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Thread: changing a 5yr old's name...thoughts :-)

  1. #1
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    Default changing a 5yr old's name...thoughts :-)

    We adopted DS when he was 2yrs. DH wanted to keep his first name because he felt it would be an easier transition since that was part of DS's identity. I really wanted to name him after my twin brother but acquiesced to DH. We gave DS my brother's name as a middle name. I have regretted it ever since.

    DS's foster mom had him from birth and was *very* attached (understandably)...visitation was difficult. I don't think she tried to make it hard but she didn't try to make it easier either. I don't blame her for that (she was grieving) but it did make the transition challenging for me...I felt like I was ripping her baby out of her arms

    Anyway, I have always associated DS's name with him "belonging" to his foster mom...just wish I would have emphasized more to DH how important it was for us to change DS's name. Even now, I think it would help solidify my relationship with DS from my perspective (any other adoptive moms out there who can relate to insecure feelings..."Am I really *mom* to him?", etc...?).

    I also have one other reason for desiring a name change. His birth mom *may* have gotten access to my name/address through his former pedi's office...I just feel it'd be safer if his first name was also changed so the name she's looking for him under isn't associated with me.

    DS is 5yrs old now and I recently asked if he'd like *everybody* to call him Christopher and he is totally on board...he was very excited about it :-)

    I'm going to talk with DH about legally having his name changed for my "Christmas gift" this year :-) .

    Anyway, I'm looking for thoughts on this too. Maybe things for/against a name change for a 5yr old that I hadn't considered.

    Btw, his name would be changed from Devin Christopher to Christopher Devin :-)

  2. #2

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    Have you been calling him Devin or Christopher? I have no experience with this other than when my adopted cousin took my Aunt and Uncle's last name. He was older too, I think 5 or 6, and took it very well. I think it might be a better idea to try the name out for a couple of months with everyone calling him Christopher and making sure he is really is ok with it. Name changes take a while anyway. You have to advertise them in the paper for a while, it has to go through the courts...I think mine took 4-5 months when my step dad legally adopted me as an adult.

    Mommy to Piper 6/5/09 and an 11/2011
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  3. #3
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    I feel like the sooner the better on a name change it would become less noticeable now than later when he gets older and in school unless are you homeschooling? If Devin would be preferred to be called Christopher then I think it would be a great idea!



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    Thank you for the thoughts! I call him Christopher but no one else does. I've read too that it takes awhile. I would let friends/family know right away so the switch would be immediate even though the legal end would take time.

    I'm feeling the sooner the better too. Especially having recently moved...no one down here knows us yet so he would always be Christopher to any new relationships. We don't see friends/family often and I think they'd be acclimated to the change through email, FB, etc...by the time they saw him again (except at Christmas which is when he'd get to tell everyone...it'd be *his* big announcement :-) ).

    I'm pretty sure DH will be fine with it since DS is. He'll find having to go to the courthouse inconvenient but I want to make it a special day for all of us which I know he'll enjoy :-)

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    Oh, and another motivating factor...my mom had her heart set on naming me something else but due to the circumstances she chose Kelly. I grew up not liking it and always wished she would have given me the other name (I'm fine with it now but still am not fond of my name... DH calls me by my middle name).

    Anyway, she never said she didn't like my name but I think I always knew...she told me many times over the years how she wishes she would have chosen the other name then would add "but Kelly is a nice name too and you'll always be my Kelly Ann" :-)

    I don't want to project that onto my DS...I wouldn't do it intentionally but I don't think my mom did either.

    I really feel a name is so important...it's who he will be identified as for the rest of his life. A name is a gift and I want his to be meaningful...to him and to us. Not just kept because that's the one he came to us with. I feel like it's a privilege to give a child a name...wish I would have fought for it at the time but I don't think it's too late :-)

  6. #6

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    I think he'd adjust quickly since you're switching a middle and first name. I've taught kids at school who had their names totally changed when they were adopted - elementary age - and they did fine. I think their friends were more confused than they were!



  7. #7

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    I think if he is excited about it, then go for it!

    When we adopted our boys name was Maximas and we legally shortened it to Max at his request (he was 6 at the time) and we let him help pick his middle name and he chose my husbands name. He actually told us that was what he wanted before he ever officially moved in. Every now and then he will ask about Maximas, but normally just to make sure that isn't his name any more.

