Baby Center, baby name regret, Births Deaths and Marriages, changing a baby's name, name meaning
Scarlett has written in to the blog before, as she and her partner Toby had a terrible time choosing a name for their daughter, who is just about to have her first birthday.
They were very close to choosing Eva, and Eve was also high on the list, but in the end they went with Evelyn. Scarlett can no longer remember why they picked Evelyn; the whole thing is a blur in her memory, and they hastily scribbled the name down on the registration form in a state of blind panic. Neither of them loved the name Evelyn, but neither of them hated it either, so it seemed a safe choice.
Ever since then, it has felt strange for Scarlett to call her daughter Evelyn, and every day she agonises over the choice, feeling she made the wrong decision. She hoped the name would grow on her, and that she would get used to it, but it hasn’t happened. The naming process itself was so stressful and even traumatic that it “tainted” the name Evelyn for her.
Friends and family members tend to call Evelyn “Evie” for short, and Scarlett is now considering changing her daughter’s name to Eve. She loves the fact that Eve is short and easy to spell, internationally well-recognised, and has a beautiful meaning – “life”. On the other hand, Evelyn doesn’t mean anything to her, and serves as a reminder of a deeply unhappy time.
Toby is considering agreeing to the change, but hasn’t made up his mind. Scarlett remains quite hopeful though, because Eve was originally on his own list of favourite names.
Some people have advised Scarlett to keep the name Evelyn, and just call her daughter Eve, but Scarlett doesn’t want to do that. She feels that Eve and Evelyn are completely different names, and don’t even sound alike.
Scarlett doesn’t think changing the name is a big deal as it’s just dropping three letters, and most people call her Evie anyway. She thinks others will quickly adjust with minimal fuss, and she’d rather change the name than spend the rest of her life fretting over it. Toby on the other hand worries that everyone will think they are crazy to go through a formal change rather than simply announcing that they will be calling their daughter Eve from now on, even though Evelyn is on the birth certificate.
Scarlett wonders how common it is to change a baby’s name, and would love to hear from anyone who has been through the process, or is an adult who had their name changed during infancy or childhood. Are there are any problems it could lead to, and will their daughter have to constantly refer back to her original name when seeking or showing identification?
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You seem to have a very clear-cut case of baby name regret – not just a few wistful thoughts about that favourite name that couldn’t be used, or the odd moment of wondering if you could have chosen something else, but deep unhappiness every day for almost a year. You know that you didn’t choose the name in the right mindset, or under ideal circumstances. A name change seems like a good idea, and as your daughter is nearly a year old, a decision that shouldn’t be delayed for much longer.
I agree with you that this seems like a very simple change, one that shouldn’t inconvenience people or cause mass confusion. In fact, most people have said they support such a change: they just don’t see why you should go to the bother of making it official. It’s even more straightforward, because Evelyn isn’t a name that Toby loves. It sounds as if Eve was a name you both liked, and perhaps should have chosen in the first place (and maybe would have, if you both weren’t feeling so pressured and miserable).
I can’t see any reason why the name change would be refused by Births, Deaths and Marriages, and in New South Wales you are permitted three name changes of a child as long as it hasn’t been twelve months since the last name change. It will cost you $174 to change the name, and a further $44 to have a new birth certificate issued, which I think is probably a good idea.
I’m putting a link to the form for change of name so you can see all the things you have to do. You need to provide plenty of identification, and to explain the reason for the name change in some detail.
The main thing is that both parents have to be on board with the name change, so you need Toby’s consent. It sounds as if he does agree to the change of name, he just fears the potential social embarrassment of making it official. However, I think people will get over it pretty easily, and there’s nothing “crazy” or abnormal about changing your baby’s name. To me it makes sense to have the change made official, as I think it will cause fewer administrative mix-ups in the future.
I know I would hate to have a name that my mother disliked or which made her unhappy, even if nobody called me that in everyday life, so try to see things from your daughter’s point of view when she is older. I don’t think she will need to refer to her change of name in future, since it would be done while she is just a baby, but check with the BDM staff just to be sure.
I can’t give you the numbers for how many people in Australia change their child’s name, but according to Baby Center, one in eight parents surveyed had experienced baby name regret, so it isn’t anything particularly unusual. Most people who change their child’s name are glad they did, and it’s a way of settling the name worries once and for all – you don’t want to still be thinking or talking about this a year from now.
NAME UPDATE: Scarlett and Toby changed their daughter’s name from Evelyn to Eve!
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Hi everyone. I just wanted to say thank you for your heart-felt and detailed comments. It has been great to have some support on this. The name we originally chose for our daughter never felt right to me, and it has troubled me every day since we filled in the registration form. We have started calling her Eve, and have sent away the application for a change of name to the registry to make it legal. It has been such a natural and easy transition and feels so right. I am now proud to introduce her instead of being shy and without conviction like I was in the past. The way I am looking at the whole situation (in a kind of philosophical way I guess) is that she just wasn’t ready for her name until now! Oh and a BIG thank you to Anna, your support and advice is very much appreciated, and you really do have a talent with writing (several friends commented on how well you write when I shared the article with them) so congratulations to you on maintaining a fantastic blog.
That is wonderful news, I’m so pleased that everything has gone so smoothly for you. Thank you very much for the kind comments too, and I’m more than happy to have given even a little help.
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I changed my daughters name at six months after awful name regret…we went from Maisie to May, dropped four letters and added one so a similar change to the one you’re considering. The change is on her birth certificate which makes me unhappy but I hope she’ll just appreciate the story.
