When we presented the idea of giving our kids new names to they were 7, 4, and 4. We weren't changing an infant's name who never really knew their birth name. I will say though, that our twins came in to our care with nicknames (naming your child one thing and then giving them a nickname is pretty common in the black community). Because of this, they actually did not even really know their birth names until they were almost three. However, their birth names had been used since the moment they walked into our homes-about a year and a half.
Before I get into how we did this I want to make a few things clear. 1. We do believe this is Biblical so we entered into this decision and change with a LOT of prayer! This success of this is completely a God thing. 2. When Tony and I discussed renaming children we agreed that if that came with push back or a sense of defiance we would drop it. We did not want to create a bitter child because we forced this on them. We did this with our children's full agreement and excitement. 3. We did choose to move the children's birth names to their middle names so that if they ever want to go by their birth names, it will legally be pretty simple to do that.
So, here is what we did:
Prayer!!!: I can not emphasis this enough. Pray, pray, pray, pray. We discussed and prayed specifically about this issue for a good year before we presented it to our kids. The success of this is completely a God thing. He worked in their hearts and prepared the way. We prayed over our kids, their new names, and the decision in general. And God confirmed our choice with the response our kids gave.
Biblical Study: I will go over this more in part four. A few months after the dust settled from termination we began studying God changing names in the Bible and the why behind that change during our family devotions. Our kids did not know that we hoped to change their names before we got into this study. We took each character and addressed three things behind that name change: 1. God was making a clear distinction from their past, 2. he was giving them a new hope and future, 3. it was a reminder of the promises he was making to them, and 4. it was a promise of his love for them. Our plan was to finish up this study talking about when a child is born and the gift they give them in a name. However, before we even got to that point two of our three children were asking if they were getting new names (see....GOD THING!)
Choice: Kids thrive under choice. And as parents we need to balance giving them choice while still maintaining our position as the parent. We decided to give Big Brother a choice of names. We presented him with two options that we liked. He came up with a third. While we listened to him and his reasoning on this we ultimately decided that his choice was not one we were comfortable with. (He wanted to do a shortened version of his former last name.) We told him that if he had another idea we would be happy to consider it. Ultimately he chose one of the two names.
Slow introduction: Once our kids fully accepted that they were getting new names we slowly started to introduce those names. All of us needed to get used to them. First, we started using them at bed time and then intentionally throughout our day. One day Tony declared it was the day and he and I make the full switch into their birth names (about three months after we first introduced them to the names). When first doing their names we made sure we ALWAYS used it in a positive manner. We NEVER used it to discipline them. We wanted to make sure that their first associations were good associations. So a quick: "I love you...."
Any questions for how we renamed? Feel free to leave a comment and I will try to address those the best I can. Have a story behind your choice to rename you child or not rename your child? I would love to hear it, each family's choice is so beautiful. Plan to adopt in the future? Have you put any thought to this issue? I would love to hear your thoughts!