Today I want to chat a bit about birth order. Lots of people that read this blog are just now starting to embark on their adoption journey. Remember that? It was only a year ago for me. There are so many questions... How many? Which country? How old? What agency? Yikes. It's overwhelming making some of those decisions. Initially we just sort of felt our way around. We felt drawn to two older girls that we saw on someone's blog. When you see their faces and hear their stories it's so easy to try and find a way to give that child a home and that's what we wanted to do. Give two (almost) teenaged girls a home. And with the purest heart and best of intentions we set out to do that. We quickly discovered one million roadblocks. Besides many practical, logistical problems, once we were assigned a social worker she pointed out that that age was probably not a good fit for our family that already includes two little ones (3 and 6). We didn't care. She was adamant. That happens sometimes, and you have to find a way to agree and work together.
I want to tell you guys a little bit about what to expect in those first meetings with your social worker and some things to consider before you go in. Here is one rule of thumb: You do not break birth order. You adopt at least one year younger than your youngest. That's the rule. The main reason is that certain rights and treatments are given to children based on the order that they were born. Dethroning your oldest might upset the vibes in your house. And truly, this is the popular and accepted rule among authorities, some social workers being more stickler-ish than others about it.
But we all know that some rules are made to be broken. So let's explore that.
My problem with the rule is that older kids aren't being adopted. If you look on the waiting child list at your agency you will not find an infant or toddler on that list. There is a wait list a mile long for those kids (and I'm super glad for it). But my heart does bleed for the older ones. Meaning 4 and older. Our social worker strongly advised that we adopt a year younger than our youngest, which would put us in the 0-2 year old line. It's a very long line, and I was selfishly hoping to skip those years anyway (been there, done that, not a fan). So we've decided to stay younger than our oldest since he does value his place as oldest, but we're not limiting ourselves to staying younger than Abby. There is a possibility of artificially twinning Abby, as well (another no-no), but we'll explore that topic in another post.
I'm feeling ok about breaking the rule because of an argument that I heard from a leading adoption specialist and counselor, Arleta James, in her presentation on Adoption Learning Partners webinar, Brothers and Sisters in Adoption. She had lots of interesting things to say on the subject of breaking birth order, and ultimately said that she didn't think that it was much of a big deal. Birth order is more fluid these days as families blend through marriage as well, so it's something that lots of families are going through. Also, she pointed out that rights and responsibilities, rewards and consequences should be given out based on maturity and not age. Not to mention that adopted kids may have younger emotional ages than chronological ages, so that sort of skews things to. I agree with all her points, so I'm cool with it.
We felt strongly that we wanted to adopt a child that might otherwise have a hard time finding a family. That's not true for everyone at all. I think God calls us all to be open to different scenarios. But today I just wanted to throw a few thoughts into the mix in case breaking birth order is an obstacle for you in adopting the child that you feel is on your heart. Just something to think about as you're making some of those early decisions.
Now, I'm totally not a fan of debates. Not my thing. You guys all know where I stand for my family, and every family is so unique, so there's no judgement from me in a different choice. But in the interest of fully informing our friends at the beginning stages of what to expect, let's share a little today. Really really nicely, because we're totally a snuggly family here. But I want to know... are you breaking birth order with your adoption? And why did you decide that?