Is Your Child’s Original Name Important to His or Her Identity?

Two weeks after my son was placed in our family, we received a letter from our attorney. As we opened that letter, there was another envelope inside. It was from his birth mother. As I opened it, I freely admit, curiosity and gratitude overwhelmed me as a smile played at the sides of my mouth. It was a social security card. My son’s original social security card, with a name I’d never heard his birth mother speak and couldn’t help wondering if there was a story behind that name. At placement, she requested and reaffirmed a closed adoptive relationship, so we aren’t able to talk to her, ask her questions about herself, her other children, or any of my son’s biological family. So many times, I’ve longed to ask her about physical characteristics, personality traits, medical histories, and about the name on the social security card. I’ve also wondered if she has his original birth certificate.

As an adoptive parent, I’ve read blogs and listened to family members who were adopted, asked questions, and sought to understand a broad variety of perspectives within the adoption community. I honestly admit, some views were difficult to hear and left my heart struggling and aching. Because of my personal situation and my desire to give my son absolutely everything I possibly could (mainly because I knew I couldn’t give him a relationship with his birth mother), I particularly paid attention to content and articles written by those who had been adopted. It was quickly reaffirmed to me, by a large majority of articles, blogs, and videos, how important biological connections are to persons once adopted.

One video discussing names truly captured my fascination and I immediately began thinking of my son’s names, especially the name on his social security card. I thought about my names, the meaning and stories attached to my nickname, Shiny, and that my great-grandmother also bore the nickname Shiny. I thought of my surname and how everybody knew who my family was as I grew in a small Idaho town. I knew that name was well-respected in our small community because of the honorable lives my grandfather, uncle, and father lived. My names give me a history, a sense of identity, and are a part of who I am.

I am so grateful for that thoughtful action of his birth mother–sending his original security card with the name she gave him–for that one little small piece of his identity he can look to for answers and comfort.

What are some other suggestions you may have for adoptive parents to help them as they encourage their children through adoption to embrace their biological connections?