Its happened! You have an adoption day set! You’re finally going to get to adopt your sweet child that you have been taking care of for the last few months/years. You call your lawyer to start filling out the last of the paperwork and they ask what will your child’s name be?
Naming a child is a big decision made even more complicated when adopting, especially when you’re adopting through foster care. Regardless of the situation it is best to proceed with caution as it could be a sensitive subject for the kids and if you are telling the birth family you can bet it will be a sensitive subject for some of them. The reality is that there are good reasons to change a child’s name as well as good reasons not to change a child’s name. The choice is ultimately yours because you are going to be the parents now. If you decide to change your child’s name here are some tips about how to proceed and how to your kiddo used to their new name.
Consider the pros and cons.
There are good and bad things about changing a kids name.
Let me rattle some of for you. Good reasons to change your kiddos name: fresh start for kids, helps keep them safe if bio parents are crazy/dangerous, the bio parents/family need a clear message that they are not the parents making decisions for this child any more (sometimes its necessary), the name will fit with the rest of the family, gives the kids a person to look up to, their bio parents named them Sparkle and not only do you cringe when you call it out at the playground but you also want them to get a job other then stripper or magician’s assistant when they’re older. Seriously though, I’ve seen the name Sparkle used.
Moving onto reasons NOT to change your child’s name: they’ve had that name for 7, 10, 15 years and don’t want to change it, it is after a relative that they love, they feel like they will be losing part of themselves if they change it. Not all kids feel this way about their names, but some do.
Talk to your kids about it.
Get their opinion about it. If your kids are old enough ask them if there are names they would like you to consider and ask them what they think about the names you have been thinking of. I know a lady whose daughter wanted to be named Ariel. As I recall she was about seven, into the little mermaid and in the end it might have been used as a middle name. We asked Mr.H what names he liked and told him a little about the ones we were thinking of. He picked the one that ended up being the right one. If your child wants to keep one or two of his names there are things you can do. I have heard of people switching the last name to the middle name, the middle to the first or the first to the middle and then throwing in a new name and last name. You could even use their first and last name as their middle name with a hyphen in the middle. The important thing is that if your kid has an opinion on it that you let that weigh in on your your decision.
Start thinking about it early.
If you know there is no kinship(or you are the kinship), it is getting close to the court date where they will be terminating parental rights and you know you are the states first plan for your kiddos start considering what names are going to be best for your kiddos. Don’t tell them yet but gather your thoughts. After parental rights have been severed start talking to your kids about it if they are at an age to have an opinion on the matter. Yes, when you turn in the petition to adopt you have to put what your child’s new name will be, but you can amend that later with little effort, or so my lawyer told me.
Prepare your kids early.
When you know their name will be changing tell them (after they are legally free for adoption). Let them get used the idea and have as much time as possible for the idea of the new name to set in. Then their is getting them to respond to their new name. Our caseworker told us a trick and it had Mr.H responding to his new name in no time. The trick is this: once you know what your kiddos new first name will be add it to their old first name. So if your kiddos name is currently Richard and its going to be Ben you call him Richard Ben. This way they connect the new name as part of their name. Once the adoption is complete you start calling them by their new name, in this example Ben. She also said not to use the kiddo’s new name in any negative way before it was final and to make an extra effort to use it as frequently and as part of praise. IE. “Way to go Richard Ben.”
Be ok if you have to wait.
I know this can be hard. If your birth parent(s) appeal it could take over a year (ours did). However even if the kids are legally free please be prudent by waiting to start calling your child solely by their new name until that adoption is final. I met a gal who was raised in foster care. She came into care at less then two years old and then became legally free. For whatever reason she was then moved from home to home. Each home gave her a new name. It seemed they all thought she was going to stay with them so they renamed her right away. By the time she aged out of the system she had had around ten different names. So please wait. I know its hard. I know you are dying to start calling your little one the name you have put so much time and effort into choosing, but just in case there is a last minute, out of nowhere, change in plans, wait.
Pray about it.
Pray about it throughout the process, the beginning middle and end. It will help you know what your kiddos need and how to talk to them about it. My husband was not a fan of our son’s name until we prayed about it. You see my husband doesn’t like the idea of naming your child after people. He prefers names that no one(or very few) people have ever had. Sometimes that’s good, but that wasn’t what our son needed. We didn’t know it at the time but Mr.H strives to be like the people he was named after. We picked some amazing people to name him after and it is serving him well. I am even more thankful that we changed his name now because he had shared a name with a bio relative, who we wish well, but do NOT want Mr.H to emulate.
Hopefully these tips have helped you as you make one of the many decisions that will affect your child for the rest of their life. If you want some more thoughts on naming your kiddo there is a link up over at Joyful Journey, No Bohns About It, Our Journey to You, Ripped Jeans & Bifocals, Starfish Confidential and White Sugar, Brown Sugar. You can also link up if you have a post about names.
Have a g,day!