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Name changing

(39 Posts)
poetboywonder Thu 06-Aug-15 12:56:04

We are not fussed on what name our child has, but I am curious if anyone has changed names afterward etc. I've read of middle names being given then swapping round and I know SW are big on identity etc. Also do you think it's important?

MadauntofA Thu 06-Aug-15 13:04:23

Most LAs won't let you change the 1st name unless it is very identifiable and there is a risk of being found at a later date. The ones that I have seen that have been changed have been v unusual - Princess etc. if there is a v unusual spelling to the name then they may let you change it to the usual spelling. Generally children keep their 1st name and you can add a middle name of your choice. It is really important for children's identity in the same way that they need to know they have been adopted.

TeamAcorn Thu 06-Aug-15 13:41:12

We added a middle name and kept first name and existing middle names that were named after birth family members (though put our chosen middle name as the first middle name). I was told this is common place. Dont know if it is but certainly we know a few other adopters who've done the same.

We tried to put ourselves in their shoes when older. If we told them we'd swapped names they were given for other names we figured they may see it as we were trying to erase and replace their history or it could suggest that was a part of them we didnt like. We obviously didn't want to do that.

They love their new middle names and see it as each of their families gave them a name that was important. The other middle name is still there and they know it but they only seem to focus on their first name and the first of the 2 middle names (one we gave them) whenever they talk about it (we have pre-schoolers).

We've kept unusual names and unusual spellings too, which has made life certainly a little harder as we have to be more wary, so I can understand why some people change spellings, or in rare cases names. You have to put safety first but as long as you can justify it to social services and more importantly your child later in life, I'd say go with your gut smile

Kewcumber Thu 06-Aug-15 14:50:58

There's been various discussions about name changing but not for a while. I'll see if I can find one as it will give you some additional views.

Social workers can't actually stop you from changing names so saying they won't let you isn't quite true. In fact I've read on other threads how social workers were surprised when there are security issues and the child has a very unusual name that parents haven't changed or switched names when the parents just assumed they wouldn't be allowed to!

I agree it can be very important to some children to keep the name their birth parents gave them but I equally know an adult adoptee who is quite vociferously irritated by the suggestion that the name given by her birth parents should have more meaning to her than the name her adoptive parents gave her. She counters the argument that its the only thing her birth parents gave her to survive into her adult life with her eye colour, hair colour, body shape etc etc in fact pretty much everything physical about her! So I don;t think adoptees views are quite as clear cut as we might think.

In DS's case his first nae became his middle name and I gave him a new first name but:

1 - he was 12 months, I would have felt differently if he was older
2 - he wasn't named by his birth parents but an unknown member of hospital staff
3 - his original first name is highly unusual and shortens to a mild swear word in English.

StaceyAndTracey Thu 06-Aug-15 14:54:14

I'm an adoptee and I don't think my name is " my identity " , identity is far more complex than just a few letter on a pieceof paper.

The social workers who speak platitudes about identity seem to have no problems with a child's surname being changed . And half the women in this country have changed their name at some time and don't seem traumatised by it

Obviously if the child is old enough to know their name and identify with it, then it's different and you need to tread more carefully .

Lots of older children have had several names already anyway, as birth family sometimes change the child's name when a new BF comes along or a half sibling is born . One of ours had three names .

And SW can't insist on anything - it's the adopters who petition the court and choose the child's name, not SS. They won't be the ones dealing with the tears and the school refusing at 12 because your child is being bullied for being called Tyffanneee- Princess

TBH the main reason SS don't want the name changed isnt because of the child - it's because they have promised it to the birth family who they feel are their clients, not the child . And of course they , understandably , feel sorry for them . It's a sort of consolation prize .

BTW all of the above is not the PC view , so never mention it at prep groups or during the home study . SW don't like to hear the views of adoptees if they are different from theirs.

