A rose by any other name, would smell so sweet!

(122 Posts)

Please, if you feel willing and able, come and share your thoughts on names.

Please, please be aware this will be a sensitive and emotive topic so please:

Only share what you feel comfortable and no real names or nick names at all, please.

We were told we should not change a child's name. But I know some people do, have done, will do. I know that it used to be common practice.

Does anyone use nicknames or pet names or change things round?

Have any people adopted as children experienced name change either by their choice or adopted parent choice and how does it feel.

How do birth and adoptive parents feel?

Sorry, I know it will be emotive so let's all be nice to each other! after all this my thread will probably be empty!

Mama1980 Wed 29-Jan-14 12:48:59

Hi I have custody of my eldest dd now 16 by sgo, she's lived with me since she was 9. The circumstances she was initially raised in were traumatic and abusive. (think criminal charges)
Since she has lived with me She has gone by a nickname one that I have always called her, same first letter but nothing more in common, she is determined to change it to this officially when she becomes 18. She also uses my surname, though again not officially but everyone knows her as this. All of this was only done with discussion and support from her counsellor.
I have custody again by sgo of her 9 week old sister, with a ss view to my adopting her given her young age. I named her myself due to a large number of factors with bm s legal consent.

Thanks so much Mama I can see that for your family this looks like a good way of doing things. Hope all goes well with your new baby and your older daughter.

CheeryGiraffe Wed 29-Jan-14 12:51:45

<takes the plunge> grin

I don't really have an issue with name changing so long as the child is either happy with it, or is too young to be aware what their name is. I do think keeping their birth name as a middle name is nice, though.

My main concern about names though is security, mainly online. I think if a name is particularly identifiable then it should be changed as a matter of course, and to be totally honest (dependent on the child's age) DH and I will seriously consider changing a name regardless of what the child's birth name is. As I have said on the thread about tracing a child once they're 18, I think this should be done when and if the child wants it to happen, and a name change is one way to ensure that this is the case.

As a side comment - I also think it's nice for adoptive parents to add a name even if they're not changing the name. They will be raising the child, and will be their Mum and Dad, naming a child is a massive part of becoming a parent, and I think it's nice for this to be allowed for adoptive parents too.

<pulls on hard hat> wink

CheeryGiraffe Wed 29-Jan-14 12:53:24

Oh! I wasn't the first! Slow typing strikes again....

Mama That's a lovely story about your DD's name - and so nice to hear.

NinjaPenguin Wed 29-Jan-14 12:57:40

My (bio) brother who was adopted (separately to me) had his name changed. Think, for example, Benedict to Benjamin. Only, his original name was very distinctive, and coupled with our surname, it was more for his own safety.

So I don't think it is necessarily wrong or anything. I think it should be a similar name, or a shortened name, or a name where you can use the same nickname however. Although DB had his name changed (he was 5) the same nickname was used, which also helped for me to feel that he wasn't being separated/taken away from me/the past, and it helped him too.

SorrelForbes Wed 29-Jan-14 13:02:46

Both my foster children have silly, made up names. The 2 yr old is unaware but the 6 yr old knows that people laugh at her name (it's a brand name) and keeps asking me if she can choose a new one sad

Her name is easily converted to a really nice name by the removal of one digit and I wonder if her forever family might quietly just start calling her that.

RabbitRabbit78 Wed 29-Jan-14 13:16:07

Unless it's a distinctive name that would make tracing easy, IMO they should keep their birth first name. It's the only thing that their birth parents have given them in many cases after all! It can also lead to identity issues in later life if their first name is changed (I have read about this in several places while we were doing the reading during our home study but can't recall which books now).

OTOH I can completely understand why you would want to change their first name. Is there any benefit to the child though or is it just for us as adopters?

Thanks one and all.

I guess what I would like to get at is what the benefits are to the child.

I am not personally worried (myself) about changing a name or naming a child. We have a birth child whose name we named and in many ways it is a weird experience!

You agonise over a name, pick something lovely, that you love and then experience years of having to shout it up the stairs (in a slightly angry voice) to a child who will not get ready, say it in an exasperated voice in public, have other people pass comment on it (or mispronounce it) and often end up with a totally silly nickname which you use at your closest moment with your child! Or at least that is my experience of it all!

I totally get that for some a name is very fundemental and I want to understand that more. I come from a background of travel overseas, which has meant my name has varied a little in many places and I have had lots of nicknames, so my birth name has maybe less significance for me. I also changed my surname when I married and so I don't have the same name I had for the first 30 plus years of my life.

The leaders of our prep group was very insistent on adoptive parents not changing the name. I am sure there are lots of good reasons for this but I can't really remember what they said now.

Rabbit in what way is a name the only thing a birth parent gives a child. They gave them life, they gave them all their genes, influencing hair, skin and eye colour and maybe lots more. They gave them all their early experiences, good or bad, nine months in the womb plus whatever other time they had with them. I am happy ot be persuaded otherwise but I can't really see a name is a all a birth parent gives a child.

I must also say I am not mad keen to change a name. I only saw one child whose name made me uncertain because it was similar to our daughter's name and in the end we decided that did not matter and asked about him. But I must admit if, as in the case * SorrelForbes* mentions, the child had a name so unusual and 'difficult' that they would experence bullying or teasing etc because of it, I would be very worried and would really need to think about any 'pluses' verses 'minuses' of keeping such a name.

Mama1980 Wed 29-Jan-14 13:44:46

I'm aware my situation is slightly different my daughter was much older when she came of me and has (very grin) clear opinions of her own. We explored this issue extensively during her counselling sessions, and for her it boils down to not wanting me to have named her she's very secure in our relationship, she knows she is no less my daughter than my birth children despite there being no actual adoption order.
But she wanted distance from her birth mother in particular she didn't want to be associated with that horrible time simply by her name when she had moved on. She says she doesn't feel like that person anymore so the name is not what her life is anymore.
The counsellor respected her and agreed that her desire for this wasn't about punishment or erasing the past simply about her moving forward in a positive way.
This was dealt with several years ago now, in truth very few people even know she is not my daughter by birth, or know her legal name. She still wants to legally change it when she turns 18 mostly because it's a logistical hassle.
I actually wanted my youngest s bm to name her but for many reasons mostly known only to her she would not. I wanted to give her that chance.

CheeryGiraffe Wed 29-Jan-14 14:09:17

I agree with most of the comments made - DH and I had a really serious think about names after going through some profiles and saw the types of names a lot of children had. Many were VERY unusual and misspelt (which I have been told is often not a 'mistake' on the birth parents part, but can be done to enable easier tracing later on), and I would at the very least correct the spelling and/or make it into a more 'normal' name.

My main concern about unusual or misspelt names from the point of view of the child (whilst they are young at least) is standing out. I am sure there will be various events and situations in which adopted children may feel different, and I wouldn't want to leave them with an unusual name to carry about every day. As SorrelForbes says they realise very young what's normal and what isn't.

Sadly there are also connotations about names. One of the things a lot of parents consider when picking a name is the image it projects of the person who's name it is. If I felt our child had a name that would hinder them in the future then I would change it.

I also disagree with the idea that this is the only thing that the birth parents have given their children. Like italiangreyhound says, they have given them an awful lot more. Often they have also given them a whole host of issues that they have to deal with, and sometimes a name that is going to be a problem for them.

Names are odd - I had very bad associations with my maiden name and couldn't want to get rid of it. I used to hate writing my name, and had the concern that everyone else knew what that name meant to me. Once I was married and had a new name, it was like having a cloud lifted. I don't think twice about my name now. It's amazing the transformation just changing your name can have, so I totally understand your daughter's feelings Mama.

Should we adopt a child with a 'normal' name I wouldn't change it just so that I could say I had given them their name, and I would quite possibly keep it (depending on how 'safe' we thought it was) but I don't think there is a problem if people wish to.

It's a very emotive and decisive subject - and not at all black and white, I think it comes down to individual circumstances of the child, their birth family and the adoptive parents.

Thepoodoctor Wed 29-Jan-14 14:10:08

Interesting debate.

I think the real game changer here is Facebook. I have to admit that if I adopted again and the child's name wasn't in the Sam/Lily category of ordinariness, I would seriously consider a first name change. Not because I am against contact - far from it - but because I would want to protect my children from contact not made at a time of their choosing, and without a chance to prepare. I think contact should be led by the adopted person, and social media is a threat to that.

