Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Does a hyphen really matter?

When I adopted the boys in 2006
Son #1 wanted to keep his last name.
Son #2 wanted to take my last name.
I wanted them to have the same last name.
They are brothers.
People should know that.
And so we compromised. 
Rather than take their last name, Hendrix
Or my last name, Wilcox
We hyphenated the two.

Since that day,
nine years ago
I've often wondered
if we did the right thing.
First, it's a huge logistical hassle.
Careless clerks omit the hyphen.
Bank tellers ignore it. 
Computer systems hate it. 
I can't begin to count 
the number of hours
I've spent waiting on hold
as people hunt for my boys--
can you give me a date of birth?
SSN? Middle name?

More than inconvenience 
I wonder about matters of the heart
Did the boys think
that Hendrix-Wilcox
means I wasn't willing
to jump in with both feet?
Did they think
I would bail
if being a family
became less than palatable?
Did they think I wasn't serious 
about being a forever mom?

I wonder about that hyphen. 


Chiara said...

I think your boys know that that hyphen means you love them and recognize and respect their past.

Diane Anderson said...

I understand this dilemma, having adopted children, too. Our kids did take our last name. They also chose a new middle name. I don't know if there is a good answer.

Unknown said...

I never would have thought of that. I have several hyphenated students and they sign different names o their papers all the time. I don't usually ask why their names are miller-hammond or whatever it may be, but now I'm kind of curious. I think it was a good compromise. They have a part of their history and their past, but they have the love of their new family too!

Tabatha said...

My kids have a hyphenated last name and we haven't had problems...I think it's hard for you not to second-guess yourself about everything. You deserve to not hold yourself accountable for their travails, though. You really do!!

elsie said...

Names are for people not forms. You allowed the boys to hold onto their birth but yet move be a part of a newly created family. Too bad paperwork has to get in the way.

Michelle said...

Beautiful thinking and wondering. We can't overanalyze that little line -- but know that line connects both your families. Holding onto what was their before and connecting to the now. They know you always and will be there forever mom. Always-and-forever.