Double the name, double the pain

Junior reflects on the struggle of having two last names

Story by Ashlyn Sander, Business manager

If you’ve known me for any amount of time you’ve probably been confused about my name at some point. Yes, I am Ashlyn Sander and yes, I am also Ashlyn Reeves. No, I don’t have a doppleganger with the same first name as me, and yes, someone actually asked me that once.

I’ve tried my hardest to give an explanation for the two names. However, some people don’t understand, and some people just never ask. So I figured I’d lay it all out for anyone who is curious.

My mom had me right out of high school, and with the wonderful support of my grandparents in preschool and daycare, I never realized my situation was any different from a kid who had both parents.

My mom’s maiden name was Sander, therefore I was born a Sander, my biological dad’s last name is Whitaker, but my mom sat through many court dates for my last name not to be Whitaker. Thank God.

I always knew who my biological father was. He and my mom were never together after I was born, but I visited his family on the holidays. He now has two other children and one step-son. However I’ve never been around his kids for more than a couple hours at a time on holidays, so I’ve always considered myself an only child.

When I was 6 years old, my mom got married to the man I had always considered Dad. His last name was Reeves. He and my mom had dated off and on in high school and began dating again when I was still in preschool.

He was always there for me as a father figure in my life. I strongly believe a dad is not who you share genes with, but who raises you and is always there for you.

When they got married I remember being so excited being able to attend my parents wedding. At six, I didn’t know this wasn’t a normal thing that occurred.

After they got married my mom’s last name was also Reeves and, being six, I didn’t understand why my last name was different than my parents, nor did I like it. So, I began going by Reeves. My elementary school knew my situation and let me go by Sander-Reeves, which was what was on my all my school stuff until I graduated fifth grade.

After my parents had gotten married my dad started the process of adopting me so he could become my legal father. It was a long, drawn out ordeal. I don’t know the details of it all, but I do know the process was long and something always seemed to be going wrong.

The summer before sixth grade year my mom explained to me that middle school would be different. There, they didn’t know my situation and they probably didn’t care to know. I would have to start going by Sander full time again, since it is the name on my legal documents. I didn’t like it, but I knew she was right.

That summer I also made a Facebook, lying about my age of course, and I put my name down as Ashlyn Reeves. Thus began me being socially known as Ashlyn Reeves.

During October of my sixth grade year my parents got divorced. Although it was tough, looking back, it was probably the best outcome of the situation. After the divorce was finalized, my dad was still in the process of adopting me. But since he was no longer married to my mom made him legally some random man to me.

We eventually gave up on the adoption process, knowing the court and my biological dad would never allow it.

At this point, I’ve been going by Reeves socially for a couple of years, thinking one day it was going to be changed. Unfortunately, I can’t just tell everyone I’d rather go by Sander now and drop Reeves to avoid confusion.

Reeves is what all my friends have known me by since elementary school, but on anything school related or legal I am Ashlyn Sander. I’ve changed most my social media to Sander-Reeves, or just simply Ashlyn, hoping to prevent some confusion. However, I’ve decided that when I go off to college I’m dropping Reeves and fully becoming Ashlyn Sander again.

This is an unsual situation to be in, but I’ve never looked at it negatively. It is just something I’ve had to deal with over the years. So yes, I am Ashlyn Sander and yes I am Ashlyn Reeves.