Adoption name change -- thoughts?

Since we’re looking at adopting in the near future, I was hoping to start a discussion about adoption and changing the name or adding a middle name to the kid you adopt. Is there an age point where it’s just not okay anymore, or if the kid is older, and they weren’t happy with their names or said it was okay to alter it, is that fine (with their input and thoughts too)?

My questioning comes from that we’re looking to adopt a 10/11 year old boy. His name is [name_u]August[/name_u] and while I love [name_u]August[/name_u], [name_u]August[/name_u] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] is a little weird. Would it be terribly rude to ask an 11 year old if he would be okay with [name_m]Augusten[/name_m]? Or even just asking him if he’s happy with his name or his middle name? Or say his name is [name_u]August[/name_u] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] (middle) and then he’d be [name_u]August[/name_u] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m], would it be fine then to ask him if I could change his middle name? Or say he doesn’t have a middle, can I ask him to collaborate with me to give him one or two? Or if he has one, would it be okay to ask him to add another so he’d have two like the other kids?

I know it’s a lot of questions, but we’re looking at starting this process within a month, maybe 2, and I know nothing about this part of it. >.<

Thanks to any who take the time to answer.

I think that at 10 or 11 years old, the child should have a lot of input on whether he wants to change his name or leave it as it is. He’ll already be changing his last name, so that might be enough of a change for him. Or, he might want to completely cut ties with his past and move forward.

I think that I would leave it mostly up to him but give some input (like, “We really like the name ___ and think it goes well with [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] and what we know of your personality so far. What do you think?” or if he suggests something really outrageous, “We don’t really think that ___ is a good idea. Here’s why…”).

Good luck! And what an awesome thing to do! :slight_smile:

For safety purposes I would change the name. An older child can be involved. Have a list of names that you love, talk to him about the names and why you care so much about them. Have him help choose the final name. If he would like to hold onto his first name or middle name you could use them as a middle name or second middle name. Many love the fresh start. You will be his forever family. A name is a special gift that parents give their children. That is why I find honoring or using names that have special meaning to the family very important. I want them to know that they are tied to the family whether they were born into the family or adopted into the family. Have a naming party and make it a big celebration.

Congrats. There are so many children that need loving families. So many of them age out.

Thanks to bother of you. At 10/11 (He’ll probably be 11 when I’m done with the home study and stuff) I would think he’d want to keep his first name since it’s been his his whole life, but I just don’t want to come off as terribly rude if I say “I love your name, but maybe we can change it to [name_m]Augusten[/name_m] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] so the Ts don’t smoosh together. And you can still be [name_u]August[/name_u] if you want.” Or whatever. And if he’s [name_u]August[/name_u] [name_u]Jo[/name_u] [name_m]Bob[/name_m], I’d really like to be able to ask him if I can work with him to change it without coming off as rude. Or like [name_u]August[/name_u] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m]…I’d really want to change that.

I’m guess I just am worried about starting a journey with him (or any other kid, really) and the first experience has him thinking I’m rude.

Dantea, if you really are seriously pursuing this, stop and think for a second how changing the child’s name-- a school-aged, pubescent child, who has been responding to his name for a decade and writing it down for half that time-- for no greater reason than slightly suboptimal phonetics comes across. It makes the child look like a fashion accessory at best, or at worst someone who needs to be ‘tweaked’ to be welcomed into your family. Once you actually meet him and start to form a relationship with him and the three of you mutually decide whether you should be a family or not, aesthetics will be the last thing on your mind.

If he is ten or eleven, I would not change his name. I wouldn’t change his middle name, either. It might not be a name that you would choose, but it is his name at this point.

I think of it just like I might not have chosen my husband’s name, but I wouldn’t think of changing it, either. Does that make sense? A ten year old has a decade of personal history behind him. His name is part of that history. Older child adoption can be complicated, but a really important part of it is making clear to the child that you love and accept him WITH his history and baggage and all of it.

He will already be changing his last name, that is a pretty big thing right there. We have friends who adopted older children through the state who were very upset that their last names were going to change. Our friends had wanted to give the kids new middle names, but given their reactions to the prospect of a new last name, they decided not to bring it up.

