It's January 17th.
While we haven't told the kids about our filing of the court papers, we have been slowly building up to the point where we're able to tell them at least part of what's going on. We know we'll need to; at some point, the court-appointed guardian ad litem is going to come to our house, meet with us and the Fries. We'll have to explain that, and we really have no idea how at this point.
So we've brought up names a couple of times.
We've discussed what we would do with the Fries' names at the time of adoption.
Now, we always thought that we wouldn't get to the point of adopting the girls until they were all 18; we'd do an adult adoption, which is legal in our state. We never thought that we'd be able to pursue this now. We knew we wanted them to take our last name. We also planned to ditch the hyphenated second half of Large's middle name, which is historically attached to XSIL and her family. Beyond that, though, we didn't plan to do any changes. The Fries are too old to be messing with their first names.
However, we realized that, with the last name change, Small and I would run into a problem: we would share the exact same name, except for the middle initial, since Small was originally named after me.
Hubby and I had both worked in the credit card industry. We knew from semi-personal experience—both in our job experiences and since Hubby's older brother and father shared everything but their middle initial—that having the same first and last name but different middle initial could cause all kinds of potential problems in the future: credit mix-ups, auto insurance/accident records screw-ups, medical records switching, a whole host of problems.
This was not going to work. We needed to protect both Small's future and my own.
Suddenly, the names for our potential daughters were back on the table. You know, the ones we'd discussed years ago, before we even thought about starting our family, beyond the theoretical.
And, well, in for a penny, in for a pound...
Large's first name, we decided, would dovetail nicely with the feminine form of Hubby's father's name. We liked the combination of names that Medium already had, but to make it ours, we could change the spelling of her middle name. That left Small...we could change her first name to one of our original name choices, had we been naming our own baby, keep her current first name as her middle name, and continue calling her by that name.
How to approach this with the munchkins, then...
We started by asking them what they would change their names to, if they could have any name they wanted. Large and Small pretty much liked their names.
Medium announced that she wanted "more letters" in her name.
Then we gradually talked about what we thought about their names...what we'd change their names to, if we could.
It took Large a couple of days to decide that she liked what we proposed. Medium was happy with her extra letters.
Small was ecstatic about her name change. She couldn't wait to have it be her real name.
I've told you all that to tell you this particular story.
I was checking Small's homework tonight, and noticed that she'd scribbled something in addition to her name...which suddenly had more letters. As I struggled to make sense of the letters she'd written—it became clear that she'd left a note for her teacher, explaining that her daddy had changed her name—I asked her what she'd written for her name.
A mulish expression stole over her face.
I dropped the firmness from my tone. "Is this because you wanted to use the new name Daddy and I have talked to you about?" The letters were only partly what were in the name we'd picked. Clearly, it hadn't sunk in yet.
I handed her homework back to her. "Okay. Your name hasn't changed yet, honey. When it does, you'll be the first to know."
She nodded again.
I pulled her in for a hug. "I love you."
"Love you too."
And then I emailed her teacher, just to give her a heads-up.
Thankfully, her teacher is excited for what this step means for us and our family, and thought Small's reaction was understandable...and adorable.