Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Naming Game

What a hot topic in open adoption!

Heather posted the topic for the Open Adoption Roundtable #6. The question was this: Write about names/naming and open adoption.

It is a hot topic in the adoption world for good reason. What parent doesn't want to name their child? Not many, for sure. It's something we tend to take for granted, that we will be able to name our child. We named Jack. He is our biological child. Expectant parents are giving their biological child up for adoption. So, who has the naming priviledge? This is something that not too many people agree upon. Heck, if we're being honest, I'm not even sure that I can come to a conclusion with how I feel about it myself. So I will just spill to you how I feel about it and the things that go through my mind when I think about this.

Our future child's parents could stipulate when looking for adoptive parents for their child that their name be the name used for their child. They could decide that they don't want to name their child for many reasons, they don't want to have that attachment, they may think that if they don't name them, they won't feel as bonded and thus won't be as hurt when that child is no longer with them. Or, as Ginger stated on her blog about this topic
"I was terrified that insisting on the naming issue, or even giving my opinion on the naming issue would chase away the parents I wanted...and so with much regret, I gave that up."

No joke, that statement gripped me. Oh my God. How awful to feel like you couldn't give the slightest bit of input or feel a certain way about a name because you wanted a set of parents for your child so badly. I try really hard to see "the other side". If I am honest, I sat here with tears streaming down my face. These moms who are contemplating adoption and making a plan for their child have enough other stressors and things to think about without having this worry on their minds as well.

A lot of my coworkers and friends have said, "Well, it will be your child, you should get to name them." For us, it's just not that simple. Some adopted children later feel like they lost a connection to their first family when their name was changed. They wonder if they had a name before they were adopted. What was it? Why did my parents change it? I stated in a previous post that in an ideal world, our child's first parents would want to at least give us some input into a name. To be completely honest, if a parent was dead set on a name and the stipulation was that we had to keep that name, and we hated it, I think we would feel like we had to either honor their wishes with the name, or move on and wait for another child and family to come along. If we liked the name, it wouldn't be an issue. But there are just some names we can't get with. Where I work, we see our fair share of names, and to be completely honest, some are downright hideous! I would feel awful turning away from a potential match because of a name. But, I would feel even worse asking that first mom to give up something that meant so much to her for her child.

We have name ideas of course. Names we had thought of for the child we thought we might be able to conceive earlier this year with our last IVF cycle. Will those names be the same top choices at the time we end up getting placed? No one knows. The name choices we had when we were brainstorming during our pregnancy with Jack aren't exactly ones I would choose now. I have to say that I am not sure what we would do if all of the suggestions our potential child's first mom came up with were names we could never see ourselves using. The last thing we want to do is hurt anyone's feelings or insult them. A lot of people we know don't understand that. The thought is that it would be our child, our choice. But in open adoption, at least in ours, we truly do hope to have a good solid relationship develop over time with our child's first family. We want to start off on the right foot. If our child's first parents don't want to help us name the child, I would like to think that they would at least give us their opinions on names that we like so that we don't pick something that they totally despise.

When we were thinking of names for Jack, and before our last IVF cycle doing the little daydreaming that couples trying to conceive do, we talked to people about our names we liked. My mom, our friends...and everyone has an opinion of course! I have no idea how we will bring this subject up with a potential expectant mom, maybe she'll bring it up with us. When Luna, a blogging adoptive mom wrote about this topic on her blog, many of the thing she mentioned were the same way we felt, but she's been through it already. We haven't. But this rang true on her blog if naming our child with the first parents is to be as successful as we can hope.
One thing was clear. We would not discuss names with anyone but K. No one.

We may be able to try to get ideas for names elsewhere to bring to the table to discuss with our child's first family, but coming to a decision has to be between those of us immediately involved, us and the child's first family.
This may kill us, particularly me. But once you've named your child, people are less likely to say right to you anyway, that they hate the name. I will know with some people like my mom right away whether or not she likes it, and she won't have to say a thing. Her facial expression will say it all. LOL. I remember being a kid and telling her I loved the name Dakota Rose, and the look on her face I will never forget. No doubt she's glad I dropped that name a long time ago! Wow, I am so much like her in that way! I may have to work on my game face for some discussions to be had later on particularly if we plan to be open to hearing what a first mom might like name-wise. Remember, my whole "not offending" her and starting the relationship off on the right foot.

I am sure that I may have to rethink some of this as things develop and I continue to read about other Open Adoption Blogger's experiences. I hope that at least some of this makes sense-I slept for two hours out of the last 30 hours, and that two hours was broken with multiple phone calls. Sacrifices we make so we can have fun with and make memories with our little ones. I just had to post about this now because it's something I think about all the time, and it actually gives me a bit of anxiety. We just want everything to work out as smoothly as possible with our adoption, and this is a very important aspect for us.

There are a lot of different experiences and perspectives to consider where naming an adopted child is concerned. If you're interested in reading more blog posts with regards to this subject, please browse through the OA Bloggers listed on Heather's site.


  1. Well, with our oldest, his first name was after his birth father, it was a good name and it just seemed to fit him. So we left his first and just changed the middle for our family. With our second, like you said, I couldn't see him going through life with that name. However, someone who had been adopted felt it was important to keep his birth name in his adopted name. So we will be changing his first name, and giving him two middle names. I know our situation is different and I love the idea of you talking names with the birth family. I say that you go into it like you did when you went into labor, be prepared for anything!

  2. Two of my cousins are adopted and my aunt changed both of their names when she brought them back from Vietnam. The younger one later went to Vietnam and met her first mom. She decided shortly after that to change her name back to the name her first mom had given her.