StaceyAndTracey Thu 06-Aug-15 14:56:41

Or I should just have said " I agree with Kew " grin

poetboywonder Thu 06-Aug-15 18:59:16

it's really interesting especially as most people dont like their names. it's not something we care about but wondered if people had done this. adoptee points of view are the most valuable.

gabsdot45 Thu 06-Aug-15 19:05:47

In my experience this is an issue that divides people. We adopted our children from Russia and we kept their first names and gave them new middle names and obviously our surname. Our DDs middle name is a derivation of her
Russian surname.
We really felt that we had no right to change their names. Our DD was 2.5 so she knew her name very well. We felt that their names were part of their Russian identity and really one of the few things they were able to bring with them.
However I know lots of parents who did change their children's names, especially when the name was very exotic and foreign and difficult to pronounce.
I think if you're going to change your child's name then you should have a good reason for doing it. A reason that you will be comfortable explaining to your child in the future should it come up

Velvet1973 Thu 06-Aug-15 20:47:28

We have changed our son's. He was placed at 6 months and although his name is not an unusual one it is unusual in that you will find hardly any in his age group (14 registered in the whole of the UK in 2013). His BF are only 8 miles from us and it was too identifiable. It was also registered as the abbreviated version of the name so we've used the full version as his middle name. I do think the sw's are very fixated on not changing the name because they're dealing with adults who have had their names changed and struggle with it, but I wonder how much of the struggle is really about the name or the bigger picture is the way their adoption was handled. For example they weren't told until they were older, no contact with BF etc rather than just the name.

2old2beamum Thu 06-Aug-15 21:47:52

We have adopted 8 and have always felt their name is the one thing birth parents have given them and felt we should not change it despite not liking some of the choices. However in the long term their names do not define them.
But DD2 replicated DS1 name so we did change

Threesocksnohairbrush Thu 06-Aug-15 22:02:00

If you adopt a child as an older baby or toddler I think there is a very strong argument that they know their names and that at a time of massive psychological and emotional upheaval you shouldn't take that fixed point away from them just because the name isn't the one you chose or is not to your taste.

however, I am going to be very honest and say that in the age of Facebook I somewhat regret not having changed our kids names. I hate the feeling, for them, that when they are old enough they won't be able to use social media freely and comfortably, or have their name in a newspaper article, or be tagged on FB by some teenage mate, or any of the other million Internet promulgated bits and bobs we do without thinking about it, without risking contact they didnt seek and may not be up for.

So short version- if the child's name is unusual I would have a good hard think about the benefits of security and privacy over those of identity, and I don't think it is currently an easy call.

slkk Fri 07-Aug-15 00:23:56

Ds had an unusual name that I really like but we are quite concerned about security. However a bigger issue was that he couldn't say his name at 3 1/2 so had made up a baby nickname for himself. His fc called him something else (a girly nickname) and the only people who used his given name were ss. When he first came we used his given name but he didn't really respond to it. We didn't want to start using the girly nickname or the baby nickname for starting school so were a bit stuck. Then one day ds1 called him something else derived from his birth name and suddenly he decided that this was his name. Within days he was correcting anyone calling him anything different. And he could say it too! So we had one name for everyone to use. We thought hard about the ao but with security concerns as well we decided to put new name, birth name, name from father's country, surname. I'm sure sw will have frowned a bit, but we did what we felt was best for him.

tea4two4three Fri 07-Aug-15 08:31:27

It's interesting to read what Stacey has said as a large part of the training we did was given to identity an name. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed with DCs name when we were linked as it was so normal and we had been built up to expect something a little unusual grin
We did change his middle name (named after an abusive grandfather which didn't sit right with anyone and even SW and FC were encouraging us to change it) and spent a lot of time choosing one that suits his personality and fits with his lovely first name. So pleased we did as we love it and it really suits him. If he decideds in future he wants to change it back we won't stop him but I really hope he is able to accept it as I think it reflects both families now.

