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Changing baby's name - would really like your thoughts/experiences

(88 Posts)
fashiongirl2014 Fri 28-Mar-14 12:13:28

Hi ladies,
I must confess first that I have been lurking on here for a while but was too shy to post! I have found so many of your discussions so useful and only hope that I may be able to repay the favour in future.

I was hoping to get your views on changing a child's first name and whether it is something you have done. I am trying to understand the way people may have chosen to do this, or any tips you may be able to give me.

My husband and I have been linked to an 18 month old which we are of course thrilled about. We are going to panel in April with intros starting beginning of May.

We always said we would wait and see what our future child's name was before we had a view on whether we would change it (based on whether it was a 'normal' name or something crazy/celebrity inspired) however now we are here we are not sure what to do. There is so much emphasis from the SW to NOT change names etc "its the only good thing they ever did for them" kind of spiel which is thoroughly unhelpful! However our baby has a name we like, although the spelling is not the usual way. Our reasons for possibly wanting to change the first name in spite of this is because of the history surrounding the birth family and the type of disgusting criminal behaviour they have been involved in. We would be doing it to protect the child and really feel that under these circumstances we would be within our right to do so.

We were thinking of either keeping the name but spelling it the more usual way and adding a middle name or using the potential middle name as their new first name and making the existing first name a middle name with the usual spelling, hope that makes sense!

Would anyone have advice on how to do this or if in fact you think we shouldn't based on your own experiences? I am keen to find out how negative the responses were from SW/SS when you chose to do this and how you tackled them with it. We also need to consider that the child may be quite aware of what their name is even though they are quite young and so it may be difficult from that perspective too.

Any help/guidance would be so appreciated. Thank you!
*breathing sigh of relief having posted finally!!*

ThePartyArtist Fri 28-Mar-14 12:20:39

I don't have direct experience and would defer to other posters who do. But in my opinion, most 18month olds would know their name, therefore changing it could be very confusing. You mention not wanting people to link your child to the birth family, however how likely is this based on first name alone (not surname). Plus if it's a normal name but unusual spelling, it may be even less likely to be noticed should anyone who knows the birth family come into contact with your child. Like I say I am no expert but that is my opinion.

DaffodilDandy Fri 28-Mar-14 12:55:31

Hi FashionGirl, welcome to the adoption board!

We have discussed this with our SW and she said that normally it isn't an issue so long as you're not erasing the name totally. I would raise it with your SW in exactly the way you have posted. You feel the name in its current form is too identifying, and therefore you want to amend the spelling and use it as a middle name.

With regards to how to change it, our SW said you phase a new name in. So say the child is called Bobby, and you want to call them Joe, you'd call them Bobby-Joe for a week or two, then Joe-Bob, then drop the Bob completely. Although having said that I have heard of a couple of people just stopping the original name completely, and using the term of endearment the foster carer uses in tandem with the new name - so Sweetie Joe as an example. Our SW said so long as you ease them into their new name, there shouldn't be any problems at all - although this was discussing with young children (as yours is), so I don't know what the protocol would be for an older child.

Our SW also reminded us that once the adoption order is through, they are legally your child and you can change their name to your hearts content, but I know it feels like you're having to ask for permission at this stage.

Good luck, and hopefully someone who has actually done this will be along shortly. smile

yesnoyesnoyesno Fri 28-Mar-14 13:01:35

If you kept the name and changed the spelling I'm sure there'd be no problem at all as they can't spell it at this stage

SuburbanSpaceperson Fri 28-Mar-14 13:05:07

We changed the spelling of DS's name to the usual male version of the spelling. We had been dithering about whether to do it or not but when we got his passport, before the adoption went through so still in his birth name, the passport office had put his sex down as 'female' even though the form had been filled in correctly. We thought that it was something that was likely to keep occurring throughout his life, and although it would only be a minor annoyance it was avoidable by changing the spelling to the usual version.

We didn't change DD's name although it's very unusual (so identifiable) and hard to spell, but we might have if she had had a common name that was spelled oddly.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 28-Mar-14 13:11:34

I as a birth mum would be very upset at having my child's name changed though my son was 3 at placement and was saying I am miracle so would be very confusing for him. His name is spelt normally a fairly common name (not over used but not something obscure) so I would be extremely upset at that being changed. Everything else in both of our lives have changed. It's the only thing that remains the same. However I fully accept his last name will change once the adoption order is granted.

I think it needs to be in the childs best interests as you are then changing their identity.

