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Naming in Adoption: Who Names the Baby?

A name is an important thing. It’s not like any other word. 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. Of course you want to name your baby, because that name is meaningful and important. 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 an adoption. How this happens for you will depend on your unique circumstances. There are a couple 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.

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.

After placement occurs, the adoptive family goes through a process called adoption finalization. During this time, which usually lasts for about six months directly following placement, the adoptive family will go through a series of post-placement visits to make sure everyone is adjusting well to the adoption. After this, they will appear before a judge to receive a final decree of adoption.

When a family receives their final decree of adoption, they will request 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 chose 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.

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 placement.

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. The online magazine Parents 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.

There are plenty of other great resources to help you find the right name for your baby, too.