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Old 07-24-2008, 04:45 PM   #1
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Changing names

If you adopt a foster child from the state, is it legal to change his/her name when you adopt?

It's not important... but I'm curious. I would think after a certain age it would be confusing to the child to change their name. What do you think? If so, what age?

Have you done this? Do you know anyone who has?


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Old 07-24-2008, 05:04 PM   #2
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Re: Changing names

Totally legal to change their name.

We changed ds's name for safety reasons. We incorporated his birth name into the name as a nickname, and assumed we would forever call him by his birth name. But, the combination of his rare medical issues, the confirmation that birthmom has entered the meth scene, her behavior at the termination hearing and that she is aware what state he went to, we felt it was far wiser to change his name legally for safety reasons.

What happened in reality was that he immediately took to his new name and refused to answer to his birthname. So, here I was in the airport desperately trying to get him to respond to his birthname and he up and decided he would ONLY answer to his adoptive name.

His birthname died the day after we picked him up. He's quite proud of his adoptive name and will tell anyone that his name is what it is now. He was 6, but his development and IQ put him around 3ish versus 6 mentally.

As it turned out, his sending state put ALL of his paperwork in his adoptive name. Even his medical card is in his adoptive name. So, he goes entirely by his adoptive name now. I was just talking to the school system today. They have to register him under his legal name. But, when we get the adoption finalized within the next 2 months, they are going to change it immediately. And, they are going to instruct his teachers to refer to him by his adoptive name from the state.

I did have a suspicion that it could go down this way. Despite everything I've heard about changing names, its been my experience that both of our other boys actually respond to the middle names *I* gave them better than their birth names we kept. I don't know if its because I pronounced their names wrong from the start or what. But, if I need to get them in a hurry, I call them by their middle name and their heads snap, unlike their first names. They associated those names with *me* and I am MOM. So I thought the new kiddo might respond to a new name. I just never anticipated it happening so quickly and so throughly.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:22 PM   #3
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Re: Changing names

A women I work with adpoted her daughter when she was 10 months and they changed her name. calling her a combination at first (example Sally-Renee) then after a few weeks dropped the "Sally" They said they didn't have any problems with her responding but she was ovbiously pretty young. Side note.... over time my friends family has lost contact with all her biological siblings b/c most have had thier first names changed and all have had last names changed. Kinda sad.
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:06 AM   #4
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Re: Changing names

I know a family that foster to adopt and they changed the middle names, but kept the first names, they were 3 and 4 I think. I have thought about changing our foster daughters middle name when we adopt, since she isn't really attatched to that one. I don't think changing her first namewould work in our situation, because we have been using it for 2.5 years (she's 3.5).
This is just a funny aside. We occasionally talk about what adoption means with her (we've been in process for over 6 months), and some how in course of talking about last name changing and being a forever family she has gotten marriage and adoption a bit confused. She misses nothing, and at some point I must have told her that I changed my last name when DH and I got married.
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:18 AM   #5
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Re: Changing names

My BIL and his wife just adopted 3 children in May. They changed all 3 of their names. The oldest was about 3 and the twins were under 1. They fostered them for almost a year before the adoption. I'm not sure, but they might have started using the new names as soon as they started the adoption process.
I thought it was weird to change the oldest child's name, but after reading other experiences it doesn't sound so strange to me.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:36 PM   #6
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Re: Changing names

We changed the name of our daughter adopted at 4 months, but decided not to change the name of our son. We got him at 23 months and we thought he was too old to change it. I read somewhere that changing it after a kid is old enough to know their name could be psychologically damaging. Who really knows? I just didn't want to take a chance since he had so many other losses in his life as well. Also, his name was OK. If it was something very strange or awful I would have changed it anyway.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: Changing names

My oldest is being formally adopted by my DH (obviously by this statement one could discern that DH is not his biological father). DH has raised DS since he was 5 and although he doesn't call him "dad", DS understands that DH is his dad in every sense of the word but the sperm donorship - DH has always been very active in DS life.

DS biological father was in and out of his life for the first 11 years. Two years ago he stopped seeing him and a year ago he requested the adoption... anyway I'm making this into a longer story than necessary... DS is now 13. When filling out the paperwork we asked him if he wanted to keep his last name (same as his biological father) or change it to our last name. I didn't want to make the choice for him since he is the one who has to live with it. We told him no matter what he always has been and always will be a ******** (our last name). Incidentally, he decided to keep his name as is. I think it would be difficult for him to explain to all of his friends and teachers why it was changed. He's pretty private about that part of himself.

My opinion is this... if they're old enough to understand (first or last name) then *ask them* what they want (unless its for safety of course) and make it an open discussion. If they're too young to have that conversation with, you're probably safe going with your gut.

Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:23 PM   #8
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Re: Changing names

I think it depends. My brother and sister were 5 & 6 when they were adopted, and my parents changed their names. My adopted brother because his first name was the same as my other biological brother. Not sure why they changed my adopted sisters name, because they name the chose was similar. In the end, it was not a good idea, they had been through sooooo much that the felt their identities were being erased in a way, so it backfired on my parents. But I think it all depends on the kid and the age of the kid.
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:33 PM   #9
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Re: Changing names

We have friends who did foster to adopt and finalized with the kids were 4 and 6. The kids chose to change their names and the older one even asked if he could. They are very proud of their new names that they helped choose.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:04 PM   #10
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Re: Changing names

We kept names the same, but changed one dd's middle name. We did name the last 2 because they were infant adoptions.
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