Adoptees- What’s in a Name?

We adopted two pets last year — a dog named Georgia and a cat named Gretel. They were named when we got them, and these youthful balls of energy responded to their names.

Gretel’s brother in the animal shelter was Hansel. We considered calling her Marble. Georgia has eyes that look like they are lined with heavy makeup. We thought about calling her Cleopatra.  We did not change their names. It seemed silly to change names that were understood by our animals. Hello-my-name-is2-720x505

The adoption of our furry friends made me consider the re-naming process in human adoption. Are most adoptees renamed? Do they like their new names?

My foster parents called me Janet for the first 7 months of my life. It was the name my birth mother gave me. Once adopted, my name was changed to Vicki-lynn. I love my adoptive name.  I don’t feel like a Janet. Imagining the four sets of foster parents who called me Janet is impossible since their identities are unavailable to me.

I asked my loyal Facebook community Adoptees who have found their birth parents to help me explore the adoption name game by answering this question;

Was your first name changed when you were adopted?
If yes, which name do you prefer?

Their replies-

  •  “I didn’t know it growing up, but my biological family kept me for 9 days before the paperwork as finalized. They called me Bright Eyes, – the Bonnie Tyler song Total Eclipse of the Heart (turn around bright eyes…) Was the #1 hit two months before my birth. They referred to me to my siblings as Bright Eyes – said I had died- probably to avoid a sad truth- I’ve never liked the name Elizabeth- I go by Liz.”
  • “I was originally Mandi(after the song) then changed to Alicia. I prefer Alicia. Throughout childhood I really disliked the name Mandi, I had no reason for it, every Mandi I knew was nice.
    I didn’t know it was my original name until I was 18, I have always wondered if my dislike of the name was just an odd coincidence. I met my bio mom when I was 18, I love her dearly but will never love the name Mandi.
  • “My birth mother named me Princess and she was actually shocked that my name was changed to Amy . When the agency first located her and asked if she wanted to know my name, bmom was quite surprised it had changed. I’ll keep Amy although Princess isn’t that bad.”
  • “My name was changed to Susan when I was adopted. I just found out last year that my birth name was Diane. They’re both okay. I feel like I am Susan-Diane. It’s a very strange thing to discover about yourself. Not too many people understand what it feels like.”
  • “I found out at age 24, my name was Karen before adopted. At 13 days old the adoption agency had taken first letter of my bio Mom’s last name & created a first name for me. but my other name growing up is actually Janet Michelle, but from day I was adopted, my adoptive mother called me Chelle (shell) & it stuck; and I embrace all the names.”
  • “I have yet to find my b. family but have a strong notion that I had a different name. The name my a. parents gave me (Erika) is not a bad name whatsoever but I have never liked it for me or felt like an Erika.”
  • My birth name is Hope, but my adopted name is Rosemary. My birth family calls me Hope, everybody else calls me Rosemary. I answer to both. Doesn’t matter to me…
  • “CRAZY STORY…..both my birthmother and my adoptive parents named me Jennifer Lynn. When my adoptive parents went to pick me up from the Children’s Home, my adoptive mother changed it (because she was freaked out that it was the same).
  • “Mine was changed. Took 18 months for me to accept my new name.”
  • “My real name was Marjorie and it was changed to Lorene. I kept Lorene because I thought it was prettier and more original but I did change my adopted surname back to my real surname when I was 16.”
  • “Mine was always Lisa and I liked it. B mom was happy I my first name was kept.”
  • “Well, since my name was Baby Girl C I guess anything is better than that!”
  • “My bio mom named me Samantha. The adoption agency told my parents I was un-named. I would have preferred being Samantha.”
  • It was originally ‘Julie’, which as a kid from my era, I would have preferred. You can’t tease / poke fun at ‘Julie’. I had so much teasing and dumb statements made about my name as ‘Paige’. Now it’s trendy, but not so much in 1962.

So what’s in a name? What do you think of the renaming process?
Is it OK to rename a baby that knows his/her name after adoption?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Blessings that all adoptees might know their names,


Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.






2 thoughts on “Adoptees- What’s in a Name?

  1. My frist name was kept and last name put in the middle and a new last name added. I always loved the name Michelle and had a best friend with that name. When i found my real birth certificate was blown away that my real middle name was Michele (the French way) and i always hated my first name. I was teased horribly with it and to this day if someone calls me that name (I shortened it) i get full of anxiety

  2. My whole name was changed went from Ashley Gale Sanders To Caitlin M Kelly I found it werid when I found out two of my best friends are Ashlee and Ashley lol but they are called ash. Some days I wish I could obtain my OBC? Even though I found both biological parents, I still feel like part of me is missing.

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