And of course in a minority of cases the birth family will pose a significant risk to child or adoptive family if they traced them. Not that usually the case, but if it is then I think the name should be changed.

Facebook aside I think the pros and cons are:

If you adopt any child older than a tiny baby they ARE that name - however daft it may sound. By the end of intros you may never be able to imagine the child called anything but Ebeneezer or whatever. They will make it their own.

A child being adopted has just lost every anchor they ever knew in their small world. To my mind it's not the moment to rock their sense of identity still further by calling them a different name.

Adult adoptees who've had names changed have spoken of feeling as if their identity had been remade by their new parents. I have to admit that on reading the book of the film 'philomena' that really struck me. The boys adoptive parents evidently just decided to call a three year old something different. You can't wipe out history with a child of that age and I think it is often felt that name changing suggests you think you can.

That said other adult adoptees have expressed profound relief that their parents got rid of a dreadful name on their behalf, or have been very glad to lose a reminder of a traumatic past history, so I think it does all depend.

On the other hand - there is an important aspect of claiming the child as part of their adoptive family that it is unwise to ignore. I would worry that some children might feel their adoptive parents didn't care enough to choose a name for them.

I think often the best way is to choose middle names and keep first. My DC know that some of their names came from birth parents and some were chosen by us. They have both experimented with going by the names we chose and if that is their wish in adult life, no problem.

There may be other reasons to do one thing or the other - perhaps if you adopt transracially and some/all of the child's names reflect their culture of origin, it might be very desirable to keep them. Or if a name is a link with a family member it might be either desirable or undesirable to retain it depending. I will admit to losing a middle name which was a link to a very negative figure in one DCs life.

And finally, whoever worries about unusual names should have a good look at what the middle classes call their birth children. My DCs mildly unusual names are NOTHING compared to some of the things their little friends go by! grin

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 15:32:22

I fundamentally disagree with changing a childs name and belief that it is a really important part of their identity. My DD came to us when she was 3 and she has a name that we would never have chosen and is unusual where we live.

We did not think for one moment that we would change it. We gave her a family name as a middle name but she is known by her first name. Around the house we sometimes call her by a nickname but that is a sign of affection NOT because we can't bear her name.

3 years along we don't give her name a second thought, it is her and we love her

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 15:35:44

Meant to say, a name change feels more for the benefit of the adults than the child. When the child is and adult if they want to change their name then they can.

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 15:36:07

So many typo's today - sorry!

CloserThanYesterday Wed 29-Jan-14 15:48:12

Hmm ... I get the impression sometimes that adopters are under pressure to keep the names that the birth parents have to them, but I do wonder why.

Fair enough if the child is old enough to have become attached to that name, and really wants to keep it. Likewise if it's a 'normal' name, I don't think I'd want to change it then.

BUT, if it's something really unusual, I can't see how an early name change can hurt, as long as the original name is acknowledged in some way (e.g as a middle name) - I can't help thinking that a name that the adopted parents and siblings are comfortable with would help bonding all round. If a name is noticeably different to the rest of the family, wouldn't this make it harder for the adopted child to feel part of the family?

I might be getting this all wrong - maybe prep course will change my mind!

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 15:54:25

But Closer, my DD had everything that she knew , taken away from her when she moved to us. There is no way we could have changed her name as well. That would have made her feel that there was something wrong with her name. And there isn't

Lilka Wed 29-Jan-14 16:02:33

I think the importany thing is to keep our childrens (on an individual level, because there is no consensus nor solution that would suit every situation) best interests at heart. If we have a choice on whether or not to change name, then our children deserve to have parents who thought carefully about what to do and made a decision keeping their childs needs in the forefront of their minds.

Of course sometimes there is no choice, and sometimes it's very obvious what to do eg. a baby called, say, "Ilovehitler". (I made that up!)

But leaving the obvious aside, there are many things that may or may not apply to your situation...how unusual a name is, linking in directly with security issues, age of child, and so on. Yes I think it does well to keep in mind that your childs (birth) name might be very important to them later on

We can't guaruntee we will make a decision that will work out brilliantly, or a decision that our children will be 100% comfortable with. But if you can make a decision which was based on what you thought was the best thing for your child, and you can explain to your child and honestly say "this is why I changed/kept your name and I did it because I truly thought it was in your best interests given a, b and c. But it's okay if you have conflicting feelings about it"...then you've done all you can do IMHO smile

SorrelForbes Wed 29-Jan-14 16:02:33

This is all really interesting and has really made me think! However, if a 6 yr old girl already dislikes her name (and trust me, she cringes if we say it out loud because people stare, do double takes and laugh) then surely changing it would be a sensible thing to consider.

To clarify I'm not talking about an unusual name like Persephone or an old fashioned name like Ethel.

Lilka Wed 29-Jan-14 16:08:11

I should say that

DD1 chose (totally by herself) to change her middle names, and picked 2 new ones out before informing me what her new name was

DD2 kept all her names bar surname the same

Because of a security issue with DS, I gave him a new first name, moving his former first name to be a middle name. He was 2 at the time, now age nearly 9 he loves his name and says he likes it better than his old first name. We'll see how he feels when he grows up, I would be totally comfortable if he wanted to go by his old first name at a later stage. It is, after all, HIS name

I tend to lean towards keeping the name as much as possible, BUT at the same time, don't underestimate security issues. Also, I think adding a new middle name (whilst retaining the first and other middle name/s as they are) is a lovely thing to do, and I would struggle to see any serious downsides to doing that. Say, Lily Mary Brown becomes Lily Mary Sarah Smith, or Lily Sarah Mary Smith.

CheeryGiraffe Wed 29-Jan-14 16:09:21

Hayley There is a difference between a name you'd never personally choose and which is unusual, and one that's just silly. The example that SorrelForbes mentioned about a little girl being teased, and asking to change her name is a prime example of why sometimes names should be changed (even if it's just amending the spelling, or moving the birth name to a middle name). I don't think for a second that Closer was implying you should have changed your DD's name, just that in some circumstances it's OK. There are also instances where a name has to be changed in order to protect the child and is done so at the insistence of Social Services. As with all things on planet adoption, there is no hard and fast rule. What is right for one child and family, isn't for another. smile

Angelwings11 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:09:28

Our AD had an unusual and distinct first name and there was (is) a security issue. We tried to shorten this name, however we were led by our AD who responded only to the name that we since have changed it to.

This is an emotive subject, one opinion is that by changing a name is it is essentially 'claiming' a child and that BF have given these children DNA, undiaginosed Mental health issues etc, early life trauma. Others
opinions say you are rejecting part of them by changing it and that this is the only thing that BF have given them. There are no wrong or right answers here I think.

I know many adopters who have changed the first names of their children, so I do think it is more common than people think.

On another note I think some BP are becoming more savvy in their choice of names, giving quite identifiable, made up names (Jme -jamie, Kce- kacey just a number I have seen in the children who wait magazine) to make tracing their children easier.

Lilka Wed 29-Jan-14 16:10:10

Sorrel for an older child, I think the childs own feelings and wishes must be given top priority. If I adopted a 6 year old who didn't like her name, then I wouldn't hesitate to let her pick a new one out. The child gets to choose, unless they want their new name to be something very rude, offensive etc, in which 'foot goes down'

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:10:33

I totally agree Lilka if there is a need to for security but the thought of changing a name because it doesn't fit makes me really uncomfortable.

Our DD loves the middle name that we added, not least because it's the same name as her 90 year old Great-Granny!

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:12:42

cheery I'm well aware that it's not a one size fit all approach, was just stating my opinion

MrsRuffdiamond Wed 29-Jan-14 16:29:51

Sorry, this is off-topic, but I was interested to read the made-up names Angelwings mentioned, as I had no idea this was a 'thing' until a friend of mine recently said that he had come across such a name at work (nothing to do with adoption) - K-A (pronounced Kadasha).

I thought he was joking at first! (I actually quite like it!)

Hels20 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:36:03

What an interesting thread! DH and I would like to change DS's name - not because we intensely dislike it but because it is so rare (you can check how rare a name is v easily on ONS website) and we don't live a million miles from BP.

