What's in a name?

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This blog is a true story, told bravely and passionately, by an anonymous young person in foster care.

On December 2nd 2014 my social worker came out to see me and told me that my name had been changed. This is how it all began.

One day in 2012 I asked my full circle worker (therapeutic social worker), if I could get my name changed. She asked me why I wanted to change it and this is how my story begins.

I said that I didn’t feel safe with my birth parents knowing my name just in case they found me because they really hurt me and I was worried they would take me away and hurt me again. She talked to my carer about what I had told her and they agreed that I was very scared of being found even though they tried to reassure me that my birth parents would never be given my address.

I had a few more sessions with my full circle worker and realised I wasn’t feeling any safer so she had a chat with her boss and after a long think they thought it was a good idea. I was worried, upset and afraid all of the time.

I also told my social worker about this but she didn’t do anything and I got more and more worried. About six months later I got a new social worker and at first he wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to change my name. However after he talked to my foster carer and full circle worker and said he would look into it. He explained to me that usually my birth parents would have to give permission BUT I didn’t want them involved. What would be the point in changing my name to be safe from them if they had to be involved? This made me terribly upset and angry that after everything they did to me they still had power over me.

It also made me determined, so much so that at all my reviews I asked to have my name change. I refused to answer to my birth name and I wouldn’t open any letters for my review that had my birth name on them. All the adults then agreed that I would be known as my chosen name, even at school.

But this wasn’t enough because if I wanted a passport or if I needed to go to the doctors I had to use my birth name.Eventually a NYAS worker helped me write a letter for a court judge. My social worker spoke to a solicitor; he was told by the solicitor that it wasn’t possible to change my name without parental consent.I also spoke to my MP who contacted the minister for children, Edward Timpson, who sent my carer an email saying that it was not possible for a child in care to change their name without the birth parents permission.

When my social worker next spoke to my NYAS worker she said try a different solicitor because the advice might be different. After speaking to three solicitors they eventually decided to take it to a court judge.

The first judge said it was too tricky and we would need a high court judge. Well this meant we also needed a barrister.

My social worker kept me up to date with everything that was happening, even though sometimes I found it very upsetting. But it was really important to know what was going on and that they were taking it seriously.

I had to tell my story to lots of people such as the court guardian and solicitor, I was fed up of repeating myself and I was worried in case they didn’t see how much I needed this to happen.

However they must have been taking me seriously because eventually we got a date for court, which was Oct 2014. Unfortunately this was postponed, I don’t know why but the adults didn’t seem surprised and said that happens a lot with courts. I didn’t have to go anyway because I had a barrister and social worker to speak on my behalf.

Amazingly on 2nd December 2014 a high court judge ruled that I could change my name without having to get permission from my birth parents.

I am so happy that I don’t have enough words to explain. I feel that I can get on with my life without worrying if they will find me.

That is my story.