Next week we will celebrate little N's second birthday. Such a milestone! I can't help but feeling bittersweet about it. We honestly don't really know at all when his actual birthday is. Our best guess is that he's about three or four months older, but we don't know. He could be as much as six months older; he's the same size as most 3 year olds we know. But maybe he's just tall for his age and his birthday is actually correct. At this point, only God knows.
But as his mom, it is hard to not know. I wonder how much of his life we really missed? How old was he really when he went into the orphanage? How many months did his birth mom struggle to feed him?
There are a lot of factors that lead us to believe N is a bit older: He was much more physically advanced than the other babies in his room who were the same age. He could crawl and pull himself up already, where most of the other babies were only just sitting up or maybe crawling a bit and he was super active!
He also had 8 teeth when we got him; at supposedly 8 months old. When I brought him to the dentist about 6 months after we brought him home, the dentist was extremely surprised at how many teeth N already had at that point!
So these things along with a few others make us believe his official birthday is not his actual birthday.
A few interesting points: In Ethiopia, birthdays are not considered nearly as important as they are here in the U.S. Many adults there don't know their exact birthday. Also, people living in abject poverty (which N's birth family certainly was) are not usually going to be as concerned with dates and such as others might be. It is hard to keep track of days and time when you are daily struggling just to survive.
Another big factor is that Ethiopia uses a different calendar than we do, making it more difficult to nail down exact dates.
Many other adoptive families have also experienced this with their children; especially older children may be one, two, or more years older than originally thought. In the grand scheme of things, a few months doesn't make much difference at all. But it's one more thing N will have to process as he gets older. One more thing he won't know about his past.
So next week we will celebrate N's birthday. We will have cake, candles, ice cream, balloons and presents. N is quite obsessed with candles and cake lately, so I know he'll be super excited! :) But in the back of my mind I can't help but wonder, "When did you really turn two?"