Tuesday Topic: Naming Your Adopted Child

This week’s Tuesday Topic is from Jamie. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a baby boy from Bulgaria and she has some questions about naming him.

We have 4 children Simeon(he died at birth), Josiah, Abigail, Anna (our names jamie and andy) as you can see our 3 children that are with us on earth here, (and our names) “ironically” start with the letters A and J- I’m not sure if i’m thinking about this too much but really want your input. Is it key to name our next child with an A or/a J? I would never want any of our children to feel like they were left out in any way and for me especially our children that will be adopted. I don’t want them to feel that way! does that make sense? is it crucial to have one of their names be Bulgarian. Another theme in our children that are living is that their middle names are missionaries! We really want to have a Biblical first name, as we like to pray verses of that person over their lives!

What do you all think? I’m sure we’ll have a variety of opinions!  It would be much more fun sitting together chatting about this over coffee, but let’s make the best of it.  Please leave your responses as comments; I will save them all and post them this Friday, August 13th.

Encourage one another,


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Karin Katherine
    August 7, 2010

    Since you say, "ironically" I would say that the A and J thing wasn't a set plan for naming your children. With that in mind, I would say you should name your son whatever you feel called to name him and not over think it. Apparently when you named your other children you chose the name you felt was right for them. I think you should do the same for your son.

    I must admit I do find it strange that the Duggars named all their children with a J—especially since it seems to me they are grasping at straws and interesting spelling choices to come up with additional "j" names. I think a name would feel less special to me if I knew it was chosen because it was the 18th "J" name my parents could come up with….

  2. Eileen
    August 7, 2010

    Our first three children, Adam, Madeline, Abigail, went in an A-M-A pattern. When we were adopting our fourth child, the kids wanted another "M" name. We all agreed on the name Maya, not to stick with the pattern, but because we just really liked it. I liked not only the sound of it, but I loved the meaning, "God's creative power."

    However, when we met her in China, we felt it was important to call her by her Chinese name, Qiu Ju. We called her almost exclusively Qiu Ju for weeks and had to make an effort to call her Maya. Qiu Ju is her middle name and at home, I'd say we call her Qiu more than Maya. However, we wanted an American name because we realized that most Americans don't look at the letters Qi and say a "Ch" sound. Her Chinese name is actually pronounced "Cho", rhymes with "go". And trying to get Americans to say the proper tones of the word, well, that's not happening. Even with our very best efforts, our guide in China said we never got it exactly right. So, at home we simply say Cho and have created all sorts of horrible Cho offshoots–Choey, Choster, Cholita. If the orphanage staff who named her could hear us calling her Cholita, I think they would cringe. The second part of her Chinese name was pronounced like the religion, Jew. I didn't think that would really be a comfortable name. And the nickname the nannies at the orphanage called her was "Ah Ju," which is the sauce you dip roast beef sandwiches in. So you can see we had some naming challenges.

    I've never regreted giving her an American name to go along with her Chinese name. If her Chinese name been something easy for Americans (including herself!) to pronounce correctly, I probably would have kept her Chinese name first and given her an American middle name. Also, she was only 11 months old at adoption, and with the limited social interaction she had with orphanage staff, I don't think she had a strong attachment to her name.

    For our current adoption, our son in China is already 3 years old. He's been with a foster family for 2 years and I'm sure he is attached to his name, Yun Xi. Again, to say it correctly, it's tough. The "xi" part is pronounced "she" and if the right tones aren't used, the word actually means excrement. Great. We've been working VERY hard on getting the tones right so we don't greet our new son with, "NiHao, Excrement." So, once again, we have an American name picked out and will use his Chinese name as a middle name. He will absolutely have an option. If he wants to exclusively use his Chinese name, that's completely fine with us. His American name will either be Samuel or Owen, we're still deciding. Either way, it's not in the A-M-A-M pattern we had going. I can't imagine that would be a big deal. We just couldn't think of an "A" name we were thrilled with!

