The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Monday, April 20, 2009

The AGE old Questions

I see that I must have deleted my original post concerning the actual age of Mary and Wokelle. In international adoption it is not uncommon for children's ages to not be accurate. When I received my pictures of Mary and Wokelle from Liberia, I had a feeling that Mary looked older than the age of 7. Even the agency told me there was a possibility she could be older.

In a country torn by 14 years of civil war, with no basic services, corruption rife and children that are not born in hospitals -- accurate birth and death records are not a priority. When their birth mom made the decision to place the children for adoption that is when they went to make birth certificates.

After celebrating Mary's "8th" birthday and finalizing the adoption she came forward and told us she knew she was older in Liberia. My first reaction was to call the dentist who had recently taken X-rays. He cautioned me that there were no guarantees but her teeth showed her to be in the 11 - 12 range. We were not stunned by this news as we thought she physically seemed older.

We did contact our adoption attorney to ask the judge about changing their US birth certificates. He advised our lawyer that we would have to void the adoption and return all paperwork to Liberia to re-do. This would be a very risky venture. At this time international adoptions have been suspended.

We let time pass, although we all recognized Mary and Wokelle had different ages than their paperwork. Mary thought she was 12 and she remembered Wokelle as being 3. We cleared up all their medical issues, caught them up on immunizations and worked on getting some school done.

Just this past week we went back and had a bone scan done. This is an x-ray of their hands that can help determine their age. Mary came back as between 11 and 12 and Wokelle as 3 to 3 1/2. On her coming birthday in May Mary will be considered 12 for all of us (9 on her legal paperwork). In June we will be celebrating Wokelle's 4th birthday (5 on his legal paperwork).

Why get the bone scans done if we can't change anything legally? I wondered that myself, but it gave us great peace to settle the issue. Also, the primary physician knows what he is seeing in his office. Is this a 9 year old girl experiencing precocious puberty? A 5 year old boy that is really behind the mark? No, these children are developing quite well, paperwork is just not correct. Since we home school, it really doesn't affect any school placement, but it does help me know what to do in social situations. Sunday school, keep Wokelle in his pre-school class for instance.

The issue is a bit of a conundrum legally. We can all accept the children for the "real" ages, but have to remember that for driving ages, or home school report forms we must go back to those legal documents and report the children as it is written down.

So welcome, to the "age" old issue -- resolved at last.

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