Changing an adopted child's name can be a very complicated ordeal depending on the particular circumstances that surround the adoption. Some name changes can be a simple issue of preference for the adoptive parents, but name changes grow more difficult when older children or birth parents are still involved. Moreover, international adoptions add an entirely new set of issues into name change considerations.
The Actual Name Change Process
The actual act of changing an adopted child's name occurs at the very end of the adoption process. Should the adopted parents choose to change the child's name, this new name will be printed on a new birth certificate and, in the majority of states, the original birth certificate will become part of a sealed court record. So, for the most part, the process of changing an adopted child's name isn't needlessly complicated.
When Changing an Adopted Child's Name
If you are planning an adoption and are concerned about possible issues that may arise from changing the child's name, you should know that these concerns usually differ depending on the following factors:
The Age of the Adopted Child
It's normal for parents to want to give their newly child adopted child a name that is meaningful to them. The act of choosing a name for a newborn infant is typically a lengthy ordeal for most natural birth parents, and this desire for a meaningful name is very much the same for adoptive parents.
When a child is young, he is usually not cognizant enough to play a role in this naming decision. However, if you are adopting an older child who has already adjusted to his birth name, the child may feel that changing his name is almost akin to changing his identity. Moreover, even if the child is open to a name change, this doesn't guarantee that he will like the name options chosen by his new adoptive parents. The process of choosing names can become a difficult and threatening ordeal for some older children.
Ethnicity and International Adoption Factors
International adoption also brings in a host of interesting issues. For example, if parents in the United States adopt a child from a different country and then attempt to change this child's name to something more American in its origins, this can become difficult. In fact, some countries insist that an adopted child retain a name that in some way reflects their birth country, whether this name be chosen as a first or middle name. However, according to Adoption.com, this naming stipulation can be dissolved once the child has entered the States.
Issues such as the above are far less complicated if the child is below two years of age and is relative unaware of his individual place in the world. However, older children who are adopted from foreign countries may want to retain some of their cultural heritage and, thus, may emphatically weigh on what names they feel can appropriately represent themselves.
Open adoption occurs when the adoptive parents and birth parents agree to some sort of arrangement in which the birth parents can still play a role in the child's life. The exact stipulations of an open adoption are usually chosen by both sets of parents, and usually all the parental rights are maintained by the adoptive party, so not all adoptive parents will experience trouble regarding name changes. The changing of the name will need to be decided when the legal paperwork is being drawn up during the adoption process. However, should birth parents claim that they want to play a role in the naming of the child, and the adoptive parties agree to such a standard, then conflict may arise down the road. This isn't to say that arguments occur regarding names in every open adoption, but this issue needs to be serious consideration that is well thought out when the legal paperwork is being drawn up.
Names and Babies
Names often do carry with them certain types of stereotypes, and they can often elicit images or memories in people. A name is a defining feature, so you do want to put a lot of deliberation into choosing your child's name and be very open to any thoughts your adopted child may insert during the process. You may want to even prioritize these thoughts as a way for your child to associate positive connotations with his or her individuality.