    Funny story - we gave his sister/our dd the same option of picking a middle name and she got really quiet and then jumped up announcing that she wanted her middle name to be Spongebob. I told her that she was too pretty to be a Spongebob, so again she got really quiet and then said, "Fine, I'll be Patrick". Obviously they watched a little too much Spongebob in their foster home When we told her it couldn't be a name from a cartoon, she asked what my middle name was and decided to go with that.

    Good luck! Follow your heart!
    Alyssa
    Twin girls 5/24/09 Baby bean 3/3/11
    Adoption Finalized 8/31/12 - Proud mama to Max and Kacey

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    You're just switching the names around, so I'd say go for it. You're not stealing away his identity, you're just making it so you can feel more comfortable. I totally understand your reasoning and he is YOUR child, so you do what you feel comfortable with. I'm sure he won't care either way, he's 5. He can still go by whichever name he pleases when he's older, you know? Lots of people choose a first or middle name to use.
    Dada (27) Mama-Jessie (26) Orion (4) Kadence (2) Baby (Uterus)

  9. #9

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    I personally wouldn't. If you are worried about birth mom, I would change the spelling from Devin to Devon/Devan (probably Devon because this is the most common spelling of the name) I would call him by both is first and middle name 'Devon Christopher! where are you?' etc, to get him used to being called Christopher without changing his entire name (and in my opinion, identity). I can't imagine it being easy changing my 4.5 year olds name at this stage. I know you are doing it for other reasons that I dont understand, but i'm just thinking from a 5 year olds perspective.
    Good Luck Mama, with whatever you decide to do!

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    I would talk to someone knowledgeable on adoption, like at an agency or something. I would really hesitate to change the first name like that. Instead I would just call him by his middle name and later, if he wants to change it legally he can. Names are a really huge deal. And from what I have read, kids and later adults tend to resent their identity changed so much.

    I really hate having to do this as I want to name my child entirely myself BUT we are going to give the first name and ask the birth mom if she wants to give the middle name. And I really hate giving up that control and what we have picked out but it's something that will be nice for the child to know his name came from both his moms.

    Did his bio mom (and as crummy as she probably was, there is still a connection there) give his name?

    Not saying don't do it....just maybe talk so someone about it and see if there is anything to read up on about changing names in adoption first.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  11. #11

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    My husband's cousin adopted a child and they changed his name once the adoption was finalized, and I think he was about 4 at the time. He adjusted well and I can't really remember right now what his original name was. He is latino, although they aren't exactly sure what nationality, so they wanted to keep something that was within his latino heritage and went with Mateo. It sounds like your little fella is on board, so I'd go for it.
    Vicki 39 DH45 SD12 SS9
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by futuresoccermom View Post
    I personally wouldn't. If you are worried about birth mom, I would change the spelling from Devin to Devon/Devan (probably Devon because this is the most common spelling of the name) I would call him by both is first and middle name 'Devon Christopher! where are you?' etc, to get him used to being called Christopher without changing his entire name (and in my opinion, identity). I can't imagine it being easy changing my 4.5 year olds name at this stage. I know you are doing it for other reasons that I dont understand, but i'm just thinking from a 5 year olds perspective.
    Good Luck Mama, with whatever you decide to do!
    I tend to agree with this. I mean this is not a dog adopted from a shelter we are talking about, nor an infant who wouldn't know any different. This little boy has been "Devin" his whole life, and I don't think he is old enough to fully grasp a name change. I would leave it alone, call him by first and middle and when he is older let him decide if he wants to change it. JMO. Good luck Momma!

    ~*~Katrina~*~ Momma to Xander, Hayden & Lily (5 1/2) and Jericho (3)
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    Quote Originally Posted by TripMomma View Post
    I tend to agree with this. I mean this is not a dog adopted from a shelter we are talking about, nor an infant who wouldn't know any different. This little boy has been "Devin" his whole life, and I don't think he is old enough to fully grasp a name change. I would leave it alone, call him by first and middle and when he is older let him decide if he wants to change it. JMO. Good luck Momma!
    Wow...ouch ! I'm aware that "this is not a dog adopted from a shelter"...he's my son.

    Maybe I'm reading you wrong??

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    Thank you everyone for your perspectives!! Lots to think about :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by WishingNWaiting View Post
    I think if he is excited about it, then go for it!

    When we adopted our boys name was Maximas and we legally shortened it to Max at his request (he was 6 at the time) and we let him help pick his middle name and he chose my husbands name. He actually told us that was what he wanted before he ever officially moved in. Every now and then he will ask about Maximas, but normally just to make sure that isn't his name any more.

