This is post was written for Grown in my heart’s second blog carnival

I shed names like skins, mostly I think it’s an adoptee thing, but partly I find the idea of keeping a name that somebody else gave you forever really bizarre. Also people change through their lives so why wouldn’t their names?

When I was born, my sister chose my original name, my beautiful articulate intelligent funny sister, but I didn’t know this till I was in reunion with her because nobody bothered to tell me. Even after I found that out though I was still uncomfortable with the name I was born into, after I left my adoptive parents home it felt like it belonged to someone who wasn’t me, so I changed it to one that felt like it was mine. My sister is the only person in the world that still calls me by my original name, she knows my second name but often she forgets it and sometimes she just uses it because it is something no one else does. It is a way of celebrating our blood bond, our sameness despite the fact we didn’t grow up together.

I chose my third first name about two and a half years ago. Once again I had changed so much that I needed a new name I felt comfortable in, but also as my relationship with my adoptive parents broke down I wanted to mark that break, none of my family, not blood or adoptive, know the name I currently use in my everyday life amongst friends and colleagues. All the old myths are important to me, if someone doesn’t know your name they don’t have power over you and both my families have had far too much power over me for far too long.

I hate forced name changing though, I hate the tradition of women taking their husbands name. There are two situations where people get their names changed as the default 1)adoption 2) marriage. All other instances of people having there names changed by force are recognised as a weapon of cultural genocide, so why aren’t these?

I am deeply, deeply ambivalent about my last name, my adoptive fathers name. but when i got married I kept it, partly because of my feminist principles, partly because it is a harsh, beautiful, unusual sound and it signifies an important period in my life but mostly because because there have been too many names, already to many selves so I wear it like a scar across my skin, as unpronounceable as my pain