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Name change

Did you change your child’s whole name? And why. How do you explain this to a child?


Hi yes we did change the whole name.  We adopted our DD at birth and the Bmom gave her a name she chose and her maiden name as the last name.  We gave her the first name we chose and the middle name after her 2 great grandmothers, the last name was our last name.

When she was about 5 or 6 we explained why we changed her name and also told her we liked the meaning of the first name we chose for her.  She was totally okay with it and understood.  She actually likes the fact that her middle name is in memory of her 2 great grandmothers.  Good luck.

Posted by Special K on Feb 08, 2018 at 8:12pm

It depends on the age of the child. If they know and respond to their name (not an infant) it can be very hard on a child to change their first name

Posted by Regina on Feb 08, 2018 at 11:06pm

a lot of it depends on the age of the child. also, why do you want to change it,, and how does the child feel about changing it. when I adopted my oldest daughter I hated her name, it was very unusual and not very pretty. but she was almost 5, and felt very strongly about keeping her name. She had lost so much, I couldn’t take her name away from her too. but then after she started school she started to hate her name, no one could pronounce it right and kids teased her about it, and every single time she was introduced to a new adult she got “well, that’s unusual”. when she was 7 it got so bad that she wouldn’t even tell people what her name was, would just hide and ignore when asked her name or when being introduced. So we sat down together and picked a new name. it was really, really easy for both of us to adjust to the new name. in retrospect I wish I had just changed it from the beginning, my intentions were good but 4 was too young to make the choice herself. when I first told people her original name I got lots of rude reactions and insults, even from adults, so I should have foreseen that it was going to be a problem when she got around other kids. and I have to wonder if she didn’t sense that I hated her name; I tried my best to hide it, but kids are intuitive about those sorts of things.  I always though the name would grow on me, but in 3 years it never did. so I can’t really advocate for keeping a name you strongly dislike.  my second adoption we changed the name from the beginning. she was younger, only 20 months old when she came home. she started responding to her new name by her third day home. by the end of the second month, she wouldn’t even respond to the old name anymore.

Posted by rn4kidz on Feb 09, 2018 at 2:15am

Ultimately, you will know what is best for your child.  We adopted a son and daughter at the same time, when they were ages 7 and 8.  Our daughter’s name was very unique, and I hated the middle name.  I never told her that, but when we started talking about her adoption in therapy, her therapist helped lead the discussion about changing that middle name.  To my surprise, she hated her middle name as much as I did, possibly more.  We gave her a list of 5 names to choose for her new middle name, and she went with a family name.

Our son’s first name was very obviously misspelled, so we corrected the misspelling and asked if he’d like to change his middle name.  He wanted to keep it, and we were ok with that.

We got our kids when they were 4 and 5, and adopted them at 7 and 8, so they very much knew how to respond to their names.  It took our son a little while to remember to spell his new name correctly, but the teachers at school were very willing to work with them and allowed them to write their new last names on schoolwork even before the adoption was finalized.

For some kids, that name change is crucial to understanding they’re part of a new family, and that old family is gone (for us, forever, because our kids have been very clear that they don’t want to see the birth family again).  Each family is different, and for us, some other family members were upset about the name changes.  You just have to do what is healthiest for the kids.  For our kids, that name change nailed down the promise that they’re with us forever.

Posted by kiraelawson on Feb 09, 2018 at 1:50pm

In my case (adopting a teen), I was told to choose her name. I felt very strongly that her name was an important part of her. Plus it was beautiful and had special significance for me and our family too. I suspected she would regret it later if she had a new name to make a further split in her life.

I insisted that I would not choose. We had a 2 day discussion with my daughter, psychologists, social worker, and translator too. I gave her the choice of what name she wanted… starting with keeping her first name, use a version of her last name as middle or keep middle (both related to birth mother), or new middle I liked, and/ or her choice of totally new names of her own choosing, for first and or middle while having our family last name.

In her country (Bulgaria) children usually have a derivative name of the same gender parent. So at first she wanted my name. I advocated heavily for keeping her own first name. Explaining that it was a name in our family that had a lot of significance. I told her about the practices in the US. (ie girls don’t usually have their mothers names.) While we might feel good to have our own names, they felt sad that girls could not carry on their mother’s names

After long talk and a night of consideration, she decided to keep her first name but did not want to keep her birth middle, or last name. She chose to have a new middle name also relevant to our family, and our family last name.

Ironically, in her worst moments now (nearly 3 years later) she has said she resents that I “took her name”. Go figure.. It is a part of issues she has with taking responsibility for her own choices and actions.I am very glad that I gave her full choice in the matter. Also glad that I advocated for her to keep her first name.

Posted by Happy Camper on Feb 12, 2018 at 1:57am

Thank you all for your input. It helps to hear your stories. My child is 3 yrs old now. Her first name will basically be pronounced the same, we have nick names too. It is my neice I have custody of.( yes I can change her name legally) I want to change her middle name because she is named after a sibling, which I find bazaar.  And change last to match mine. She doesn’t know her middle or last name, she is three. I guess I worry about the backlash of family members. Her first name is spelt weird. I shortened it, which is what we call her anyway and I added one new letter to the end. So let’s say it is Amanda .. we call her manda, and she calls herself manda. and I added an L. So the name will be mandal. But we still call her manda. The reason I did this was because she self identifies with manda already, so I can’t completely change it. So I made a new name from the old. Otherwise I would have changed it entirely.i just don’t want to be asked forever, ohhh why did you spell it that way or choose that name.. then I would have to say, well, I didn’t. She is bla bla bla .. she doesn’t need to hear that over and over again. Plus I want to own this new life. Own motherhood, choose her name etc name her after her elders like our traditions. My sibling did not follow that. She asked her 8 year old on the phone ,who her favourite princess is. And named the child that. But did not tell the 8 year old she had a sibling. I find that inpersonal and not giving this child thier own identity with thought and tradition.

Posted by freckle face mama on Apr 25, 2018 at 2:30am

I’m potentially heading into this issue so I’m very glad this post was started. its great to hear everyones responses. I honestly never thought I’d say my nephew is to be named after a drug and even if i get custody i don’t think I’ll be able to legally change it later due to certain restrictions in the still developing guardianship agreement. The parents are very firm in there decision on name.  luckily they want the drug as the middle name. I’m hoping they will take my suggestion and just put the first letter on the birth certificate, but ultimately I have no control.

Posted by AriaEli on Apr 25, 2018 at 2:26pm

Aria, I would look up the laws in your city or state. Children’s aid wrote this into the final custody order that I have all signing rights. If you are working with a children’s society. Bring this up. And if the child’s name is after a drug. Obvious drug like marijuana, or crack, the application will likely be rejected.

Posted by freckle face mama on Apr 26, 2018 at 12:28am

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