We have been concerned from the word go about DS's name - and would like to change it - at least legally - by putting his current first name as his middle name and putting a very ordinary name (but a name that means something to us) as his first name. But we are meeting pressure from SWs. And as we haven't put in formal adoption application - unsure exactly how to handle this (although, as soon as we adopt, we can change name anyway!)

Interestingly, I have a friend who fosters whose foster children who were adopted had their names changed. Too much playground teasing - and at 6 or 7 the children changed their names.

Hayleyh34 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:39:51

I think my worry would be that the children would think that nothing in this world is permanent and solid including who they are.

My DD still worries about being told that she's getting a new mummy and daddy and it is a massive source of worry to her. The one thing that has always stayed the same for her is her name.

Hels20 Wed 29-Jan-14 17:16:27

Appreciate your views Hayley but for me it is all about traceability. I do have serious concerns about BP tracking him down when he is 12 or 13 and going through that difficult teenage phase.

Lots of excellent advice here, for me, and so helpful thank you.

What I found hard at the prep group was that we were not told to take into consideration the needs of the child etc or the security issues or anything else, we were told don't change the name!

This discussion is very grown up and mature in that it takes into consideration that not all situations will be the same and not all needs will be the same.

I also feel that facebook is a major game changer. If our adopted child (not yet matched) wants to go on facebook as a teenager he/she will need to be aware of name things, so whatever choices we make at every stage will be in their best interest and not in ours. As I said before naming a child does not (in my humble opinion) work out quite so easily in real life!

I do like the idea of adding a middle name. I had not really thought of that.

Lilka wise as ever. Thanks to all.

Please keep your perspectives coming, please, and real life examples of how things have worked out.

KristinaM Wed 29-Jan-14 18:42:06

I am an adoptee. My name was changed and it doesn't bother me. Both versions were equally ordinary, it wasn't a security issue.

I don't really see how a name I had for a year or so is somehow more ME or my REAL name than the one I've had for more than 40 years. I find it rather bizarre when people ask me what is my " real name " ( obviously I'm fake ) .

Likewise, I don't understand people saying " it's the only thing my birth parents gave me " . Really??? I don't know about you, but I got my entire DNA, my hair colour, eyes, eyesight, skin colour and every single part of my body from my birth parents. My medical conditions, family history, Many of my mannerisms, my likes and dislikes, my love of sport, gardening etc etc.

So I'm unsure where all these other adopters got their bodies and minds from ! A few letters on one birth certificate rather than another seems very insignificant to me compared with all that .

In addition, I know lots of adoptees who have got plenty other things from their birth parents - addictions, brain injuries , abuse and lifelong psychological damage . I bet they wish that a name was " the only thing their birth parents gave them. "

If only adoption was that straightforward -that our children arrived as little blank slates with a luggage label attached to their name, printed with their name , the only legacy from their birth parents hmm

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 29-Jan-14 18:45:19

Yes, thanks for starting this Italian as it's been on my mind too as we go into stage 2. I think it's coming down to pros and cons on both sides and looking at your own unique child, their history and past present and future identity.

And I suppose it's a continuum innit? From a ten month old baby named 'Shithead' (that was a famous one in the States I think - it's allegedly pronounced 'Shu-teed') after his abusive parent, to a 9 year old named Jane after her grandmother, and all things in between....

golemmings Wed 29-Jan-14 19:54:12

Interesting points Kristina. I'm adopted too. I was adopted from birth and my adoptive parents changed my name from that which my birth mother gave to me.

other than a vest and a baby grow I do feel it was one of the key things she chose for me. I wasn't planned but she chose to give me life and to give me a better life than that which she could have provided.

for that I am grateful and I added my original birth name back in as a confirmation name.

is my birth name part of my identity? No. Is its inclusion a mark of respect to a young, scared sigle woman who put me up for adoption? Yes.

I am awae though that my situation probably occurs very rarely these days though.

Bananaketchup Wed 29-Jan-14 20:11:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

allthingswillpass Wed 29-Jan-14 20:23:09

All cases are unique in adoption.
Our LO came home 6 months ago and we felt his name didn't need changing. It's not what we would have chosen but it's grown on us over time and is pretty common.
We felt that as soon as we heard about him then met FF & FC, he just fitted his name and by the time we met him, we couldn't imagine calling him anything else so AO is in and we didn't change his name or add anything.
I know adopters that have been advised to change names for security reasons and others that have added a first or middle name.
You have to do what feels right IMHO.

Angelwings11 Wed 29-Jan-14 20:28:47

Hels20 have you applied for the AD order yet? If you live close to the BP's and he has an identifiable name I would seriously be pushing to alter it slightly or change it. The SW should know that FB is a major problem with BF/AC initiating contact without going through the appropriate channels....just read the many adoption forums. Many of my adopter friends had the birth name as a middle name.

Moomoomie Wed 29-Jan-14 20:40:29

We kept all three girls names.
Dd1 has a very unusual name with an unusual spelling. I think she rather likes the individuality of her name.
Dd2 has a unisex name, which to me was the most difficult to come to terms with, it is not particularly unusual, she now goes by an abbreviation of this name and does not like us to use her full name. We also use a nick name for her.
Dd3 has a very pretty name, also popular, it has been in the top ten for the last few years. It was hyphenated but we dropped the second part. We changed her middle name as she had birth mums name as her middle name. She also is known at times by a nick name.

Moomoomie Wed 29-Jan-14 20:43:15

Ironically we were told we could change dd3 name, as BM and bd were living in the same town as us, we decided not to as it was not unusual, if it had have been, we would have thought about changing it.
I think while you are waiting for a child, you imagine the worst names possible.

TeenAndTween Wed 29-Jan-14 20:44:52

One thing I've not seen mentioned yet is relating to siblings and traceability.

Two siblings might have individually not massively unusual names, say Kascey, and Alfie. But pairing them up as Kascey-and-Alfie makes them more findable and noticable.
On google - Kascey 7000 hits, Alfie 3.8 million, both together only 172 hits.

I don't think a first name should be changed without good reason, but in adoption I think there can quite often be good reasons.

CloserThanYesterday Wed 29-Jan-14 20:49:51

My post wasn't a direct response to you hayley ... I can completely see your reasoning. Those are just some of the thoughts I've been having on the subject - I just wondered if a change of name would be so very bad for every child.

I guess each individual situation is different and adopters have to be careful they are thinking of their child, and not just themselves.

crazeekitty Wed 29-Jan-14 20:57:04

Oh how I wish I could change dd's name. A. For security and B. Because it has a double meaning which some people with a particular lifestyle will pick up on. She is too naive to know but when I told one friend dd's name (before placement) she actually said "what?! You can call a child THAT?"

Her name shows so little respect to my poor lo and it really hurts that she is actually proud of it because it is 'unusual'.

So yes, I use a nickname which I hope will stick. A stick-name.

BettyBotter Wed 29-Jan-14 21:02:07

What do people think about double-barreling the original name with a new name in order to keep the former but use the latter? Is this a sensitive compromise or the worst of all worlds?
e.g. People I know well adopted a dd about 3 with an extremely unusual name - along the lines of KD'Scha pronounced Kadesha. They double-barrelled it with a name they chose to make KD'Scha-Rose (obviously not that) and then gradually in family situations dropped the first bit and used just the Rose bit. Her official name on passports etc remained the double-barrelled version but friends and nursery etc began to use Rose too.

I realise this wouldn't work in lots of situations but it seemed a fairly good way of respecting her name and origins while adapting it in a way that fitted her family. I don't know what I think

SorrelForbes Wed 29-Jan-14 21:03:36

My DFC's name always gets negative comments. I honestly don't think she'll ever be proud of it. It honestly is on the same level as being called 'Hoover' or 'Magimix' or 'Raleigh Chopper'

excitedmamma Wed 29-Jan-14 21:05:24

My AD has an unusual name.

We have previously fostered other children and one in particular had a name that I really did not like. I am incredibly ashamed to admit that it did affect me and I found it incredibly difficult to bond blush blush

Whilst I understand on name changing for 'stupid names' and security issues.. I do think that if YOU don't like the name - then you should not be considering this child.

My opinion is that it is fundamental to who they are - their identity, a 'tangible' link to their birth family and it should not be considered as something that can be changed just because YOU don't like it.

