Sunday, January 26, 2003

Let Her Use Her New Name A Letter to the Schools

Originally Published 10/21/03

To each and every party concerned:

Attached you will find the only documentation we have at this time demonstrating our daughter Makala is being legally adopted by us. This information was sent to me by our DHS caseworker for the purpose of providing this information to be temporarily used by the school and the school district, for the purpose of begging her identity be known by her new adoptive name and only by her new adoptive name.

Put aside any issues that jeopardize her safety and situation. Disregard the fact that our identity, address and other information is in confidence with the state in regard to the whole termination of the birth families parental rights, because these issues are not nearly as relevant as the needs of a beautiful five year old girl.

Makala has liven in our home for only 10-months. Between her fourth and fifth birthdays she lost her birth family and she lost her foster family. She has experienced deep pain and grief and we have done all we are able to gain her trust and help her to feel she is with her Forever Family. She knows that big-people change things in her life…they say one thing and then days later say something else. In EVERY circle of adoption be it internet, local support groups and the training classes we have taken, it has been assumed the public school system would be our allies and not work to undermine this process. The only people we have found to ever face a rigid policy and demand the use of the “legal” last name under this circumstance have been Oregon families. All over this nation schools have become helpers to the needs of an older child being adopted.

I have spoken with the Oregon Department of education, and been told this is a district matter but they cannot see any reason our daughter cannot be treated with the respect she so badly needs. The pre-school did not face this issue, they were more then happy to place her “legal” information into an emergency file and use her new name. The doctor’s office has had no issue in calling her by her new name. I have emails from people all over that have found their public school more then happy to make accommodations for this special situation. Policies are not laws, they are not etched in stone. Some say policies are meant to be broken… I say, policies should allow five year old little girls to feel safe and secure while they are attending school.

My passion in this matter has little to do with me. My need is only for my daughter, who came home one afternoon and pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack and collapsed to the floor in tears and accused her new family of lying to her about the fact she was being adopted. A beautiful little girl who spent a whole weekend wondering when the police were going to come and take her away again. A little girl who was in fear the caseworker was on his way…to take her away again.

Since this ERROR has occurred, Makala has regressed in some areas at home. We have seen the reemergence of the out of control tantrums, the harming of herself, the cat and her brother. We have seen impulse control issues that had been absent since the middle of July. She has been talking about her birthmother, her last name, her hurt… and while regression is normal along this path we cannot ignore the fact it started with a note in her backpack Thursday before last.

Please understand this adoption will be final at any time. This process is about getting all the papers to the right people and having signatures and blah blah blah – things five year olds don’t know or care about. It is NOT enough assurance to us that a secretary will black out her name on the roll sheet. It is not enough assurance that the teacher will try to remember not to use the birth name. It is not enough assurance that our daughter will have the right to make her adoption private. She should not be forced to “live” with the inevitable mistakes made by people. We are very much begging the school to show this little girl some basic respect and LET HER be who she is.

When the adoption is complete I will petition to see Makala Maureen's entire school file. I will ask that any and all records of her adoption or life before adoption are removed from her record completely. At that time we will provide the school with her new social security number. No other agency has an objection to this. We will not take the risk of her birth name showing up someday down the road. If this is impossible please contact us so we can choose an alternate method of education.

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