A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. --Forest E. Witcraft

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Since all of my children came to me through foster care, someone else named them.  When the time came for me to adopt them, I had a decision to make regarding their names.  Obviously, their last name changed to mine.  But their first and middle names needed a decision. 

May was almost four when she was adopted, and was quite mature for her age.  We were transitioning her two younger "siblings" through foster care home to their birth mom after raising the three girls as sisters for almost two years.  May's first name is very unique, and I had mementos that I had collected, including a special painted clay handprint, with her name on it.  I decided to keep her first name and change her middle name to something I would choose.  Since her first name is also a little long, I knew I wanted a short one-syllable middle name.  I played around with several names, trying to find a combination which sounded good to me.  When I proposed the name to my parents, I learned that my paternal grandmother's middle name was a different spelling of the middle name I had selected.  That sealed the deal. I chose that middle name and spelled it like my grandmother's middle name.  I thought it was extra special because now May had a "family" name.  As I filled out the adoption paperwork, it turned out that CPS had incorrectly spelled May's first name by adding a letter.  So in the end, I actually did change the spelling of her first name from her original birth certificate to the spelling CPS used, but that did not affect how it was pronounced.

When Buddy was adopted at about three and a half, he was much less aware of what was happening.  He was extremely developmentally delayed when he came to me and had made huge progress and just started preschool.  I didn't even consider changing his first name, because I didn't want to cause any confusion, and I liked his first name.  I changed his middle name to my dad's middle name, so Buddy would also have a "family" name.  That decision was the simplest one by far.

BB was only about eighteen months old when he was adopted and had no clue what was going on.  I knew I would be adopting him from the time he was about nine months old.  It would have been easy to change his first name, but I didn't really consider it.  Again, I liked his first name, and we are maintaining contact with extended birth family.  They had asked, as we progressed through the stages of the case, if his name would change when he was adopted.  I told them I had kept the first names of my other children and would probably keep his first name as well.  I selected a "family" name from my mother's side for BB's middle name.

Now we are to Precious.  She has a very common first name that is just not high on my list.  I also couldn't come up with any good middle names that met my standards to go with it.  So I started considering changing her entire name.  After all, she is only two months old and already we are progressing toward adoption with little to no reason to believe anything will change.  I decided I really wanted to give her my maternal grandmother's name, but it did not fit with her first name.  However, a piece of her birth name is the same as a part of my grandmother's name.  I got creative.  I'm planning to change her first name to my grandmother's name and change her middle name to the remainder of her first name.  As an example, let's assume her birth name is Elizabeth and my grandmother's name is Bethany.  I would be changing her name to Bethany Eliza.  That's not the real names, but you get the idea.  I really like this arrangement, because she will have the "family" name that I really want to give her AND she will keep her birth name, just in a different form.  In my book, it's official and we are now calling her by her new first name (except when I slip up multiple times a day).  I'm hoping this will institute the change before BB realizes her name did change, since he is not talking enough to be significantly impacted.  Welcome to the family, "Bethany".


  1. It so weird not having named your children. All 3 of ours came through foster care and had names when they came. Our oldest was named after his bio grandpop so we keep it and made his old last name his middle name. Our daughters name I am not a huge fan of but I have grown close with her mom and feel really weird about changing it. It is a nice name just not one that I would have ever picked. The older she gets the more I feel like it really suits her so it has grown on me. We will keep her first and middle the same. And our youngest was 2 day old when he came to us and on all his paper work it just said baby boy so we named him. Then a few months later we got a copy of his birth certificate and he did in fact have a name so we decided we will keep it as his first and change his middle to the one we chose and call him mostly by his middle name. :) It so interesting all that is behind a name.

  2. We are in the process of adopting three little ones, ages 2, 3, and 4, and the whole name thing has been on my mind a lot lately. I do like their first names, but haven't decided if I'll keep them. I will be choosing new middle names for sure. My main concern is having biorelatives recognize the kids by their names in the future, b/c we live not too far away from them. New names might be a good thing for them.

  3. One of our three kept his first name and we added a new middle name. One made a complete change of both first and middle (her choice). One moved his first to the middle and added a new first. All were school-aged at the time. All got some form of one of our family names. We, too, had security concerns. Though before adoption day, our children had varied feelings about the name changes and what they wanted to be called, on adoption day, they all announced suddenly that they wanted to be called by their new, family names. They haven't moved off of that. The one who kept his first name wishes he had changed it. This is such a deeply personal issue to each child and family that there is no "right" way to handle it other than what works in your situation.