Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Family, New Name... with a Twist

Juliet was right, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But Shakespeare probably wasn't thinking about adoption, let alone teen adoption when he penned Romeo and Juliet half a millenium ago.

I'm often asked by prospective adoptive parents of infants and toddlers if name changes are still acceptable in adoption. The general consensus (for the pre-school crowd) is that last names are typically changed, but first names are very rarely changed - in part to honour and respect the choice of birth parents. There are exceptions, of course, and ultimately it's a decision the adoptive parents make on behalf of their new child.

When discussing teen adoption, the decision "to be... or not to be"... a name-changer must really come from the youth themselves. They are already committing to new parents, new environs, perhaps new siblings, schools, communities, and friends. Keeping their last name is very important to many of our youth... while for others, a "new family, new name" is a great opportunity to formally embrace a new last name.

I know of a few siblings that were adopted together as teens... where one sib kept their birth last name, the other chose to take on their adoptive parents' last name. It came down to each child's personal choice. And it worked out fine for these families and all the kids involved.

I hadn't given much thought to a third option, until I got a great phone call last week. A prospective parent of a teen wondered if she could change HER last name to that of her teen's. My response was... well, why NOT?

I know, I know... it won't work for everyone. Many of us "adult folk" are too set in our ways, or have established a professional career that is tied to closely to our name. But for those considering changing your own name to embrace your child's last name, I say what have you got to lose? Juliet was right, after all. And I can't think of a sweeter way to show your commitment to your new son or daughter.