    Funny story - we gave his sister/our dd the same option of picking a middle name and she got really quiet and then jumped up announcing that she wanted her middle name to be Spongebob. I told her that she was too pretty to be a Spongebob, so again she got really quiet and then said, "Fine, I'll be Patrick". Obviously they watched a little too much Spongebob in their foster home When we told her it couldn't be a name from a cartoon, she asked what my middle name was and decided to go with that.

    Good luck! Follow your heart!
    LOL, I love this !! SO cute!

  16. #16

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    I don't think a name change is bad. I think it happens a lot. My dad goes by J. Michael and is called Mike which in my opinion is far more confusing than just changing his name. Again, I would practice it for a while before making a permanent change so quickly. I see your urgency but you don't want him to be unhappy or regret it in a year when you can't really go back. This would be a hard decision for me too. Hugs.

    Mommy to Piper 6/5/09 and an 11/2011
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    I don't think she intended it to be hurtful. I can see her point.

    If it helps, DH's mom called him by a nickname unrelated to his legal name as a child. When he started preschool he was told he could choose between his first or second name to be called at school. He didn't like the teacher, who called him by his first name, and insisted on being called his second name. Used that his whole life and had his name legally changed when he entered the army to just his second and last name. Then got tired of being laughed at for having no middle initial. He later changed it back to what he was born with and I was introduced to him by his first name, which I still call him! The point of all that being, no matter what his name is legally, in the end he will choose for himself. I would just keep calling him Christopher and he will make up his own mind when he is old enough to understand.
    Last edited by Gwenn; 11-27-2012 at 09:55 PM.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by kellyowens View Post
    Wow...ouch ! I'm aware that "this is not a dog adopted from a shelter"...he's my son.

    Maybe I'm reading you wrong??
    No, No, sorry...didn't mean for it to come across that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TripMomma View Post
    No, No, sorry...didn't mean for it to come across that way.
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  20. #20

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    I think that I would just call him christopher. Lots of people do that. DC Owens. D Christopher Owens. Etc. (I like the sound of that, too!)

    I can't understand the discomfort that you're feeling until I'm in your shoes. From what you describe, though, the emotional insecurity isn't something that's likely to be relieved with the name change alone. It sounds like it's really about his identity and your role in that. So changing what he calls himself, what the family calls him, who he is (your son, christopher) may not be the cure that you seek. (Similarly, it accomplishes that regardless of any legal process.) I don't mean this flippantly, but are there adoptive parent support options available to you to talk through your lingering concerns? This has stuck with you for a reason...

    On the birth mom, if she is truly determined to find him (and has the means and/or smarts), she will. Especially if she already has a tip on your personal info. Unfortunately, changing the order of his names or the spelling won't prevent that.
    Last edited by ibisgirldc; 11-27-2012 at 11:36 PM.

  21. #21

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    This is neither here nor there, but I'm curious to know if the foster mom thought she was going to be able to adopt him? Or was it just difficult for her to give up the baby she had raised?

    I trend to agree with the others that just calling him by his middle name might accomplish the same thing. If the birth mother potentially has your name and info, changing the order of your son's names isn't going to make it any more difficult fort her to find him.

    I do understand the feeling of a child having the wrong name,i guess along the lines of your mother. I spent the first year of#5's life feeling like she had the wrong name. I have told her the story if her naming, but I tried not to make a big deal over it. I wouldn't want her to feel like you do over your name. Im sorry your mom put that on you!

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibisgirldc View Post
    I think that I would just call him christopher. Lots of people do that. DC Owens. D Christopher Owens. Etc. (I like the sound of that, too!)

    I can't understand the discomfort that you're feeling until I'm in your shoes. From what you describe, though, the emotional insecurity isn't something that's likely to be relieved with the name change alone. It sounds like it's really about his identity and your role in that. So changing what he calls himself, what the family calls him, who he is (your son, christopher) may not be the cure that you seek. (Similarly, it accomplishes that regardless of any legal process.) I don't mean this flippantly, but are there adoptive parent support options available to you to talk through your lingering concerns? This has stuck with you for a reason...

    On the birth mom, if she is truly determined to find him (and has the means and/or smarts), she will. Especially if she already has a tip on your personal info. Unfortunately, changing the order of his names or the spelling won't prevent that.
    I agree with this. In his day to day life if you already call him Christopher, I wouldn't see the need to legally change it. I also don't think he is old enough to be able to make that sort of decision as he is still so young and since the switch is just first/middle, I wouldn't see the need in legally switching them around. That said, since Christopher is his middle name, I don't think he would have any psychological harm from switching it around.

