son was adament we do this, so thats how he became keegan.

And at first, it didnt particularly fit him, but he grew into it.

With my new fd, *if* i do get to adopt her (way way to early to think about), i would keep her first name, as it suits her and i really like it and she knows it. I dont know what her middle name is, but i'd likely add a middle that i love.

One of these days i'm actually going to get to have a kid that *I* get to name all by myself!

So...in your situation, i would personally recommend coming up with two or three names that you really love, and if you want to you could run those by the intended bmom and see if there is one she likes (or really hates, and then you might want to not use it)...or if you want, let her choose the middle name. Or whatever.

But hey, if you want to wait til you have her, and then name her, you could do that. Just remember i warned ya!


Katherine
post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
We're getting a newborn so there is a good chance we'll get to name her. My favorite name in the whole world has not been used yet as Hubby didn't like it back when we named DD. Now he says it is ok so I might finally get to use it.

So, yes, we do have a short list of about four names that we like but like I said, we're waiting till we meet her. Like with DD we are keeping names a secret because I get so tired of hearing people's opinions.

My friend who has six adopted kiddos did not get to name a single one of them. Even the newborn had a name that his bmom picked out and she decided not to change it. I completely agree with her reasons, but it's a bummer she didn't get to pick a name.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
I think its probably much much easier to pick out a name ahead of time (or at least a couple names to choose from), rather than try to come up with a name later, that "fits" the child after they are already here.
This is what we are doing. We are adopting an infant and we have two girl names and two boy names picked out and we are waiting to "try them on" the baby.
post #8 of 49
We will be keeping the child's birthname, even if he or she is an infant.

I have met so many birthmoms who were extremely grieved to learn that their child's name had been changed. Sure, it is an adoptive parents "right" to change the name, but it still hurt immensly. It was one gift they felt they could give their child, and it was taken away.

I have heard similar stories from adoptees. Even those in non-open adoptions. That they felt that part of their identity had been taken away-that one of the only things that their first parents could/did give them had been taken.

Names grow on people. I know that even if my child's name is not my top choice, that as the child grows, I will probably not be able to imagine him/her as any other name!

If you just can't keep the biological name, I would really encourage you (even if it is not an open adoption) to wait, and talk with the expectant parents about names. Perhaps you can create one together, or use their favorite as part of the name. That way you still are able to honor them through and in the naming.

It is totally natural to want to think about names, and we do have a couple tucked away just in case. I just am not going to get attached to them, because I want to be open to what/who comes our way.
post #9 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calee View Post
We will be keeping the child's birthname, even if he or she is an infant.

I have met so many birthmoms who were extremely grieved to learn that their child's name had been changed. Sure, it is an adoptive parents "right" to change the name, but it still hurt immensly. It was one gift they felt they could give their child, and it was taken away.

I have heard similar stories from adoptees. Even those in non-open adoptions. That they felt that part of their identity had been taken away-that one of the only things that their first parents could/did give them had been taken.

Names grow on people. I know that even if my child's name is not my top choice, that as the child grows, I will probably not be able to imagine him/her as any other name!

If you just can't keep the biological name, I would really encourage you (even if it is not an open adoption) to wait, and talk with the expectant parents about names. Perhaps you can create one together, or use their favorite as part of the name. That way you still are able to honor them through and in the naming.

It is totally natural to want to think about names, and we do have a couple tucked away just in case. I just am not going to get attached to them, because I want to be open to what/who comes our way.
That is just how I feel too and one reason we have not chosen a name for our baby. It's really important to me to give the child's birth mom a chance to help name the baby. We will probably have some level of openness in our adoption and I think it will be meaningful for both her and our child to have that connection.
post #10 of 49
I am pretty attached to a few boy's names (interestingly no girl's) and I sort feel that I will know I have found my son by his name. Sorry, a little new-age-hippie-out-there, but there you go.

The sibling group I am adopting all have names that are sort of OK, but spelled wrong. I find this neither cute nor unique - in these cases, it is just inconvenient. But the kids are old enough to be attached to their names, so I don't see this as my decision to make.

My bio-dumplings and I changed our names 10 years ago (long story of domestic violence, international intrigue, and secret histories, worthy of a lifetime movie). At 3 & 4, I let them have some say in the choice. I gave them a few choices, had to veto Spiderman, and ended with names I love. YoungSon fits his name perfectly, and knows it. BigGirl's name is sort of the opposite of her personality, but I think she needs it for balance!

Currently there is a sibling group of 5 boys listed nationally, who all have names I love. I know that is not sufficient reason to adopt. Feel free to remind me of this when I announce that I have sent in my homestudy!
post #11 of 49
We kept the names our kids had already been given, with only minor changes (changes were important in dd's case for safety reasons). I know I've posted on here about this before, so if you are curious, you can search for posts under my name with the subject "names" in this forum.
post #12 of 49
I haven't read the other responses yet. For our DS, he was 13.5 months old at adoption. His Chinese name is one that I honestly and pathetically cannot pronounce correctly despite much effort (I am tone deaf). We chose to keep part of that name. In China surnames go first so we dropped the surname, and smashed the other two together (commonly done) and kept them as DS' first middle name. We added a first name that is meaningful to us and very "American". Then we added my last name as a second middle name and DH's last name as the last name. So, DS has an excess of names, but they are all important to us.

