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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Changing a Toddler's Middle Name

Katie writes:
I'm wondering if anyone has advice or an opinion on changing a child's name after the birth certificate has been signed. Not his first or last name, but his middle name. The child is 2 1/2 currently and it's eating at me, as silly as it sounds.

I always hated naming my children because it was like shooting skeet. I would toss up a name and hubby would shoot it down. Never did he toss up a name and it made me nuts. We ended up naming our first Gabriel after I tossed a little, checkout impulse buy baby name book at him and told him, "Pick a name!" Gabriel was the first one he came too that he liked. Naming our next three was similar. But we always tried to have some sort of family connection -- espcially in the middle name.

With our last -- number 5 -- I tossed out the name Logan thinking he'd shoot it down as being 'too soap-opera-y'. Instead he glommed onto it, with our older children standing around. I was super surprised until Gabe shouted, "It's Wolverine's real name from X-men!" As it was a favorite family movie, I knew there'd be no way I could get out of the name Logan. Plus, when he's older I thought he'd appreciate it.

Middle name suggestions at the time ranged from Ryan to Wolverine. I liked Xavier (because 1. if we were going to go the x-men route Xavier is one of the other main characters, 2. I like it, and 3. how cool would Logan X. H_____man look as a signature?) But it didn't have any sentimental value. So, obviously nixing Wolverine, we went with Ryan -- the last name of hubby's best friend and the one who brought us together. Only after the fact did I realize Logan Ryan H_____man sound way too heavy on 'n' sound at the end.

Now Logan is 2 1/2 and I'm seriously contemplating changing his middle name if it's not too outrageously expensive, difficult, or cause future problems (like with Social Security Number/IRS, etc.)

If anyone has thoughts, advice, encouragement, or warnings concerning this issue, please share!

Name update 03-05-2010! Katie writes:
Thank you all for helping us get our head on straight. You know how sometimes you need someone to mentally shake your head like an Etch-a-Sketch so you can stop dwelling on something? Well, we had Etch-a-Sketch head and you all helped clear it.

Telling the friend and taking back the honor was the main reason we really hesitated and, with the comments focusing mainly on that, we realized that, while the friend probably wouldn't care (he's pretty happy-go-lucky) his friendship and the past mean too much for us. Logan is our last baby and it's fitting that his name brings us back to our beginning.

As for the 'an' 'an' 'an' at the end of all the names that bugged me -- knowing that the commenters didn't think it sounded bad has helped me get over it. I'm used to critical people who pick apart a name so I guess I was feeling too defensive.

So -- thanks for the positive comments! Logan Ryan shall remain Logan Ryan and I'll find something more serious to worry about.


Tracy H. said...

I don't know the legalities of it, but I say change it. If it bothers you that much, there is no reason not to. Changing a middle name will not alter his identity like it would if it was his first name. The only possible problem I can come up with is if the hubby's best friend will get his feelings hurt.

beyond said...

You say that it's eating at you, so I say change it. I don't know how exactly it works, but people change their names all the time, so it can't be too complicated.

Guinevere said...

The process of getting a legal name change for an adult (for reasons outside of marriage) varies from state to state. In some states, one has to take out an ad announcing the change in a publication... but in our state, it was a pretty straightforward process: fill out the page-long paperwork and write the check, file paperwork at courthouse, then show up in court a week later, swear you're not changing your name for fraudulent purposes, and voila, there's your court ordered name change. I would imagine it would be the same process for a toddler, with you swearing on their behalf.

That court ordered name change document can be then waved around at all the entities that have your name on file legally, just like a marriage license for people who are changing their name as a result of federally recognized marriage. For me, this was by far the biggest time-suck and pain in the entire process, since for a grown up there's so many places to change the name with. However, for a kid, it should be really straightforward, since the only pieces of paper you should have to deal with changing are the social security card and maybe also the passport.

Not so big a hassle that I would let it stop you if it's eating at you! Your son may need to keep the name change document around with his birth certificate in case anyone ever disputes that the birth certificate is really his, but that's hardly a big problem. Just request as many copies as you do of the Birth Certificate and keep them together!

Guinevere said...

PS - I seem to recall the total cost for the whole process a bit under $100, which included ordering a lot of the official copies of the court order as well. Exact cost could vary by state, but it's certainly not much on the scale of legal expenses. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, there is nothing wrong with his name! I'd feel totally weird if I knew I was born with another name than the one I grew to an adult with. I'd only say change it if his middle name WERE Xavier, making both his first and middle names after a sci-fi movie.