Artandco Fri 28-Mar-14 13:20:52

I think at 18 months most would know their name.
However maybe if you feel the need you could change to similar so not confusing for child. Ie

Emily - change to Amelie
Ella - to bella, which could be short for Isabella/ arabella/ Gabriella etc

Does that make sense?

mrsballack Fri 28-Mar-14 13:50:33

We will very probably be changing the spelling of ds name to the more conventional (or, more accurately, the correct) spelling. He is not yet three so cannot spell his own name.
Our sws were very disapproving of changing a name altogether but acknowledged that once the order has gone through there is nothing they can do about it.

We were pretty lucky though as they both have nice, normal names. I would be very tempted to change them if they were awful, although we'd have kept the awful name as a middle name.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 28-Mar-14 13:57:09

The question also is would the birth parents be told? I wouldnt want to write to my son as Miracle and not know they changed his name to prince (obviously not actual names he has a normal name) it would make me feel obsolete especially as I was assured his first and middle names would Nt be changed also by the adoptive parents

KristinaM Fri 28-Mar-14 13:58:10

I agree with daffodil

I'm an adoptee and I don't think that changing my first name was changing my identity. The whole course of my life was changed when I was placed for adoption , changing/ not changing my first name would have made no difference to that.

I do understand that changing the child's first name might be upsetting for the birth parents. But at the end of the day, the adopters are the legal parents and they have the right to do what they think is best for their child.

I would not be discussing my thought on this with the SW.you don't have to finally decide on what you want until you submit your petition to the courts. By the your child will have been with you for many months.

The most important thing is what is right for the child, not what a SW might want or even a birth family member. It's the child who has to live with the consequences of the name, day in day out for the rest of their lives. None of these people will around picking up the pieces.

MyFeetAreCold Fri 28-Mar-14 14:29:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

findingherfeet Fri 28-Mar-14 14:44:11

I understand changing spelling if it is incorrect or to protect a child from being identified via social media etc but I really struggle with the concept of changing a child's name to better 'fit' their parents...it will surely be incredibly confusing for a child (who has no doubt already experienced considerable disruption and change) to not even be addressed by their own name!!

Totally baffles me...but then I'm one of those social workers winkwink

excitedmamma Fri 28-Mar-14 14:49:06

If its a safety risk then I understand... for pretty much any other reason I'm dead set against it

I would also be very open and upfront about it to SW's if you are intending to do it

SW's usually sometimes get it wrong, but rarely sometimes they are right about things wink

Perhaps you'll feel differently once you've met her?

Maryz Fri 28-Mar-14 14:54:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cedar12 Fri 28-Mar-14 14:59:55

We didn't change our ds name just the way it was spelt. The way it was spelt before wasn't the usual spelling. We also changed his middle name.
He was a little bit older but definitely knew his name at that age.
We were also asked at matching panel about changing names.
The social worker didn't have a issue with the changes we made as ds didn't know his middle name.
I think as long a you are doing it for security reasons you shouldn't have a problem.
I still use the old spelling of his name in letter box contact and was advised to do this by the social worker even though social services don't think we should have any security issues.

eatyourveg Fri 28-Mar-14 15:01:10

db adopted identical twins at 11 months and changed both first and middle names. They didn't have any problems - they just asked. It might depend on the age and the reasons though

cedar12 Fri 28-Mar-14 15:04:33

Also just to add I wasn't sure about my ds name, but when I met him I couldn't really imagine calling him anything else.
Maybe wait until you meet her then decide.

Hels20 Fri 28-Mar-14 16:13:35

We are going to change our DS's name legally (he was 2.5 when he came to live with us) although still call him by the name given to him by his birth parents. His old name will be his middle name. This is purely a security thing for us - we live reasonably close to the Bps (within 5 to 10 miles) and his name is very unusual - something like 8 or 9 children born in his birth year were given that name (you can check it out on the ONS which lists how many children were given every single name). My concern was that if we were e.g. in a doctor's surgery, and his name flashed up and someone was there that knew his family - it would probably give us away.

I wonder if the spelling was deliberately done like that because your child's Bps wanted to be able to trace him easily? I know of some cases where this seemed to be the case e.g. Kyle spelled Kiyelle. If it is just a spelling thing - I really would have no qualms about changing the name - and sorry, I do think a bit of it is about fitting in. In my example above - Kyle would be fine but Kiyelle would seem very odd.

I also know of one child who changed their name at 5 because he was teased so much at school. It was an adjective, and after two terms of teasing and being utterly miserable and hating his name, the adoptive parents and him agreed to change his name to a proper name (not an adjective).

