Thursday, May 28, 2009

Birthdate Reversion

Or: Why Adoptive Parenting Is Weird Sometimes

Remember our daughter's January birthday? No, you don't. You can't. You mustn't. Forget anyone ever said anything about January. This is not the birth date you're looking for.

Once upon a time at the end of our pre-child days, we received that most remarkable of phone calls, the one telling us we had a daughter waiting a world away. It was April, and she'd been born in December. On the very day we had delivered our completed dossier to the agency, in fact. What a story!

Oh, but there was more to story. Well, actually, less. That birth date was just an estimate and the orphanage doctor didn't think she could be that old when they took her in. We were told to consider her a month younger, January birthday. Okay, Ethiopian Christmas baby, that's cool.

Ah, funny story . . . (not really). There's this little thing in adoption called paperwork. Actually it's such a big thing that it consumes your life almost as much as an actual child, but I digress. The important thing to know about this paperwork is that the parts of it that come from another country may well be full of typos and translation errors and contradictory facts like, oh, say, two different birth dates. So while Anna's medical records show a January 2007 birth date, everything else says December 2006: adoption decree, Ethiopian birth certificate, visa, and so on. We've been observing the January date, but anytime I have to be able to actually prove it I have to remember to say December because that's what's on paper. Confusing and occasionally embarrassing (you don't know your kid's birthday, lady?).

So to make a short story boring (too late), I thought I could get these reconciled when we did the Oregon readoption process. A lawyer is now working on our readoption papers, and he says that there is no clear-cut process for changing a birth date, so while we have a shot based on the existing medical records, the court might refuse. We could try again with perhaps a new doctor's affidavit, but there's no guarantee on that either and, well, do you know how much lawyers charge for this kind of thing?

At this point we need it done--so there's no confusion as we get new insurance, doctors, etc.--more than we need to spend all kinds of time and money on the chance we can get the date moved one month. It just seems a bit silly to fight for now that we're measuring her age in years. And really, isn't it more fun to celebrate before all the Christmas hoopla makes you feel like if you have to deal with one more present or social gathering or baked good, your New Year's weight loss will start off with gagging on the birthday cake?

Still, it's weird. We're deciding our daughter's birthday? After we've celebrated it twice? Obviously she doesn't understand time well enough to realize this is a change, but someday she'll find out. The really difficult question to answer is why no one really knows her birthday. . . . Having no story of her to go with that day is one of the harder things for me to accept and figure out how to explain. But it's the reality that we will just have to grapple with one year at a time.

All that to say . . . hey, did you know our daughter's birthday is the exact day we dropped off our dossier? Cool story, huh?

Mark it down: DECEMBER. There is no January. If you send cards in January, we will tell her you are tardy and senile.

Born at the right time . . . whenever the heck it was.


Anonymous said...

So what date in December? The 21st is a good one!

WMW said...

Same day as it was in January...Email me if you aren't sure. (I don't know who left that comment.)

Amy said...

Wow. I totally feel your frustration, anxiety, and sadness.

We had the chance in Russia of changing everything on his birth certificate - not only his name but his birthdate and city of birth. How odd.

I feel the loss for you and Anna.

Marc and Gretchen said...

It would've been a cool story that Anna was born exactly 1 year before Isaac's due date, however, Isaac wasn't born on his due date, so I can totally forget about January! December it is!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Dear Anna!! Born on dossier day is very sweet!! :) Grandma

pmfh said...

Born of water, the Spirit, and apparently, paper! :O

Also: Aaarghnglergh!

Anonymous said...

when you figure out how to explain all that to Anna, let me know!

Punk's is also an estimate, but probably pretty close. We didn't change it because...well, because we didn't want to for various reasons.

Anonymous said...

Explaining is easy---telling the truth with love is always the best and only way.

WMW said...

I would definitely tell nothing but the truth. But we have an incomplete picture of the whole truth, and when the only answer to "Why?" is "I don't know"'s not necessarily easy. But yes, it is right.

The Six of Us said...

That's hilarious. Noah was the same story: given a December birthday... Dr.s think January. Same thoughts: "Do we REALLY want a December birthday?" Not really. BUT...too hard to change...will never be recognized by some authorities... yada, yada, yada.

The hardest thing for me is being concrete in my answers about it. When asked how far apart the babies are, not saying "two or three months" or not "going into it" when asked when his birthday is. I just have to force myself to say "December." However, we DID celebrate in January this year. I just wasn't ready for him to be a year old yet. :)

Hey...We've got to get together before you move across the country. I would like to at least meet you ONCE! :)