Choosing a name for your baby is a daunting task. In adoption, you may find it is even more difficult than you imagined. The reason is that there are additional things to keep in mind that relate to the adoption that some adoptive parents may not have previously known about or considered. Naming your adopted baby offers some beautiful opportunities to weave parts of their adoption story into their name. Here are three things to consider:
1. Make a Connection to Your Child’s Birth Family
Acknowledging the birth mother (or her family) in the baby’s name is a way to honor her amazing act of love and sacrifice. She has chosen you to become the parents of her baby because she cannot parent at this time, and she believes you can provide the life her child deserves.
Upon delivery, the birth mother will give her baby a name. Once the adoption is final, you will receive a birth certificate with your names listed as parents and the name you choose for your child inserted. You might consider using the name the birth mother chose as the first or middle name for your child. You could even have two middle names. Some families have even chosen to incorporate the birth mother’s name!
If you have been matched before delivery, you may consider discussing names with the birth mother. There may be a name that you all love, which can be a gift to the birth mother and your child. It could mean a lot to your child as they grow to know that their name was chosen by both the birth and adoptive parents.
Jessica and Michael were thrilled when Erica chose them to adopt her baby. She was young and did not feel she could parent a baby now, which was a tough decision for her. She had planned on naming her first baby Joshua after her father, who had passed away. After she tearfully shared this story, Jessica and Michael decided they loved the name and felt it would be a great way to show their son the love and connection they had with his birth mother as he grew.
2. Keep an Open Mind
Ever since you were young and dreamed of having your own family, you knew exactly what names you would give your children. You told your spouse when you got married what your kids’ names would be and were sure you would stick to it. It was your dream, after all.
These things are not written in stone, however. I knew a couple who had a name all picked out for their child. But, when he was born, they both looked at each other and knew that was not his name.
Be open to making adjustments when naming your adopted baby. That long-ago chosen name may not suit your baby after all. Or, the birth mother may really not care for the name you have chosen. While the child’s name is certainly up to you, listening to the birth mother’s thoughts and considering them is kind. Perhaps you could arrange the name differently? Make the first name a middle name or vice versa. As a parent, you will need to master compromise and be flexible, so now is a good time to start.
3. Make it Meaningful
In our world, where everything is Googled, checking the meaning of the name you are choosing for your child is a good idea. A friend of mine was looking for a unique name for her baby boy that was on the way. She saw the name “Brone” on a list and loved it. I recommended she Google the meaning, and “sadness” came up. Not ideal. Not that the meaning that comes up from a distant language should be the deciding factor, but you might want to consider it.
This search can be fun. You can look up the meaning of names or even look for a meaning and see what names come up. For instance, if you love the meaning of strong for your baby, a baby name search will show several boy’s names like Aaron, and several girl’s names, like Philomena.
It’s quite common for Christian parents to choose names like Matthew, Jonathan, or Ian, all meaning “gift of God.” Or names that characterize their adoption journey, like Faith or Hope. This is an opportunity to make that name meaningful, either by its definition, heritage, or the meaning that you have placed on it.
Naming Your Adopted Baby
Deciding on a name for your adopted baby a name is exciting, yet it can seem a little confusing and overwhelming. Take your time. It is fun for a child to hear the story of how you came up with their name. So, put a lot of thought into it and do some research as well. Consider the birth parents and their wishes, and once you have thought about all of your options, you will come up with the perfect name for your perfect baby.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.