View Full Version : Surname for an Orphan?

07-08-2010, 05:53 AM
Let's say a feral child is found. He can't remember (or speak) his name, and nobody knows who his parents are. Legally, what would they name this child? For reference, this would be set in modern day California.

I've researched feral children, and most of them don't live long enough to rejoin society so their names don't matter much. They're given first names by the people who find them and never given a surname. But in my story, the child lives to adulthood, so I need him to have a name.

I have a fallback plan: I can say that when he came of age, he got to pick his own surname. But I'm wondering if anyone knows of a realistic alternative.

07-08-2010, 05:55 AM
Doe springs to mind (John Doe, Jane Doe.) Or something equally inoffensive like Smith or Jones.


Kitty Pryde
07-08-2010, 06:07 AM
Can't he just take the name of his foster family/adoptive family? These days, I would think a kid like this would end up in a special needs foster-adoption. He would flourish best in a well-prepared family environment as opposed to a hospital or state facility or something.

07-08-2010, 06:10 AM
What about the name of the street or area in which he was found?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
07-08-2010, 06:15 AM
I was going to suggest the same thing, MissMacchiato. People used to be named for the river they were born near or some identifying mark or feature.

07-08-2010, 06:16 AM
high five for great minds OlFashionedGirl!

07-08-2010, 11:40 AM
In terms of names, first names are usually given by hospital staff or the people who care for the child at frst, you hear alot of things on the news here like 'the child, named matthew by hospital staff....' etc.

In terms of surnames, adopted children generally, and I say generally because there are always exceptions- when the child is older etc, take on the surename of the family they are adopted into.

You could always name him after the hospital or something, so if the nurses call him Simon and the hopital is called St Andrews, then he could be Simon Andrews.

07-08-2010, 04:16 PM
Of course, there's always "Ward" which stems from being a ward of the state or someone else.

the addster
07-08-2010, 07:41 PM
It's likely that they would be given a name that either a social worker or a judge came up with. One child I know was simply Baby Micheal (he was found in front of St. Micheal's Hospital) until his adoption was final. A child wouldn't be given the name of foster parents, it's legally a temporary situation. If not adopted, a judge would probably just give the child a name a social worker had come up with.

07-08-2010, 07:42 PM
I was going to suggest the same thing, MissMacchiato. People used to be named for the river they were born near or some identifying mark or feature.That's why my real name is Scarlett Alleyway-Dumpster.