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Naming Your Adopted Child

Earlier today we asked a question on our facebook page (click to view thread): 

“Did you keep your child's given name? Why or why not? If you chose your child's name, what does it mean?”

There was a lot of feedback on this issue – thanks to everyone that gave input. The discussion was not only interesting to read, but helpful to many people who are still in process and haven't yet decided if they'll keep the given name or choose a new name for their child. From the variety of responses, it's clear that there is no one right or wrong path when it comes to naming. Through a child's name, you can honor your child's heritage and celebrate their new place in your family. Here are some takeaways from this discussion:

Keeping your child's given name - Many parents choose to keep the name their child was given at birth to honor their birth family and cultural heritage. This can also help with adjustment, especially with older children who are used to their name. Deborah commented, “Yes we kept it. Her name IS her story. Terefech means: she has been saved, or found alive!!”

Modifying your child's given name – some parents will take a practical approach if the name is difficult to pronounce. Or, you might keep the given name as a middle name to let the child have the option of going by it when he/she is old enough to decide. Kristin said, “We love our son's given name but changed the spelling from Yeferson (Honduras) to Jefferson.”

Using the given name as a middle name – If a family wishes to choose an American name, many opt to use the given name as a middle name. Karen took the translated meaning of her daughter's given name (Vera) as a middle name, Faith. 

Choosing a family name – some commentors chose a grandparent's name as a new first or middle name. Your adopted child now shares your family lineage, and this is a great way to make them feel connected to it! 

Letting a child choose - some parents who adopted an older child simply ask the child what they would like to be called. Fiona shared that her older children insisted on new names that began with the “k” sound, to fit in with the siblings. Heather sent her daughter, 12 at the time, a list of four names they liked and why they liked them, to let their choose. 

Choosing a new name - Kim commented that “every child deserves to have a name given to her by her parents.” Biological or not, choosing a name that is meaningful to you will be a part of the child's identity as your son or daughter. Some parents or children may prefer to change a name that is connected to difficult memories of an orphanage. 

Ali's comment is a great summary of this topic: “We wanted to give our son a name that connected him to his new future, but also keep the name that connected him to his past.” James pointed out that God changed the names of people in the Bible at times of significant change in their life. Reading through the facebook thread, it is amazing to hear each and every story behind your children's names. Please join the discussion! 


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