Obviously an adopted child’s last name gets changed. But you have to decide whether or not you’re going to change their first and/or middle names. When making this decision, we considered their ages, whether to change it for safety reasons, if they wanted their names changed, and how we, as their adoptive parents, felt about it.
Gary and I really wanted to change their first names for a few reasons. First, naming a child is something parents get the privilege of doing, and we wanted to be able to give our kids their names. Second, we wanted our kids and our family to have a fresh start, so to speak, in the form of a name change. Third, we didn’t really love their names, which might not be a great reason to change a child’s name in and of itself, but it was in the back of our minds nonetheless.
Also, our two oldest kids, who were 6 and 5 at the time they were adopted, both wanted their names changed. They not only wanted their first names changed, but their middle names as well. Bennett simply thought it was cool to change his name and wanted a name that Gary and I both liked and had helped him pick out. Laurel had the same reasons for wanting to change her name, plus another reason. She had learned that her first name was a Bible character that didn’t have a great reputation. When she told me this I asked her what she wanted to change her name to, and she replied, “Welllll, what about Mary?” I died laughing (later), and told her we would think about it and that Mary is a great Bible character to be named after, but that I didn’t really love that name for her.
Our original plan was actually to change only the oldest kids’ first names and keep their middle names, but one evening they told us they wanted entirely new names – first, middle, and last. Actually, Laurel said she wanted a new first and middle name, but that she didn’t really love “Combs” as a last name. We told her that one was non-negotiable, lol. Anyways, they said they wanted new first and middle names and we said ok. There really wasn’t any good reason to say no. We explained that we had planned on keeping their middle names so that they could have one name we gave them and one name their birth parents gave them, but they still didn’t want to keep their middle names, and we didn’t feel like pushing the issue so we agreed to change them. The littlest, Christopher, had a first and middle name neither of us liked, and he was only 2, so we had planned to change his whole name from the beginning. So everyone got entirely new names!
I was pregnant with Everly at the time so we had to come up with EIGHT names (first and middle names for all four kids). It was actually way more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s hard to name people who aren’t babies! The kids all had personalities already, and the big two had opinions, so we needed to find names that matched their personalities that we all liked. It was hard and took way longer than I thought it would! Plus Laurel kept changing her mind. She was definitely the hardest to name because I had so many girl names I liked, probably because I had been looking at girl baby names before I even knew Everly was a girl.
Sometimes people ask whether we think the kids will be mad we changed their names. Honestly? I have no idea. We did our best to include them in the process and respect their wishes. We did what we believed was best for them and our family at the time. And honestly I think that if a child is going to be mad or resentful about being adopted, they’re going to find a reason to be mad or resentful, whether it’s over a name change or something else. Our hope is that if they get older and question our decision, they can trust that we made the decision in love and sought wisdom in doing so. Also, I have them requesting name changes on video. So there’s that.
Changing a child’s name is a personal decision that each adoptive family has to make based on their specific situation. Sometimes you have no choice but to change a child’s name for safety reasons and sometimes you simply desire to be able to rename your child when you legally become his/her mom and dad. You just have to do what’s best for your family and your child.