We got J's amended birth certificate in the mail today. I have mixed feelings about amended birth certificates in general and about ours in particular. I feel like they represent something that is deeply flawed about the way adoption works in our country. I knew that after we went to court and finalized that our lawyer would file paperwork with the appropriate people in Georgia and they would both seal J's original birth certificate and issue her a new one. Now no one, not even J when she grows up, will be able to see her original certificate. And the one that is public record simply lists Andrew and myself as her parents, as if I were the one who gave birth to her in the hospital which is also listed. I don't like it because it isn't true. Z, J's first mother, shouldn't be erased and her name sealed away as if it something shameful.
But I digress. This post is about names.
I was prepared to see my name in the space listed "mother" on J's new certificate. Except, my name wasn't. Instead I saw my first and middle names, and Andrew's last name. My last name was listed, but under "maiden name." It felt strange, to say the least. I am used to people, grandmothers mostly, addressing cards and letters to "Mrs. Andrew _____." But as much as I love him my last name has never been negotiable. It's mine, it's the name of the woman he fell in love with. Neither of us ever questioned my decision to keep it. So I had this sort of odd internal reaction to seeing his last name assigned to me on that certificate. It was like someone else had been legally made J's mother.
Of course I think about this in terms of my daughter, the other person who has now received Andrew's last name. She had other names when she was born too. Originally we planned to only keep the middle name that Z gave her, and that we would give her the first name we had chosen, and Andrew's last name. But over the course of the past eleven months that choice hasn't set well with me. We have never met Z, so I don't know what her preferences would be. But it didn't feel right to take 2/3 of her names away and leave them shut up in wherever it is original birth certificates get sealed. So at the last minute, moments before our lawyer headed into court, Andrew and I discussed it and changed our minds. J is still our J. And she still has Andrew's last name. But at the core, the middle, of her name are the first and middle names given to her by Z.
Now we just have to get my name fixed on the darn thing.