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Mom Accused Of ‘Whitewashing’ Her Adopted Daughter By Anglicizing Her First Name

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The friend of a new parent never wants to be the one to call out a parenting decision. Confrontation over such a sensitive issue can turn tense pretty quickly.

But sometimes the friend of the new parent simply can’t let something go, the circumstances simply demand that a critique be voiced.

One Redditor recently encountered that non-negotiable feeling, and endured all the dynamics that came afterward.

They posted their experience on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster (OP), who eventually deleted their username, indicated the thrust of the issue with the post’s title.

“AITA for calling my friend out on changing her adopted daughter’s name”

OP began with a rundown of some key details of the adoption. 

“An old high school friend of mine, Maya, recently finalized her adoption of a Pakistani-American child [7-year-old female] and reached out to me as I’m of a similar background to ask for help connecting with the girl as she’s been withdrawn and generally refusing to connect with her new family.”

“I offered to meet up for a socially distanced visit in the park and she agreed.”

Immediately, something seemed off.

“The girl opened up to me very quickly and introduced herself to me by a common Pakistani name, let’s say Zainab.”

“This surprised me because my friend had been referring to her as Jessica in all our previous conversations.”

“I asked Zainab about how she feels about being adopted and she basically said my friend was always bothering her, she missed her grandma and she didn’t like her new brother.”

The child then noted one other grievance. 

“She then said she doesn’t like the new name her new mom uses for her.”

“I saw this in person because she would adamantly refuse to answer to my friend whenever she would call her Jessica.”

For OP, that was cause for concern. 

“I took my friend aside to express my concerns and ask why she changed the name.”

“Her reasoning was Zainab’s original name was too difficult to pronounce, didn’t match her new surname and she wanted a ‘fresh start’ for all of them as a family.

OP had plenty to say in response. 

“I called her out on this, saying this wasn’t a dog she’d picked up, this was a human child who had 7 years of history with her name and was clearly against the change.”

“Furthermore I pointed out changing her ethnic name to an anglo one for convenience made no sense when her own last name is a complicated Polish one and arguably harder to pronounce.”

“I basically ended the conversation saying she was going about this all wrong by alienating her new daughter and whitewashing her heritage.”

“I suggested she reach out to adoptee support groups to talk to about transracial adoption.”

Those suggestions, however, fell on deaf ears.

“Well, after this Maya blew up, accusing me of calling her a racist and trying to create problems in her and Zainab’s relationship.”

“She dragged her daughter away and hasn’t responded to any of my messages since. She has been vaguebooking about this though.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Most Redditors gave OP their full support.

They criticized Maya and commended OP all at the same time.

“When Maya asked you for help ‘connecting’ with her daughter, what she really wanted you to do was ‘fix’ her daughter so she would conform.”

“Instead, you did something that Maya obviously hasn’t. You listened to her daughter and gave Maya advice on steps she could take to build a relationship. NTA.” — type1error

“If she was 4 months old, this would be a different story. She’s SEVEN. She still calls herself by her old name. This is super unhealthy.”

“You’re right – she’s not a dog (and you know what, even when we adopted a dog, we kept his name!)” — Kay_Elle

“NTA! Thank you for advocating for this kid who is in a new environment without much power. Your friend is going to need to face the realities of race and ethnicity if she wants to be a good parent for this kid.”

“If you have the bandwith, helping her understand more about race in America and being Pakistani-American will benefit this kid and this kid sounds like they could use someone from a similar background in their life.” — Aecritter

Some kept their focus on Maya only. 

“NTA, and your friend IS being racist. If that makes her uncomfortable then maybe she should stop being racist. People like that are the absolute worst.” — emmelh8s

“NTA – your friend is racist” — grouchymonk1517

“NTA. Your friend took away the one thing this little girl had, her name. This is terrible. She needs to wake up and smell the coffee or, this girl is going to hit teenage years and explode.” — Jambo5

“If she doesn’t like Pakistani names then she shouldn’t adopt a Pakistani child, or at least not one old enough to be attached to their name.”

“Also, even if we accepted the premise of changing the name (which I don’t) why the hell wouldn’t they consult the child? There are probably anglicised names which are much closer in sound to her original name, and there might be an anglic name she liked.”

“NTA.” — OneCatch

“NTA I think it’s terrible to think you can rename a 7 year old against their will! Poor kid!” — Few_Story3588

Others advocated for more serious interventions.

“Get in contact with some form of child services and have the girl taken away. Your friend is pretty racist even if they don’t realise it. And they’re treating this girl as if she’s a dog by changing both her first and last names.” — Zeke9004

“NTA.”

“Maya is a total AH. She didn’t want you to help her connect with the girl. She wanted you to help her convince this girl that Maya is right in what she’s doing. That Zainab needs to accept these changes and forget her past and her Pakistani half and ‘just be American.’ “

“If this were me, I’d have a hard time not reporting this to someone.” — ArtisanPerspective

“NTA. Maybe call the adoption center so they could do a check up and hopefully somebody listens to that girl and she finds a home where the people want to learn her actual name.” — Ap-Ee

So OP can rest assured that she doesn’t need to feel guilty calling her friend out again in the future.

Unfortunately, no amount of online feedback in the world can help the child if her mom refuses to listen.

Eric Spring

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.