Nicole said...

I WOULD NOT change it!
1. It's a great name- in my opinion, the "n" sound at the end of each name is cool. It would be different if they all ended with s, which can just sort of jumble together, but the N definitely gives his name character.

2. Why put him through the trouble of constantly having to prove that he is in fact the person on the original birth certificate with a back story of my parents changed my middle name at 2 1/2... whaaaaaat??? That just sounds like it has the potential to be a HUGE pain in the butt!

Don't do it!

Erin said...

I agree its not hard to change a name and would be worth it if you absolutely can't sleep at night, but I also think his name is really just fine. Even if it isn't exactly ideal to you, its probably not worth changing at 2.5years old. I quite like Logan Ryan. Reminds me of Nolan Ryan. Or any other number of people with ns to end their name.

Alison aka Baby B said...

I think giving Logan the middle name Ryan for the person who brought his parents together was really, really sweet. Very meaningful! And the repeated last syllable is not a real deal breaker for me.

But! That's just me! If it really bothers you, go for it. I have heard of people changing their child's name after the birth certificate is signed, though I don't know how to go about it.

Anonymous said...

I think the meaning behind the name trumps any concerns over the "n" sounds in this case.

Logan Ryan H___man doesn't sound weird. It isn't hard to pronounce. As the previous poster mentioned, if all the names ended or started in "S" sounds, that may be one worth reconsidering.

Don't focus on it. How often is Logan's full name used, out loud, anyway? Chances are it will be a non issue.

Eileen said...

On the other hand, it's kind of a cute story--when he has to tell the story at school explaining how he got his name, the name change will be dramatic and funny!

Jodi said...

I'm in two minds about this. If it were just between the two middle names and there were no other factors to weigh, I'd be firmly in the Xavier-is-super-cool camp, but it's not, and there are. The main one, in my mind, is that Ryan is *for* someone. Does the orginal Ryan know about his little namesake? That would definitely be a dealbreaker for me, and a good reason to love a name that isn't *quite* perfect otherwise.

Lara Jane said...

I'm guessing Ryan already knows you gave your baby his name, in which case, I think it might prove awkward to change it at this point.

We did change our son's middle name several years ago, when he was in first grade, and it was quite straightforward, as Guinevere stated. We'd given him a name of my husband's choosing (also after a friend, or rather, after a friend's father), but Hubby ultimately regretted not giving Henry a family middle name, so we changed it.

I've had friends and relatives change the spellings of their (or their kids') first names, and it was no big hassle, and a middle name is even less of an issue, in my opinion.

Xavier is a rad name, especially with the X-Men reference (yes, I am a gigantic nerd). But again, I think changing it at this point would hurt your friend's feelings.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I think Logan Ryan sounds awesome! With the hard G in Logan followed by the softenss of the start of Ryan "Rya-", the N's don't even stand out to me, and the names have a great flow!

I say keep it!

StephLove said...

I'd keep it. The final ns don't bother me too much and if he's named after someone, someone important to you, it seems wrong to take it back.

Christine said...

I like Logan Ryan, but if it's really eating at you, and your friend won't be insulted, go for it. It shouldn't be too much of a hassle depending on your state.

If it were me personally, I would probably stick with the Ryan. I think it sounds fine w/ Logan and your last name, and it's a sweet tribute.

Frazzled Mom said...

I agree with those who feel that at this point getting rid of Ryan might hurt your friend's feelings, regardless of how straightforward changing the name may be.

While I try to avoid two middle names, if you really regret leaving out the Xavier, perhaps Logan Xavier Ryan would be a good compromise. Or Logan Ryan Xavier, however, I don't feel that flows as well.

Nevertheless, I feel the sentimental reason behind Ryan makes it the more significant middle name, and more deserving of being first, especially since when people have two middle names, sometimes due to space constraints the second one gets dropped - leaving you in the same situation had you completely changed the middle name in the first place, possibly hurting your friend.

Tasha said...

I would vote to leave the name the way it is. It has good meaning behind why you chose that name. Plus, how often do we use our middle names anyways?

Meg said...

I changed my name when I was about 25. My mother must have been smoking something to name me (Ramona Marguerite ). I changed it to Margaret Elizabeth. Best decision ever. It cost very very little and was little effort. Since your son is too young to have a mortgage and credit cards it shouldn't be a big deal at all.

My one question is... how will this friend feel if you're dropping his name? Are you considering adding a 2nd middle name?