What’s in a Name?

Adoptive parents have a lot to think about when choosing a name for their child.
In a day and age when some level of openness in adoption is becoming the norm (as opposed to the exception), we find that many Adoption STAR families are compassionate and deliberate in the naming of their children. This is expressed in many different ways, such as:

  • Keeping some or all of the child’s birth name;
    Asking the birth parent(s) for input when it comes to naming the baby;
  • Choosing a name that is representative of the child’s culture, ethnicity, race, or in the case of international adoption, culture of origin.
  • While this may seem straightforward and logical to some, it’s important to remember that such sensitivity and thoughtful consideration wasn’t typical. Thank goodness things have progressed so positively on this front, as the choice of name is a bigger decision than one might realize – especially from the adult adoptee’s perspective.

Adoption professional and international adoptee Susan Soon-keum Cox says that, “While it is the birthright of every child to have a family, every child is also entitled to acknowledge the ethnicity to which he or she is born. I believe parents should acknowledge the significance of the child’s birth culture and show genuine respect and honest appreciation for it. All children react individually, and of course, adopted children are not exception. They will demonstrate a wide range of responses to adoption issues. What parents can do is affirm and encourage their child to feel good about themselves and their birth heritage.”

Cox seems to appreciate the fact that is it much more commonplace to preserve some or all of an adopted child’s birth name, and goes on to say that, “Such a decision is an important recognition that each child comes to the family with a previous identity, and that identity is part of the child forever, whether it is acknowledged or not.”