Foster Parent, Mom Life

My daughter named herself…

My daughter named herself…

My daughter did name herself. She picked out her first and middle name. How is that possible you ask? Well…let me back up and say my foster daughter turned adopted daughter picked out her own name. She had lived with us for over a year at this point and it was pretty clear she was not going to be reunified with her birth parents. It took my husband and I by surprise that she changed her name.

Here’s the story. Three summers ago I was at our local pool. For some reason, she wanted to go to the city pool instead of our pool. I was fine with that. I am watching her like a hawk sitting on the edge of the pool with my feet soaking. I see her playing with a girl. They played for a good hour. Both girls looked like they were having fun. They mostly just splashed around no deeper than their waists. Time passes. I told my little one it was time to go. She turned to her splash mate and said goodbye. The little girl said “goodbye Bethany.” I thought it was odd. That was not my child’s name. Now that I heard her call my child that directly to her face I recall her calling that name across the pool. I kind of tuck it in my mind to discuss later. In the minivan with my child, I asked her why her friend called her Bethany. My child’s response was that Bethany is her real name and people have been calling her the wrong name all these years. Her name is Bethany Marie. First name. Middle name. She then added my husband’s and my last name to her new name. The middle name Marie is the same as my middle name. It is a family name and several generations have it.

I can understand why she picked this. The other name Bethany is a form of the name we called our dog…Beth. Putting on my thinking cap later that night I processed this with my husband. We love our fur pup. She is a good dog. She is well-loved. When I say she is well-loved, I mean she has everything she could ever want. A family that loves her, a home that she can roam around in, a garden to patrol and even pet food and nutrition that she adores.  In our heads, we came up with the idea that our child wanted such a strong connection to our family that she picked names that had close meaning.

She was adamant that we now call her Bethany. I spoke with her social worker and her counselor. It was clear we were going to adopt her so there was no real harm in her changing her name. Her birth name is really “earthy” and out there. A name that would be very easy to find on social media. Even with our new last name, her birth name was that unique. In this age of social media, I was very glad she decided to change her name. Fast forward 10 years when she has a Facebook account or whatever is trending in the future she will have the protection of a new name.

We never thought she would want a new name but it makes sense. She has been going by Bethany ever since. Due to the fact she is still a foster kiddo her legal name is still her birth name. It drives her crazy when we go into the doctor’s and she needs to register under her old name. Most places are very gracious to note what she wants to be called but when they forget I can see it is like a little stab to her heart. She has taken off her old life and put on her new one. It is clear from her she wants no connection to her past. I applaud her for being an advocate for herself at such a young age. By the time we adopt her, she will have been in our home for over 3 years. She arrived at just shy of 5. It has been my greatest joy to see her thrive and develop.

Life is not always perfect with a foster kiddo but then again life is not about perfection. It is about love and the moments that bring joy to our hearts. So to my dear feisty daughter embrace your new name and your new future! Mommy loves you!
~Bethany is not the actual name she chooses. I have replaced it in this post for the sake of her privacy. The real name she picked is just as great!


  1. gloria patterson

    Beautiful! Makes my heart happy to read this

  2. So grateful for folks like you who make room in their hearts and homes for children with a hard beginning!

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. Visiting from the traffic jam linky.

  4. Christina Gould

    What a sweet story. Marie runs in our family as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is so awesome, Tracy. Love it. God bless you for opening up your heart and your home to someone who was seeking it.

  6. Lauryn R

    This is such a sweet story, what an awesome little girl you have! Thank you so much for sharing this. 🙂

  7. Linda Manns Linneman

    This is such a sweet article. I love that she decided to change her name to something with meaning for her new family and life. God Bless you for giving her a new and forever home. It sounds like she is very happy

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