At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names.
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". Within a few months the slip ups were less and less. And now it almost never happens unless we have to use the old name for a reason.
Each of them kept part of their birth name. And in various ways each of the kids had input into their new name. Stella was the one most resistant. She kept "Stella" as her middle name (her request) and we gave her the name of my Grandmother. Sarah had two middle names and picked one of them to keep as her middle name. We gave her a new first name and then argued abut how to spell it. My argument was if she spelled it the shorter non-traditional way people would mis-pronounce it her whole life. I lost. Sure enough on adoption day the judge made that very mistake. (Moral: Mom is always right.) Her middle name also is the same as my BFF so there is a family connection.
Simon's nickname stayed the same because that's just who he is. I couldn't picture calling him something different but didn't like his first name. So we named him a more formal name with the same nickname (think Nickname Rob changed from Robby to Robert). He also had two middle names and picked the one that is the same as my brother's name. He now insists on being called his formal name which breaks my heart. (But also his nickname and Sarah's name rhyme so that causes some confusion that I didn't consider.) Finally, Smiley had her birth middle name become her first name and she was given my Mom's name as a middle name. I really disliked her first name. It was cute while she is little and all dimples but when she turns 23 going for her first job no one was going to take her seriously.
I had to rattle their legal names off at the pool the other day (despite being full siblings- Simon and Sarah had different last names) and Simon asked me how I remembered all of that! I told him because I was his Mom. :)
We met some opposition in family members about changing their "real" names that their "real" mother gave them. We explained the new names were an important part of the claiming and bonding process. Especially since there were multiple kiddos. And as parents we have a right to name our children. We also reminded them that we are in fact, real parents.
Name changes are something that every family needs to decide for themselves. I've been asked if we adopted Solana if we would change her name. I actually like her first name and our nickname for her. I have a longer version of her name I call her when I'm being silly or stern so maybe we would go with that. I wouldn't keep her middle names though so maybe we would give her a new first name like the other kids but keep her nickname similar to Simon. But that's a lot of hypothetical.
To her credit Sheila has made an effort to use their new names since we changed them. We had a lot of discussion on what they would call Sheila at the visit. We have introduced the idea of "Birth Mom" as a term that others will recognize. The kids never referred to their other foster parents as "Mom" so First Mom didn't go over well with them. I suggested we call her Mommy Sheila since they used to call her Mommy. (They don't really refer to me as Mommy, I'm just Mom.) I'm probably the worst at remembering to refer to her as something other than "your Mom". They used Mommy, or Mom or didn't call her by name. I could tell when the kids were talking to me instead of her so it wasn't a big deal. I'm sure with time this will get more comfortable.
Did you change your kids' names at adoption? Do they call you something different? Share your experience.