Adoption: Name Change for Older Child?

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Photo by Nicole080984

A member of the CafeMom community tells of a friend, in the process of adopting four boys ages 2, 4, 5, and 7, who plans to change the names of the adopted children once she is the legal guardian.

"I guess I would feel differently about it if they were babies, but I don't think I would change names at that age," the mom says. "I guess they decided to change all of the names because they really didn't like the name of the 5 year old, but she didn't want to single him out.  All the kids are okay with it except the 5 year old, who says he would rather be called 'hey you' than any of the names they had picked out."

I'm currently going through a nickname/name issue with my daughter "Carolyn," who likes her name but is frustrated because everyone mispronounces it "Caroline."

I do know of several people who adopted infants or very young toddlers, particularly from Asia or and other countries, who did change their childrens' names, and that didn't seem to be a big deal.

But changing a 7 year old's name? Moms in the Newcomer's Club said that's just sending a message that you don't accept the kids for who they are. They suggested letting the kids pick their own name, or giving them a nickname that everyone likes. This is actually not that unusual. Another mom in Newcomer's says her adopted 12 year old daughter wants to change her name and is taking suggestions.

Even letting a school age kid pick their own name sounds risky. I know my 7 year old would come up with Maxus Dragonoid or Flamethrower or even one of the names on the cruelest names list.

If I had been adopted as a school age child and given the choice to pick a new name for myself, I would be "Judy" today. As in "Judy" the character on Lost in Space. I wanted to be her so badly. I even started writing the name "Judy" on a lot of my papers at school. The teacher had to send home a note ...

Should parents be allowed to change the name of older children they adopt? Do you have any personal experience with this?


Related posts:

How to Change a Last Name

Baby Name Change ... at the Last Minute

behavior, independence


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Blueb... Bluebonnet72

   We adopted children ages 2, 5, and 10.  Our plan was to change the middle and last names of the youngest, and let the oldest 2 choose.  I was really hoping our middle daughter would change her middle name because it really sounded bad.

      Our oldest did not choose to change anything except, of course, her last name.  Our middle dd  choose to change her middle name.  We let her help pick her new name, but I did have to veto a few  choices.  Choices that we vetoed were things like Teletubby. We made the choice together and she and I  love it.  It has special meaning.  We also laugh about how she wanted to be named Teletubby. 

      Safety issues became a concern and we needed to change my youngest daughter's entire name.  She didn't speak at the time but did use a little sign language.  We discussed her name as a family, and when my husband suggested her name she signed "pretty."  At that moment we knew she had picked her name.  

         I think when it comes to changing names it is important to involve the children in the decision.  Changing a name means different things to different people.  It really is an individual decision and probably shouldn't be done without the child being on board with it. 



mommy... mommyheymommy

Tweeking a child's name, even at older ages, when adopted can be looked at as a new beginning IMO.  I would say, talk to the children!  My daughter was four when she came home from China.  Her Chinese name was XiaoZu.  Now, I think it is obvious why she HAD to have an American name.  No one would have been able to pronounce that and it would have been a constant struggle for her.  We kept her Chinese name as her 2nd middle name, and she hasn't missed a beat!  Kids are so resilient, and I would say that whatever feels right to the family is fine.  Until you have adopted, I say you don't get a vote!  LOL

highe... higherboundmom

We have adopted 4 children, non-siblings, the first we added to his name, my husband's name, and he goes by his middle-original name. The second and last boys kept their birth names and our daughter we completely changed her name to protect her from birth relatives. She was eight and had a say in her name and it fits her perfectly. They all seem happy with their names now as adults and did not have any idenity problems. All last names are the same as my husband's and mine.

jstam... jstamps123

Personal experience: we changed our adopted daughters' names completely.  They came home from Russia when they were 6. Their Russian names, given to them by their orphanages, were Olga and Svetlana. Olga became Mallory Annabeth and Svetlana became Hillary Sarabeth.

There are several reasons that explain this choice we made.  First and foremost, we wanted the girls to develop a very close relationship with their new sisters, our bio daughters aged 9 and 10, whose names are Valery Elizabeth and Sherry Lilibeth.  By giving them a first name finishing in "-ry" and a middle name ending in "-beth", we wanted to make sure they blended in the family as much as possible.  Second, we did not like the girls' Russian names.  These names represented the girls' lives in Russia and what they looked like in their orphanage pictures.  The names we picked for them symbolized who they were to become when they came home with us.  In fact, Hillary, home since January 2007, does look like a Hillary.  Mallory, who is with us since January 2009, looks like a Mallory.

We did not ask neither of our daughters' opinions on the name change.  We just told them what their new names were and started calling them that while in Russia.

frysh... fryshannon34

I think this is awful and their names should not be changed

tonya... tonyalynn

i wouldnt change their names

Shaketa Lavinia Abramovitz

i would definitely change their names if the names were one's I didn't like as adoption is a fresh start fro adopted older kids into a new family and life depending on the age I would allow them input into the name as long as the names fitted in with the names of my other children. I would of course change the last name of the adopted child or children.

Jessica Marie Wakefield

Nope. For an older child that's very disrespectful to their identity.

coppe... copperked

Wow. It's one thing if the child brings it up and wants to make the change, but these kids are old enough to know their names and to be reasonably attached to them. My older brother had a friend who went through several families including at least two who intended to adopt him before things fell through and he finally found a family who accepted him as he was. One of the previous families decided, without his input, to change his name. His last name was Green at the time. They decided they wanted his first name to be Blue. It just proved to him that they were crazy and not the family he wanted to live with. I also have three adopted cousins, who didn't have middle names when my aunt and uncle adopted them. They were allowed to choose their own middle names and the youngest one chose for a couple of years to go by her new middle name instead of her first name. But it was her choice, not forced on her, and when she decided that she liked her first name after all, no one objected to her going back to it.

nonmember avatar kapaco

Five years ago we adopted a sibling group ages 6, 9, 10. They were all named after their abusers. We asked the children if they wanted to change their names but did not tell them why. All three eventually decided to change their names and yes we did kindly redirect our middle child who wanted to be called Lilo and Stitch.
They are very happy with their names at ages 11, 14 and 15.
Tiffany, Gabriella and David's mom.

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