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Ask Baby Names

Baby name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com. Have a question for Jennifer? E-mail it to question@babynames.com

“Rebranding” an Adopted Child

Dear Jennifer,

We will be adopting a beautiful, spunky, outgoing, very popular blonde female very soon. To give you a little detail to further assist us, we will be moving after the adoption. We felt that since we were adopting her and her current name will be changing anyway, that this is a great time to help (if you will) “re-brand” her name! As it stands now, it would look horrible on a resume, for business, email etc when she is older…. Additionally, sometimes children make fun of her current name or nickname anyway… Sad – but, true! She does very well in school and is physically and spiritually beautiful… We are college grads and I believe that she will be as well! We are very blessed to have this miracle coming our way: As our daughter we feel it is critical to give her a new name. The name she currently has does not fit her and/or do justice for her spirit and character. We are mostly of Celtic background. Since her last name will be Riley we are considering the following names and would love some input or advice.

Thank You!

Savannah G.

studio portrait of a caucasian cute litle girl

Dear Savannah,

Although you didn’t mention the age of the child, it sounds like she is older, since she is already at school and is doing well and is popular. Congratulations.

At first I had to reread your letter to make sure you weren’t talking about adopting a dog. “Rebranding?” “Physically and spiritually beautiful?” And why do you feel compelled to mention she is blonde? This is a human you’re talking about, not a product, not your accessory.

My usual advice on renaming is 6-months and under is okay, but anytime after that, they have already identified themselves with the name they have been called. If the child is being adopted and has a name that is difficult to pronounce or spell in English, then give them an “American” or “English” name, but let them keep their original name legally. Why not?

I assume you’re giving her your surname, I really wouldn’t advise changing her first name, as well.

Not once in your message did you say your daughter wanted to change her name. You said YOU feel it is critical to give her a new name. But how do you know her name will look “horrible” on a resume? Maybe her accomplishments will stand out.

My advice: if you want something new to name, get a puppy.

Sincerely,

Jennifer