It's been a month since we were able to adopt our foster children and I've discovered that the paperwork doesn't end when the adoption is finalized. In fact, in some cases that's when the paperwork just gets STARTED!
The good news is that is took less than a month for us to get Jack and Jill's amended birth certificates with their new names* mailed to us. I had heard it could take several weeks so that was a nice surprise.
The bad news is that we recently got a letter from their insurance informing us that their benefits would be cut since they didn't have the correct social security numbers attached to their names. The reason they didn't have the right social security numbers attached to their names is because a post-adoption specialist who came to our home prior to their adoption strongly suggested that we not only notify the Social Security Administration of their new names right away but that we actually request new numbers to be reassigned to them because, in the worker's experience, it is not uncommon for bio parents or families of foster children to sell their children's information for quick cash- specifically in the cases where the bio families have a history of drug addiction and/or poverty. Very sad.
I had heard of cases of adoptive parents claiming their adopted/former foster children as dependents on their taxes only to be held up from receiving any refunds or deductions because their child's bio family also claimed the children- even after parental rights had been terminated, but being desperate enough to actually sell your child's social security info was disheartening for me to hear.
Nevertheless, better safe than sorry, right? We followed the advice of the post-adoption specialist and requested new numbers for our children. We showed the SSA our children's updated birth certificates but must now wait for the new Social Security Cards to be processed with their new names and numbers before we can notify their insurance in order for their benefits to continue.
*New Names- Renaming a child at adoption can be a very controversial issue. It's also a very personal issue. With our recent adoption we decided to keep Jack's first name but change his middle name. Although his first name is not one we would have necessarily chosen ourselves, it fits him well and it has grown on us. Plus, he's 2 and a half years old and it's what he's used to.
As for Jill, (Jack and Jill are pseudonyms), I'll just come right out and say it: We were honestly never fans of her first name to begin with. Not that it should matter what other people think either, but whenever someone asked us what her name was and we'd tell them they would either ask us to repeat it because they'd never heard it before or they would pause a little more than necessary and diplomatically explain, "Well . . . that's an interesting name" with extra emphasis on the word interesting.
However, it wasn't our right to name Jill when she was first placed with us so we continued to call her by the name her birthparents chose for her ever since we brought her home from the hospital at just three days old until the months prior to adopting her. We decided to change her name to a similar-sounding name to her birth name and she is able to say it in her toddler babble as well as she was able to say her birth name. There really hasn't been much confusion. Occasionally Jack or our oldest daughter will lapse into calling Jill by her previous name but she'll answer to either- it's kind of like having a nickname that you also go by. No big deal. Our biggest concern has been How do we tell her birthmom we changed her name? Honesty is the best policy and if Jill's birthmom wants to call her by her birth name that's her choice.
I have made it a point to keep any identification with my children's birth names- as well as other important documents with info about their birth family- set aside for them if they wish to see it or have it in the future.
As for our oldest daughter, we never had to change her name after we adopted her because we and her birthmother picked her first and middle names out together after she was born. That's one advantage of adopting a newborn through a private adoption with their birth parent's wishes as opposed to adopting foster children who have had a longer history with their biological families. Neither is "right" or "wrong" of course- they're just different paths with pros and cons to both.