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Will the Adoptive Family Change My Child's Name?

If you’re considering placing your older child up for adoption, it’s because you want to give them a better future. It’s difficult, but you may have realized it’s best for you and for them. But once your child joins their new family, can adoptive parents change a child’s name?

The answer to that is yes. Legally, the adoptive family has every right to change the child’s name. While there’s no guarantee that every adoptive family wants to change the child’s name, they certainly can if they want to.

In this guide, we’ll go over the adoptive parents' rights when it comes to renaming a child, why some parents choose to rename the child, and more.

We know that the older child adoption process can feel exhausting. So, if you have any questions about changing the adoptive child’s name, we encourage you to reach out to your specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free info form. If you are thinking about choosing adoption for your child, our agency is able to provide services for children who are 4 years old or younger.

In the meantime, here’s what you should know about the adoptive parents renaming your child.

Can You Change an Adopted Child’s Name?

The short answer is yes. Once you sign your adoption paperwork after the child has been placed with the family, you will terminate your parental rights and transfer all responsibility to the adoptive family.

This means that, at that point, the adoptive family will be able to make all legal, medical and parental decisions when it comes to raising your child. It also means that, if they choose to during their adoption finalization, they do have the option of giving your child a new name.

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of the adoptive family changing your child’s name after adoption, then you might want to do some thinking. The best place to get an outside opinion is to speak with your adoption specialist. With their help, they can help you determine if the adoptive family changing your child’s name is a deal-breaker. And if so, they will do what they can to help you find a family who will not change your child’s name after placement.

However, this is not a guarantee. The reality is that, if you choose adoption, the family could change your child's name.

We know that, right now, you might be worried that you won’t find a family who respects your decision to not rename your child. But American Adoptions works with hundreds of families from across the country. No matter what you’re looking for or what your wishes are, we will do everything we can to help you find a family that has everything you’re looking for. Your specialist will send you as many families as you need until you find the perfect one.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about changing adopted child’s name, your specialist can help, just like Lindsey’s specialist did for her:

“She [Shannon, her birth parent specialist] was there for me when I didn’t have anybody, and she always knew just what to say,” Lindsey remembered. “I did have a lot of concerns and fears, and she knew how to talk me through them. She’s someone that’s — even now, three months after I’ve had my baby — probably going to check in on me from time to time. She was just amazing, and I’m so glad that she’s in my life.”

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our families yet, you can start by looking at our waiting families list. When you’re ready, you can contact us at 1-800-ADOPTIONS to make your adoption plan and learn more about changing adopted child’s name.

Why Do Some Adoptive Parents Choose to Rename their Child?

There are a lot of reasons for why an adoptive family might change their child’s name after adoption. Here are just a few reasons behind this big decision:

  • A new name can mean a new future: There are many people who choose to rename themselves at different points of their life. They might be looking for a fresh start. Some adoptive parents might feel like, by giving their child a new name, they’re helping them prepare for the next steps in their life and moving forward.
  • Naming a child is the first sign of attachment: Coming up with and choosing a new name is an exciting moment for every new parent. Similar to how you name a child when you give birth, it’s the first step of attaching yourself to your baby when you name them.  
  • It shows that they’re part of the family: Other adoptive parents feel like changing a child’s name after adoption because it shows that they’re officially a part of the family. Just as they would with a biological child, giving the child a name means that they’re finally a unit. And with a new name comes steps towards their new future. 

When Will the Adoptive Family Not Change My Child’s Name?

If your child is a toddler, it’s unlikely that the family will change your child’s name after adoption. At this point, your child has already grown attached to their own name and they’ve begun to recognize it. While the adoptive family might have the desire to change your child’s name, it’s not really in the child’s best interest, and their adoptive family specialist will let them know that.

But in some cases, the adoptive family might want to change your child’s name due to cultural differences. If your child’s name means one thing in your culture and something completely different or even negative in theirs, then it might be a better idea to change it.

How Can I Compromise with the Adoptive Family?

If the adoptive family is planning on changing your child’s name after adoption, you might feel comfortable with the idea and want to respect their wishes. But at the same time, it’s natural to feel attached to the name you already gave your child.

In this case, you might be able to work out a compromise with the adoptive family. For instance, one option is to use your child’s given name as their middle name after changing child’s name after adoption. In another instance, the adoptive family might keep your child’s name, but make the name they were thinking of be their new middle name.


To learn more about can adoptive parents change a child’s name, please don’t forget that you’re always welcome to contact 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our free info form.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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