Monday, 13 January 2014


This topic will be a controversial one I am sure especially amongst the adoptee community. it will explore the emotion versus the realism of the family name and its heritage. I value the heritage of my natural family but not enough to want to change my surname and thus confuse the generations that have followed from my loins so to speak.  Many among us say we had no choice when they changed our names.  The fact is that we had no choice when we were named and often live with that consequence.

A surname or family name is described in the following Wikipedia link

Whilst it is not a legitimate source for the sake of this paper it's definition is sufficient . needless to say the surname is used to identify which group you wee born in to. It can be used to identify the traditional occupation of old, the location from where the family came, especially in Great Britain. I harked back to the days when country folk needed a means of identifying where they were from when they migrated to cities, or their occupation.

This has evolved to today where it is a formal means of identification for legal purposes.  However, the family surname may not be accurate for heritage purposes as we adoptee's know. Our name has been given to identify us as members of the family who has adopted us.  Some folk say this is legal identity theft, but in fact it is basically changing your identity so that you fit in with the adoptive family as you, well nowadays you, are now legally a part of that family and the adoptive parents have bestowed upon you all rights including rights to inheritance. I know some will say i was excluded from the my a/parents will etc and all i can say back is why didn't you engage a lawyer to represent your interests, because you would have received your fair share if you had showed a will to claim your rightful inheritance.  So love it or hate it your adoptive name did bestow rights to you as part of the adoptive parents assuming responsibility.

Now let us look at original family names.  Traditionally, but this is changing you  only assume the family name of one of your natural parents. This  is usually the fathers surname. but wait, it is estimated that up to 4 or more percent of parental identification in relation to the father is actually parental fraud where the natural father is a person other than the person listed on the birth certificate.  And that is a conservative estimate because back in the pre birth control pill days the odds are possibly higher. So no one can be absolutely sure of their paternal heritage. The words of that old song " you father ain't  your father but your father don't  know" can ring true over many generations of a persons heritage.

In relation to when a single mother has given birth the family surname of the child may either be the paternal father or the mothers surname and even that could be confusing as it may fail to identify both parents.  I once was talking with a police officer in a country town and he was telling me the biggest problem was the fact that there was no father figures in many of the children's  lives. He spoke of one male who has fathered up to 5 different children in the town to five different ladies all of whom used their own surname. One would hope that these children when they mature will leave town very quickly lest other problems arise.

We as adoptees were usually given a name, if given a name at all, that identified us with our natural mother's , some say birth mother, surname and back in the period we who were affected by past adoption adoption practises that name , if it was accurate only lasted as a means of identifying us until adoption. So in fact the name for all intensive purposes back then had no real meaning although today it is used to attempt to make contact with natural family, a concept no one back in the twenties to the seventies ever entertained.  Today we adoptee's treasure our original family name  as a means of identity, some even wanting to adopt that name because it is so valued by them. yet others have no interest in that original short lived name.  The very fact we all have a choice in relation to that name shows just how we have advanced compared to nations like the USA. The concept of open adoption is  a flawed attempt to acknowledge that some adoptees value that name.

Personally I value the fact that i have the mixed family surnames Clark, derived from the clerical occupations, on my mother's side and Dwyer, formerly O'Dwyer from my fathers side.  Of course there is other names mixed up in that family history, like the Bonner's from my grand mothers parents.  But equally I value my adoptive name Legro formerly Le Gros even though there is no extended historical sense.  For me I also have the the knowledge to know that the family history many seek based upon name may in fact be false, something we Late Discovery Adoptees are familiar with and the history many seek still may not be theirs. But that should not deter folk from doing what they feel will benefit them.  The DNA path i have doubts about because it may throw up more questions and not answers, but again that is also in the eye of the beholder.

Whilst occasionally fondly looking at the surnames of the families that have influenced my life and ass to what I am, who will always be a changing concept, The name Legro is the name i will always use because it was under that name my personal history developed and my children's and grand children's history has developed. to deny that name today is to deny the future generations that may or may not evolve from me.

1 comment:

  1. I love(d) my adoptive parents who I consider to be my real parents very much, didn't get along with my birth mother--and my birth father's own family couldn't stand him.
    So I proudly use my adoptive family name. Actually when I got married in 1972 I refused to use my married name as I already had one name change--though at the time I had no idea what my "first name" was