Like many families adopting from Ethiopia, we don't know when our sons' birthdays are. On paper A turned six this summer, but he is likely older. On paper D turned five this summer, but he is likely younger. The pediatrician and the dentist both thought their legal birthdays were off by a bit, but by less than one year. So we decided to celebrate A's birthday six months early, and D's birthday six months late. This will make them be two years apart instead of one (anyone who has seen them can tell you that they are at least two years apart). We are keeping their legal birth dates, at least for now, because changing them by less than a year would be hard, and would require letters that their health care providers would be reluctant to write. But we are now referring to A as seven years old, and to D as almost-five years old. The boys know that their "important papers" list their birthdays in the summer but they know that their papers are not accurate.
We celebrated A's birthday this month. What was going to be a small celebration ended up growing to 19 kids and their accompanying adults in our little house, and this was with no school friends here. We invited the kids from our street and from the park, our usual playdate friends E, J, and M, and friends from the Ethiopian church. It was a lot of fun. The kids played, we had pizza, there was a treasure hunt, and there was cake. Simple and happy. A loved it.
D had a hard time both with the attention A was getting and with all the noise and people. His birthday celebration will be much smaller.