Naming My Son

When Parrot came home, I thought long and I thought hard about his name  – as many adoptive parents do. Did I need to change it? I realised that the answer was yes, for security reasons, although there were other good reasons as well. So how best to change it? What do I do? Alter the name slightly, and have the alterred name be his first name? Don’t alter it, but move it to become a middle name? First or second middle name? Or does it disappear entirely? I agonised over it.

And I finally came to a decision I was comfortable with, that I thought would work the best for my son. Which was to move his old first name to become his second middle name, and give him a new first name, and first middle name. And many adoptive parents reading will have gone through a similar thought process.

And that’s it, right? You come to a decision, you fill in the forms and the hard name decisions are done?

Ah, no, I’ve found out these last few months. Because of course, Parrot has his own feelings on his own name. So, 7 years after the first name change, I’m trying to sort out a deed poll to change his name again.

I did what I thought I thought was best at the time – retained his birth name, not modified, as a middle name, because it was his and I didn’t want to take it away. When it comes to name changing, I’ve always said it’s essential to make a decision you base primarily on your childs best interests, and one you can look your child (at an older age) in the eyes, and explain fully, as something you truly did with them at the forefront of your mind. We can never guaruntee our kids will be happy with our choices, either way, but we can do that.

But Parrot has his own ideas about what forms his identity, what he thinks a name should be and what it should do. His ideas don’t tally up with what I did, and that’s okay. I support him with this and he knows I support him.

Reading this, you might so far be assuming that what he wanted, was his birth name to be his first name again, legally. But no. He wanted the opposite – his birth name to be gone, no longer any part of his name. He wanted a new middle name in its place (it’s important to him to still have two middle names, as most people in our family have two middle names). And to be what he wanted, his new name had to be one which cemented him in this family.

I have to say, when he started talking about name changing, a few months ago, I was unsure. I came around because I realised after a few months, as he asked more often and more adamantly, that I have to support what he wants. He has had so little choice in his life, he deserves my support with this choice. Yet even when I had come around, I felt a bit sad. I like his birth name, and I was sad he didn’t want it any more. I was a bit confused about whether his feelings were 100% healthy, given this name change is just one part of a process he has been going through of rejecting pretty much everything birth family related – letter box contact for instance, he’s stopped that, with his siblings as well as his birth mother.

Yet, through the process of deciding on a new middle name, I’ve come around to him having a new name. I feel very positively now, especially seeing him so delighted and happy. Ideally, a child should be happy with their own name (short periods of wanting something more cool/exotic/boring notwithstanding!), and it was lovely to see my son telling everyone his good news with a massive smile on his face, just lovely. And having a name that makes him feel cemented here, he deserves that too.

So, how did the process of choosing a new middle name work? Well, first we needed a compromise. I was basically saying ‘Okay, what name would you like as your new name?’

Parrot stood there saying “You pick my new name”

Which made sense – if he had been my birth child, I would have picked the name. But, I wanted to make sure that he really liked his new name!

So I took some advice from fellow adopters, to look to my family tree for the name, and to present Parrot with a list of family names he might like. Luckily I’ve done a bit of family history, and I had documents, and a little family tree I made up a few years ago now. I had fun looking back for family names, though it turned out I didn’t need to go that far back :D

It came down to about 25% his decision, and 75% mine – I was aiming for 50/50 at least, but he’s a stubborn lad :D And now my son has a new first middle name, and his previous first middle name has been moved back to second position. And after nearly 18 years of parenting, I now have a child who has been named entirely by me. I have to say, it feels a bit odd!

And his new first name is….my Dad’s first name :)

It came down to that or my Grandfather’s first name, and to have my son named for my Dad….it felt so right. I told Parrot that I would love to give him this name, because he (Parrot), is so very like him in so many ways. I told Parrot that he is responsible like his Grandfather, kind like his Grandfather, honest like his Grandfather, trustworthy like his Grandfather…all true. I told him how proud Dad would be, if he were still here, of him. How happy he would have been to call Parrot his Grandson. I made myself cry in the process of explaining this to him, and Parrot wound up ‘hugging me better’. But he was absolutely over the moon to hear it. Over the moon.

He rang my Mum to tell her – she burst into tears on the phone! He rang Rhea, and she decided to surprise him with a cake, with his new full name iced on the top. Oh did he love that cake! (I loved it too…yum! Haha!)

It’s a special thing, for your Grandchild to have your name in there. I can’t quite describe how I felt when Rhea told me that my eldest Grandchild would have my name as her first middle name, but I definitely cried.

I only wish my Dad were here still, to know that this is happening

He would be so happy…

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7 thoughts on “Naming My Son

  1. This post has made me feel really happy inside. I know the agony you will have gone through thinking about relinquishing that tie with his birth family. However if we are talking about the well being and happiness of the child as the ultimate goal, then that really seems to be have achieved here. Parrot obviously feels like he really belongs with you and wants to cement that. x

    Thank you for sharing on #WASO

  2. I’m sitting in the swimming pool eyes swimming with tears reading this post. A name is our identity and we agonised over whether we renamed or tweaked our children’s names. A year after Katie’s adoption we changed her name by deed poll because I felt I hadn’t named her. I gave her a new middle name. With Pip we have changed all his middle names. Both have their original first name with a tweak. I agonised over it all as well. It’s lovely to see Parrot choosing his identity.

    • Thanks so much :) Yes, it is lovely to see him growing up and finally being assertive about what he wants and needs – a few years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to come to me and say these things, I don’t think. I completely understand the agonising

  3. This seems really positive!
    Names are sooo important. We kept both our sons first names, including the unusual spelling of younger sons name, and we gave them an extra name from us.
    Seemed simple. However a couple of years ago when he was 9 our elder son started to say he wanted to use the name we gave him. He doesn’t want to lose the other names, just change priorities. We thought at first that it was just a whim, but he persisted. So we are now having to get used to not only calling him by this name, but to persuade all our family and friends to do so as well. It is a big battle. Some understand, some (sadly close relatives) do not. It seems so important, especially to his identity as an adopted child, that we do this. And we are really happy that he has chosen to cement his links to us even more strongly by choosing ‘our’ name.
    Of course younger son has now jumped on the bandwagon too and decided to change HIS name. We are going along with this at home, but much more warily.
    From a security point of view I think that changing adoptive kids names is really positive thing. When my son gets his Facebook account, as he plans to on his 13th birthday, he will not be recognisable to his birth family.

    • I’m sorry you are having trouble getting family to understand. I’ve been very lucky with this, no one has been anything but lovely to Parrot and to me, told me it’s great that he’s happy (although they are very curious as to what’s prompted this!). This change has given his self image a bit of a boost, and I really hope it does for your sons as well. Thank you :)

  4. I think it’s good that you have written and shared this post. I think that often adopters can feel as though they are doing ‘something wrong’ by altering/changing a name however I think for various reasons it can be the right thing to do. We have given our girls new middle names and they are choosing at present to use these names as their first names. Thanks for sharing!

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