This is to let you know that I am changing my surname, back to my original birth name of Houghton.
My life was turned upside down late last year when it was found that I had family in Canada through my biological father. While a family there had long been suspected, Canadian privacy laws made it virtually impossible to confirm this. It was only through efforts of my super-sleuth wife, the wonder of modern communications and social media that it was found that I had a half-brother in Ontario. Contact was established with him via his granddaughter and he said was interested in talking to me. Several Skype calls took place and a good relationship was developed. I decided to go and visit him while I could and, as some of you know, travelled there last October.
Even though he was unaware of my existence before Di initiated communication with him, when we met at Toronto airport there was an instant bond. My visit was an outstanding success and unforgettable, with family ties strongly developed. He is my real brother from another mother.
Having found out about my biological father and filling in all the gaps, I have found a sense of belonging to the Houghton family. I have a greater sense of affinity with them than I did with my stepfather’s family. My stepfather was a Kiwi and the only good thing that he did as far as I am concerned was bring us out to NZ (although he was also the prime motivator for me joining the Navy, so I guess that is another plus.) There was no other family as such in NZ so I have no attachment to the name. I did actually try to change my name about 40 years ago, but my Divisional Officer at the time effectively talked me out of it, citing all sorts of problems that would arise, especially on security clearance side. In retrospect and the benefit of hindsight, I think that he was probably trying to avoid the administrative workload that might have been involved with me changing my name. Anyway, I let it slide at the time, but regretted it later, particularly when I got married and had children, by which time I thought it was too late.
Some have said why bother, especially at your age, it’s only a name. But it is more than that. Your name gives you a sense of belonging and forms your heritage. One of the things that I have admired, and envied, with my Maori friends is their ability to trace their lineage and their whakapapa. While I have been able to trace my ancestry on my mother’s side back to the 1600’s, on my father’s side there has been nothing – until last year. I now feel that the circle is complete and I have a family that I can relate to and call my own. Moreover, I want to go out under the same name that I came into this world with. (Hopefully that won’t be too soon!!)
Anyway, the paperwork recognising the change has all been submitted and approved, and everything is in place. So from 1 Feb 17 I will be Gary Houghton. Underneath it all I will still be the same person (and will still answer to Kips). I will keep my current email account going for the time being, until I am confident that all those who need to know of the change have received the information.