We have other friends who adopted older children (ages 6 and 8) and the children asked for new names. However, this turned out to be a problem- the kids, being fairly young, felt like if they changed their names, they would be new people and they could just forget about the past rather than dealing with it. I don’t know that this would ALWAYS be a problem, it just was for these two kids. It took a long time for our friends to figure out what was going on.

We have another friend who has adopted several kids through the state. She has offered each one the chance to change their names if they want to. But they choose whether to do this or not, and the ones that have chosen new names have definitely not chosen names she or her husband would have picked.

To me, the only exception would be if there were safety issues, which are rarer than people tend to think, even in DSS adoptions.

But all of this might be different with this kid! He might love the idea. I would just say go slowly and carefully. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t bring it up until the fostering part is done and you are actually adopting him. I definitely wouldn’t bring it up before you are certain that the honeymoon phase is over- in the beginning, many kids will try to be perfect and agree to anything so that you won’t reject them.

See how he feels about his last name changing before you bring up new middles or tweaking his first name. I would go into this though expecting that he would keep his original name.

[name_u]August[/name_u] is a really nice name, for what it is worth. I would not worry about the Ts smooshing.

My cousin and her husband adopted a 12 year old boy from [name_f]Russia[/name_f] a few years ago, named [name_m]Alexei[/name_m]. He lived with their family for a summer before the adoption as part of a mission through their church. It was his first trip to [name_u]America[/name_u].

Once the adoption officially went through, he had asked for a more American sounding name. Logically, they started calling him [name_u]Alex[/name_u]…but since he hadn’t met an American named [name_u]Alex[/name_u], it didn’t work for him. He asked that his name be changed to [name_m]Joshua[/name_m]. He is now legally [name_m]Joshua[/name_m] [name_m]Alexei[/name_m]…goes by [name_m]Joshua[/name_m] or [name_m]Josh[/name_m] exclusively!

I don’t have much of an opinion on the subject…just a little story on topic!

Dantea, please join an adoption or foster adoption forum or group. They will be very helpful.

I would strongly suggest not changing your son’s name. By this age, it’s part of his identity and I think it would not serve him, or your relationship with him, well to change it. But you can certainly discuss any possible nicknames he might like to go by!

Stories are fine. I have no experience here so the sort of harsh words are fine. I actually don’t think there are adoption groups down here. I do know someone who just fostered to adopt (3 kids all at once! But they’re lovely and [name_f]Rebecca[/name_f] used to beg to let her adopted mom send her home with me) but they didn’t have name questions. I certainly wasn’t trying to make him sound like an accessory! That’s why I asked here first, though, so if it sounded terrible, I could know not to do it. I’m not nearly as concerned with the [name_u]AugusT[/name_u] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] thing as I would be able potential middle name issues.

I certainly wouldn’t address it right away even if I do bring it up. It would likely be a good while before that would ever be mentioned. Thanks for talking me down everyone :stuck_out_tongue:

At his age I wouldn’t change his name. In fact, even for a much younger child I wouldn’t do it.

Consider the fact that his life has been going through enough changes, and his identity is one of the only constants he has in his life.

The only reason I would consider asking him if he’d like to add an extra middle name is if the reason is to genuinely tie him to your family. I know a girl who was adopted older in life, and took on an extra middle name which was her adoptive mother’s grandmother’s name. She wanted herself to be tied into the family roots, since that was where she felt that she ultimately belonged and identified with. I think it’s a beautiful idea.

If you’d like him to add a middle to honor a relative up your family tree, that’s one thing. It’s of significance. If it’s only to satisfy a name-fetish, I say no way.

Good luck with your process!

[name_m]Just[/name_m] curious, how will he feel about coming into the family as a big brother to [name_f]Persephone[/name_f]? [name_m]How[/name_m] are you planning on preparing her for gaining a big brother and another competition for your attention?

Oh gods no, not just for a ‘name fetish’ O_O. No, it was genuinely a worry about say, if his middle name was [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] like our last name. All my kids will have 2 middles, so personally, I don’t see that it would be rude or mean to ask him if he wanted to work together to find a second middle name so that he would have 2 like his siblings. If he didn’t want to, certainly that’s his decision.