    So, this is a very long way of saying that I think it's all very individual. I DO think it's best to incorporate their first given name into their current name and to help them feel comfortable with it. I like my children to have the option. On the rare occasions when my daughter has offered an opinion on it, she says she prefers to be called Maya. If someday she wants to feel more of a connection to her Chinese roots and go with Qiu, that's totally fine with us. So, I think go with what feels right to you, but be flexible.

  3. Eileen
    August 7, 2010

    Oh, I also wanted to add that it would have made a very big difference to me if my children's names had been given to them by their birthmother. In both cases, they were names assigned by orphanage staff based on the institution's current naming practices. The first part of my daughter's name was the season in which she was found–Autumn. Every baby in the orphanage had a first name that was a season and they were differentiated only with their second name. With our son, the first part of his name was "West", referring to the part of the city where he was found. Again, all babies in his orphanage that year were a North, South, East or West, and it was their second name that was distinctive. In both cases, the names relate to their abandonment and I didn't know if I wanted that reminder every time someone asked them about their name's meaning.

  4. shannon greenan
    August 10, 2010

    I think you should follow the same protocol you did when naming your previous children. I am not sure if i believe the name will affect the child alot – not saying it won't, i just dont know…though i do believe whatever the name, this is going to be a blessed child to be a part of this family. I would think that how he is treated and loved and nurtured and accepted will be what's most important.
    Praying for yall!

  5. Teresa
    August 10, 2010


    My stepmom is Bulgarian and there are quite a few Bulgarian Christian names (I have no idea if of missionaries).
    What about Joseph/Jeremy/John/Julian/ Jonathan Samuel (Samuel is a name definetely used in Bulgaria) and the others start with J.

    Good luck in finding the right name for your baby.

    Best wishes,

  6. Laurel
    August 10, 2010

    It seems to me that you should probably continue with your name themes for your adopted child. Even if your theme of letters was unintentional up until this point, because being an adopted child has issues that come with it, I think you should do everything possible to make him feel like a complete part of the family.

    As far as if your child should have a Bulgarian name, there is much debate on this topic. We adopted our son from Ethiopia and kept his Ethiopian name as his middle name. Perhaps you could keep your child's Bulgarian name as a middle name and give an additional middle name that is a missionary.

    That's a tough one!

  7. Anita
    August 10, 2010

    One thing we did decide to do with our adopted ET son was to give him a name important to us. We surrounded his ET name with a "western" first name that was important to my husband's family and we gave him my husband's last name. We did this because we felt this "claimed" him to our family. We kept his ET name (both first and last) as his middle names because we wanted to honor his heritage ( in ET, children's last names are their father's first names). Although we still call him by his ET first name, the "western" name is his official first name in case he wants to use it during adolescence to fit in. We were fortunate enough to meet and talk with several grown up internationally adopted adults who said that their teen years were difficult with their international names and they had longed for a more "westernized" name. I look forward to reading more ideas from your readers.

    Thanks for your great sharing!



  8. Catherine
    August 10, 2010

    Jedidiah! This is my husbands name and I love it!
    2 Samuel 12:25
    and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
    2 Samuel 12:24-26 (in Context) 2 Samuel 12 (Whole Chapter)
    Because the Lord loved him!!! Isn't that amazing. Have fun going though these and I am so excited for you!

  9. Andrea G
    August 11, 2010

    I am wondering if there is a Bulgarian missionary? Then all can have a biblical first name and a missionary name for a middle name. Can't wait to hear what you decide and praying for the baby no matter what!

  10. @jfashun
    August 11, 2010

    I wonder if your heart already has the answer about the J and A… It's on your mind to be as inclusive as possible and I think giving this sweet baby the honor of a J or A name is fantastic. Names are SO important! Since this is an international adoption you're also wanting to honor heritage

  11. bj chapman
    August 11, 2010

    All five of our children’s names start with C. It started with our three older bio boys and when we adopted our oldest daughter at birth it was just natural for us to do it again. Our youngest daughter came to us thru foster care and was very young we added a first name starting with C to her name , too. Now we are getting ready to adopt a 15 and 9 year old. We will leave it up to them if they want to add a C name.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy