“Birth Order” and Adopting a Child: Why It Didn’t Affect Our Adoption

I came from a large family and knew that someday I would be married with many children of my own. It was just the way life would be for me. Not something I had to think about or decide upon . . . just the way it is. But as we all know, life doesn’t often follow the carefully laid plans we make. There are bumps and turns, jogs and twists all along the way which lead us to a life very different than what we always imagined.

Infertility demanded that my husband and I refocus, redirect, remake, and rearrange our lives. Early in our infertility inferno we talked about adoption. But we settled on that no more definitely than we settled on “Which is better—chick flicks or war movies?” And so, at the time, no decision was our decision. We continued to bumble along for years, up and down the roller coaster of hopeful parenthood. When at last our second child was 4 and we were still trying for more, we readdressed the thought of adoption. But it seemed so out of reach, as we lived on a tiny island where the culture demanded extended family keep children who otherwise would be placed. For both of us, though, the ache to hold a baby, rock a child, share our lives with another little one—it didn’t go away. We just knew there was another little baby for us. And so we decided we would foster babies, giving them a good start in life, until we could again conceive. Our motives were selfish at the time. We weren’t thinking about the children who needed loving homes while their parents got it together . . .  we were simply filling our need to fill our home. Oh. And we knew. We just knew it was the right thing for us to do.

The process to foster on the island of Guam is like anywhere else—paperwork, background checks, home visits, training. When once we had completed the requirements and were handing everything in, our social worker asked if perhaps we might want to hand in an adoption application along with everything else. “Of course, there hasn’t been an adoption outside of family members in a dozen years, but since you’ve completed everything—you might as well, right?” And so we did. And so it happened. Our little boy, four years younger than our youngest, was placed in our home as an infant foster child. Following what we knew was the right thing at the right time for us led to an unexpected life-changing, family-changing event. Two years later the adoption papers were signed and Bryan legally became our child. In the meantime, his sister was born. And three years later, another followed. This put our adopted child smack in the middle of our biological children. In our situation, birth order and adoption didn’t matter. Bryan was meant to be ours, and our biological children were meant to be ours. How each came to us only mattered in the sense that we learned and grew from each experience. Otherwise, adopted or biological—it was and is inconsequential. Our children are our children. We are their parents. Our family is a unit that will be bonded forever by love.