Naming Our Adopted Child

It was a surprise that we would not be naming our adopted child.

When my husband and I first began our adoption journey, we really knew nothing about adopting. So, it really came as a surprise that we would not be naming our adopted child until finalization. We had figured her last name wouldn’t be the same as ours until finalization, but we were shocked to learn that we didn’t get to choose her first and middle name until she was nearly 6 months old. It was actually a little disappointing because as new parents, you are excited to pick that perfect name for your child and can’t wait to call them that. Our daughter’s birth mother was adamant that we choose a name and let her know it so she could call the baby by the name we selected from the moment she was born. What she didn’t tell us was that she would also be choosing a name.

The biological mother gets to pick the name on the first birth certificate.

I remember going down to the hospital registration desk to give them our insurance information. They asked if we were there for A. L. B. We told them no, we were there for M. G. B. or Baby Girl B (as she was known on our legal documents). The registration clerk realized that we didn’t know a different name had been chosen for our daughter. She explained how the biological mother gets to pick the name that is on the first birth certificate. Perhaps she was a little too blunt, and definitely over critical of the birth mother when she said it was really rude that we weren’t consulted when naming our adopted child. She continued that it was going to be a nightmare having to get new insurance cards and changing her name on everything once the adoption was final.

This baby was the birth mother’s before she was ours.

We were very surprised by all this, and perhaps even a little annoyed. I disliked my daughters “original” name and its very different spelling. It wasn’t what we had expected at all. It was never really explained to us by our lawyer. The reality was this baby belonged to her birth mother before she was ours. Looking back on things, I realize that my daughter’s birth mother knew she could give her baby life and a name. That was her forever link to her child. It was a little inconvenient for us, but it wasn’t about us. It was what she needed. Perhaps it even helped her with her grieving process. She, like every parent, wanted to pick the perfect name for her child. She got to do that, and so did we.

Adoptive parenting starts in a different way and has little “bumps” here and there you don’t expect. What matters most is you get to be “Mommy” or “Daddy” to a precious child. From day one, our daughter was M.G.H. to us and our family. Her doctor even called her that even though there was a completely different name on her birth certificate for the first 6 months of her life. In the end, our daughter legally had the name we had chosen for her. We still have her original birth certificate too. I know that one day she will learn her name was changed. I worry she will want to change her name or be mad at us for changing it. We didn’t really look at it as a name change though. We had picked her name before she was even born. Her birth mother always called her by that name too. I still worry how she will view it. Like with all things in adoption, we will just have to wait and see what the future holds.

Written by Jason Granillo

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