    FWIW, I have a nickname that I've had since I was a baby, a silly nickname - Poody. One of my brothers and a couple of my aunts still call me that to this day. But I remember when I was 12 and one of my aunts asked me if I wanted her to stop calling me Poody and I was like: "huh" all confused lol. I had never noticed that people called me different names. My mom called me Erin as did her side of the family and my dad called me Poody and the rest of his family called me that so I never even thought about it until my dad's sister asked me that. I told her to call me Erin. To this day when I go back to my hometown and I run into someone I played with as a child, they will call me Poody, because that is how my older brother always introduced me lol.

    So I don't think it would be a big deal to legally change your DSs name especially since you already call him Christopher so he is used to being referred to by that name so it wouldn't be like you are totally making him a new person so to speak. I just don't think I would go through with the change from a legal standpoint since his middle name is already his name in a way. My DS is Kyro (pronounced Cairo) Edward. DH calls him "Eddie" sometimes, which he likes. Ky has said that he may have a "work alias" (I have one for my last name so he is copying off of me lol) and call himself K. Edward and shorten it to Eddie like what his dad calls him. He will save Kyro for his personal life since he thinks it is "cooler" than Edward lol. He thinks he has the coolest first name ever but that some people may not be "ready for his awesomeness." He is a funny little dude lol.

    Erin
    Last edited by Ky'sMom; 11-28-2012 at 07:26 AM.

  23. #23
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    Ibis...that's what my boys call him...DC :-) ...he loves it, he says it's his "baseball name" . Also, I appreciate what you said about talking with other adoptive moms. I reached out a couple of times in RL but didn't have a very good experience...maybe it's time to try again now that we're in a new location :-) . Overall we've had a great adoption experience but there are unique-to-adoption aspects of family life it'd be nice to talk out with other btdt moms.

    Running mom...his foster mom had the opportunity to adopt him but chose not to because of her and her DH's ages (mid-fifties)...she felt it would be better for him if he had younger parents...it was a sacrifice for her. She really is a great foster mom. She was upset though because we lived farther away than she anticipated...she wanted to be able to see him on a regular basis so she could be a grandparent figure in his life (which she is but we aren't able to see each other often due to the distance).

    Erin and others who expressed similar suggestions thank you for your thoughts...we're leaning that direction. I talked with DH about it and he was concerned about changing DS's name legally because of taxes and insurance...said it may end up more complicated than it seems : /

    Cosmosmom...his birth mom did give him his first name but we changed his middle name to Christopher which is actually similar to *her* first name (Krissy)...that was a factor when we chose it...I wanted it to be meaningful :-) He knows he's named after my brother and his birth mom (we don't refer to her as his mom though...too confusing at this age...but he knows he was "in her belly" which came up during my pg with Adam).

    Thank you to all of you who were/are supportive of my desire to change DS's name! Whether we do go forward with the legalities of a name change or not your understanding means a lot to me :-)

    All things considered I don't think DS would have any issues with a name change. He's very laid-back/happy-go-lucky :-) . He knows he's loved and that he belongs. At this point he shows no signs of insecurity in his identity...I anticipate bumps in the road eventually but that's why we're here...to be there to help him ride them out.

    Oh...a funny...his 5yr old sister now wants to change her name from Rachel Anne to "Annie Rachelle" (she says it with a wistful sigh) or she said "Rosabelle" would be fine too, lol, I think we may have opened a can of worms with our very imaginative 5yr holds ;D
    Last edited by kellyowens; 11-28-2012 at 11:16 AM.

  24. #24

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    I wanted to add that it appears that you have a pro-adoption household and all the kids are aware of the importance of adoption and probably more sensitive and can help reassure him as he grows. We had lots of conversation about the names, but I anticipate questions when they get to be teenagers when they don't like anything we do or did. I think adding the adoption layer means there will always be idenity questions that biological children and parents don't have to be sensitive to.
    Alyssa
    Twin girls 5/24/09 Baby bean 3/3/11
    Adoption Finalized 8/31/12 - Proud mama to Max and Kacey

  25. #25

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    My parents changed my little sister's name when she was 3. So, she was "Ashley" in 3 year old preschool. And then she was "Sloan (ashley became middle name)" in 4 year old preschool. Confusing year but she loves her name (at the time there were 3 other "ashleys" in her class and we lived in a very small town. One little girl actually had the EXACT same name...first and last).
    I like that you're just changing first and middle (and not an entirely new name).

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