Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's In A Name?


Have you ever considered a legal name change ? If you were considering a legal name change would you choose to change your surname or your personal name ?

 My name is Jaesun, it’s a Korean name that was given to me as I was born by an social worker in Korea.  I have always had it, even when my new adoptive parents decided to christen me with a Swedish name they decided to keep my original name as a second name. As a link to my heritage and passed perhaps, that is at least a nice thought. My mum once explained that to me but I do think I can recall many occasions when we discussed that topic.

I have always felt like name that was given to me didn’t really suit me, but I can’t deny that having a Swedish name did make any likely misunderstandings related to my supposed ethnicity and name was avoided then. Or maybe the fact that I as a child often was accompanied by my parents made people assume that I was an adoptee (my mum and dad are Caucasians). 

Even in times like that once I had meet my Korean birth family for the first time; I finally knew what new name I would pick for myself. I settled for taking back my Korean name with some minor alterations in terms of numbers of names. Because the cost of a legal name change was such a large amount of money I decided to use that opportunity to add a second name besides the two I finally settled with. The only name I kept was a name that my parents had given me, and it was a name that runs in the family. I was thinking that even though I would be changing my personal name and retake my Korean name the fact that I kept a family name would seem like a nice compromise, like I managed to honor my Korean family and my new family in Sweden.

But I should have been prepared for the big reactions because of my family’s initial response to my name change. Maybe they thought it was just a fix idea that would pass and go away but that subject always managed to return back into my mind. Once I received the official grant of a personal name it meant my name change was validated by the Swedish law and thus my new name became a part of me. A part that, neither of my two families reacted positively to not even my Korean birth family, that my mum and that raised me would react so strongly in the way they did. That I sort of was prepared for but I was a little taken aback by one of my sisters' first responses to my name change; she tried to advise me not go through with it. Today I understand why my birth family reacted in such a strange and to me unprepared way.

My birth family was proud of me and the fact that could say they had a relative or sister in Europe. I think they even bragged of me tried to show of using me in some way. When I changed my Swedish name legally it meant the link to Sweden would become less apparent and maybe my siblings even thought I tried to claim a place in my birth family. It is true I sort of did that in way, but only with the intention of receiving the love I always craved and missed during my childhood.

I see my original birth name as the only thing I got with me from Korea to Sweden, the only I rightfully could my own that nobody could try to claim. That is way I sort of feels like my name is something if not the only decision I am entitled to decide on by myself. That is way I feel so strongly like I do which makes assume that the heated arguments that sometimes end in tears is not likely to come to an end in the near future.

Would the reaction I received from my parents and my birth family have been any different if I had decided to change my surname legally instead of my personal name ?

 I think my Swedish parents might have felt that that would have been easier to accept in comparison to my actual legal name change. On the other hand I do believe my birth family would have felt much more threatened by the thought of me changing my legal surname... because that instantly leads you in on the subject of inheritance. Of course, I have no interest of any kind in any inheritance from my birth family and it has nothing to do with the fact that I believe any inheritance would be in the form of huge debts. Furthermore according the law, I legally have no right to claim any inheritance from either of my parents or siblings. I know that, but I doubt my siblings know that....

At this point I have to tell you that I suspect that my parents' wants more than believe that I'll eventually revert the name change. But to me my real name signifies so much more than just being a name it's a part of my identity and the real me. As I see it and I've made up my mind I'm keeping this name. Enough said.

Even with a new more honest name I guess I'll go through life with a constant ever present feeling of confussion and longing. Longing for something that never will be...

2 comments:

  1. I legally changed my whole name back to my birth name in 2010....it helped alot although people didnt all react well.

    Jean

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  2. My parents got rid of my entire Korean name and instead chose some random first name for me, and then gave me the name of my adoptive mother's sister as my second name. Now I'm 28 years old and looking into reversing my adoption and am wondering what to do about my name. I never felt a deep connection to my Korean name, because I'm pretty sure it was just a name assigned to me by some orphanage worker or something. I'm married and I gladly took my husband's last name, but I'm still wrestling with what to do with my first and middle name. I wish I could just be nameless - that seems so much easier.

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