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Correcting wrong birth dates in foreign adoptions

In a case with implications for adoptive families in Colorado, one couple was supposedly bringing home a 4-year-old girl from Ethiopia. However, the reality was much different for the Philadelphia couple when the girl herself reported that she was 7. Dental exams and a bone test confirmed the results. Proper care, including food and health, resulted in her tripling in size. However, her birth date needed correcting.

A measure before President Barack Obama would force adoption agencies to use accurate birth dates for children. A New Jersey lawyer with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys is seeking the changes with bipartisan support. The legislation is now waiting the president's approval.

The inconsistencies in birth dates that differ by as much as three years can create problems. In another Philadelphia case, a woman adopted two sisters from Haiti and was told the oldest was 3 years old although she thought her daughter was tall for her age and talkative. The social worker visited the girls once a quarter until the paperwork was finalized, when she found out her daughter was a year older than initially reported. She isn't sure how that will impact the girl, especially related to school. The girl should be starting kindergarten, but she is not sure if that will happen because of the mistaken birth date.

The new law will address this type of issue. Right now, people in this type of situation may wish to contact an adoption lawyer. Although state agencies will accept information and amend records, federal agencies will not. Conflicting birth dates can cause problems for the affected parties.

Correcting an inaccurate birthdate after a foreign adoption can prove challenging. A family law attorney might be able to help clients who are trying to straighten out adoption-related matters in addition to drafting important documents and representing individuals in divorce proceedings.

Source: USA Today, "Law aims to address adoptees' birth date problems", Kim Mulford, January 14, 2014

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