I don't think 18 months is too old to change a baby's name - if you do it in the way Daffodil has suggested.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 28-Mar-14 16:40:14

Will the birth parents be told the child's name has been changed? Even if it's not what to? Surely that's somethibg that should be approached. My son will be 4 by the time the adoption order is granted.

I would be very upset after having been promised and assured to wait until my ds is 18 and ask to meet him to find they changed his name and didnt even tell me his name had been changed.

I do also think if a child has a normal name with normal spellings it should be left as it is.

elfycat Fri 28-Mar-14 16:40:46

As Daffodil suggests would work. A family member is adopting and has sort of double barreled her DC2's name so instead of say Anna it's now Lucy-Anna. They'll keep that up until the adoption hearing when it will be Lucy Anna Surname dropping the name to the middle name and then calling her Lucy. She's 12 months old. They always wanted to have a girl called Lucy so why not names obviously changed everyone else gets to call their children by their favorite names so why not adopters?

They adopted DC1 at 4yo and were encouraged by all to change their name due to potential abduction risk by the BM. So while we all call them by their BParent given name, which is now a middle name and nickname, on all paperwork they have a different name.

OneOfOurLilkasIsMissing Fri 28-Mar-14 16:41:56

Hi fashion and welcome smile

I changed my son's first name, and moved his former first name to be his second middle name. His first middle name was also given by me/his sisters. He was 23 months when he came home but I didn't start referring to him by his new name for a couple of months after.

I changed it because taking everything into account (security issue with birth father was the main thing, but there were other things as well) I believed it was the best thing for my son. And I think that's all we can do as parents - we can't know the future or what our children will think in 10 years time, but if we make a decision based on what we think is the best thing for our child, we've done our very best.

My son is now 9 and he much prefers his (changed) first name to his former first name. He recently actually asked to change his name by removing his second middle name entirely, so he has no names left from his birth family, to which I have said yes, in a few months if he still feels the same way. So sometimes the naming issue rears it's head again years down the line!

OneOfOurLilkasIsMissing Fri 28-Mar-14 16:45:16

DS's birth mum does know what his new names are - this is very unusual though, normally and in most situations, birth parents wouldn't know about it.

Obviously his birth father has no idea at all that his name was changed, given he's causing the security issue

AcrossthePond55 Fri 28-Mar-14 17:07:42

My brother & I are both adopted, as are 2 of our cousins. All of our names were completely changed, first and middle.

We just did an informal poll and decided that we weren't warped or damaged by it. And we also decided that what the birth parents feelings are about it are irrelevant. As a matter of fact, we're glad because it makes it harder for them to find us as we feel it should be the child's prerogative to contact the parent. We're none of us angry or bitter, as a matter of fact all 4 of us have nothing but gratitude to our birth parents for giving us the gift of our adoptions.

Three of us were too young at adoption to recognize being called by name, one was probably just barely old enough but has no recollection of being called by a different name.

We agree with the pp who said to gradually change the name if the child is old enough to respond to it. From "John Robert" to "Robert John" to "Robert" or such.

fashiongirl2014 Fri 28-Mar-14 17:33:03

Thank you all so much for your responses, they pretty much convey how we feel too so I am glad that we are obviously in good company :O)

We did think about doing what Daffodil suggested as well, so it's good to see that this seems to be an appropriate route should we decide to go ahead.

I totally agree re meeting them first, even just looking at their DVD and photos etc they already seem to 'be' that person so we will just wait until intros now and see how they respond to their name and how aware they are.

You really do feel like you are going mental with this adoption lark! Honestly it has been such a journey already and the baby isn't even here yet!

One other question I wondered about was did people 'fess' up to their families/close friends that the child's name is new and chosen by you or did you not say anything at all, so they were none the wiser to the circumstances? We were hoping we could use the double barrelling mentioned above and then just drop the second name in due course and that others around us will just follow suit without needing to know why.

Angelwings11 Fri 28-Mar-14 17:50:44

We changed our AD's name as her birth name was very identifying and there was a security issue. She was 12 months on placement. We tried to shorten it and even considered changing the spelling (the spelling given was actually the most common), but in the end we took our lead from our daughter who only responded to a very similar sounding name. When we discussed this with her SW and guardian, they were supportive of our decision. We initially used both names and then slowly began to drop the birth name.

I know that this an emotive issue, but I think changing the name of an adopted child is more common now, because of the implications of unsolicited contact through social media. I know more adopters who have changed their children's names (and some of these children were 2 years old) than not.

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