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!