Yeah, sure, you inherit DNA and genes from your birth parents too, but a name is more 'meaninful', 'thoughtful' and very often has a link to wider family. (Which like it or not.. they do have!!)

Putting your 'stamp' on the child (for want of a much better phrase) to me, is not important... the 'stamp' is your parenting skills, nurture... its not about 'ownership'.

I can understand the addition of a middle name - I have no problem with that - although we are not adding anything to our AD's... she is getting our surname and to me that is the most important one!! smile

We are fortunate to love our dd's unusual name - it is WHO she is - it is a name that will take her far in life (we believe).

I don't always agree with SW's.. but I'm with them on this...

MyFeetAreCold Wed 29-Jan-14 21:37:45

We've changed DD's name for security.

Absolutely nothing to do with putting our stamp on her or claiming ownership or not liking her original name and everything to do with it putting her and her brother at risk.

We also were told at prep not to change names, but in the same sentence they also told us some BM's deliberately give their children odd names to make them traceable. This was the case here.

We have done this with the support of SS.

Whatutalkinboutwillis Wed 29-Jan-14 22:13:29

We have kept our ds first name but removed his many middle names and given him a new middle name of our choice. Luckily his first name is a popular normal name that we had considered for ds1!

TulipsfromAmsterdam Wed 29-Jan-14 22:14:15

We received lots of conflicting advice during prep course. We were given leaflets which were both for and against changing first names though the SW's were very against it.
Then we were asked by lo's guardian if we were going to change name for security as the Judge had asked. The SW's were still against it and advised us not to for all the reasons previously mentioned regarding identity.
Our new SW came to visit and during discussions said often families will use the new middle name as known by name for schools etc so things got more confusing.
Lo has been with us since discharge from hospital so almost 2 years and we are all very used to his quite unusual name. I know I was a bit surprised when fostering SW called and first mentioned it but it suits and would be very difficult to change now smile

Devora Wed 29-Jan-14 22:26:42

dd came to us with an unusual name with a unique spelling. We were first linked with her when she was 6 months old, which is a good time to change a name if you're going to do it, but we were very good and accepted as gospel that we shouldn't. we did, however, ask matching panel if we could spell her name the correct, received way, because it really would have made her stand out like a sore thumb at school, and she would spend her life correcting people's spelling.

When she was 18 months old her social worker disclosed to us that the security threat was much, much worse than we had originally been led to believe. We were very shaken, and raised this at a review meeting. The 3 social workers in the room suggested we change her name. I said, "I thought we weren't allowed to", and they shrugged and said that most adopters do.

Words can't describe how annoyed with them I was. We could have discussed this sensibly a full year before - now, it felt like a much bigger deal to change her name. In the end, our solution was to shorten her name to a version that is very, very similar but much more popular (and so less traceable). Though we have always called her by the nickname she acquired in foster care, so she won't have noticed any difference.

I do respect the rationale for, generally, not changing children's names. In our case, the security concerns were serious enough that I would have changed the name if we'd known in time, but I think I would have used her birth mother's middle names, which are very pretty and I think would have honoured the intention.

Thanks so much for so many great bits of information.

And thank you especially to Kristina and golemmings for giving the perspective of someone who has been through adoption from the child's perspective.

Hels20 you said you can check how rare a name is v easily on ONS website, what's the ONS website?


Sorry I know what the ONS website is, now, I mean how can you check!!

Hels20 Wed 29-Jan-14 23:39:17

There's an excel spreadsheet you can download with all names registered in a particular year.

holycowwhatnow Wed 29-Jan-14 23:56:00

We kept dd's name, but in fairness, it's a lovely and very international name. Friends of ours who also adopted from Russia kept their children's names and I would have changed them in their case because the names are very hard to get your tongue and head around. Having grown up with a relatively unusual name myself (which I've always hated) I think it's really important for the child to like the name they use. I had the same arguments in a conversation with our SW that Kristina made- that the birth parents give so much more than just the name and that I wanted to be able to choose a name for my child. As it turned out, I loved DD's name.

When dd started talking, she shortened her name herself and this is the name that everyone uses for her now, but she does know her full name. Many moons ago, when I was pg with ds (now 13), the secretary of my fertility dr was called this name (shortened dd's name) and I LOVED it, it was on my girls' shortlist.

In short, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to the name question. You just have to be doing what you're doing with your child's best interests at heart.

JammieMummy Thu 30-Jan-14 00:03:03

We also had SWs on our prep course being absolutely clear that it was never acceptable to change a child's name and as someone who didn't take their husband's name when we got married I totally understood why and was an avid believer in this approach.

However, fate played a hand as it often does when I am fixed on an idea and we were matched with DD. Her name was so unusual (literally no other children had this name) and there were so many genuine security threats that the SW (same one that ran our prep group) said if we didn't change her name then we would not be considered for her and they would consider adopters that would change the name. We were told we weren't even allowed to put it as a middle name. She was just under 2 when we started introductions, we started calling her by birth name (X) then we called her birth name and new name (X-Y) then about a week after she moved in with us we dropped the X and just called her Y. She immediately responded to new name and has done ever since, she loves her name and although she knows she has "another name" she doesn't identify with it at this time. We have kept her birth middle name though.

When DS came he had a relatively normal name but it was a combination of two of his siblings names (think jack and lawson = Jackson although clearly not that name). We also did research and apparently there was a study where siblings resented each other and AP's if one had been given a new name and the other hadn't as the birth named child didn't feel claimed and often felt the other child was favoured or loved more. This combined with not having his "own" name meant we raised it with the SW, who immediately agreed it should be changed. Which we did in a similar way to DD although he was much younger so it was much easier to do and we put his original first name as a middle name incase he would like to be known by it in future.

We did not pick names similar to the original names, we took the opportunity to pick names we thought would suit them now and when they were older, that also have lots of abbreviations so they can "choose" how they are known if they want to. We also picked the names for their meanings so we could tell them that.

I have to say it was easy to change DS's name as it never felt like it suited him for some reason but for DD I didn't mind her unusual name and it was hard to think of her as a different person with a different name. I have written both children letters explaining fully the reasons for the name changes and why their new names were picked. And we met DD's Grandmother who's first statement to us was "I hope you have changed her name" so not all family wanted her to have it.

One last thought to put out there though, I work with birth families (not a SW) and lots of them put no or little thought into a name! Or they put in the thought to make it as identifiable as possible with no consideration for how the child will grow up with such a name. I know of one mother who SWs rang everyday for 6 weeks saying "what shall we call the baby." in the end she said "I don't care, just call it X". I was gobsmacked when the mother told me that and told me she didn't care if adopters changed it. I hope to god they did as I would hate to have been given my name with such little though and great contempt.

Thanks Jammie, Holycow and all. It is really helpful to hear these perspectives.

Can I ask in terms of security what are the concerns? I mean I know about not putting photos on line and on facebook but what are the other concerns about names specifically.

Can random people access school files etc? I would hope not but I am just trying to work out what the issues are.

Please do PM me if you would prefer to.

Thanks for the interesting discussion.

cedar12 Thu 30-Jan-14 07:44:33

I would have thought it would make it easier to trace them when they are older and go on Facebook etc

DesperatelySeekingSanity Thu 30-Jan-14 08:13:45

Many GP surgeries now flash up the full name on a screen when it is appointment time. Relies on someone being present in the surgery at the same time, but has been an issue for foster carers.

School rolls, class lists being given out to all parents. Photos in paper with full name even if permission not granted.

Dd has a very unusual name, which we have chosen not to change. But we did swap her middle names, and we did attempt to tweak her name into something a little less usual. However it really didn't fit - her name is who she is.

That said, friends have recently adopted and changed the adopted child's name as it was the same name as a sibling.

JammieMummy Thu 30-Jan-14 08:21:20

There is of course the Facebook concern but that isn't until they reach a certain age.

Our DD had to be adopted out of area due to snatching risks but even so we still live (just) less than an hours drive from the area birth parents live. BP have a very wide network of "friends" and if a small brown haired girl was called X in our local park on 99 days out of 100 it would be fine, but there was a possibility on the 100th day someone's ear would prick up. The would click it is an unusual name and a general description of the child, put 2 and 2 together and contact BP's. Our BP would think nothing of driving an hour and sitting in the park for weeks (in shifts) to have the opportunity to take her.

