A name is an important thing because it carries meaning and memory — it holds identity. As a mother considering adoption, you may be wondering if you give your baby up for adoption, do you name it?
Many people may not understand what you know to be true, which is that you are choosing adoption out of love. Because of that love, you may want to name your baby. You may have a family name in mind or just want the opportunity to leave a little bit of your own imprint on the baby’s life before they are placed with their adoptive family. Either way, it’s good that you are asking the question.
There are several different ways that naming the baby can happen in adoption. How this happens for you will depend on your unique circumstances. There are a couple of important factors and scenarios to consider, so let’s dive in.
IF YOU GIVE YOUR BABY UP FOR ADOPTION, DO YOU NAME IT?
Yes, you always have the opportunity to name your baby when you place him or her for adoption. When you choose adoption, you create a plan with the help of an adoption specialist that includes your preferences for the hospital stay. This is when you’ll be able to name the baby if you’d like to.
“The time had come for me to name my baby. It was difficult because I felt if I named him, he would no longer belong to the adoptive family. I chose Isaiah Teddy,” said Sara, a birth mother who named her baby.
After you give birth, someone at the hospital will bring the birth certificate to you to fill out. You can put the name you want for your baby on this birth certificate. If you have any questions about how this works, you should be able to ask your adoption specialist or adoption attorney.
ONCE YOU GIVE YOUR CHILD UP FOR ADOPTION, CAN THE OTHER PERSON CHANGE THEIR NAME?
Yes, the adoptive parents can choose a new name for the baby. This may not be what you wanted to hear, but it is how the process works. In adoption, there are two birth certificates:
- The original birth certificate
- The amended birth certificate
The original birth certificate lists the birth parent(s) and the baby’s name. The amended birth certificate lists the adoptive parents’ names and the baby’s new name if they decide to change the name.
When filling out your baby’s original birth certificate, you can include a name for him or her if you want to. This can be a name chosen by the adoptive parents, a name you choose together, or a name you choose yourself. The adoptive family will want to be respectful of your name choice, and may happily keep the name you choose.
When you sign your adoption paperwork, you’re voluntarily terminating your legal parental rights and placing your child with their parents. Several months after placement occurs, the adoptive family goes through a process called adoption finalization. At that point, they will appear before a judge to receive a final decree of adoption. When a family receives their final decree of adoption, they are given an amended birth certificate. This new certificate will list the adoptive parents as the parents, and they do have the opportunity to change the baby’s name if they choose to. Some families do change the name, while others do not. It all depends on the adoptive family you choose and what their preferences are.
To avoid hurt feelings or confusion, it’s always best to discuss these things together with the adoptive parents and your adoption specialist as soon as possible, preferably early in your adoption planning process.
CAN I STILL GIVE MY BABY UP FOR ADOPTION AND HAVE AN OPEN ADOPTION IF I ALREADY NAMED THE BABY?
Open adoption is a great way to work out naming the baby together with adoptive parents. It may come as a surprise to learn this: a large majority of domestic infant adoptions are at least semi-open. This means there can be contact between the prospective birth mother and adoptive family both before and after the adoption.
The level of openness in your adoption all depends on what you want. Using open adoption to establish a trusting relationship with the adoptive parents during pre-placement can be beneficial to the adoption in many ways. One of those ways is using this time to work out naming the baby. You may be able to express how important it is to you that the baby keep the name you give, or you may be able to hear about a name the adoptive parents have picked that is very special to them. You could also be able to reach a compromise that works well for everyone, like using the name you have chosen as the child’s middle name.
Every adoption is unique, as is every open adoption relationship. How this plays out will depend on your situation and the adoptive family who will be placed with your baby. Pre-placement contact in an open adoption can be a great time to work out naming.
HELP WITH NAMING THE BABY
Your question, “Whenever you give a baby up for adoption, do you decide to name it?” could be followed with a second question, “How do I choose a name?”
There are so many different ways to go about naming a baby. You could choose a family name to pass on heritage, a biblical name if you are a person of faith, or simply a name that you like the sound of. Parents, an online magazine, has put together a guide to picking the perfect baby name, and The Today Show has a great blog about a few things to watch out for when picking a name.
To get more helpful information and support, get connected with an adoption professional today.