What is in a name? How much importance does our name carry and what does it mean to a child?
On my son’s birth certificate, his surname is his fathers. At the time, obviously you don’t think about the possibilities of not staying together so the name for me was not a major point of discussion. Once we had separated, I started to feel uncomfortable whenever I had to use both our surnames, for example making a doctor’s appointment and so on. I could sense people looking at me in a particular way, questioning my relationship with ‘MY’ child and acting curious of the background behind the two different names when read out loud. I had to deal with this and I did without anyone really knowing how it was cutting me up inside. Then, one day my son started to question the difference in our names. He was also suffering and it was causing him confusion and despair and he let me know he wanted the same as Mummy. I tried to explain the legal side although I did this poorly and quite possibly caused more confusion for the poor soul, however I did my best. I also explained what I thought was morally the right answer as I did not know better
As time passed, my son kept bringing up the subject of his name and asking if he could have the same one as me. I felt awful as I wasn’t sure of the right answer to give him. After some thorough researching and checking on my court orders, we (my son and I) came to the decision we would change it and we did. My son’s name is now hyphenated with my surname first and his father’s second. I had an appointment with the school principal who agreed graciously with the new name and from the following year, my son took on a new identity almost and he had never been happier. I sensed he felt more connected with me now we shared a name and over time, my part of the name is more used than the other.
As I have sole responsibility (which in the older term was known as sole custody), I actually have the right to apply to get a new birth certificate with the desired name. This is certainly on our ‘to do list’ and once we can afford this, we will be changing the name officially. My son’s father was not happy about this decision at all and at times has caused stress and grief, and an overreaction causing embarrassment, yet at the end of the day it was in the best interest of the child. In my case, it was my son’s choice and after much discussion and counselling of the idea, I supported him and his decision and it could not have worked out any better.
I ask you if you, have been in a similar situation – if so, what did or would you do?
Do you feel it was right that I changed the name of my son although different to what is on his birth certificate?
Do you feel this decision takes anything away from the father, particularly if they do not play a major role in the child’s lives?
I would love to hear your comments and discuss this subject as I feel for many it is a sensitive issue for all involved.
Love and Light
I have found some sites for those of you who are curious about name change and children’s rights.
Ferguson Cannon Lawyers: http://www.fclawyers.com.au/fact_finders/view/120/category:3
Births, deaths and marriages registries: http://australia.gov.au/topics/law-and-justice/births-deaths-and-marriages-registries
Australian Human Rights Commission – Children’s Rights: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/children/index.html