Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's is OK to legally change your baby's name.

Four years ago today, I was twenty weeks pregnant with my second child. The husband and I took our one and half year old Jay to the hospital for our ultrasound. We found out we were having a girl. I was thrilled and called my entire family from the hospital bathroom. We came home and I immediately logged onto the Internet and begin searing for the most beautiful baby girl name.

We had a list of names and we regrettably tried them out on our family members. I exchanged hundreds of e-mails with my sister who was at the time a Peace Corp rep in Senegal. What do you think of Sofia? How about Kate? I like Madeline. The birth was around the corner and we decided on Olivia. The husband went out to Pottery Barn Kids, purchased the hanging letters for the nursery wall, and spent all of one evening perfectly hanging them. The name looked beautiful on the wall.

A week before the birth I was watching the Discovery Health network where I met a sweet little girl Olivia, who had an incurable life threatening disease. Husband, the baby can't be an Olivia. This has to be some sign from God. Take down those letters and return them today. Days later our baby girl was born.

We held her and loved her and had no name for her. The hospital would not let us leave without filling out the paperwork and so we sat with our beautiful daughter in our hands and thought. How about Emily, sweet and simple? No, what about Emma? Emma, Emma, EEEEmmmmma, Emma sounds like .... Emma sounds nice. Is she an Emma? The nurse buts in and says, Emma is a good name. So we named our second child Emma and brought her home. We sent out the gorgeous birth announcement from a posh online stationary store and framed a copy in her nursery.

We never really called her Emma at home. She was "baby girl" for weeks. We never even went to Pottery Barn kids to purchase the letters for Emma. I was secretly depressed. Six weeks passed and my mom called me "You have to go and change her name. Either start calling her Emma, or find out how to change her name. It is OK to legally change your baby's name." Wow, I thought, you can actually change someones name? Is that acceptable? Won't people think that I have lost it? Seriously, what will people say?

I started searching online about legally changing a baby's name. All I could find were the instructions on changing the last name of a child, after paternity was established. I know who my daughter's father was, I just didn't know her name.

I called the same downtown phone number of the probate court that handles last name changes and was directed to a mean old lady that thought I was on crack. Sometime after my tears stopped, she realized that I was not only desperate but very serious. She informed me that you have up to 12 months after the child's birth to change their name. She also gave me a link to the county's website with all the appropriate paper work and I immediately scheduled an appointment to meet the judge at probate court the following week.

The next day it was officially Spring outside, the flowers were blooming, the sun was shining, and my husband and I filled out a mound of paperwork to legally change Emma's name. One of the original names we had picked out for Jay, if he was a girl, was Lola (insert real name here). Somewhere online I learned that people perceive Lola's to be either classy and quiet or loud and boisterous. Ah ha, my Lola is a little classy woman - a quiet and calm little baby girl. This is truly the most perfect name for her.

Once we legally changed her name we sent all of our friends and family another birth announcement that I myself crafted, since I shelled out an enormous amount of money for the original announcements. No one really bothered us too much about changing her name. We did go out to Pottery Barn Kids and placed her new name on the wall and it looked amazing! We were in love with our daughter and loved her name.

Now, Lola is not a quiet little woman, she is most definitely a loud and boisterous three year old. We grow more in love with her every day, she has a BIG personality for a little woman. She likes to pretend and play house where she is often found changing the names of her baby dolls. "Mama, I changed the name of Baby Claire. Her name is Baby Elena." In her perfectly precious room, high above on her antique white bookshelf stand two perfectly framed birth announcements.

14classy comments:

LunaNik said...

I can so relate to this post. Although I didn't go thru with the name change, but only because it's a middle name that I wish I had done differently and not the first name. But I have to say that I have thought about it very much. Was the process difficult? I love both names you gave your daughter by the way. It's funny how you just know when the name is right isn't it? With my first daughter, Loki, it took a while to find a name we both liked. But, I had Stella's name picked out before I was even pregnant!

Oh, by the way, I tagged you. Should you choose to except my tag, and I hope you do =), please blog 7 random things about you and then tag 7 people. I strayed from the norm a bit and only tagged 3 people. I just felt 7 was too many people to tag so if you only want to tag a coupla people that's fine.

the Girls' Moma said...

What an awesome story. It must have been super stressful at the time but it makes a good story!

B said...

That's so great! Such a great story to tell her when she's older!

I'm glad I'm not the only indecisive one.

Anonymous said...

Hi, It's so nice to hear others feel the same way about their children's names. My daughter Claira is almost 4 months old. I still haven't connected with her name and to my horror, my friend told me the other day that her name reminded of a show from the 40's/50's which featured a cow or a clown. Since she has been born, I have heard the name Chloe and have totally fallen in love with it. My husband gets very upset when I mention possibly changing our daughter's name. He says it is what is is and end of story. I think mostly of my daughter taking this name for the rest of her life and whether she will like it as well. I have been told it is old fashioned but pretty. I'm curious what others think. silgurl

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I am desperate - we called our beautiful Baby Boy Heaken and we both loved the name. But now people already start saying Heaken like Bacon. It really hurts us and I am thinking of changing the name - what do you think?

Anonymous said...

We recently made the same decision for our daughter. It has been a very painful process as people have had a hard time making sense of it, and we have received some negative reactions. Despite how difficult it has been at times we don't regret the decision. You have to do what feels right in your heart. We would rather live with a little criticism than a lifetime of regret.

Anonymous said...

Go for it. The process is NOT expensive if you do it before your baby is one year old. Depending on what state you live in will depend on the process, but it's not that difficult. Follow your heart, and move forward preparing yourself that yes, some may think you're crazy, but "this too shall pass, and your peace and happiness in the long run is what's most important.
Good luck with your decision--you're the only one that knows if it's right.

OHmommy said...


You need to apply for a SS card and you will get one with the same number but with the new name.

As for the birth certificate... you need to contact Vital Statistics and they will re-issue a new one. The new one looks exactly like the old one, except for a tiny line at the bottom of the certificate that notes the name has been changed.

It is somewhat of a process to change everything over. But well worth it. Follow your heart!!!

OHmommy said...

Hey GREAT idea. I will post the poem I wrote - the 2nd birth announcement.

Years ago, I searched the web for ideas and found nothing. I will share my poem with the web. Tomorrow. It will be posted tomorrow. Check back. :)

Mishelle said...

I like that you were able to find her name. We couldn't name David till we met him b/c we were unsure "who" he looked to be. Kudos to you Oh!

A Whole Lot of Nothing said...

I love that you shared that with us. A name is so permanent that you have to get it right even if it means changing it. We didn't tell ANYONE our girls' names before they were born. We didn't want the whole "that name?" or "I once knew someone with that name" thing.

I love all the names you picked. :)

Stephanie said...

This is seriously such a great story - and one that makes sweet Lola unique. And what a classy story for her to tell down the road!

Rhea said...

I had no choice with my first son's name. He's the IV. So, for the second son, I got to choose, and just chose something I liked, hence Remy (short for Remington).

Dana S. said...

Please help! I am beside myself and really depressed about my baby name choice. I have been trying to get over it but it is eating me up alive.
My daughter will be 12 months in 3 weeks! Is it still an option?
I live in NY (Long Island). Can anyone give me any advice or shortcuts to get this done?
I named her Jenna which is cute but it just seems so wrong. The name Abigail has been on my mind for months!
Can I still do this? Is it fair to her 3 year old brother who loves her name?
Please help! Quickly?
Thank you!


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