The Gift of a Name

Shortly before Christmas I filled in my application to the family court for an adoption hearing and court order.  It was quite a bureaucratic nightmare for somebody like me, who finds even putting a stamp on an envelope a bit too stressful!  Thankfully my social worker had assembled all of the forms for me, so all I had to do was to photocopy the photo page of my passport and write out a hefty cheque (insert delay here while I unearth my cheque book!) and get it sent off (I got somebody else to help me with that!).

On the form was a space to write OB's current name, and another to write his new adoptive name.  I can tell you that it was quite a thrill to write his new name in that blank space!

I blogged last year about the thorny issue of the names that adopted children come with. OB of course has come to me with a name already, and it isn't OB!  Thankfully, considering some of the odd monikers that parents come up with these days, it's a pretty normal name - good thing since I'm not allowed to change it!

But of course, he will get a new family name - mine - and I was told that I was allowed to give him a new middle name if I wanted.  This left me in a bit of a quandary as OB already has a middle name.  Would I give him a new name?  And if so, would I retain his current middle name and force him to live a life burdened with no less than four names?

OB's first name was given to him by his birth mother simply because she liked the name.  I like the name too, so that's handy.  However, his middle name was more than that.  OB's birth mother chose his middle name after a family member who had meant a lot to her in her childhood - somebody who had cared for her when everyone else had deserted her.

I struggled for a while with this, but in the end I decided to keep that middle name, even though it wasn't one I would have chosen.  When OB grows up and asks about his birth family, I want to be able to tell him that his birth mother loved him, and that she cared enough for him at his birth to name him after somebody who had been so important to her.  Not only that, but this relative of OB's birth mother is his blood relative too, somebody whose history and life is connected to OB's regardless of his adoption, and it seemed good to me that he would carry this link to his identity in his name.

But I am also giving OB a new middle name.  I've said before that names are so important.  From the first moment that they know they are expecting a baby (and often even before!), parents begin to look through, sort, and choose names for their baby.  Giving a child a name is so much more than simply giving them a convenient label by which they can be known.  Names are invested with so much meaning, history, cultural identity and hope.  As an adoptive parent, my desire to invest my child with a name that has special meaning for me is no different to any other parent's.

So OB's new middle name will be Matthew.  It's not a name that I've thought about before, nor have I always wanted a son called Matthew.  But it's the name that fell into my head immediately when I was told that I could choose my own middle name.  When I explored its meaning I discovered that it meant "gift of God".  How appropriate for a little treasure that has come into my life as such an unexpected, yet cherished gift.

Yes, the poor little thing will have four names to carry around - his signature is currently bigger than he is!  Two of them, the first and third, will be gifts from his birth family, one, the last, will be his gift from me, and his second name will speak of the awesome gift that he is to me, and of the loving father who ordained that it should be so.


  1. I have four names. And they are all more arduous than OB's. He'll be fine.

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