I wanted to change it at four weeks to her middle name (Rose) but my husband was very against the change and I suffered for months before finally deciding to convince him and do something. We had already been calling her May a lot and she still gets Maisie as a nickname.
It was such a relief when we did it. It doesn’t matter what others think- you will say her name more than anyone and you should love it.
Hi everyone, I just wanted to share some information on name changing after calling Births, Deaths and Marriages this morning. Certain states in Australia do allow a simple ‘amendment’ to the birth certificate, resulting in a new birth certificate being issued without any mention to the original name, and this can only be done before the child turns one. This is not the case in NSW, where the new birth certificate will be re-issued and will show the new name at the top of the certificate, and below in the ‘endorsements’ section it will show the original birth name and the date it was changed. There is no difference if you change the name before or after the child is twelve months old. All I can say is, lucky if you live in one of the states that will just amend and re-issue the birth certificate!
Thanks very much for that information – does not having the option to completely expunge the original name from the record make a difference to how you feel? Or would you still like to change the name to make it official?
To be honest, I am feeling very disappointed that I can’t just erase my mistake! And it feels a little unfair that different states have different rules but I can’t change that. I just don’t want my daughter to have to ‘re-live’ the change every time she looks at her birth certificate and see it there in official writing. But maybe that really isn’t such a big deal, as it is essentially just three letters less, it is not as if it is a completely different name. However, thinking of the bigger picture, what is one piece of paper (the birth certificate) compared to a lifetime of using the name!
When you think about it, how often do you look at your birth certificate anyway? You use it to get all your ID, and then once you’ve got the ID you rarely have to produce it again, as you use the existing ID to get fresh ID. I don’t think I’ve looked at my own birth certificate for years.
I still think it’s worth doing, if you feel it is.
I agree. The few times she looks at her birth certificate will be nothing compared to explaining on a daily basis (school, drs, bank, jobs etc) that she’s known as Eve not Evelyn or Ev. The name change will become part of her life story, and that part if her story will have one line on her birth certificate. It’s not so bad.
When was the last time you looked at your birth certificate anyway? I’m not even sure where mine is! 🙂
This reminds me of an interview I read with Maggie Gyllenhaal, who apparently didn’t realise Margalit was her name until she looked at her birth certificate for the first time at age 36!!
Re: Would she have to bring up the name change in the future – I don’t know for sure about Australia, but I known in the States it depends on the purpose of the question.
For purposes like job/credit/etc. applications (except in special cases like government security clearances) the answer is no unless the name was changed after she was old enough to have worked, obtained credit, have a criminal history, etc. under the former name – they only care about names that relevant records are under (this precedent exists because there are cases where indicating a former name that is irrelevant to the records check can lead to illegal discrimination, such as immigrants or transsexuals who’ve changed their name). For these purposes the names they care about are not necessarily former “legal” ones – for instance if you went by a different name to your references or have a criminal history under an alias name those would count while a former legal name changed in childhood wouldn’t. (Last year I had a lengthy debate on this between me vs. Swistle and another commenter on her blog – I could back up my claims with sources while she was relying on what she felt was “right”.)
For purposes like government forms, etc. it depends on the context (if she has any doubts she could always ask for clarification – I did that for the situations in the above paragraph and in my test cases with the security clearance exception the response was unanimous that you don’t). In fact, if she gets a new or amended birth certificate, whenever they ask for “birth name” that could mean the name on the (new) birth certificate as opposed to the name she was originally given at birth (once again you often have to ask about the context). (What is often sought in those cases is what your name would be absent any marriage-related name changes – Abby from AppMtn had this issue with her daughter’s birth certificate and ultimately her “maiden” name after her middle name change from Beth to Abigail was what they wanted her to be listed as.)
It’s so important to at least feel comfortable with her name and you shouldn’t feel you need to defend or justify your reasons why to anyone, especially since its not a dramatic change. People will always have an opinion or a comment on changing a name at any age, but the judgement will pass quickly and they will forget about it as soon as its done.
We changed my sons middle names when he was 2, because I detested it, and like you just sort of went numb from being overwhelmed and a little traumatised by the naming process, it was a lot of paperwork and an inconvenience but a very necessary one to me. I didn’t discuss with anyone because I knew it would attract criticism and others would consider it unnecessary. I instantly felt better and have never regretted the effort.
The weight of name regret can often sit on you and just keep getting heavier, it can attract all sorts of negative feelings about your own judgement. It’s been a year so you’ve had plenty of time to ‘make peace with it’ which hasn’t happened so change it, put it behind you and feel better. It’s not a big deal after you complete the process.
I wish you well with your decision.
Prue, so sorry that you keep getting sent to spam – I will continue fishing you out until the spam “gets it”. It does seem to go crazy every so often.
Hi, I think you should change it before she’s 12mths. In my state there’s no repercussions if it’s done before 12 months, eg she’ll never have to fill out the ‘have you ever been known by another name’ section.
I know this because we changed our sons name this year when he was 3 months. I had unshakable, all-consuming name regret. Yes, changing it has been a little embarrassing but I know it’s the right decision for his future, and my sanity. It’s a long story which I won’t go into here but feel free to contact me privately if you’re interested.
For what it’s worth, going from Eve to Evelyn is such a small change that most won’t notice and others won’t care. I would do it in a heartbeat. We essentially swapped first and middle name so it was a completely different name and harder to fly it under the radar.
I too would love to hear other people’s experiences with this because I know it’s a rare thing to do and I struggled with the decision myself, although I know we made the right one in the end.
For me, most people just shrugged and called him by the new name, some told me stories of their own ongoing name regret or name-tampering and only 2 people made snide remarks, to my face at least 🙂
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
hi chook, what state do you live in?