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Responses from Social Media
On Facebook, we asked birth and adoptive parents how they chose their children’s names. In many cases naming an adopted baby is a collaborative process between birth family and adoptive family.
Here are some of the responses we received from a birth mom and adoptive moms:
Jennifer: As a birthmom I was very pleased that my adoptive families asked for my input as far as names and that was so thoughtfully!! Also happy 9th bday to baby girl Norah!!!
Alyssa: Our daughter’s birth mom had two names picked out for her to be used as her middle names. When we were called and told she was born, and we needed to pick a first name ASAP, I just blurted out Makena. It was the first thing that popped in my head, and had come from a baby book we’d gone through a few days prior. We looked it up again that night and the meaning was “gift from the heart,” which is more than appropriate.
Emily: Both of our sons have some part of their birth father’s name in their middle name. That happened sort of accidentally on purpose!
Amanda: We really wanted to have our son’s middle name have some connection with where he came from, but we were told we had to pick a name so they could get the paperwork ready and at that point, his birth mom hadn’t told anyone any preferences she had for names, or at least no one had told our STAR worker. He was born in Cincinnati so we were trying to come up with some connection to that city at least. My friend’s husband finally pointed out that Xavier University is right near the hospital where my son was born. Xavier was a name we had liked already and we both work in higher education, so that became his middle name. Now, after the fact, we could also have gone with Sam since it was part of the nickname of the hospital where he was born, and what we found out right after that I wish I had known, though, was that his birth mom’s other children all have names that start with “L.” We could have at least kept that tradition for her. And THEN after we finalized we received a copy of his original birth certificate and found out that she had picked a name for him, which was not what we had been told originally. I love his name and I’m very happy with it, but it does break my heart that we weren’t able to make it even more personal.
Rachel: We chose our daughters’ first names, and asked out birthmom to choose middle names. She chose beautiful names, and we ended up with Amelia Gabrielle and Olivia Lillian.
Belinda: Our first son was adopted through foster care so we kept his first name and changed his middle name to Samuel which means “asked of God”. With our second son we had looked through baby books and had chosen the name Malachi which means “angel or messenger”. His birth parents gave him an Indian name but we wanted to change it. When we met his birth parents, his birth mom asked me what we were going to name him and I told her Malachi and she said that’s a book in the bible? I said, yes and told her it was a prophet in the last book of the Old Testament and what it meant. She got a big smile on her face and I knew that it gave her comfort.
Sarah: Our daughter’s birthmom asked if we would keep the name she chose because it represented both of her parents who passed away. We did & only changed the middle name she had MaryRae Sienna now has a part of both her birth & adoptive families.
Meghann: Our children each have three names – one from my family, one from my husband’s family, and one from their first mother. I actually raised the question of naming with D when we spoke before Julia was born; I told her we wanted to honor her by using a name she chose along with the two we had chosen. When Asher was born, she gave us two names she liked & asked if we would use one of them as a middle name, so we did.
Dana: We decide to name our son Jacob (from the bible) Karl (after my husband’s grandfather). Then we found out that our Birthmom named him Brandon and wanted us to use his name somehow. So we used it as his middle name and I think it sounds great-Jacob Brandon, and now he has a great story to go with it.
Rachel: We chose our daughters’ first names, and asked our birthmom to choose middle names. She chose beautiful names, and we ended up with Amelia Gabrielle and Olivia Lillian.
Kristen: Myles was born as Allen Wiliams, and William is a family name of Emily’s. We spoke with his biomom and he is now Myles Allen William. We named the little one Ezra Tillman (Tillman is his biodads name). We were told the hospital was calling him baby boy lake, but in actuality the name Tyrone was connected to him. We didn’t know this until much later, it we would have kept it! When we asked his biomom about Ezra Tillman she was very pleased. DeJuan obviously has his name, but chose to change it at his adoption finalization. He is now DeJuan Minaj Koller.
Jennifer V.: Our first daughters name was always going be Isabella but then when I heard her Birth mothers’ name was Lisa which is in the name already, made it more special.
There are legal considerations when naming an adopted child which differ between domestic and international adoptions. Here is a list of legal considerations from the online magazine AdoptiveFamilies
Denise Seidelman, an adoption attorney in Westchester, New York, sees two common situations in domestic adoptions:
1. A birthmother names the child, and that name appears on the birth certificate. In some cases, the birthmother and adoptive parents-to-be agree on the child’s name by the time of birth.
2. A birthmother does not name the child, in which case the birth certificate says “Baby Girl” or “Baby Boy.” The adoption petition refers to the child as such.
The judge’s adoption decree will include a change to the name chosen by the adoptive parents (“and the child shall henceforth be known as…”).
Until finalization, domestic adopters can’t get passports or Social Security numbers in their child’s name. After finalization, the original birth certificate is amended to reflect the child’s new legal name.
Peter Wiernicki, an adoption attorney in Washington, D.C., says that foreign adoption decrees usually include a legal name change. Two issues that may arise:
1. The child’s English name may be misspelled on the adoption decree and/or the alien registration card. Adopting parents should check the spelling of their child’s name on all documents.
2. In Latin-American countries, courts may identify the child with the adoptive mother’s, rather than the adoptive father’s, last name, in keeping with local custom.
In a case of incorrect or inconsistent spelling or incorrect last name, parents can petition the court in their state for a name change and may correct the child’s name as part of a U.S. re-adoption proceeding.