How to Use This Blog

A Wayfarer is a person who is traveling, a particular place, a circumstance, a stage of life, etc. Let's walk the road of adoption together. The journey is so much better with company!
Much of this information is useful for any adoption, but this blog is designed to be a
I hope this blog will be helpful to you in your adoption whether you are considering, waiting or home. I started this blog when we were adopting and found there was next to nothing on the web in any orderly manner. I set about to collect information for myself and then for others. Now, there are more sites for resources, but still not much that brings it all together. I hope this blog will serve as a sort of clearing house for Ethiopian Adoption Information. Please feel free to contribute your knowledge through commenting.
You can search by topic in three ways. 1. Go to the "key word" tabs on top and open pages of links in those topics. 2. Use the "labels list" in the side bar or 3. use the "search bar" above the labels list. You can also browse the blog by month and year in the Posts section or in any of the above as well. The sidebar links are to sites outside of this blog. While I feel they provide good information, I can not vouch for each site with an approval rating. Use your own discernment for each. If you have more to add to the topic, please add it in the comment section of that page or post.
And, please link to The Wayfarer Adoption Blog by putting my button on
your blog so others can use this resource too. Please link to this blog when ever you can and whenever you re-post things (or images) you have found here. Thanks!
The solid tabs are links to my other blogs for books and family. Check them out if you are interested.
Welcome to the journey!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How old is my adopted child?

Ever Google this and get nothing useful? Here is a great post on a blog I read, the post is about determining the correct age of your adopted child. Africa In Our Hearts  specific post is here.
There are all sorts of options out there: bone scans, ability, physical characteristics, dental.
From what I have read, compared to Caucasian kids, kids of African decent tend to get and loose teeth a bit earlier and kids of Asian decent, a bit later.  Our dentist said that if a child is between 1 and 6 it is next to impossible to determine age with dental exam and x rays. He said you can get a 2-3 year accuracy. So, if your child is 5 their teeth could show they are between 3 and 6. That is not very helpful. Now, when they start loosing teeth and getting adult teeth the margin of error is within 18 months or so. That is better, but still not great.
When we picked up our boys we were told they were 2 or 3. Nate would have been 2 1/2 and Keds a new 3 year old. In size, yes! They weighed about 26 lb/27 inches tall (the 3 year old) and 30 lb./28 inches tall (2 year old) and were in a size two toddler clothing.  Within a day it was very obvious that the ages we had were not accurate, we did expect this.  Our child who had just turned three, could color in the lines, write something that looked like Amahric characters (maybe his name?), ask thoughtful questions, eat with a fork nicely and kick a soccer ball like a pro. His coordination was amazing, his verbal ability in his native tongue, advanced. His fine motor skills, wow! Nope, maybe this kid is 5, we reasoned. On the other hand, the other son seemed accurate in some ways and not in others. We were in for a mystery. We used a combination of dental, physical traits, ability and emotional development. Of course, taking into account the things that negatively effect such things like: orphanage life, higher expectations of kids to care for self and tasks in Ethiopia, malnutrition, possible abuse, grief and culture shock. After the boys had some language and had caught up somewhat with nutrition, I had a fun time doing the Ages and Stages activities with them. Get forms here. In the end we assessed that our son who we were told had just turned three was in fact almost to turn 4. Not too off. We have been told by professionals that he may be gifted. For this child we have a hospital birth certificate. No, this was not the age on his adoption birth certificate. The photo of this child looks much more like a 10-12 month old child and so we were not sure what year would be accurate. We have ascertained that the birth date given on it is indeed correct and we have changed his birth date back to that one. For our other son, we moved his age up by a few months. Even though he may, in fact, be even older than this, he is emotionally delayed and physically behind and he needs all the advantage he can get, but is certainly not as young as his adoption birth certificate claims. We went with the month the orphanage estimated for him on our referral papers, no it was not the same.
So, I would say that it is important to take all the factors into account when trying to decide how old your child is. It certainly won't be an easy mystery to solve, but it will be interesting.
1. by their teeth: they may loose teeth earlier.
2. by their capabilities: children are required to be far more self sufficient in Ethiopian homes and especially in the orphanage, They may have higher developed skill sets than we would expect for their age.
3. by their emotional levels: taking into account the stress of loss, grief, orphanage life, fending for themselves, changes that occur with adoption, culture shock, etc. you will want to evaluate this one carefully.
4. by their physical development: malnutrition or under nutrition is common and expected, along with a myriad of medical issues, these things can make a child look younger than they actually are. Oh and the theory that Ethiopians are just small. Ummmmm, nope. I have met some really, really tall Ethiopians. Taller than my 6 foot 4 inch husband. And, beefy strong too, or lanky strength. Nope, not a small people really. I think if you know the ancestral heritage of your child that would really help. Tribal groups are so different in physical make up.
5. intellectual ability/academic: well, that is really pretty silly. With language acquisition, and the spattering of schooling the children get, well, that is just not a fair measurement.

Who determines your child's birth date on the adoption birth certificate? As far as I understand the Ethiopian government does this. It is not up to the orphanage.It can be random or whatever their social worker has recommended.

How did you get a hospital birth certificate for your son? Well, now that is a gift. Most children are not born at a hospital. One of our son's was and somehow the birth certificate was obtainable. WOW! It tells us so much. I am blessed beyond words to have it.

Changing your child's birth date legally. I posted about this on the post for validation. Here.


  1. We are trying to figure out how old Bereket is! We were told his birth date is 11-29-2005, making him 4 years, 3 months old. He had already lost a bottom tooth when we met him 5 weeks ago. His physical capabilities are exceptional! He is obviously very smart. He can color in the lines, but we don't think he can write. We'll visit the international adoption clinic in a couple of weeks. At this point, we think he is older. But "older" enough to start kindergarten next year? We just don't know!!!!

  2. Another wonderful post! I tried to go to the post from African In Our Hearts but couldn't find it. The link just took me to the blog and a search didn't yield the post. We are still wondering about Kolton although I feel fairly confident in our guess. He will be celebrating a birthday April 20 which is the date we gave him (but not legally changed in court yet).

  3. Kelly, thanks for letting me know about the link. I have fixed it. :) Here is the exact location of the post.



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