Ask AF: Renaming an Older Baby

If you're adopting an older baby — and will remain in contact with the birth parents — should you pick a new name?

Q: We are close to adopting a nine-month-old baby, and the birth family will remain involved in the baby’s life. Would it be weird to give him a new name? How should we approach this topic with the birth family, and when?


A: It’s always best to discuss names with the birth parents prior to placement. If the baby hasn’t been born yet, birth parents are often OK with the adopting parents’ selecting the name. Sometimes everyone selects the name together. It’s also common for adopting parents to choose the first name and for the birth parents to choose the middle name.

In your case, however, it would be best not to change the baby’s name. A nine-month-old baby recognizes and responds to his name. An older infant transitioning from the birth family to your family has a lot to adjust to — why add to his confusion by changing his name?

In addition to the child’s best interests, you have the birth parents to consider, since this will be an open adoption with ongoing contact. They might have strong feelings about the baby’s name. If so, they may even hesitate to proceed with the adoption if you are going to change the name. You should discuss the name with the birth parents now, before the adoption. Best of luck!