The other side of it is we are not allowed to send photographs to BP as they are both prolific Facebook users. Recently there was a situation where some (not our) BP posted a recent letter box picture on a poster saying the boy has been "taken" from them and they were searching for him on Facebook. Another parent at the boys school contacted them and told them where he was! They turned up at the school and in the end the adopted family had to move areas and the boy schools as they just couldn't keep him safe, let alone the stress of the situation.

These are extreme examples but these were the real risks to our daughter. Also if she ever won an award or achievement (school like to put the "star of the week"'s name on their websites) she wouldn't have been allowed to have that recorded on any Internet based anything (website etc) which we didn't feel was fair to her as she grew older and especially aged 6, 7, 8 etc she would find this particularly difficult to understand. You could literally google her name and only she would have come up from the UK!

So I think for us it was an extremely unusual name combined with particularly determined BP and the need to keep our DD safe. Now I know it was absolutely the right choice, but when we first heard until she settled into her new name I found it very difficult.

Does that explain the risks a bit better? Can anyone think of any more?

KristinaM Thu 30-Jan-14 08:54:14

Re Facebook -if I had any children for whom I had a security concern, I would have the following rules ( for parents and children )

No real name on Facebook
No real photo on profile page
Only RL friends to be Fb friends
Control over who tags you in photos

It doesn't protect you from friends of friends but it does stop you being traceable on random searches

Angelwings11 Thu 30-Jan-14 09:05:45

Our AD as previously mentioned had an unusual and quite distinct name. When I put the name into a search engine it had only minimal hits within the UK. She was moved a considerable distance from where she was born due to security and her SW was very matter of fact when she said BM would search for her. In our AD CPR it stated that no photographs should be exchanged. So you can understand why we were in favour of changing it completely.

In regard to other security measures we take, we do not nor do our family/friends publish photos online and I have not given permission for my daughters pre-school to publish photographs nor distribute images to other parents. DH works for a major IT company and knows that face recognition technology is invented and very soon will be available for consumers, so we are very strict upon this.

we were advised to refer to BM as either BM or by her first name (her name/surname although not unheard of is quite uncommon when combined together) when we talk to our AD about her; this being in the event of our AD trying to search without the appropriate support etc. When we sign letter box we do so by saying 'from the adoptive parents' (I am the only person within the UK who has this combination of name and surname).

italiangreyhound have you looked on any adoption forums about this subject? I am part of one (happy to pm the address) and many of the adopters with older children (teenagers) have stated that if they were adopting today then they WoULd change their childrens names. Many have had disruptions and/or some very confused children. Sometimes it has been through searches by the AC and BP. At times due to the complexities of BF; for instance, where some siblings have direct contact and others not within the same family can create issues: unsolicited exchange of photographs etc, siblings passing on the new name of their brother/sister....

Some of my adopter friends live within the same county/town/borough as the BF and have even been warned from going to certain towns in case they bump into them.

JammieMummy Thu 30-Jan-14 09:11:48

I agree with KristinaM that there are measures you can put in place for when your children are able to use Facebook if that is your only concern. Although you also have to trust your teenagers will do everything you ask of them! Mine are still little so not sure how that will be in a few years time.

My biggest hope is the like "friends reunited" and "MySpace" Facebook loses its appeal and becomes un-cool before my children get to that age! As although they cant be traced by name I just don't like the concept of facebook at all and I am not sure I would trust any teenager not to have a wobbly moment and search for BP (again a common problem) without understanding the full implications.

JammieMummy Thu 30-Jan-14 09:18:46

angelwings your situation sounds similar to ours and we take the same precautions as you with regards to not allowing any friend etc to put a photo of them on the Internet etc.

However a few years have gone by for us and I allow her school to post images of her (thus far news letter only not online) but will allow online in time as BP have no photos of her over the age of 2 and she is a very different looking child now! Does your husband think face recognition technology will be able to recognise say a 5 year old's face when a 2 year old's photo is scanned in?

cedar12 Thu 30-Jan-14 09:25:08

Gosh this thread has made me panic a bit for the future.My ds has an unusual name.
Ss says that Bm is not security risk, but I think she would be quite easy to trace when he is older. If he decides to trace his bm I would like him to be able to do it on his terms. When he is 18, what is she allowed to do re tracing? The birth dad has disappeared as far as I know.
When I met bm she said she knew wasn't allowed to see him until he was 18. I think there is a high chance of her trying to trace him as soon as he turns 18. Is it true that she can try and contact us even if he doesn't want it? or can she just put a lettrr on his file.

Moomoomie Thu 30-Jan-14 09:55:20

My oldest dd 14 years old is on Facebook, she is under a totally different name, she chose to do this herself. She has all the securities in place so she can't be traced and does not post photographs. TBH she doesn't post much at all, she uses it more to message her friends privately.
It is the same with photos of school plays etc, which is always an emotive subject on MN! We have said no photos in the media and on school website etc, but we have not said no photos of school plays, it is a risk you have to take based on the facts you have been given.

Hayleyh34 Thu 30-Jan-14 10:26:41

I think it's really important to be mindful of security but also not to panic. Unless someone has a really distinctive first name then I'm unsure how birth parents will trace them when they won't know the last name or the area that they live in?

Every situation is different and I would hate the thought that prospective adopters are left thinking that it's the norm to change your child's name to stop birth parents abducting them or that all prospective children have really distinctive names.

When we were looking through profiles, the majority of children had bog standard names apart from a handful. We are careful with security issues but try not to over worry about it

RabbitRabbit78 Thu 30-Jan-14 11:34:27

This is a very interesting thread! It was drummed into us by SWs that we weren't to change DS's first name for reasons as given by other above (I think I phrased it badly as the only thing BPs give them, I am still working some of this out in my head).

I am surprised to hear that so many adopters do change names because of what SWs said to us (security issues etc notwithstanding) - in fact they told us not to consider matching with children whose name we wouldn't want to keep. Luckily this was never an issue as all the profiles we saw were relatively ordinary names... Definitely gives us something to think about next time around!

FWIW... We have changed his middle name! I agree with what people have said up thread about the claiming process. Everything in adoption seems to be a thorny issue of one kind or another!

AngelsWithSilverWings Thu 30-Jan-14 12:18:36

My DS has an unusual name ( we had never heard it before although in the US it's very common and I think it is becoming more popular in the UK)

It means that we can't allow his name to appear anywhere that would link him to our home or his school or local clubs as his name is too easily recognisable.

My DD wasn't named by her BM as she was abandoned at the hospital where she was born. The nurses named her but on arrival at her foster carer's she was given a new name as she apparently didn't look like an X as she was clearly a Y! So now she has both names and we gave her an extra middle name that was special to us.

drspouse Thu 30-Jan-14 13:17:34

cedar if your son's Bmum wants to try and trace him via FB, there is nothing legally to stop her doing that when he is 18. You might want to read the other thread on here by the friend of a birth family.

Our DS also didn't have a name and so rather than perpetually be known as "Baby Boy" we gave him a name. His birthmum gave him lots of things, some good, some bad, but we gave him his name.

We have also been told the name is "the only thing they gave a child" which basically means that our DS's bmum didn't give him anything... which is just not true.

I would be cautious about name changes if you are not sure, if there have been name changes in the past (e.g. if FC used a nickname or middle name, perhaps because there was some uncertainty or a security risk in their town when out and about). I think there's a bit of a difference between a single name change once and several name changes. Likewise for older children it needs to be driven by them.

I originally thought I'd be happy changing the name of a child who didn't know their name, and changing the spelling for a child who didn't know how to spell it, but I'm actually coming round to thinking it's OK with slightly older children, particularly because of traceability including with siblings (as someone has said).

Angelwings11 Thu 30-Jan-14 13:48:45

JammieMummy I will ask DH as I am unsure. On another note, there was recently a post on an adoption forum where an adopter had their picture taken by a BP for the purposes of searching for them instead....scary stuff!

There certainly seem to be different situations here. Situations where security is an issue. That is totally understandable. Others where it may not be.

Can I ask if anyone has actual contact with a birth parent? Feel free to PM me or be very evasive in your reply!

