Saturday, October 1, 2011

Adopting Out of Birth Order

Many agencies don't allow it. Some require intensive training. A few require the request of a waiver to adopt out of birth order.

Do we agree with these policies? Yes and No...clear as mud, right?

We do believe that "out of birth order" adoption should be allowed.

We just can't see ourselves saying, "God led you to your child, but that's not good enough."
Side Note: We understand the thought process behind the rule and do not believe for a second there's any malice or unkindness (only thoughts of protection) behind it.
Now the intensive training some agencies require, THAT we can get behind. We've seen the devastating consequences of a family not being prepared. The worst case scenario DID happen.

There are often a few main reasons that agencies will give a big "X" to the thought of adopting out of birth order. We've sat down and thought a lot about these things recently since our newest blessing is not coming home in birth order.
Reason #1: Our children had lives before us. Abuse (sexual/physical/emotional) may have taken place. Records we receive as adoptive parents are not all inclusive. Sometimes events are left out because the knowledge isn't there. Sometimes they are left out purposely. Not every abuse leaves a mark. Even a doctor may not be able to tell initially.

Unfortunately, abuse is sometimes the only thing a child knows. It may have been done in secret (thus teaching them to do it in secret).

Many children from hard places will try to exert their control in a world that is new and seems out of control. The abused child may become the abuser. These children are hurt. They are precious, but have been taught no different.

It doesn't matter if we think, "It can't happen to us"...because denial doesn't equal reality. We've known it to happen. This IS the worst case scenario. A family torn apart after they discovered that their other children (bio and adopted) had been terrorized and horribly, nightmarishly abused by a newly home child. This is all the child knew.

Even knowing this, we (as NON professionals) do have some issues with this reason for not allowing out of birth order adoptions.
*Age does not determine size. A younger child may be larger than an older. A younger child may be more aggressive or manipulative than the older. They have often suffered the ravages of the world to a MUCH greater degree. Two of our children, two years apart, are almost the exact same size with the younger being a little taller.
*The horror can occur whether you are adopting in birth order or out of birth order. Birth order doesn't seem to be a determining factor in the knowledge of what trauma our children have been through.
We AGREE with the concern. We think parents need to recognize that we can believe in our kids, but understand and prepare to get the help our children may need and face the reality that they had a life before us. We also think that these kids are precious gifts from God and worth the fight.

Alarms on the doors, co-sleeping in a bed in your room, no alone time until you can see the behavior is not coming up, talking with ALL your children intensively before the home coming, counseling/therapy...these are just a handful of suggestions/ideas to protect ALL your children INCLUDING your new child who may need to be protected from themselves. We are not professionals and these ideas are just a start.

Reason #2: All children need to be the baby at some point.

With approximately 147,000,000 orphans in this world, not enough families are answering the call. There are not enough arms to be snuggling in when night terrors come. There are not enough parents out there to say, "We will fight for your spirit and through your brokenness. We will do everything THAT WE CAN DO to show you that you are worthwhile."

Not only that, but when God leads you to your child...they are YOUR child.

There are a lot of things that "should be", but I would like to make a couple statements below to say instead of "all children need to be the baby at some point".
Every child deserves a family.
Every child deserves love.

These children have had their lives altered already from what "should be". We can't change all of that. There is no going back. We need to focus on the fact that "love" and "family" (and that we all now are one) is what IS and go from there.

After being a parent for a little while, I've learned that all my children need to be the baby, BUT that doesn't necessarily mean they have to be the youngest. We, as parents, have to make the effort to give our newest family members the time to feel cherished and unique. We must go above and beyond to form the attachments that should have come at a younger age.

So, the baby issue? Very truthfully, not to be ugly, is a nonexistent issue for us. Prepare? Yes. Love? Yes. But if being the baby in the family is the criteria, then I think that many families would lose out on the blessing God has intended for them.
Reason #3: A child will be displaced in the birth order of your family.

Every time a child is born, the youngest child is displaced. The youngest child, who is not mature enough to understand, is displaced. Did I mention my oldest didn't talk to me for 24 hours when his little sister was born (yes, it was a little funny). Our daughter Anna played with her new little Russian brother in the orphanage and after an hour looked at us and asked if we could give him back now.

I have heard some rough stories of transitioning when a little one comes home. Several friend's children acted up CONSTANTLY when their siblings were born, wanting more attention and doing whatever they could to get it.

Displacement happens.

Yes, sometimes it may be difficult for an older/middle child (after all, they've had their position longer), but they ARE old enough to have many discussions BEFORE the fact and many afterwards. It can be hard, but then life can be
hard. I think somewhere down the line we stopped giving our children credit. We stopped expecting our kids to use self control, to talk to us, to share when they are struggling (this is talking about children that have the solid foundation). They won't come to us every time (just as we don't). They may turn to God (hopefully this is done first even).

Yes, we have to be open and approachable. We have to talk and share the possible struggles. Yet, just as with any major transition, it can be done and HAS been done successfully.

Just because things may be hard, does NOT mean they are not worth it. Through some of the greatest trials, come the greatest triumphs.
The issue of adopting out of birth order is not an issue of "doable". It is an issue, as with anything, of following God. When you follow God, all things are possible. "Doable" pales in comparison.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans8:28


  1. I love this post, Kat! You have given me much to think about. Thank you

  2. A really well thought out post. We adopted out of birth order and also artificially twinned and tripletted our kids, which is also quite controversial in the adoption world. It has gone well for us (after an initial adjustment period of course), but I know that is not the case for everyone, but I agree that ultimately, God chooses our children.


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