I've posted before about our adventures in Foster Care concerning our children's names and the spelling of said names. This is currently an issue with Baby 4 right now.
Rather try to explain the name situation, I'm going to give you an example. Baby 4's name is not Micheal, but the idea is the same:
His parents always intended to pronounce his name Micheal, but decided to spell it Michelle. Then when Mom filled out his birth certificate she spelled it Michlle by accident. When his parents write his name now they always spell it Michelle, but pronounce it Micheal, although on every legal document- including school rosters and medical information it has to be spelled Michlle
He has always been called Mikey* and that is what we have taught him to spell/write since he came to us. We would have liked if his adoption became final so we could legally change the spelling of his name to Micheal before teaching him how to spell his name.
Everyone who reads his name reads it as the female version. Doctors offices call and remind me to bring 'her' insurance card to the appointment, well-intentioned pre-K teachers tried say it with an accent to make it sound less feminine and more exotic. Very bluntly, This is a black boy growing up with white parents and significant physical scars. He doesn't need a girl's name too.
Yesterday was Kindergarten orientation. Baby 4 went right up to his new teacher, who seems like a pleasant but set in her ways older teacher, and said, "Hi! I'm Mikey." She looked through her roster and asked me if we had just registered for school. I told her the name is Micheal spelled Michlle and she looked at me cross eyed like so you wanted him to sit alone at lunch.
After we played in the room a little bit, the teacher approached us and said, "I hear you calling him Mikey. We'll be calling him Micheal here in school because he needs to know his whole name so he can be confident and certain who he is. Also so he'll learn to spell his full name." I smiled very politely and explained our name situation. She smiled politely and said that the legal spelling of his name is what every child should learn in Kindergarten.
Oh, kind of vital to the story- BioDad was right there this whole time.
I couldn't outright say, "Hey lady! I'm trying to adopt this kid and change his name in the coming year, so back off!" so I said, "Let me write down the various spellings of his name for you and we can talk about our plan before school starts."
I wrote on a slip of paper:
Michlle- legal spelling
Michelle- intended spelling
Micheal- post-adoption spelling
I handed her the paper and she said "OH! Well, maybe in this case it would be OK to let him be Mikey for Kindergarten.". I told her I would talk to the caseworker and see if there is a strong preference on that side.
Since Dad had heard the conversation, but had not chimed in, I asked him what his thoughts were on Baby 4 spelling his name. He seemed very shocked that Michelle would be pronounced as anything but Micheal. Then he said that he never wanted Baby 4 named Micheal, he wanted him named Jonathan Jr.*. I empathized on how that must be so frustrating to not have the name he wanted, but it's really too late to change 4's name now. He got it. We talked a little about making Johnathan 4's middle name "after he gets out of foster care" and that seems agreeable on all sides although I was really vague as to how he would be getting out of foster care and who would be changing his name. I asked again about the spelling of Micheal and he said he didn't know. I told him I would ask the caseworker and I emailed her last night to see what she thinks.
The caseworker is absolutely not going to tell me to just go ahead and teach him "Micheal" because we're not there in the case yet, but she might give the teacher a nudge to keep his name "Mikey" on his papers.
I just think if we can avoid name confusion for Baby 4, we should. It's amazing that our kids do so well adapting to a new last name when they are adopted. I can't ask him to learn a different spelling for his first name too. Likewise, I can't let him get picked on or forever have to correct people on the pronunciation/spelling of his name for the rest of his life either.
I want to know what you would do. Leave a comment!!
*Disclaimer: Michlle, Michelle, Micheal, Mikey, and Johnathan are names I made up to use as examples. Although they are not the actual names in our story, they prove the point quite accurately.