This blog post is a response to a Guardian article 8/7/13 about adoption and name changing. The response will go into a collective response/debate at http://www.theadoptionsocial.com #WASO
I found the whole adoption process squeamish, from “choosing” which disabilities I could or could not cope with to the ultimate “choice” of picking a child from a series of brown files. The files had been previously filtered by someone who had assessed me for nearly a year but didn’t really know me, leaving five or six on my living room table. I went with the first one on the top of the file. The process was sterile. Horrible, weird, uncomfortable. Fateful.
Her name was Jasmin, without an ‘e’ she told me. Her surname was Powdrell. Powderpuff she said.
When it came to us meeting she made it very clear, very early on, that she hated her name as it was too girly. I thought it was beautiful. She liked Jazz….or Jazzjim….or most of all Dan.
She convinced the Brownie pack, on her first and only attempt to join, that she was a boy called Dan who had infiltrated. The other little girls loved it and so did she.
The court hearing changed her surname to mine and she happily took on my mothers name as a middle name. Even when she met her birth mum and dad regularly from the age of eight, she wanted to keep my name, for better or worse she was in our family and it helped her sense of day to day belonging.
To this day she is grateful that her fathers first choice of Princess Yasmin was rejected. The thought of it makes us all chuckle to this day.
In our everyday communication as a small child she had many nick names from me, Jazzie B, Chicken, Tiddler, Sausage and “JASMIN!!!” On a bad day.
The thing that annoyed her most was social workers spelling Jasmin with an ‘e’ on her correspondence. Which they did, all the time. And still do.
As she became a teenager she wanted to change her name by deed poll to Jason Powdrell Boorman, she also wanted to become a boy.
Now as an adult, she just wants to be Jazz Powdrell Boorman. Her jury’s out on the gender realignment.
Jasmin without an ‘e’ Powderpuff AKA Jazz has had some identity issues. Some are due to adoption and some are not.
I do believe in transparency in adoption, maintaining historical threads, the encouragement of the adoptee voice and the choice filled environment that encourages individual self identity. I think the majority of adopters do. None of us get a fits all map or a compass to navigate the sensitive terrain. Most of us get no support at all.
But names are like words and words have to be chosen carefully for lots of different reasons. And words are never enough to explain the emotions, the culture, the complexity and the identity issues of modern adoption itself.