If you pay any attention to foster and adoption blogs you will find that the choice to change a child's name is both very personal and very individual. Our choice is not the right one for every situation or every child. I love learning why a family makes the choice they do because it shows so much of their heart. I'm also baffled by the lack of support for families who do choose to change their child's name. We have experienced everything from annoyance to confusion to being lectured about our decision, and usually these responses are outside the foster/adoption community.
The WHY behind our decision has a lot of different layers:
A Past History and Fresh Start:
Our kids come with a lengthy and complicated history. Their names are part of that. One of our children was named after his birth father, anothers middle name was after a different relative. When their birth names are spoken their is a strong tie to their past. We wanted to in a way, cut that tie and give them a fresh start with a new name.
Do you have biological children? When you delivered those children in the hospital and the doctor handed you them for the first time he/she did not declare, "It's a boy and his name is Fred." You got the privilege and honor to choose a name for you child. People chose names for many reasons: they like it, the child is named after a family member, it's Biblical, or they are going for a certain meaning. When a child is born one of the first gifts a parent gives is that child's name. It will stay with them their entire lives. We wanted to do the same thing for our kids. In our case we searched for names with a certain meaning behind them. Something we could speak over them for the rest of their lives.
When you foster a child you interact with their birth parents quit a bit. As much as you try to keep your lives private much of it is exposed to them. They will most likely know your last name. They will probably know the town you live in. They may know where you work, where you kids attend school, or even your address. Changing a child's name gives you a bit of distance between all of that. It also protects your children long term. I have heard on multiple occasions where a birth parent uses a child's name to obtain debt for a house or credit card.
A Biblical Perspective:
Tony and I are firm believers that renaming your child when adopted is Biblical. God renamed several people. When you study that process you see a pattern to his choice of renaming. God always does it as a way to make a bold statement that their past lives are ending. They are getting a new and fresh start. He does it in order to remind them of the promises that he has made to them. And he does it remind them of his deep love for them. He always does it as a blessing and a gift. I'm going to talk at a later date about the Biblical Characters we focused on and why.
This is the WHY behind our choice for a name change. Again, each family will make a different choice based on their family and their child's needs. I respect and appreciate the thought and prayer these families put behind their decision.
Are you an adoptive or foster family? Did you choose to change your child's name? Why or why not? What do you think of that decision now?