Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's in a Name?

Yesterday, I posted about first names.
We're enjoying the perks of expecting just like any other expecting parents would.

But there's an added dimension to naming your child, when you're adopting.
Our Cinnamon Baby will already have a name when we first meet him/her. It will very likely be a Sri Lankan name (we don't know of what ethnicity, yet).
Some families rename their child when they adopt them. Others don't. And there are a ton of arguments for doing either.

The birth or orphanage name may be difficult to pronouce in the child's adoptive country. What if it has a ridiculous or offensive meaning in his adoptive language? What if it sounds really weird  with the adoptive parents last name?
Deciding on the name can also help adoptive families claim their children.
And it can make the child feel more included in his family. If 4 generations of men in the family have worn the same name and it gets passed on to him, it may mean a lot to him when he starts questioning his identity.

But the birth name can also be a very strong identity symbol. Though it is sometimes chosen by the orphanage, it may also have been chosen by the birth mother. Or it may mean something important in the child's birth country or birth family. Maybe a boy is named after his birthfather, or a girl has her birth grand-mother's name.
Children who are adopted a bit older will usually recognize their name. Renaming these kids means yet another change for them to cope with. Still, how old is too old? Would renaming a 5 years old be ok? How about a 2 years old, or a 10 years old?

There are different options. Some people decide to rename their child, but pick a name from the birth culture. Others keep the birth name as a middle name, or select a middle name in the adoptive culture and keep the birth name as the first name. Some families look for names that are common to both languages.

It takes a bit of time and a lot of honest reflection to decide on what's best for your child and for your family.
And then, whatever you decide can all change when you get a referral or when you meet your child...


  1. Hi Gen, its nice to find a blog from a fellow Canadian in the adoption process and I will enjoy following your journey. My husband and I are in the process of adopting from Colombia, I hope you can follow our blog as well.

    1. Hi Mia,
      thanks for your comment! I'll have a look at your blog... I didn't know Colombia was open to adoption!
      I saw your description on your profile: "An East Coaster living in the Prairies, married to an Andino Son, living my dreams"
      It sounds like a perfect description of myself :D

  2. Gen, I'm half Acadien and I'm from Nova Scotia. My husband is Chileno, and we live in Saskatchewan. I thought the same thing when I read that you were a French Canadian living in AB, married to someone from Ecuador. Very similar circumstances eh? I wish you all the best on your journey.