Now that we are contemplating a domestic adoption, I've been wondering how this would play out. I think I'd like to follow a similar pattern, keeping part of the child's name/asking the birthparent(s) to choose a middle name, adding a first name of our choosing and tacking on our last names again.

Catherine
post #13 of 49
I would change the name of an adopted preverbal child, I'm pretty sure, because I would want them to have a typical American Jewish name (not Abraham necessarily, but not Shaniqua either. My bios are James, Sarah and Helen, if that gives you an idea of my parameters). I'd also want to honor somebody in MY family by naming the child after them, as I have with the names of my three bios.

For an older child, I might consider, um, "Jewing up" their birth name instead of changing it completely. So, Dante might become Daniel, even though my first choice for an infant boy is John (to honor a relative). I think I'd be much more flexible with an older child, probably about many many things just STARTING with the name...
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calee View Post
I have met so many birthmoms who were extremely grieved to learn that their child's name had been changed. Sure, it is an adoptive parents "right" to change the name, but it still hurt immensly. It was one gift they felt they could give their child, and it was taken away.

I have heard similar stories from adoptees. Even those in non-open adoptions. That they felt that part of their identity had been taken away-that one of the only things that their first parents could/did give them had been taken.
Unless the adoption happens because of neglect or abuse. I still have the name my Bowel Movement of a Birth Mother gave me, and I do not have the hundreds of dollars it will cost to have it changed, so I have been stuck with it for 20 some years... and I HATE it.

This woman almost killed me due to her careless and stupidity, and my adoptive parents thought I should keep the name I had come to know... (I was a year old), so instead of giving me a new name that meant something to them, I was cursed with keeping the name that meant something to HER. Most foster children want a new name with their new family. Adoption isn't always this beautiful thing where children actually want connection to their biological families. Keep that in mind.
post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by crl View Post
I haven't read the other responses yet. For our DS, he was 13.5 months old at adoption. His Chinese name is one that I honestly and pathetically cannot pronounce correctly despite much effort (I am tone deaf). We chose to keep part of that name. In China surnames go first so we dropped the surname, and smashed the other two together (commonly done) and kept them as DS' first middle name. We added a first name that is meaningful to us and very "American". Then we added my last name as a second middle name and DH's last name as the last name. So, DS has an excess of names, but they are all important to us.

Now that we are contemplating a domestic adoption, I've been wondering how this would play out. I think I'd like to follow a similar pattern, keeping part of the child's name/asking the birthparent(s) to choose a middle name, adding a first name of our choosing and tacking on our last names again.

Catherine
When I was pregnant, I wanted my baby to have my last name. I didn't want to hyphenate my last name with my husband's last name so considered having two middle names, his middle name and my last name. This would be a total of four names. We had a lot of trouble coming up with a boy name. On the rare occasion that we found a name one of us liked, and even rarer that we found a name we both liked, I complicated it by looking at the meaning on http://kabalarians.com/ The name/personality connections were so right on for me, my husband, and our oldest two that I wanted to make sure the baby got a reasonable personality based on his name. Most names we liked equaled things like axe-murderer (not really, that's not one of the personality characteristics, but you get the point.) Finally, a day or two before he was born, we had a pool of 3 possible names. When he was 3 days old, we were down to just one name that we liked with no middle name in sight. We ended up using my last name as a middle name. I like that.

When we were in the adoption process, we didn't even try to figure out a boy's name. Fortunately, we got a girl. We'd had her name--first and middle--for years. Except that left her not getting my last name unless we gave her two middle names. I wrung my hands that she would question why she didn't get my last name. Would she think it had to do with the adoption? I finally decided not to worry about it. It didn't have anything to do with the adoption. It was the name we had chosen for our daughter, no matter how she came into our lives. She got a first and middle name and we just didn't want to give her an unwieldy name by adding my last name in there.

There was a time while we were waiting for a baby that I wondered if we should use the birthmom's last name as the baby's middle name. Then I worried if we made that plan and the last name turned out to be something that we didn't sound right or didn't work with the first name, what would we do. So we just stuck with the names we'd chosen so many years ago.
post #16 of 49
MPJJJ, first, I am sorry that you BM of a birthmother did what she did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MPJJJ View Post
Most foster children want a new name with their new family.
That's not been my experience. The foster kids I've had in my home all had attachments to their names, even when adoption was in their future.

I've definitely known foster kids (not my own) who chose to change their name upon adoption. But it's not my experience that this is universal.

When we adopt our children at a very young age, it's hard because we don't get to ask them what they want and solicit information about their cognitive desires. We also can only guess, as they can, what they might think or feel on the matter 10 or 15 years down the line.

