Whether you should change the name of your adopted foster child can be a hard decision. In our case social workers urged us to keep her connection to her birth name. They felt she would need that tie to feel connected later in life. Family felt that she had the best chance at not spending a life feeling different if we were to choose a name that fit in with our values – a name that we had always wanted. In the end, we made the absolutely best decision we could make. We may not have known for sure the day we did it.
When to change your child’s name
Well isn’t that the hard part. This child is not your child just yet, in foster care there is that chance that your child leave you because fit family has been discovered. Imagine if you call Hubert, Kyle for a year and then he goes back to being Hubert because his grandmother has shown she can be a fit guardian. Having biological family and reunification is always the first priority in foster care.
- Consider the likelihood that the child will be adopted and make the change as early as possible.
Fost-adopt parent live in this weird limbo state where nothing really seems to be in the best interest of the child or normal is out of the questions. Lots of driving, creepy visitation rooms, visits from peering social workers to occupy your time instead of playing in a mommy’s group or strolling along the beach. Having one biological child and one adopted foster child I mourned the loss of my adopted child’s fun first year of life.
At one point I said to the social worker, “I am excited for the day she get to spend her time being a normal baby”. She looked back at me and said, “unfortunately, this child’s life is already far from normal.”
All this said, we were lucky and at 6 months we knew it was very unlikely that she would ever leave us. We decided to rename her. We wanted to make her life as normal as we could.
Here are all the things we considered:
- Using her biological name as a middle name
- Changing her biological name slightly to something that fit in with our family
- Naming her one of our baby names that we would yes
- Naming her after someone in history or literature that would be a strong connection
- Completely changing her name so that she would not be located in this private adoption
- Telling or not telling her family about her first name change
- When to change it
- When to tell family we changed it
In the end we decided to fully change her name because one of her biological relatives was quite scary and it was a private-anonymous adoption. We named her one of our beloved girl names that we picked when we were trying to get pregnant. Her middle name was after my husbands late grandmother who he loved dearly. We will make her given name her god-name. Which means at her baptism it will be listed.
2. Do what feels right to you!
In many cases, choosing a name that fits with your family will make every day seems more right. However, I know families who so embrace other family cultures that they love unique names. My point is that no one’s opinion should get in the way.
Changing your child’s name after adoption
We feel a deep loving connection with our child’s mother because we love this beautiful girl to the mountain tops. The mother’s story is horrific, but it is not that we dwell on. Even so, her birth name is hard. It is what we heard when our child needed physical therapy because she didn’t sit up. It’s what we heard when we sat for hours in foster homes and visitation rooms. It is what social workers used when talking about really painful decisions, people and things.
We changed her name entirely to be one that had been on our baby list back when we wanted to have four girls. We chose a name that had graced history in many cultures, and her given name will be her godname.
Honoring that name will actually be part of our healing process. All she has been through is not lost on us.