Wednesday, July 21, 2010
What's in a Name
Changing a child's name at adoption is an often occuring practice that is a bit controversial. It is an issue that my husband and I debated while waiting for our children to come home. Like many topics, I can see both sides and as soon as Jason agrees with me, I start to second guess my previous position and begin arguing for the other side. It drives the poor guy crazy and I have been told to "just make a decision and stick to it" more than once in our oh, so joyful marriage. So now for your entertainment, I will do the same here just for you.
1. Identity theft prevention. When adopting a child from foster care, the birth parents may not be supportive of the adoption or may not have safegaurded social security numbers and other identifying information very well. It is not unusual to find utilities listed under the child's name.
2. Safety issues. There are times when a child harbors fear of their abuser and rightly so. If that person does not know their new name, then they cannot locate them as easily. This security blanket can be quite reassuring to a child and honestly, a mother. I did worry about being out shopping and having a stranger who knew my children "before" approaching or trying to abduct them.
3. Claiming. Adoptive parents go through a process similar to bonding with a birth child yet unique to adoption. It is how we can answer "yes" to the question "do you love your adopted children as much as your birth children?" Claiming a child as "ours" not only legally through adoption, but also within our hearts. Claiming a child is not being dismissive of the family of origin, it is an additional relationship of equal importance.
4. New start. For some children, having a fresh start gives them permission to release some of the negative behaviors and past trauma. A naming ceremony can be a powerful tool in helping children move forward with their lives. Older children can help choose their new names. This works best when given parental guidance...my son's name would have been "Danny Phantom" if we had not given him some suggestions.
1. Loss. The inherent loss adoptees feel from separation from birth parents is profound. Names chosen by birth parents are often considered to be the only tangable tie children have left. Loss of identity is another concern. Some adoptees feel violated by the loss of their birth names.
2. Self-esteem. Children who are adopted may struggle with feelings of rejection. Changing their name may reinforce the idea that they are not acceptable as they are and that the adoptive parents want them to change them further.
3. Family Connections. Our children were named after birth family members and were proud of those connections. Most names have a story behind them. Children love hearing how their names were chosen and what they would have been called had they been born the opposite gender.
There are many considerations to take into account when it comes to keeping or changing a child's name. What worked for us has been as individual as our children. Some kept first or middle names, others just added a new first name. All of them have our last name....poor darlings. lol