The thing coming across to me, which is wonderful (on this very polite thread, so glad it is not us being cross that people do things differently) is that different situations may call for a different approach.

This is something social workers did not explore. They also did not touch on facebook etc.

There seem to be different issues. Security in connection to school, photos and names etc, in relation to being out and about and calling their name etc, and issues to do with facebook when they are older. These issues may well not affect all children, although I think most likely all parents who have children join their family through adoption will be careful about facebook and internet.

If anyone is reading and has a very different situation, please do share, it is very helpful. I hope it is not scaring anyone, I think an open dicussion is helpful.

I must emphasise again for any parents who did not name change that I very much do not have any need to name a child in order to claim them (do not judge those who do) and I can see for some names are part of identity. I think my main issues are accessing the risks with either action and also thinking it all through while I can.

drspouse Thu 30-Jan-14 16:48:12

Yes we do - she knows his first name, and receives photos. It was not a matter of risk, and we probably would have changed his name if she had named him (looking at what she called her older children... and how badly they'd fit in here...)

Strangely it is not an issue at all for overseas adopters to change a child's name even though one of the reasons given for keeping a child's name is usually "identity" and another "culture" and children adopted from overseas would surely be losing both much more than children from the UK.

I do think 'fitting in' is really an issue for a child and not just for a family. It really depends (to me) if a name will single a child out for bullying etc. If that is the case then no matter how much the family may love and accept the name, the classmates may make life difficult for them. I wonder if this is less of an issue now? I mean 100 years ago almost everyone in the UK was called Margaret or Pat or Joan or Pam! (Women I mean!) But now there is so much choice.

I know one adult man (non-adoption related) who changed his first name because he just felt it was not him. So clearly a name is not always part of someone's identity. However, I can see a child who has had a lot of upheaval in their life may feel very strange.

As a child I read Kizzy about a traveller child who is moved into a house. When she is washed and scrubbed up the only thing that seems to remain of her old identity is her little gold earring hoops! I must have been about 12 when I read that, over 30 years ago. I wonder if what makes us identify with ourselves may vary.For me it is my hair! It has not changed for 30 years!

Lilka Thu 30-Jan-14 17:13:18

I honestly think that it's incredibly silly for any social services department to just tell all parents "you must never change names because xyz". One solution, one viewpoint....it just doesn't work like that in reality. Impressing one dogmatic view on names doesn't do anything except confuse people or leave them with questions later on

The only sensible thing to do IMHO is to address the legal realities and explain how name changing works (it amazes me that adoptive parents have to ask "how does the name change happen, do we have to deed poll?", I don't understand where SS missed out the 30 second explanation of the legalities), then lead into a frank, and genuine discussion about naming issues - and within that you can express all the potential advantages of NOT changing a name, along with an honest talk about security, facebook, when name changing is necessary, and the benefits of changing names.

Open discussion and gaining multiple viewpoints is way more helpful than a couple of hours being told why name changing must never ever happen no matter the circumstances - which is bollocks

hollyhunter Thu 30-Jan-14 17:20:25

ive been told (in an anecdotally way) by my friends who have adopted that you go to the registry office to register them as your child and a new birth cert is issued

There is nothing to stop you saying for example this was cherry-plum smith her new name is Cheri {insert your surname here}

or even her new name is Meg Ryan.

just be matter of fact about it. you will have the orginal birth cert and her identity will be maintained

good luck

Lilka Thu 30-Jan-14 17:46:53

Actually you don't need to go to a registry office (if you're in England/Wales, that's where my legal knowledge lies)

When you apply for the adoption order, there is a place on the form where you put down the childs name after adoption. You can do anything. Change the name entirely, or keep it entirely, birth surname and all. There's no rule that says you must do this or that. What you write down, is the new name.

Once the order goes through, the court sends off the paperwork to the general registry office, and they record the adoption (in the adopted childrens register) and create a new short birth certificate and adoption certificate (this is often called a long birth certificate, even though it's technically not, and this confuses lots of people). When you, the new parent, recieve the short bc, which you will be sent automatically, there should be an accompanying letter with a form you can use to order the adoption certificate (which you need to get a passport etc) and extra copies of the new short bc if you want it. I got a discount with that form, can't remember how much

KristinaM Thu 30-Jan-14 19:30:12

You only need a deed poll ( in England and Wales ) if you decide to change your child's name after the adoption order is granted.

weregoingtothezoo Fri 31-Jan-14 06:46:29

This thread has made me so sad - I usually wouldn't say this but feel accepted enough now to do so - I am left with nothing, but 7 lines a year. Naming DD (top 50 name that year, followed by my mum's name, who she spent a lot of time with and loved, and who died 2 months after she was taken into care) is one of the most special things I have. I haven't been able to sleep thinking of how insignificant that is to people. I can't imagine the mindset of someone who chooses a name so they can find a child though - naming your child is a beautiful privilege, and I spent 4/5 years telling DD it was her name because it was a beautiful name I chose for her, and it might be taken away. I take it I wouldn't get to know either if it had? Really struggling this morning - maybe this might give someone the other side of the story.

hollyhunter Fri 31-Jan-14 07:34:13

weregoingtothezoo in your particular case i maybe i would keep the mainstream name

however if you have 3 children called tom dick and harry and then you adopt a Kahley (carly) the name is going to stick out like a sore thumb, surely its better for the child to integrate into the family that they will spend the rest of thier life with?

JammieMummy Fri 31-Jan-14 07:47:21

weregoingtothezoo if we had adopted your child we would never have changed the name! She was 4/5 years old which is far too old to change a name and it was a popular name if it was in the top 50. I cannot see any reason why in this situation a name change would be allowed.

If it helps at all DH and I agonised over the name changes to our 2 and kept DDs middle name and gave DS his first name as a middle name. As I say about we were told we had to for very specific reason, but it definitely wasn't a decision we took lightly.

I think it is incredibly unfair you only receive 7 lines about your daughter a year, I know of thankfully a small number of adopters who take this approach to letterbox contact and I absolutely do not understand it!

weregoingtothezoo Fri 31-Jan-14 09:07:21

Sorry, made it sound like this is the first time I've thought of it - it's not, at the end of the final hearing, the judge said, so, is she going to stay a XXXXXX to which the social worker looked sheepish and said, yes, yes, she is... but then if she wasn't ( she was 6 by then) they were hardly going to say so to me, were they...
No point worrying as nothing I can do but it's those sort of things that keep you up at night.

Pigeonhouse Fri 31-Jan-14 09:42:17

But surely, even taking security concerns into account, if relevant, no one is going to change a six-year-old's name, whatever it is?

* weregoingtothezoo* I am so very sorry that a thread I started has cause you any pain. I do not for one minute think any person would change a child's name on whim. I think adoptive parents think very seriously about the whole issue of names. It was the social workers blanket 'never change a name' which I found hard to understand.

I am sure you knew that this can happen, but please be reassured lots of people have also come on and said that they have kept the child's name unchanged, so please do not be discouraged. You can see that several people have also spoken about very unusual names, where maybe a very small number of people have that name. It is not going to be the same in a situation with a popular name.

Thank you weregoingtothezoo for sharing the other side of the picture. In my humble opinion I believe your child has your genes, whether her hair or eyes are the same as yours or not, it is your body that determined a lot of things about her, please be reassured that we are made up of so much more than just a name (IMHO). My heart goes out to you and I am very sorry that this has affected you.

tea4two4three Fri 31-Jan-14 18:08:26

I think there is a very big difference here between 'unusual' names and the plain ridiculous. I know a child adopted at 5, so yes old enough to make his own decision, whose name meant a dumb woman who wasn't very bright and slept a round. As soon as he was taken into care he changed it, it had been a massive source of embarrassment to him. I actually feel angry thinking about it as I know officials completing birth certificates can object. However if you just don't like the name Tulisa or Chardonnay then I think you're going to just have to suck it up, come up with a good nickname and take your child's lead as they get older.

Hels20 Fri 31-Jan-14 18:51:01

I know of a 7 year old who, after being adopted for 3 years, wanted to change his name because he had become the laughing stock at school. He did not want to stick out any more - he stuck out enough being adopted. The name was not a proper name - but an adjective. Zoo - I would hope that you would agree that perhaps this child and parent could change the name and that it was for the best (SS wanted adoptive parents to change the name because it was so traceable).

