Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

This has been a really busy two weeks! Had to get activities set up for Little Guy for the semester (he's going to work two days a week and go to class 3 days), get Big Kid to appointments, and get The Happening Dude to his driver's test. The only DMV that does that is over an hour drive away.

Which comes to the name thing. This has been a major pain-in-the-pooper.

For those who haven't been around my blog for a long time, The Happening Dude is really our nephew. You can read about how he came to be with us here.

My brother and his wife adopted THD and his sister out of foster care. And then promptly divorced and she moved to another state. She rapidly remarried and then started working on all 4 of their kids.

My brother's last name (and my maiden name) is ordinary enough. However, if you deliberately mispronounce it, it's a word that basically means hard-on.

Ex knew that my brother would never allow her new husband to adopt all 4 of his kids, so she started making fun of their last name. She made them ashamed of it, and then suggested they get my brother to allow them to change their name to her current name. They called and harangued him ("kids are making fun of me!" "I want the same name as Mommy!") and eventually wore him down. He agreed to it. Dumbass.

The problem is that Ex never notified the state where THD was adopted and from which she was receiving foster/adopt benefits of the change. So in their system, THD and his sister were still listed as Hard-On and not Smith.

When she and her new hubby divorced, she moved back to her home state, and within a year put THD back in to foster care. After a couple of years, when she had no intention of reunifying, we were fortunate to get him.

Except the kid has been in name limbo. Legally, his name is Smith. All of his official documents say differently. We used them to get his driver's permit, but knew that we'd have to get it all straightened out. Although my brother granted us custody of THD (after ex relinquished control), he is not an on-the-ball person and never managed to track us down a copy of the name change, and I didn't have the legal authority to request it. We all decided to wait until THD turned 18 (a few weeks ago) to do anything about it.

Shortly before his birthday, he emailed his mom. It was the first communication he'd had with her in a few years. He politely asked if she had a copy of the order of the name change and if he could have one.

Her response?

"I have a certified copy, but I'm saving it for your sister. You'll have to get your own. Good luck to you."

WTF? Hubby and I suggested he write back to her and ask if she could just fax a COPY of the order so we could get the case number and court it was issued in. He did. She never responded.

Fortunately, tracking down the paperwork was easier than we thought.

Now convincing the DMV of this preposterous story was another issue. Gah! But it all worked out.

While we were driving home, THD casually mentioned that he wanted to change his name again. He'd already spoken to Hubby and wanted to change his name to ours.

I almost drove off the road.

He explained his reasoning. He didn't want to carry the name of the man who was briefly married to his adopted mother. He had an aversion to the "Hard-on" name, and his adopted dad had only "sort of" parented him for a few of his 18 years. He had no affinity for his birth family and didn't want to go back to his original name. He wanted to be a part of our family, if only by a name.

Bless his heart. After all those years of being shuffled around and in and out of care, he wants to be identified as one of our clan.

I reassured him that no matter what, this is his home. We are his peeps. There's a lot of things for him to think long and hard about, but as a young guy, he has a lot of time, and we'll support any decision he makes.

One thing he is sure about is that he wants to legally sever all ties with his adopted mom. After our scare with Big Kid, where I had to make all the medical decisions for him when he couldn't make them for himself as next-of-kin, THD is afraid to relinquish any of that authority to her (thinks she'd tell them to pull the plug).


Lots to think about.


Beth said...

What an honour and testament to the love and commitment you’ve surrounded this young man with – and that he returns in kind.

Jeanie said...

You have got one smart kid there. And kudos to you for all you have done for him. We had a similar situation in my was really important to the kid to be identified by name with the family that was "his family."

Charlie said...

"thinks she'd tell them to pull the plug."

Now there's a warm-and-fuzzy thought. Maternal instinct, where art thou?

THD is one lucky kid to have you and your family as his family. The only problem will be learning to spell and pronounce your last name with all 32 letters.

The Henrys said...

Wow, THD has been through a lot, hasn't he. Bless you and your husband's heart for taking him in and making him one of yours! How sweet that he wants to make that legal, and what a great way to give him a fresh start apart from the chaos of his other "parents".

I have had similar experiences with my brother and his ex-wife and their three kids. They, the kids, are a big part of my life and I thank them for all that they have given to me.

Take care, Debbi

Anonymous said...

You are going to write this as a book, right? Because the plotting is already there.
Bless you for taking THD and giving him the love and family every kid deserves.

Willoughby said...

I clicked the link and read how THD came to live with you. By any chance does his mother have an email address? There are a few things I'd like to say to her!! Better yet, I'd like to tell her in person. Her attitude is appalling.

It makes me smile just thinking about THD wanting to take your last name as his own. He finally got exactly what he is so deserving of, a family.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Wow you have been busy! I think that is great he wants your been through alot.

stinkypaw said...

His 'parents' aren't parent material for sure, and don't deserve that name. He wants to change his name to one that represents family-love-belonging, let him. You should be proud (and I'm sure you are!).

Meg said...

That's so sweet that he wants to take your name! It's really awesome what you guys have done for him.

Chris H said...

That poor boy has no idea who he is really! What a life he's had.. passed from pillar to post, name changed several times.... so now he wants a new name and family, one he can call his own FOREVER.. how NEAT! I hope it happens .. he deserves it. And you guys are fantastic to be giving it real consideration. I hope you do it.

Chicago Mom said...

He is lucky to have you for peeps!

Janet said...

A name is a very, very important thing. For many kids out there it is the ONLY thing that is theirs and theirs alone.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't surprise me at all. Who wouldn't want you and your husband to adopt/take your name? You are such good parents and care do much about your kids, you have always been there for him and fought for him. In short, you are amazing and I'm not at all surprised. You have been the only stable and real love he has ever known.
I think you and your husband are amazing. Take care of yourself.

Rootietoot said...

you and your family keep putting me in tears. You're wonderful and I'm not surprised he wants your name!

gayle said...

He has been through so much in such a short time!! You sound like an awesome mother!!

litzi said...

Hi Attila,

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

I've no idea in your state, but in mine, since he is 18, all he needs is to give you a medical power of attorney and name you in a living will as such.

You should be able to find the document format on line.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Attila, you have the most wonderful family. Through all the ups and downs of life, your kids all KNOW where HOME is-- With you and your husband!

Parts of this story made me so sad but in the end, I think life is going to be very good for THD because of the huge impact you've had on him.

You guys totally rock!


Anonymous said...

What a terrific tale. Isn't it amazing how things work out. The Happening Dude was destined for your family. If fate had to send him to you by means of your brother's ex wife/bitch it is a small price of heartache for a lifetime of love.

CiCi said...

When I read stories like this post, I cannot help feel a bond with the child who is on the family roller coaster. I was in foster homes and one of foster names still shows up on my social security history. I want to hug you for giving your nephew some stability and for letting him know what it is to just be loved for who he is. Bless you, bless you, bless you!!!

Joe said...

Make sure you go to court to change THD's name. I changed my name when I was 7 (I'm 49) by use and not going to court. I'm trying to get a passport and I'm jumping through almost impossible hoops to maybe get one, because we were afraid of my birthfather and my mom had literally snuck off in the middle of the night with me.
So, get it done legally. It will be easier for THD if he ever wants a passport.