Monday, May 7, 2012

Would you adopt Chardonnay or Chrystal?

This is a truly awful story in the Mail (UK), but not awful for the reason the author seems to think -- she writes about how terrible it is that birth parents give their children names that adoptive parents don't like, and social workers won't allow the name to be changed, and SO THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS DON'T ADOPT!  The author blames the birth parents and the social workers, but gives the adoptive parents a complete pass -- OF COURSE, an adoptive parent won't want to adopt a child named Chardonnay or Chrystal!  Really?!  Here's a sample of the completely horrible, snobbish position of this writer, who says she worked for two years approving adoptions in her county:
Sitting on a Winnie The Pooh blanket, a baby girl waves her chubby arms with joy as she attempts to stack up some wooden bricks, chuckling each time they fall down.

At less than a year, she would be the perfect child for any couple unable to have a baby of their own. You would also assume her time on the adoption register would be short.

But instead of a loving home and the prospect of a good start in life, it’s highly likely she will languish in the care system for some time to come.

The reason? Well, unfortunately she’s called Chardonnay — as opposed to, say, Charlotte — and for this reason she will struggle to be placed.

* * *

The reality is that most children up for adoption, even babies, come from dire backgrounds, where it’s highly likely Dad has been in prison and Mum was addicted to heaven knows what illegal substances and working as a prostitute.

And while some adopted children will go on to have behavioural problems because of their poor start in life, there are still many successful adoptions that take place.

But, unfortunately, the names of these blameless children make their less-than-middle-class backgrounds all too obvious. And most prospective parents don’t want to adopt children who are named after someone’s favourite celebrity or tipple.

For some reason there is currently a fashion, among those whose children are forcibly removed, for calling little girls after drinks — hence two recent babies called Chardonnay and Champagne. There is also a tendency to name girls after jewels, though often misspelt: Rubie, Emmarald, Jayde, Chrystal.

And there are those birth parents who think, why ruin your child’s future with just one dreadful name when you can wallop them straight into the gutter of life with two? So we on the adoption board who are trying to place these children in loving homes are confronted with Gemma-Mai, Courtney-Mai, Alexia-Mai, Lily-Mai, Shania-Rae and so on, names which will mark them out for their whole lives as members of a peculiarly British underclass.

Simply put, the children’s names do not fit with the social demographic of the people coming forward to give them homes.

You might think a simple, and obvious, solution would be for adoptive parents to change the child’s name. After all, under-twos are still young enough to adapt to a new identity and will have no memory of their birth name.

But in the past few years it has become standard practice for social workers to recommend that the birth name be retained, a suggestion which is then rubber-stamped by the judge at adoption hearings.

Changing the name is something adoptive parents almost always want to do, especially if they already have birth children of their own. Naturally you want a new child to blend in with your existing family — but will Chardonnay ever fit in with Henry, James and William? No.

In [one] case, the social workers said that changing the name would be ‘a loss of the child’s family identity’. The proud family identity, presumably, which turned out three generations of career criminals.

It might sound flippant, but I honestly think there would be many more adoptive parents if they were allowed to change the baby’s name.

* * *

It is my view that adoptive parents should have the right to change the first name of a child if they want to, really awful background details should be toned down and dreadful birth parents should forfeit their parental rights entirely.

The Americans say that any American child has the right to grow up and be President. So, who knows, with a few more common sense rules in the adoption system, little Chardonnay might one day grow up to be Prime Minister. Sadly, as things stand, it’s highly unlikely.
This article seems to illustrate every class-based prejudice in the world, and then claims it to be appropriate to have that bias!  The name thing seems to be just the tip of the iceberg  -- can adoption work when adoptive parents and adoption workers have such contempt for the "low-class" birth parents?!

Admittedly, I gave my kids new first names while keeping their Chinese names as middle names. But would I have turned down the referral if I was told I couldn't change their names? No way!!!  Is it a good reason not to adopt, that the child's name doesn't fit the high-class name of the adoptive parents other children?!  No way!!!


Kris said...

It's hard to believe this is a serious article. It seems almost like satire. We were allowed to change our daughter's name. We didn't. They literally stripped her of the clothes on her back and all she could keep was her disposable diaper. I couldn't stand to take her name away from her, even though it is not one I would have "picked" had she been my bio child. I can't imagine anyone would choose not to adopt a child just because her name was Champagne! WTH????

Mahmee said...

Un-believable. Truly awful, yes. I've read a lot of ingorant crap like this lately. We, as a species, clearly have a lot of evolving left to do.

LilySea said...

it's the Daily Mail, not the Guardian. I would take the whole thing with a grain of salt. Or a shaker full...

Reena said...


This is in Britain? Right?

Isn't Kate Middleton's sister's name Pipa? How is that considered upperclass compared to these names?

HeavenstoBetsy said...

Her given name is Philippa. Pippa is a common nickname for people called Philippa ('Pippa passes', by Robert Browning). And it is quite 'posh'.

I agree with LilySea. This article is a joke.

B.A. said...

How funny - I just read an Agatha Christie short story called Sanctuary, in which the daughter of a showgirl is being raised by a respectable elderly couple in a small village. The name given to her by her mother is Jewel, but "of course, they call her Jill." Names tell people a lot about the background you came from whether you want to accept that or not. People *will* judge based on names whether you like it or not. Why would you be willing to leave a child with a name that you know is likely to have negative connotations for the child?