Parents with adopted children may want to change the name of their children for many reasons; to make the child’s name easier to pronounce or to give the child a part of their identity.
Parents wishing to change the name of their child would have to follow a slightly varying legal procedure depending on what state of the US they are in and whether the adoption process has been completed or is ongoing.
If the adoption process is ongoing:
The first thing a parent wishing to change the name of their adopted child should do is consider the pros and cons of this decision. Changing a child’s name may make the child more accessible culturally in the US but it may alienate this child from his/her past. So parents must decide what name of the child they want to change, the first, middle or the last name, a method used by many parents is to maintain the child’s first name as a middle name.
The next thing to be done is to search a name or the child. When doing this, parents must take the laws of their state into consideration, that the name is within what is legally accepted by their state.
The adoption of a child from another country to the US is in two stages: First the child is adopted from the country to the adoptive parents who are US citizens, then the child is adopted in the US state where this parent resides to register the child as a citizen of the US and provide the child with the necessary citizenship papers.
Parents wishing to change their adopted child’s name would be given the option by the judge with whom they register the adopted child in the US. The child’s opinion may be sought by the judge depending on the age of the child.
If the adoption process has been completed before the parent decides to change the name of their child:
The first step is to do a search for a suitable name that fits within the laws of their state for the child.
You may then hire a lawyer or paralegal to complete the process for you or you could visit the clerk of courts office or a court near you and ask for guidance. You would be provided with a form.
Fill this form indicating why you wish to change the name of the child; you should state your reasons clearly to ease the process. The completed form should be submitted and the petition for a change of name would be filed.
The judge would summon you for a hearing to be assured the intent behind changing the child’s name is not to escape the laws of the state. Depending on the age of the child and the circumstances of the adoption, the judge may seek the opinion of the child. If the judge is satisfied the change of name petition would be granted, the parent would be issued a Court Order granting the change of name.
When you receive this court order you should then make a list of all the agencies that may have the child’s records, write to them with a copy of the court order granting the change of name and past record data of the child with the agency along with any other documentation the agency may request.