Today we celebrate Renee’s 13th birthday. “Say what?” Yes, we did celebrate Renee’s 14th birthday last year. Perhaps a little explaining will help.
It seems that most people in China do not celebrate their birthdays on their birthday. It is common for Chinese children to not know their actual birthday, but they know what year they were born according to the Chinese zodiac. When children are orphaned they are assigned a birthday (usually the date they were taken into the orphanage) and a birth year based on a rudimentary physical exam. Renee was given July 6th, 1999 as her official date of birth for government records.
After arriving home from China last year we visited the International Adoption Clinic (IAC) in Birmingham. During that visit one of the doctors said she thought Renee was younger than her given DOB. We didn’t know what the legal ramifications were if we pursued an age change so we moved on.
Late last year we asked Renee if she had any idea what her birth year was. A bit hesitantly she told us she was born in the year of the snake. That would place her birthday in the year 2001. Renee’s grandmother is who told her the birth year. Also late last year the U.S. Government passed the Accuracy in Adoptees Act, making it easier for state and federal governments to agree on and cooperate with age changes.
With the new law, Renee’s testimony and our concern for her future, we decided to pursue an age change. This change would happen concurrently with the re-adoption process for Ragan and Renee so they could have American birth certificates. We had a bone scan performed by Renee’s doctor and a dental x-ray completed by her dentist. Both of these tests confirmed that she is younger than her given DOB by approximately two years.
At this time we are waiting for a court appointment. All documentation and affidavits have been submitted to Clayton County. We have no reason to think that a judge would reject our request for an age change.
We thank God for His providence in allowing Renee to be our daughter, and we shudder at the thought that Renee would’ve ‘aged out’ of the possibility of adoption five months later. China does not allow adoptions after age 14. She would have only been 12 years old.
So we now celebrate Renee’s birthday as a new teenager. She is now the baby of the family. Ragan is now the big sister. There have been some mixed emotions from both girls concerning the change, but they have both accepted it and are moving on.
And we thank God that He would give us such a precious treasure.
Happy Birthday, Renee Le Shi!