As parents, we carry the responsibility of weighing it all out and making a decision based on the best information we have and our impressions of what our children might prefer over the longterm. There is a lot out there in print and on the internet from folks who were adopted saying they would have prefered to keep their names because those names were wrapped up with their identity. There are a lot of folks out there who say they *really* resent the name changes their adoptive parents made. Plenty of that exact sentiment has been written by folks who were adopted as the result of birthfamily abuse and neglect. That's part of what we weighed when we made our decision.

Of course, if you are making the decision for a child who isn't at a stage where s/he can help with the decision, and even sometimes if your child does help but later outgrows the decision they made, there is always the chance that your child will feel later that you called the shot "wrong." We can just do the best we can do.


P.S. I should note that of course my children's last names were changed. We're a family now! We also changed their middle names. Part of what swayed me toward that was when a social worker said, "choosing names is something parents do." I gave each of them "family" names for middle names, as I wanted to really affirm each child's place in the family. But again, I made only very minor changes to their first names...those were the names they were called from birth, and I felt it important that I honor them by keeping those names. (Although it should be noted that I *sort of* changed ds name...I basically solved a family dispute between maternal and paternal birth family members by picking the name with which we were introduced to him, which also happened to be the name we liked best and the name that he'd been called most consistently since birth by most folks.)
post #17 of 49
I'm so torn. I've had similar experiences as Sierra- I've had conversations with lots of foster parents, adoptive parents, and older children about the name issue and haven't found any consensus about what the children prefer. Some children want to change their names, others don't.

I've always fallen into "the name belongs to the child and shouldn't be changed unless either the child really wants to change all/part of his/her name OR there is a safety concern with keeping the child's name. Well, also if the name is so outrageous that it causes real embarassment.) I haven't been militant about it because I know it's a complex issue but I've always felt that if you are adopting a child older than an infant, the name comes with the child.

If I get to adopt Polliwog (we'll know more on Tuesday,) I'd planned on changing the spelling of her first name to match it's pronunciation (which isn't even close) and giving her a middle name (since as far as I know, it's just an initial.) BUT... it doesn't roll off of my tongue. It's got a "V" in the middle and it's hard for me to say clearly (probably a speech or dental related thing, I'm not sure which.) So, while the adjusted spelling looks beautiful and even sounds nice, I'm not sure I could keep it. After all, a parent should be able to easily say her child's name. So, I may end up moving it to her middle name and giving her a new first name.

If there isn't a TPR appeal, she would probably be just over three when the adoption finalized. I think I could start transitioning her to her new first name after signing the adoption paperwork, though.

My son's adoption finalized two months before his fourth birthday. I kept his first name, although I made it the full name instead of the nickname (like Nicholas instead of Nick.) His middle name stayed the same and he took my last name.
post #18 of 49
I am neutral when it comes to birth names of infants and young toddlers (once a kid is preschool age and up, I think they should get a vote as to whether a change occurs).

But I would encourage people to at least record the birth name (or as much of it as you can find out) or in an open adoption ask the birth mother if there was a name that she associated with her child that she was carrying, and record that.

I know my birth mother named me. The whole family (including extended family) came to visit me and her in the maternity home. It took her 2 weeks to decide to finally sign the paperwork. I am pretty sure that she named me something, and since I don't have contact with her and it seems unlikely that I will, it would be so nice to have that little piece of personal info.

Though I was adopted when closed adoption was the norm and the only encouraged option. So perhaps open-adoption adoptees won't ever have that piece that feels like it's missing (and indeed, many closed-adoption adoptees really couldn't care less about their birth name). I know when ROM shared her naming story, I had to cry because it was such a gift to do that. I also know adoptive parents who perhaps did something a little underhanded by getting a copy of their DFK's original birth certificate and squirreling it away before the amended copy was made. Most of the people I know adopted infants or toddlers placed with them early, so most altered the names somewhat. But at least they kept a record as much as they could. Maybe it will be important to their kids someday, maybe it won't...but better to have something that's not needed than lose track of something forever when it's wanted, KWIM?
post #19 of 49
dd's mamas had a name picked for her (for years) before they ever even met me. one thing i can tell you is that if you do pick a name, i would refrain from calling the unborn/newborn child that untill the babe is actually going home with you. i found it incredibly rude and hurtful when dd's mamas refered to her (when i was still her mama~ she was iside me still) as J, when clearly i was calling her O, the name i chose for her.
post #20 of 49
Both of my children came to us as newborns. In both cases, we thought of names beforehand, but didn't actually choose one until we saw the baby. In ds's case, he was supposedly a girl, but actually a boy, so the names we'd been thinking of didn't fit, and we hadn't even thought about boy names. With dd, we only had a few days' notice that she was coming, so while we had names on the way back burner of our minds, we hadn't been discussing them together or anything. I think it's a good idea to be thinking about potential names, because both of our children's birthmoms immediately wanted to know what names we had in mind. It seemed very important to them to know what we were thinking of naming their babies.

I wouldn't actually choose a name ahead of time, though. I have to see the baby to know who s/he should be. We also like to incorporate birth parent preferences into the naming when possible. We usually do this with the middle name. We either use the child's birth name (if one has been given), a name of one of the birth parents, or some other name that symbolizes the connection with their birth family.
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