What’s In A Name?

He wanted to know when he would be a “Smith.” That’s how the conversation started, with Nicholas asking when he was going to be a “Smith” like the rest of us. William and I started having conversations about him adopting Nicholas before we even got married. We went back and forth mostly because we were under the false impression that N would lose his survivor’s benefits from Social Security if William adopted him. And then I got pregnant with Tobin and the conversations became more frequent and serious.

When we started talking with each other and Nicholas about what Tobin’s name would be, N was slightly confused about T’s last name. When it clicked for him that T’s last name would be the same as William’s and the same as part of mine, he asked, “When will I get to be a Smith?” We didn’t really have an answer for him.

We also hesitated to start the adoption process because of Mark’s father. No matter the logical reasons for the adoption, I worried that Grandpa would think we were trying to erase Mark’s status as N’s biological father.

Once we cleared up that N would not, in fact, lose his SS benefits, we started the process of adoption. It took a lot of resources (time, effort and financial) on our part. In fact, I was quite surprised by how much we had to do to get the adoption done (thank goodness we had a good lawyer!) It seems like William shouldn’t have to have another background check for the rest of his life since he’s now had both state and federal.

The most intimidating part of the process (besides the paperwork I’m now doing to get N’s name legally changed) was the home visit from the Social Worker. Before she did her home study, she sent us reference forms. We had to get references from both family and non-family members. Everyone had to fill out a four page form talking about what kind of parent William would be (the answer, of course, is that he would be a good one). We’re so grateful for the time our friends and family took to fill those out and get them back to the Social Worker. We prepped N for the Social Worker’s visit because we didn’t want him freaked out that a stranger came to our home and started asking a bunch of questions. It was an incredibly surreal couple of hours, having someone come in to your home for the sole purpose of judging you. I had to stop myself from saying, “Stop judging us!” because I thought it would be funny. But you shouldn’t use your time with the Social Worker as funny time. Except for N who had the Social Worker completely cracking up. Any time I feel bad about my parenting, I will read the Social Worker’s report. When someone who sees bad parenting and kids who have had bad parents everyday says that you are a good one? That’s good. Plus, it’s nice to have evidence for when the boys are teens and say that we’re bad parents.

The last major hurdle we had was telling Mark’s father. We left the task until the adoption was almost complete. There was no reason for keeping it so long except that I worried that he would be worried/sad/upset. And he was. And probably still is, but I’m hoping to work on that some more.

So, after months of work and conversation and worry and anticipation we went in front of a judge for 3 minutes and that was it. And then we took a picture and now he’s got “Smith” in his name.

Please allow me to introduce the Smith/Carr-Smith/Deer-Smith family (and our Judge).