On his profile, it specifically says he wants to be a big brother and that he never has been and always wanted to be one. He also said that he wants animals because he’s never had pets. So the fact that we have a young sibling and animals is fine in his case. And I’m not doing much with [name_f]Persephone[/name_f] at the moment, but it’s because I don’t think she’ll have much of an issue. She’s very mellow and every week we go to a friends house and play DnD and there’s another baby there I mess with and she’s cool with it. I’m not even sure how I would go about preparing her, though. Got any advice in that aspect?

My friends adopted two boys, 7 and 10 years old. They kept their first names as they were, but at the boys’ request, they were given new middle names.

I think the important part is letting the child have the choice. In my friends’ case, the boys both wanted to feel a part of their new family, and requested familial middles.

Maybe with your boy, leave it open-ended. [name_m]Just[/name_m] something like “i know some kids want to change their name,or add a new middle name, so if you want to do that, we’d be happy to talk about it with you, and if you don’t want to, that’s ok too” so that he doesn’t feel like his name isn’t good enough as is, and he feels fully in control of the situation.

By the time a kid knows how to spell and write their name then that is their name and they should not change it. Any kid older than preschool age shouldn’t change their legal name.

My daughter has adopted three children, and has always been advised to never change the child’s birth name. It does not seem to matter the age of the child, as one of her daughters was 10 at adoption and the other two were a girl 3 years old and a boy 18 months old. She was advised that the child’s birth name is too important to the ‘life story’ of the individual that , like it or not, that is the child’s name for life. It was not a big issue as the girls were named [name_f]Amanda[/name_f] and [name_f]Linda[/name_f]. [name_m]Both[/name_m] beautiful names. The one slight exception was her son [name_m]Nicolas[/name_m]. He was never given a middle name at birth and, with my husband’s approval, at the adoption ceremony [name_m]Nicolas[/name_m] took his Grandfather [name_m]Oliver[/name_m]'s name as his middle name. He was too young to ask at the time, but now at age 15 he brags about being named after his Grandfather.
I wish you every blessing with the adoption. I have trouble remembering which of my Grandchildren were adopted and which were not.

I understand what you are saying about the [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] thing. On the other hand, it would be sort of neat if it did work out that way, like he was already a [name_m]Thomas[/name_m]. I don’t think this is something you can never bring up because who knows? He is an individual and I am sure that he will have his own opinion about this. I would just leave it till much further down the road is all.

You seem like a very sensitive and open-minded person, so I think you are going to do really well with this older child adoption thing. [name_f]Persephone[/name_f] is so young right now that she probably won’t remember not having a big brother.

At that age I wouldn’t change the name unless either the child wanted to or the child’s original name is “problematic” (e.g. badly misspelled, name with bad connotations, etc.).

I personally think changing a 10/11 year old boys name is beyond ridiculous. That’s their name and part of their identity. They shouldn’t have to give it up to be a part of your family or because you don’t like their name.

So glad that you’re really looking into little [name_u]August[/name_u]! I hope this process goes well for you and your family. Adoption is just a wonderful thing.

As for naming, I really think a child of that age should never be renamed. I don’t see anything wrong with adding a middle name, but changing his first name could be traumatic or just down right confusing.

Letting him help you pick out a second middle name could be a really fun project for him to feel connected to your family.

Good luck!

I think it is amazing that you are considering adoption. Two of my cousins are adopted and they had very different experiences (same parents). I also worked before with foster kids. So much has to do with the boys personality. By the time they are 10/11, adoption will be significant (and sometimes traumatic). I think your intentions are very good but sometimes even the suggestion places pressure on the child. They know at that age that all situations don’t last and are usually eager to please. Sensing you might want him to change his name, he might tell you that is his wish even if it really isn’t. By asking if he wants to change his name, you are planing the idea that something is potentially wrong with his name, and perhaps himself too. Again, not your intent but usually theses kids have attachment issues and have had adults let them down in the past. I would not say anything about a first or middle name change and only address it if he brings it up. It is totally understandable that his last name would change . However, that can be an issue for some kids too. I would also agree with a previous poster that adoption support groups are awesome. Best wishes!