Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Early tooth development in African kiddos

Head over to TEAM SULLIVAN for some interesting thoughts on African kids and tooth development.

It's no secret that a lot of kids being adopted from the continent of Africa are older than what is reported on their birth certificates. There are LOTS of reasons for that. I never gave much thought to how difficult it was to determine age until I was involved in "deciding" an age for a child. It's complicated stuff. And sometimes, despite best efforts, a child can appear to be one age and after six months on American diet appear to be 5 years older!

Over the past several years I've encountered lots of families who, after visiting the American dentist, feel their child is several years older than reported. In some of those cases I've known the kids and felt so strongly that it was the dentist that was off. Seems that there might be some truth to that, at least sometimes.

I've never been in a position where I had to wonder if my own kids' birth dates were off (at least not more than a few months). After seeing so many families try to figure it out it seems to me that the key thing is not to let just ONE factor decide an age. Not dental. Not bone density. Not emotional or behavioral. Not what the kid says (what kid doesn't want to be older than they are?!). And not size. Put it all together and do the best you can. Unfortunately, for some kids, we'll just never know exactly how old they are.



Rachel 9:03 PM  

Thanks for sharing this. We decided to move Chief's birthday back by one year based on his growth, a wrist x-ray and his maturity level. But, the dentist had told us that the birthdate given in Liberia was accurate based on his teeth. I've always wondered how that could be since we feel pretty confident about the date change. Now I have some research to back up my "gut feeling" about the whole thing. :) Not that anyone really cares - they've always just taken our word for it thankfully.