Did you know that my son was given 3 names at birth? Did you know we haven’t changed any of them?

What are the chances that another child with exactly the same names, in the same order, in Britain, was adopted too? Very slim, I’d say, but what does it matter?

Well, it would matter if his birth parents decide one day to look for him, or him for them. Not long ago that would have been our worst nightmare.

The right thing

Social Services make a big fuss about keeping a child’s first name; something to do with continuity of identity and all that. I agree it would have been safer to follow their usual recommendation: keep his first name, maybe add a middle name we liked and drop the other two. That’s what any sensible parent would have done, but to us it felt.. wrong.

Not just because changing your child’s name is like the old “don’t think about a pink elephant” kind of dilemma: you can go against your first instinct and think of a lion, a fluffy and cuddly one for example, but you still know that – secretly – you still like the elephant better.

But also because Ben has three beautiful names; one of the two middle names was one that featured in our “all times favourite” too. It would have been wrong to replace them with a lesser name just for our peace of mind.

Parting gift

Those names are something his birth parents gave him, one of the very few things they could leave him with. Should have we taken them away from him? Would it have been safer to do so?

Safer than what? I’m sure my son could piece together the few information written in his life story book, open a web browser and manage to contact his birth family in an afternoon. Gosh, what if he does that?

On being honest

We could have concealed all this information, or even feed him fake facts just to put him off their scent. We could have thrown in a pirate and a chest, and it would have become a giant treasure hunt game too.

If he decides one day to look for his birth parents I really hope he won’t try to keep it a secret. I have to believe that being open and honest will count for something. Maybe you think I’m wrong – and that might as well be, we are still very new at this – but I still believe some secrets only last so long.

A lie is a lie

So, if we rule out lying, the only thing left is being honest with him. We all agree that omitting facts is no better than lying, and conveniently forgetting what his real name is seems a big fat lie to me.

We could have changed part of his name and tell him about it, that would have been honest too, but how is that safer? If he wanted to be found, he still could.

So he can keep his names, we can keep our conscience clean, and I can pretend I would have taken such a high moral ground even if I hated those names.

Maybe it’s not him

Keeping all his names has the obvious drawback of making life easier for Ben’s birth family too, I realise that. I hope they’ll appreciate that we could have changed every single one of them if we so wanted. But we didn’t, and I really wish it will not go unnoticed.

I might be pushing my luck here, but I’m hoping that, if Ben’s birth family should ever set out to find him – to reciprocate the favour, in a way – they’ll do so delicately. I hope they don’t barge in his life and turn his life upside down.

We need to talk

One day Ben will seek an answer to the matter of his birth family himself, that day he needs to know he can always come to us. I hope that in between now and then we’ll find the right words to explain what happened, how things couldn’t have been different, and how (our) luck wanted him to grow up with us, as our child.

I expect it will be a difficult conversation, but I like my chances of getting out of a difficult conversation more or less unscathed, rather than facing the impossible task of convincing him he can still trust us after we lie to him about something so important and personal.

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  1. Suddenly Mummy (@suddenly_mummy) 6th July 2016 Reply
    • Diego Boccaleone 6th July 2016 Reply

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