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If You Give Your Baby Up for Adoption, Do You Name Him/Her?

Adoption and Naming Your Child

Naming a baby can be an important way to start a life. When you’re placing your baby for adoption with their adoptive family, giving a baby their name may seem a little more confusing. You might be wondering, “Do I name the baby, or do the adoptive parents? Do we name the baby together? Once you give your child up for adoption, can the other person change their name?” 

Every adoption is different. While the adoptive parents usually have the final say in choosing the baby’s legal name, you can also play an important role in naming, either by giving your baby a special name before the adoption or choosing his or her name together with the adoptive parents.

  • You and the adoptive family deciding on a name together is a great way to share the adoption experience. 

  • The adoptive family may allow you to choose the name. 

  • Mutually choosing a name can make it that much more special and meaningful. 

Here, find the answers to these and other common questions you may have about naming your baby in adoption. 

If you’re ready to start the adoption process with our agency or wanting more information on adoption, call us toll-free today at 1-800-ADOPTION, or visit our online contact forms for prospective birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents. 

If You Place Your Baby for Adoption, Who Names the Baby? 

Many expectant parents wonder if they’re the one who is in charge of naming their unborn baby. For some, this is a source of excitement. For others, this is an unwanted responsibility. 

If you’re asking, “If you give your baby up for adoption, do you name it or them (the adoptive parents)?” know that you can have input about your baby’s name if you prefer. Sometimes, adoptive parents are happy to let you name the baby. Other times, they may prefer that you help choose or contribute to the name in some way. Sometimes, the adoptive family will name the baby themselves. 

While the prospective birth parent is the one in charge of all the decisions in every other aspect of the adoption process, the baby’s name is the one choice where the adoptive family usually has the final say. 

A common way to name a baby in an adoption situation is for the birth and adoptive parents to name him or her together in some capacity. We’ve listed a few ways that you can do that at the bottom of this article. 

If You Name Your Baby, Can His or Her Adoptive Parents Change the Name? 

In adoptions, there are two birth certificates. The original birth certificate will list the biological parents. The amended birth certificate will list the adoptive parents. Both birth certificates will have a place for the baby’s name. 

When filling out your baby’s original birth certificate, you can include a name for him or her if you want to.

  • This can be a name chosen by the adoptive parents,
  • A name you choose together,
  • Or a name you choose yourself. 

When you sign your adoption paperwork, you’re voluntarily terminating your legal parental rights and placing your child with their parents. If you’d already named the baby on his or her original birth certificate and, for some reason, the adoptive parents decide to change the baby’s name, the amended birth certificate will reflect that name change.

To avoid hurt feelings or confusion, it’s always best to discuss these things together with the adoptive parents and your adoption specialist as soon as possible, preferably early in your adoption planning process. Here are some other ways you can reach a naming decision: 

How Do You Decide Who Should Name the Baby in an Adoption? 

When in doubt, ask! Talk to your baby’s future parents as well as your adoption professional. If you feel really strongly about being involved in naming your child, let them know that. 

Maybe the adoptive family is the one who feels strongly about naming the baby. If you’re fine with letting them choose a name, let them know that, too. Many prospective birth parents feel that, as the parents who will be spending every day with their child, it’s alright if the adoptive parents name the baby. Your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid. Just be sure to check in with the adoptive parents and let them know how you feel about naming the baby, either way. 

If you and the adoptive parents both wish to have a part in naming the baby, there are several solutions that you might discuss together, even if that means reaching a compromise together.  


  • Choosing a name that you all like together. This could be a fun way to grow closer. 

  • Letting the adoptive parents choose the baby’s first name, while you choose the middle name, or vice versa. 

  • Choosing a family name from either your family or the adoptive parents’ family that you all like is meaningful. 

  • If you and the adoptive parents are both of the same faith, choosing a name that has religious significance to you both, as the name of an important religious person, saint, etc. 

Sharing the Adoption Journey Together

There many different ways you can approach naming a baby in an adoption situation, but one of the most fulfilling ways to do so is together. That way, your child will always have a special story behind how he or she received their name from both their birth and adoptive parents. 

Naming the child is just one of the many ways you can share the adoption journey together. Openness in adoption presents plenty of opportunities to find common ground on decisions regarding your baby. As you continue to build your relationship, these shared experiences will only strengthen the foundation of your bond.

At the end of the day, remember that your child’s name is a minor detail compared to the big picture — that they’re able to grow up safe, provided for and loved. To learn more about how to place a child for adoption, or to ask questions about how naming works in adoption, you can contact Michelle, a birth parent specialist and a birth parent herself She is ready to answer any questions you have about adoption.        

“I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling,” Michelle said. “It was most helpful to me when I had someone to talk to who would just listen to me without making any judgments or conclusions about who I was as a person.”      

You can ask Michelle questions about the adoption process online. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-ADOPTION, or get free information with our online contact form for prospective birth mothers considering adoption here. Adoptive families wanting more information on adopting a child can click here to get more information. 

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.

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