I don't dislike my DS's name - but it is about 2,500th most popular for the year he was born - and because we live so close to the birth parents and because of the circumstances he was taken into care, we have serious security and safety concerns. If I had a name that was in top 200 - even if not my taste - or I lived 100 miles away, we wouldn't be thinking of changing the name.

Zoo - please continue to chip in. Your "other perspective" is very important. And I am staggered you are only being given 7 lines - I have no intention of writing such a restrictive letter to my DS's BM. I feel your hurt and I am so sorry if this thread and everyone's thoughts on it have been opening up an old wound. Hugs.

drspouse Fri 31-Jan-14 19:09:47

Our DS' name is at about 125th for the year he was born - which you'd think would be common enough - but there are 2 5 year olds in our town with the name and none his age or (so far) younger. So even at that ranking, if he had a name chosen by birth family and they were close, we might have had to change it. That said, a child over about 4 is going to need to want to change their name.

RationalThought Fri 31-Jan-14 23:01:33

Our DC is 5 and came to us two weeks ago. Although we wouldn't have chosen his name, it is not uncommon and we have no intention of changing it. We will change his middle name (to one of his choice), but his first name is an important part of his identity. Luckily there are no major security issues as bm agreed to adoption order.

Happiestinwellybobs Sat 01-Feb-14 08:05:06

DD was very young when she came, and with a name that I wouldn't have chosen myself. Not a wacky one, just very unusual - think it is ranked somewhere around 500 - 1000. There aren't any security concerns. Birth parents are some distance away.

We do get comments about her name being unusual, but very positive comments.

We have added middle names from our family history so she has her original identity and a link to our past too.

It didn't occur to change the name, but had there been security concerns, the name was misspelt, or a made up name, I would have had no qualms in doing so, and explaining to her later why that was.

I do remember (after spending so much time at the prep course looking at examples of unusual names of LAC, identity issues...) getting that first telephone call about DD. After listening to all the information, the SW said, "do you want to know her name". I took a deep breath and told her to "sock it to me". When she told me, I went, "oh thank god!!" Goodness knows what she thought! grin

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 01-Feb-14 10:49:41

I wrote a long reply to this thread that has just got lost <humph>


I think the starting point should always be to retain names wherever possible. If not possible, to change to something similar (eg more usual spelling). If not, then so be it. I don't believe any adoptive parents would change a name on a whim, or because they have always wanted a child called X.

We kept DD's middle name because it is lovely, not rare, and suits her perfectly. We gave her a new middle name so that both she and DS have a fairly random first name plus a family name.

I completely agree with the poster above about names that "fit" into the new family: we are determined not to have "the birth child and the adopted child", but this would be so much harder with eg a Sebastian and a Kaycee-Chardonnay. It would diminish DD's ability to choose who knew about her being adopted, and I can't see how overall this would benefit her, even if on the other hand she got to retain a link to her birth parent(s).

Lilka Sat 01-Feb-14 17:56:57

I have come across the attitude if "Of course I'm going to change the name and not be bothered about it, because I'm the legal parent so I have the right to name my own child". However most of those few people were posters on a predominantly American forum, so there might be a cultural attitudes towards adoption difference, I'm not sure (and there were plenty who had completely the opposite viewpoint). Also I remember a couple of people saying (one person having been told so by her foster daughters, who were 5 I think, therapist) that it was really important to give the child a new name so they could have a new start, even if they were older. Which I disagreed with but an interesting different opinion

zoo thanks for contributing. I think hearing things from all sides is good

With an older child like your daughter, things are usually very different than with a baby. If I were adopting another older child, I would be doing the exact same thing as last 2 times - child's choice as far as is possible and reasonable. Of course, I don't know what I'd do if I had a very serious security concern with an older child and an unusual name. There was a security issue with DD1but this was the days before Facebook and mass internet use everyday so it wasn't the same.

Naming is very special to some people. Not so much for me and I'm very comfortable with my children having names I didn't choose for them, but for some parents, well I'm sure the idea that they couldn't name their own adoptive child must be incredibly upsetting, if they place more importance on names than me and if naming their child would be extremely special and important for them. I would still say that the child's best interests must be at the forefront of such a decision, but we must acknowledge and validate people's feelings. That's another thing poor preparation and the dogma "no name must ever be changed regardless of the circumstances" gets wrong, IMHO. Lots of adoption issues are really emotive, naming being one of them, and addressing everyone's emotions sensitively is more helpful than ignoring them

By the way - my first name is, IMHO, a nice one. But in the time and place and community I grew up in, it was very unusual. It would have been a totally unremarkable name in a different community in a different area, but not for me - I stood out. And I didn't like it purely because of that, although I was never bullied or anything beyond mild teasing. But I was sensitive to the teasing. As an adult however, I've come to really like my name. So I think I would encourage (but not insist) an older child to consider keeping their original first name as a middle name if they wanted to change, (unless it was truly awful like my ilovehitler example) in case they grow up to like it better

JammieMummy Sat 01-Feb-14 18:20:58

Just as an interesting thing, not just for adopted Children's names but even for your own names this link

Shows you a chart of when the name was popular, it's trends etc it is based on the ONS so it is an English website as I used to find that most were American.

When I first found it I spent ages typing in random names! blush

JammieMummy Sat 01-Feb-14 18:25:44

Angelswings would you mind PM'ing me the other adoption forum you chat on? I used to use one but it's format drastically changed and I just couldn't get to grips with it and so have been without one since.

I hope you dont mind me asking

Lilka Sat 01-Feb-14 18:40:18

Ooh thanks JammieMummy I saw that ages ago but couldn't find it again

DD1's name just doesn't come up at all. It's that rare! But the shortening/nickname of her name is quite popular
DD2's name has moved all of 1 space in 18 years, and it's below 2000
DS name is popular (I deliberately made sure his new first name was a consistently popular one)

Interesting...goes of to search more random names...

Moomoomie Sat 01-Feb-14 18:47:58

Jammie.... I just put dd1 name in that graph. Only 3 babies registered with that name the year she was born. Goodness that is low!

Lilka Sat 01-Feb-14 18:54:58

7 babies with DD2's name in her year of birth. Not as uncommon as 3 babies but still, it's a pause for thought

No DD1's in that year. Or any year for that matter. And yet there are quite a few of them come up on Facebook. In different countries clearly!

Lilka Sat 01-Feb-14 18:56:18

Oh yeah...6 other babies with DD2's name. The 7th was her! Not sure how that escaped me blush grin

Moomoomie Sat 01-Feb-14 19:23:12

It does make you think.
Dd3 name is actually very popular there are three of them in her year group. Her name peaked the year she was born.
As someone said earlier, it is more putting all three girls names together. For that reason I rarely call them by their names while we are out. I tend to just say "girls"

Angelwings11 Sat 01-Feb-14 21:56:42


I have just seen the message you posted! This forum was set up by an adopter who used to post on AUK before the blue bubbles appeared. Everyone is very supportive and will give you some wonderful advice without judgement. The forum is: http://adopterssupportuk.freeforums.net


JammieMummy Sat 01-Feb-14 22:27:05

Thank you - I used to be on AUK but as I said above I just cant cope with it!

JammieMummy thanks for posting that link. It is fab.

Thanks for posting all these great comments.

Can I ask, please.....do people generally find social services are good at talking about any risk factor?

Please no identifying comments, and please no scare tactics for those of us newbies!

Really are social services good at this issue?

What can prospective adopters do to consider security ourselves?

Thanks again, it is very helpful. I really want to whatever is best for whomever we adopt.

Moomoomie Mon 03-Feb-14 17:23:36

in any adoption there is risk. Our birth mother actually move to the town in which we live between the adoption of the o,der two and dd3. I wasnt aware of this before dd3 was born,so we could have passed in the town centre. In fact i was working at the same hospital on the day dd3 was born,
I suppose if you wnt lower risk you need to adopt well outsixe your local area, but even then there is no guarantee that birth fami,y wont move.

Moomoomie the way adoption has been organised up to now is by county so that encourages adoption from within county, do you think that makes it harder?

Moomoomie Mon 03-Feb-14 19:53:38

I suppose it depends on how big the county is and how transient the population is. In a way I reckon it s one of the downsides of adopting through your LA, as they will want to place their children with their adopters.
One family I know adopted through an agency and their boys come from miles amd miles away, so she does not have that worry.

