View Full Version : Change (older) adopted child's middle name?

04-18-2011, 09:35 PM
This weekend, I attended an adoptive parent preparation course. It is a prerequisite for adoption, and is to be completed prior to the home study. Just for clarity - this was a course for people intending to adopt children age 3 and up. Someone asked the facilitator (a social worker, herself) if the adopted child takes the family's last name, or keeps their birth surname. The facilitator said that the child takes the family's last name, and then added, "I would also change the child's middle name. Absolutely." I was kind of thrown a bit (not necessarily in a bad way, I just wasn't expecting it, kwim?) and wondered if this is a common practice. What would be the purpose of changing the child's middle name? Would it be for security/safety reasons? The facilitator also said that for children with very unique names (see the naming thread over in the Lounge for examples!:wink2:), she would even consider changing the child's first name. She said this is fairly rare, but she has seen it done, particularly in cases where safety is a major concern. She added that there was a situation where the child had been given her mother's name, and the child was later abused by that mother. When she was later adopted, the child did not want to keep the name, so the adoptive family changed her name.

OK so that got a little off track, but just to come back to the original point, is it standard practice to change an older child's middle name at time of adoption?


04-18-2011, 10:34 PM
I can only share my friends' experience, adopting a sibling group of 3 out of foster care this winter (all age 3+). They changed their entire names, mostly to make it harder for their bio family to find them. Now each child is Newfirstname Oldfirstnamenowmiddlename Adoptivefamilylastname on paper. They planned to continue to call them by their old first name, but 2 of the kids wanted to go by their new first name, the third is still called by their old first name (now middle name). The kids were all very excited about getting new names - 1 of them in particular seemed to be very touched by the symbolism of getting a new name and being adopted. HTH

04-18-2011, 11:31 PM
DD came to live with me full time at 3yo. We are now a permanent foster placement, so I can't legally change her name.

That being said, I have "changed" her name informally. Her birthname is a nickname for a few other names. I picked one of those names, and started calling her in casually on occasion. I think it helped that she's always been a first-name-and-middle-name-together kind of kid for whatever reason, so being called a longer version of her name didn't seem "weird". She knows the difference between her "long" name, and her "short" name. She answers to her "long" name much more consistantly.

In the adoptive groups I know, the last names are always changed, and it's pretty evenly split when it comes to first and middle name changes. It seems that the older the child, the less likely they are to totally change the name, and the younger, the more likely. JME, YMMV, of course.

04-18-2011, 11:54 PM
Its a little different but when my BFF's 2nd husband formally adopted her bio-son they changed his name first and middle name. His bio-dad was abusive to my BFF. They weren't planning to but he (age 6) asked them too. Initally he just wanted to change his last name so he had the same last name as the rest of the family but he was a Jr so shared a middle and first name with his abusive father and the idea hit him he could change the whole thing, so he did. He used a nickname verison of his orginal name, a middle name he chose with the help of his new daddy, and his stepfathers last name. He likes having the same name as his little brother and not being connected with the life he had before his stepdaddy came along.

BFF feels much safer knowing that it will be that much harder for her ex's family find him.

04-20-2011, 05:49 PM
Congratulations on starting classes!

There really is no standard practice, and IMHO that's the way it should be. Every family has to decide what they think is in the best interest of their child and that does take into consideration things like safety, individual things about the child, things related to the family, etc.

My only advice at this point is keep an open mind. I think there are things that seem like absolutes, but in the end you may find the best interest of the child may be different than what you thought the absolute was.

04-21-2011, 09:56 PM
Thanks for all the replies and information! The social worker did mention the possibility of changing the first name, but she said they wouldn't normally suggest it unless the child had a unique name, or as another poster mentioned, there was some traumatic link to a relative.

Of all the adoption issues that I thought I could imagine, this one honestly never occurred to me! Very interesting, and I will keep all of your advice in mind (for when the day comes! :)).

FTR, I have one more class to attend (Attachment and FASD issues) and then will meet with the social worker and arrange for the home study. Exciting times!

04-24-2011, 12:27 AM
[QUOTE=EllasMum;3118320FTR, I have one more class to attend (Attachment and FASD issues) and then will meet with the social worker and arrange for the home study. Exciting times![/QUOTE]

Keep us posted!