As of Tuesday July 20th, an orphan child is now permitted to include the names of foster parents in their birth certificate, as announced by Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity, through the approval of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (SOURCE). While this is a huge milestone in Egyptian history, there are many factors to consider when a foster parent decides whether or not to execute this decision.
What connection will it create with my foster child’s biological parents?
Understanding where you come from is partially crucial to building a strong identity. Removing a child’s biological name may in some ways disconnect him from his past. However, this is not always the case. It may be that carrying his/her’s foster parents’ name will enable a more foundational identity, one that he/she is most comfortable with. The importance of a foster child’s connection to his/her past really depends on how much of their past is biological, and how much their past matters in regards to their identity. This is a crucial point to consider when deciding whether or not to make that name change.
Will it make my child ashamed of their past?
Some foster children feel that changing their name automatically places a stigma on their past. The idea of who they were before they were adopted being irrelevant may be perceived that way in certain contexts. In other contexts, a foster child will feel more accepted if he/she shares the name of the parent they most consider a “parent,” biological or not. For this reason, it is crucial to understand how your child relates to his/her past in order to make the most appropriate decision.
Will having the same name in the family ease my child’s problems?
A foster child who lives amongst biological siblings may feel different if he/she doesn’t have their same name. That’s why in many cases, it will create less problems for a foster child if they don’t have a name that differs from his family.
Should my child have a say in his/her’s name change?
At a certain age, it may be best for the child to decide what his/her last name should be. At a young age, they may not have the best resources to make the decision. At what age it stops being the parent’s decision, depends on the beliefs of the family. But in many ways, part of making the process smoother is enabling the child to decide what he/she wants to do with their name will give a sense of identity that in many cases, is lacking to begin with.
Is this what’s best for me or for my child?
The most important question every foster parent should ask him/herself is, “why am I doing this?” At the end of the day, the purpose of this law, partially at best, is to make the emotional difficulties behind fostering a child smoother. Meaning that it is in the best interest of the child, not the parent. So, if a foster parent finds him/herself changing the name at the expense of their child’s turmoil, then the intentions are misplaced. Be honest and ask yourself, is this what’s best for me, or for my child? At the end of the day, the transitional period of entering a foster family is a difficult one, and for these reasons every decision a foster parent makes should always be for the purpose of making this experience less difficult.