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 03-Feb-14 21:06:56

London boroughs won't approve adopters who live on their borough, for security reasons, though London is densely populated enough that a) you can find a neighbouring borough reasonably easily to approve you; but b) it can sometimes be too close for comfort. Many of them now work as consortia to approve parents and place children to make the whole process easier.

Somebody suggested elongating a name, or shortening it, maybe if it is hyphenated removing part of it and having that part as a middle name. What do people think generally of that. E.G. turning Samuel in to Sam or Sam into Samuel, or Derek-James in to James (middle name Derek) or Derek (James middle name), Pennylosomina into Penny.

I wonder if the chid is called one thing but it is written as their offiicial name another way, e.g. called Andy or Andi and they were named only Andy but you give them Andrew or Andrea (depending on gender of course!).

For a child who could not write yet there would be no difference in sound.

Would you feel the need to tell birth parents?

Just curious. Does this 'count' as name changing.

All made up examples.

Birth parents reading this, please do not be offended, it is just a dicussion around this theme. I know people who have kept the name unchanged, others who have changed it a bit and some who have totally changed it. If I am honest I would have no idea what practice was more common now, I think a lot of people do keep it the same.

I just wanted to get a few views on the subject.

Thanks so much.

Moomoomie Wed 05-Feb-14 10:41:13

To be honest, until you actually hear the name of a child you are considering it is easy to get all worried and tied up in knots about it.
The child may have the same name as your dd, then you would need to ask the SW about changing it.
The majority of adopted children I know have very nice, general names, I agree, often not the adopted parents themselves would have chosen, but i would have not changed a child's name just because I would not have chosen it. Security reasons aside.

Thanks, Moomoomie. Certainly when we are sure of the name we will know what we feel but the principle is one I want to understand better. I am not worried about naming the child or even particularly worried about it being a name I like. I will grow to like it because it is them. I am concerned that an unusual name will single them out or identify them as being adopted.

The examples I gave above were purposley bland examples. Except for Pennylosomina which was totally made up! If they were called Sam or Andy it would not matter at all (to me) as they are relatively common ones.

I guess I am thinking of slightly unusual names. What counts as unusual? A ranking of 500, 1000, 2000?

I found this site useful names.darkgreener.com/ I was surprised to see some names I would have considered quite unusual are now less unusual!

drspouse Wed 05-Feb-14 12:29:07

As I said above, our DS' name is around rank 125 and there are only 3 children under 10 with his name in our town. However, the name itself wouldn't mark him out as being from any particular class, or ethnicity (though it is a name that exists, and is actually slightly more common though not much, than in the UK, in his birth country. We chose it from our UK family names, it's just a nice coincidence that it's also in existence in his birth country).

But that's the kind of number of children in your area you will get with that kind of ranking. The name ranks seem to mean that at the top you get 100s of children with that name, and likely at least 2 or 3 in their class, and they fall off very quickly so that once you get down to 80 or 100 you will only come across a very few with that name. You don't have to go far down the list for it to be unusual.

I'd worry more about "unheard of" or "culturally inappropriate" (say, Beyonce for a White British child!) than "unusual". People ask us how we chose the name and we say it's a family name. I know a lot of adopters, with an unusual but not unheard of name given by birth family, who just say the same.

Have a look here:


Olivia was the 2nd most common girl's name in 2012, and 0.65% of girls (so just over 1 in 200) girls had that name.
Jack was 3rd, and 0.8% of boys (about 1 in 120) had that name (people are less adventurous when naming boys).
Olive, however, was 260th and 1 girl in 4000 had the name and Jackson was 113th with about 1 in 1000 with that name.

And in between, Henry was 24th with 0.4% of boys having that name (so 1 in 250) and Maya was at no 53 and that was .14% i.e. 1 in about 700.

But all of those names are ones that people will have heard of and won't say "wow, where did THAT come from". (though they might be a bit judgey with Jackson, wondering if you were an odd Michael Jackson groupie - that's all I can think of really!)

So around the middle of the first 100, you do get a rapid fall-off and you are unlikely to have another child in your child's class or even year with that name, which is kind of the same as having a name around the 150 or 250 mark - as long as it's a name people have heard of, and that doesn't have unfortunate connotations.

Thanks drspouse that is very helpful. How do you extrapolate all those facts from the site. It is the one I was looking it and all I could see was the rating.

drspouse Wed 05-Feb-14 12:42:10

The percentage is on the graph.

I wonder if anyone has adopted a child with a really unusual name (not weird or wacky) just not at all common and found it OK. Please do PM me. I know a lot of people don't think about this because probably for lots of people unusual names are rare.

SorrelForbes Wed 05-Feb-14 12:53:32

Our FC's name doesn't appear on any web sites including the ONS or the dark green one. That's because it's ridiculous! Sorry, but it just is and I hope that when the adoption takes place, everyone is sensible and just lets her change it!

Moomoomie Wed 05-Feb-14 17:26:24

Dd1 has an unusual name. Only three registered the year she was born, I don't think a name alone will single them out as being adopted.

That's a good point Moomoomie. I guess maybe I am being a bit paranoid.

I guess I want them when they are older to tell whomever they want and have the freedom not to tell.

I just wanted to thank all who had taken part in the discussions about names.

I feel a name is very important.

Adoptive parents-to-be can find it beneficial to discuss this area, the importance of a name, any security issues, and of course any other things such as very odd names which could make life hard for the child.

For regular names I now feel a lot happier and more relaxed and it was through taking it through. That I think is one thing the mumsnet adoption boards do very well, allow us the space to talk and learn from others.

I feel now much more confident (and relaxed) about the whole subject.

Thank you.

StupidMistakes Mon 10-Feb-14 19:08:32

I was very keen for my son to keep his name and his adoptive parents have promised they will yet to me he will always be mummys miracle, he has a proper name, but I plan on getting a necklace with his name and date of birth one side, and mummy's miracle the other.

My sons name though not a extremely common name, is a normal name and if I were to look for one child his age across the country and travel there I still probably wouldn't have found him at 19 tbh. I was very keen for him to keep his middle name as well as it has family significance.

I think that for my ds that was already a part of his identity <he was 3 at placement> and he would say "I am mini-me" <yes mini me is instead of his name> so changing that would be confusing for him now. I also haven't dispite knowing where he was in foster care turned up and disturbed him, I would occasionally see his foster carer driving down the road as I was walking to contact centre and they would BOTH wave at me, but he was coming to see me. If I was to bump into him and he was to run up to me and cuddle me, be it right or wrong I would cuddle him back, kiss him, tell him I love him and then turn him around and send him back to his mum where he belongs, not saying that would be easy and I don't doubt tears would run down my face but that's what you do as a parent, you put your child first, and for me that's letting him go,

SM That is so lovely and so sad. Thank you for sharing. I am sure your son will grow up with a real sense of who he is.

MultipleMama Sun 07-Sep-14 13:21:37

I know this is somewhat an old thread but was linked here, so posting here in hopes to give my dad differed opinions and advice.

My dad is adopting a little boy (2), the circumstances he came to my dad were horrific, in the politest term possible, and a lot of the bio family were involved. DB has quite a few trigger words (which is heartbreaking at his age) and let's just say he would not be safe if his name were kept. Dad is very worried and concerned and wants to change his name (DB has expressed very timidly to dad that he wants a special name like my dad).

Dad is conflicted as when to do it, and now whether or not the SW will say/do anything (so far she doesn't know he plans to change it but due to circumstances he thinks she may agree with him). Also, his court date won't be until late November.

Any advice? (He will be reading this).

Devora Sun 07-Sep-14 14:10:54

Hi MultipleMama, I would suggest your dad talks to his SW about this. I"m not sure the expressed wishes of a two year old would be given much weight, but the circumstances you allude to could well lead the SW to agree that your db's emotional needs would be better met with a new name. And then I think it should happen as soon as possible, not wait till the final court date.

My name was changed when I was adopted as a baby. I changed it back to my birth name (as preferred name) age 11. My adoptive family and a couple of friends call me 'adoptive name' everyone else, including dh calls me 'birth name'. My birth name was also kept as my middle name.

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