What’s in a name? Well, for me, a lot. When I had Snoo, I went with her father to register her birth. He has two other children who to my knowledge he has not seen since before I became pregnant. They both have his surname but are raised by their mother. During my pregnancy, her father and I… well. We had a lot of problems as I’m sure you know if you’ve read any of my previous posts.
He asked me once I was WAY too far gone to have an abortion. He said several times that he hated me and the baby and wouldn’t care if he never saw it. He then threatened that if I left him he would take the baby from me and never let me see her. He would go from seeming crazed with the idea of us becoming a family to being entirely disconnected from her. So when he wanted her to take his name I agreed.
So, for the purpose of this post, lets say that Snoo’s name is Jones. And my name is Smith. We are a family of two, she has not seen him nor had anything to do with him since she was 3 months old, yet she carries his name and not mine. And I hate that. Although I know of course that I can use my name for day to day purposes I can do NOTHING about the name that would go on her passport, medical records, nursery/school registration forms etc because he is named upon her birth certificate, Which gives him “parental responsibility”. Legally this makes his rights where she is concerned exactly the same as mine. I know that in practise this is not of course the way it plays out, but what it does mean is that without his consent, without his signature, I cannot change her name so that we are both “Smith”.
Further complications of course then arise when you consider how I feel about her father. I know I am no longer threatened by him. I am safe. But I do not wish to see him or speak to him. Should the day arise when he decides he wants to see his daughter he can get a solicitor and go through them. I do not wish to speak with him ever again, unless of course, I have to protect my child I would fight him to the bone if I had to. But as long as I do not have to, and I can keep her safe without seeing or speaking to him I will continue to keep as far away as I can. But I cannot obtain his permission to change Snoo’s name without contacting him.
I know it is only a name. I do. But you cannot believe how hard it is, that this child, who I love, who I live and breathe for, who I spend my every waking moment and take in every breathe thinking of how I can do right for her, I cannot even book a routine doctors appointment for without being reminded of how she carries the name of someone to chose to turn his back on her.
I know it is only a name. But my Snoo already knows her first name and soon she will reach the age where her Surname is something she learns too. And after that, perhaps she will notice that her name and mine are different . And I know that we live in a world now where families come in all shapes and sizes. I understand that. But by choice, I do not want my daughter to have to notice that her name is different to mine and wonder why, when the answer, one that, inevitably I will have to explain to her is that her name is her Fathers and that we don’t see him any more.
I know it is only a name. But one day, I will have to find the words to explain to my darling girl, my miracle, this beautiful child who puts a smile on the face of everyone she meets, that her father is not involved and grasp at the words to explain when she inevitably asks why. And every time I have to fill out a form, every time I call our doctors surgery to book an appointment, every time I think about applying for a passport for her I am reminded of this and it pierces me.
A persons name is their identity. I want my Snoo’s identity to reflect the person who she is identified with. Who does everything she can to make sure she grows up to be a good person. To help her make the right choices. I want us to be identified, in EVERY way, as a unit. So far, I have had the paper work ready to post to him in my house for a year. Requesting his signature. But I dare not send them. I am too afraid he will say no. Not because he cares, but to get to me. He is that sort of a person.
Don’t try to tell me It Is Just A Name. It is so much more than that.