Point of View: My Adoption Process 

by Shanita Dildy-Goings •

I was 13 years old when my foster parents first proposed adopting my big sister and me.

My big sister said that she would think about it, but I knew she had already made up her mind not to take them up on their offer. They were not bad parents, just not the parent she truly wanted—our mother.

I said I would think about it, but I knew I was going to say yes.

I was very adult about the whole thing up until the day before we were to sign the adoption papers. During all the meetings and discussions leading up to this day it had never occurred to me that I would have to give up my last name. My parents told me I didn’t have to, but it would make them feel good knowing I took their name. I felt guilty toward my former guardian whose last name I shared, and guilty to my future parents whose name I was hesitant to take. In no way did they or anyone else pressure me to take on a new name. But my own sense of identity and reluctance to change started to change my mind toward the adoption.

My parents could see the name change bothered me. They were “family meeting” people, so we had a family meeting about it. Together we decided to hyphenate my name so I could always have a piece of my birth family and a piece of their family. I signed the adoption papers (a bit awkwardly) the next day. My new signature was going to need some getting used to.

My new family, however, required no effort at all.