Thursday, September 17, 2015

Adoption Talk Link-Up: Names

Parents-by-adoption often have a lot of questions about naming their child:
  • Is it ok to change the child's birth name if we don't like it?
  • Is it ok to change the child's birth name if the name doesn't fit the child?
  • Is it ok to change a hard-to-pronounce name?
  • Should we offer to co-name the child with the child's biological parents?
  • Is it ok to give a child we adopt a family name or name the child after dad making the son a "junior"?
  • Is it ok to merge the child's birth name and the name we like?
  • What if we give the child two middle names?
  • What if teachers struggle to pronounce our child's name?
  • What if our child gets made fun of by peers for his or her name?
  • What if the expectant parents will only choose a family who will allow the expectant parents to name the child?
  • Does the child's name need to be common in his or her racial culture? 
These dilemmas can be solved, I think, by asking oneself a single question:
  • What will most benefit and potentially please my child?
Every adoptee and adoption situation is different, but ultimately what should matter most is the child and what will work for him or her.   If you are uncertain what would best benefit your child in terms of names, I suggest asking some adult adoptees what their opinions and experiences are.

For more on naming the child you adopt, check out pages 42-43 of my first book Come Rain or Come Shine:  A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children.  


  1. So true, the child's best interest should always be #1 concern in any adoption related parenting decision. I find I don't always know what that is but we do our best.

  2. Yes! Focusing on what will be best for the child IS the most important idea...I love the way you wrote this post and led up to this statement.


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