If you are about to adopt or have recently adopted, you may need to add one more thing to your “to do” list. After a child is adopted, his name is changed according to your wishes. Obviously, parents want their adopted child to have the family name.
But you should not stop there. If it was a closed adoption, you need to also change the child’s social security number. If the number is not changed, the birth parent can find your child by tracing the number. We do not want our birth mother to find us at some future date because she is a drug addict with very unsavory friends. I thought this would be routine, but it was not for me.
When the children were first adopted, we worried about someone looking for us. I guess it was always in the back of our minds. During this time, a car broke down in front of our house in the middle of the night. My wife and I were asleep. When the doorbell rang, Nancy sat up from a dead sleep and said, “She has found us.”
The adoption agency social worker who helped us adopt the boys told us that she had seen this happen several times in her career. On one occasion, the birth parent was even able to trace a child who had moved to a foreign country.
The first thing that the social security worker will tell you is that social security numbers are never changed. I have done this twice so I now know the drill. Take the old birth certificate, the new birth certificate, the old social security card and a certified copy of the order granting the adoption and change of name. Be sure to get the original copies back before you leave.
Then point out that the child’s name has been legally changed and that the child’s new legal identity has never had a number. Only then will the government employee give you the form to have a new number for your child. If the person still refuses to begin the paperwork, leave their office and get in line to wait for another try with someone else.
They will eventually do it. Having the new number and being able to sleep at night make the process well worth it.