Foster Adoption: The Struggle of a Last Name

Diane Ponist

Diane Ponist


Recently we have reached a dilemma as adoptive parents. When it comes to adoption it’s more involved than many people think. Especially when adopting from the foster system, many different scenarios come into play. Who to stay in touch with from the bio family is one huge decision, plus changing or not changing the child’s name are two major factors that effect us when going through the process.

By the time most children are adopted from the foster system they are at least 2 years of age. They know their name as one thing, than the adoption process comes along and now part of their identity changes. For us, our last name is a huge part of who and what our family means to us. Unlike many same sex couples, I changed my last name after we married, solely because I want our children to have the same last name as both of us.

In our home we only teach love. Color, race, religion or sexuality is never a factor and we instill this in all of our kids. The one connection we all have is our last name, none of us are biologically connected, so our family name makes us proud. After adoption, we agreed, every child will be a Ponist.

Now, we have been thrown for a loop when “Carmens” bio wants him to keep his current last name when adopted. She has even taught him that his last name is hers then ours, we were blown away. At what point is that ok? He is 3, he feels she is a friend rather than a bio parent. Even on the last visit he screamed in a tantrum that he “hates” her. Why in the world should he keep a name when he is not even wanted by her.

So she advised us that she would agree to sign over rights if we kept his last name somehow. To us, a hyphen, is not a choice. He should be adopted to move on and start a whole new life, that’s his right. Why should we have to explain this to him later in life that it was only a clause to keep him safe faster? Why is it that the control is granted to someone that doesn’t even want their child.

After the discussion with many friends and family members, we have responded to this request with this…”we have agreed to keep his last name as his middle name, only if you agree to sign over for adoption”. Unfortunately, it’s been days with no reply. She has for 2 years, done only a little of what she is supposed too, only for some control and so that she won’t lose all rights. Many times she has said she doesn’t want custody of him. We shall see what other terms will be laid out next just for this one little boys happiness to be granted.

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