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You can call him Max

For most of his life, Max Pauson didn't have a given name. Thanks to a law firm, the former foster youth received an official moniker — and now he's an art student in Pasadena.

May 03, 2010|By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times

For most of his life, Max Pauson was the boy without a name — a given name, that is.

For reasons Pauson doesn't fully understand, his mother never got around to giving him a first and middle name. Hospital administrators, who had to submit a record of birth to the state's Office of Vital Records, eventually filled in the blanks, dubbing the infant "Baby, Boy, Pauson."

"I guess my mother never gave me a name," said Pauson, 20. "She was indecisive, I guess that's the reason."

Oddly enough, it wasn't until recently that Pauson realized he was listed so generically on his birth certificate. Growing up with his mother in and out of homeless shelters, and then in foster care, he was always called "Max Jr."

"My mother's name was Maxine and everyone was calling her Max for short, and they would call me Max Jr., so I was officially Max to everyone who knew me, but not on my birth certificate," Pauson said.

When it came time to apply for work, Pauson was told he was ineligible: the name on his Social Security card did not match the one on his birth certificate.

As a result, he was unable to apply for a part-time job while attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Employment was a requirement he needed to qualify for Youth Moving On, a transitional living program provided by Hillsides, a private nonprofit organization. The program provides foster youths with housing, therapy and life coaching.

Recognizing his inability to apply for a job, Hillsides sought help from the international law firm Howrey, which took on the case for free.

"The problem was that he lost a job because he could not be fingerprinted," attorney David Steuber said. "He needed to obtain a proper identity and a set of proper identity documents before he could move on with his life — literally."

Last year, after the necessary forms were filed, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in Pasadena approved the name of Maximus Julius Pauson.

Now, Pauson's a new man, at least on paper. On Sunday, he exhibited 13 art pieces in the Foster Care Project Art Show and Silent Auction at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Pauson is among the 39 current and former foster care youths in the exhibit.

But now that he has a name, displaying his artwork is only the beginning for Pauson. He intends to write children's books when he graduates from college.

"I can move forward with all my plans," Pauson said. "It's going to be … a lot easier to do anything."

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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