I was recently sent a very interesting article by a writer named Lorelei Vashti, which describes the process she and her partner Jeremy went through to choose their baby’s name. They didn’t have any problems giving her a first name, but the surname required a great deal more thought!
While researching the topic, Lorelei discovered that 90% of married couples and 75% of unmarried couples in Victoria will give their children the father’s surname, even if the mother has elected to keep her own surname.
That did not feel fair at all, but then it seemed equally unfair for their daughter to receive Lorelei’s surname. Hyphenating their names was not an option, as it did not lead to a surname that felt natural or easy to say.
Their dilemma led Lorelei to research the history of surnames, and see how surnames are bestowed in other countries – sometimes quite differently to how it’s done in English-speaking countries. It also made her realise that a cultural shift can change the way people choose surnames, and that such a custom is not fixed, but open to fresh interpretations.
In the end, Jeremy suggested that they create a new surname for their daughter by combining each of their last names, which at first Lorelei thought was a ridiculous idea. However, the more they thought about it, the better it stacked up against their other surname options. Most of the objections they heard against the idea turned out to be inaccurate, or based on outdated information and attitudes.
Only 3% of parents in Victoria have chosen a newly created surname for their children, but it turned out to be the right choice for Lorelei and Jeremy.
Their daughter is almost one, and they have had no problems with everyone in the family having a different surname. Medicare, doctor’s appointments, air travel, and daycare have all been the same to organise as if their child shared one of her parent’s surnames.
The biggest and best surprise was how easy it was to register their daughter’s name. There was no special paperwork to fill out, no questions from the birth registry, no assumptions from bureaucracy that their daughter would receive one surname rather than another.
They just filled out the birth registration form as usual, and the birth certificate arrived in the post. Just like any other name, just like any other baby.
So if you have also been debating how to approach the surname issue, a newly created surname for your child could be the right choice for you as well. It’s good to learn that it’s not only a simple process, but hasn’t led to any particular problems either.
Most people (67%) would not consider creating a new surname for their child. 36% approved of the idea, but felt it just wasn’t right for them, while 31% didn’t like the idea. Of the remaining 33%, 25% were interested in the idea, and wouldn’t rule it out, and 7% would seriously consider it. One person said they had already chosen this option.
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Thank you for this article! It has really gotten me thinking, as I’m a recently married woman who has been agonizing over whether or not to change her name (my husband, thankfully, is supportive either way). One of my biggest concerns is sharing my last name with my child, who is due in April of 2016. My husband is less than interested in changing his name to a composite of our two last names, which I understand, because I too have reservations about changing my name. I wonder if he would be open to the idea of a composite name for our child, though? We live in British Columbia, Canada, and according to online information about birth registry in our province:
A child’s surname can be:
-one of the parents’ surnames;
-hyphenated or a combination of both parents’ surnames; or
-different from both parents’ surnames.
So at least we won’t be facing any legal impediments!
Congratulations on your baby, and I hope you and your husband can reach an agreement by April. At least you have options!
My little brother, who is now 3, was given a surname that is a mash-up of mine/my dad’s surname and my stepmum’s surname, and as far as I know they just wrote it on the birth certificate and away they went. I think it’s an interesting idea and would definitely consider doing this when naming my children.
Good to have confirmation how easy it is!
Cee Cee said:
Is it really as simple as putting the new name on a birth certificate? My Mum, and her huge extended family, discovered after her grandparents death that they had done this exact thing on their children’s birth certificates (in the 1930s). Mum’s dad and his eight or nine siblings, had been given a variation on their parents names and then each of these children had gone on to have large families, and in the 1980s each of those descendants had to pay to have the names they were registered at birth confirmed/changed by deed poll. Perhaps the rules have changed, or perhaps Mum’s family chanced upon an over zealous official.
I’m not sure if your family members were registered in Victoria, but this seems to have been a long time ago, and details might have needed to be confirmed because of the changeover to computers. If the surnames looked like variants, they might have thought there was a mistake in the transcriptions.