Cabawill Fri 07-Aug-15 08:41:18

As our children were 5 and 3 when placed, we haven't felt able to change their first names. They aren't that unusual generally but I've never met anyone with either of their names and they are the only ones in their schools. They originally both had double barrelled first names which we stopped using when they were placed and each had 3 extra middle names.

We decided to speak to them about names and asked if as they were getting a new surname from us, first name from BM, if they'd like to choose their own middle name? They loved the idea and thankfully picked lovely names that match the rest of the name. Obviously this approach isn't for everyone but they are very proud of their new name and that's what we wanted to achieve.

SBRMum Sat 08-Aug-15 19:26:58

Changing the first name would make it about us and not the child. It isn't in the child's best interests, hence first name should be kept (unless totally against SW advice).

Velvet1973 Sat 08-Aug-15 19:51:28

I disagree SBRMum, there are plenty that change the name for various reasons and I would say in every instance I've known it's about the child. Our sw was against us changing our lo's name but when we went to panel his sw and the entire panel were in complete agreement it was what was best for him.
Most obviously change because of security risks but then there are others that change because quite frankly there are some completely awful names given to children and why should that child be singled out from their peers because their birth parent deliberately chose something so obscure as to make them traceable in the future?
I haven't met a single adopter yet that has changed a name and done so without a great deal of thought and consideration as to whether it is the right thing to do.

Kewcumber Sat 08-Aug-15 19:57:29

Agreed Velvet It isn't in the child's best interests is a very sweeping statement. It stood out to me how much thought the European adopters I know put into the name decision versus the US adopters (equally sweeping statement!). I've never seen it done on a whim here just because someone prefers a different name.

Velvet1973 Sat 08-Aug-15 23:09:15

I'm not worthy! Never mind the "I agree with Kew" I got Kew agreed with me! grin

StaceyAndTracey Sun 09-Aug-15 07:16:30

I agree with Velvet too

Velvet1973 Sun 09-Aug-15 07:34:57

Oh stop now! blush lol!

OurMiracle1106 Sun 09-Aug-15 11:47:32

I think it depends on child's age. My birth son at placement was three and was telling people hi my name Is miracle .It's a common name with usual spelling. He was 4 at adoption When they gained full parental rights and could legally change his name .I feel by that age it wouldn't have been fair to change his name

Velvet1973 Sun 09-Aug-15 11:57:31

No I agree with you Miracle. You're not a risk to your son, he was old enough to understand his name and it's a normal name so completely agree it wouldn't be right to change it.

poetboywonder Sun 09-Aug-15 20:12:46

I don't think miricle is a common name. unless u were using that as an example. I think at 4 a child could change without confusion they have not built up a personality to those around them as they have moved. as long as there is no confusion or stress I think these resilient children will take it in their stride. I have read recently a child psychologist high in his field mention that he is not in agreeance with a lot of the current sw spiel. too frequent contact and names he believes tie some children down to a negative past. adoptees and adopters are the people that can really speak on this.

TeamAcorn Sun 09-Aug-15 20:42:26

I think miracle was using 'miracle' so as to use part of her user name rather than her actual child's name smile Much as I might say my child 'acorn'. smile

I also think every case should be treated individually dependent on circumstance. Our eldest DS was adopted at same age as Miracles BS was and we occasionally use a shorter version of his name and the backlash is huge. He'll stop you and say 'that is not my name' and be quite angry about it and we've only done it in the same way you may call a Benjamin 'Ben' or a Thomas 'Tom' when you're rushing. He's very protective of his name. In fact we were quite glad he didn't know his surname or we may have had more difficulty when the AO was granted.

Kewcumber Sun 09-Aug-15 21:13:13

I think at 4 a child could change without confusion - I'm not sure I agree with that, DS would certainly have been confused (at best) by changing his name. Most children start school at 4 and will often be able to write their name and it will already be part of their identity by then. DS also gets quite cross (still) when people shorten his name.

Yes children can be resilient, but adopted children have enough to be resilient about without changing their name needlessly.

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