It has "always" been said and we have been "taught", most believe and everyone "accepts" that the adopted child should be the youngest in the home. First lets look at some other things that we were taught, many believed, and what has been accepted as fact in the past.
myth 1: there are no homes for children with severe disabilities, they are unadoptable
myth 2: sibling groups have to be split up to be adoptable
myth 3: There are no homes for children over age 8, children over 12 go into long term foster care because there is no hope of adoption
myth 4: 40 years ago children born out of wedlock were thought to be tainted goods and many would not adopt them
myth 5: it is better for children to stay in foster care than be adopted by a loving family not of their race
Now myth 5 I had personal experience with. I fostered a child from one day old to nine months old when he was moved to a legal risk racially correct adoptive family. I agreed with this at the time because it was what I was "taught", what the "experts" told me, what older adoptive parents told me. I will post another thread about just how wrong this decision turned out to be for this defenseless baby and what happened to him in the system from that point on.
I think birth order adoptions is a myth as well. I understand adopting out of birth order takes more work. It takes more preparation. It takes special parents and special bio/adoptive children. It takes caseworkers that will be up front if there are any behaviors that could be dangerous to younger children. It takes being able to talk to the foster parents, counselors, and teachers of the incoming child. It takes strong families that know themselves and know what they can bring to the adoption.
Special needs adoptive parents aren't your "average" parents. They are willing to go that extra mile for their child. Sometimes the extra 30 miles without sleep for him/her. They adopt the children that will never speak their first word. The child that will never dress himself. The total care child. Some are good with MMR, autism, ADHD, ODD, or RADD. Some will take children that are dying.
Adopting out of birth order is just another special need to be considered. Some adoptive parents can do it. Some will choose to do it. One more child will have a forever family. One less child will go to sleep that night thinking he is not wanted.
I would no more try to tell a future adoptive parent not to adopt out of birth order than I would tell them not to adopt out of race because it comes with baggage. Or not to adopt a Down's syndrome child because of the challenges that will come along with the adoption. Adopting an autistic child (to me) would be 10 times as challenging as just going out of birth order. But many people adopt autistic children and are ecstatic over their adoptions.
Adopting out of birth order is not right for some families. Adopting siblings is not right for others. Adopting out of race is not something some familes would even consider. But I have seen families adopt every one of the special needs I listed above and many I didn't list, sometimes 4 or 5 different ones in the same adoptive family. These adoptions worked.
Adopting out of birth order can be done and done well. You would not adopt and bring home a child with sicle cell anemia without doing research on the best ways to work with that child when he is in home. You would prepare your other children for the extra time that the child would take, and you would prepare yourself and your family emotionally for the jealousy that might come when that child was sick and needed extra time. Adopting out of birth order should be treated the same way. With knowledge of possible effects and preparation of the entire family. Knowing in advance that it won't be easy but that it can be done.
I know most on the board don't agree with me on this. I feel strongly about this because I imagine one particular child out there. One waiting for a family. One deserving a family. One child not getting a family because 5,000 familes are all sending in their inquiries in on the under 5 year old children. The familes are waiting years to adopt because they were advised over and over not to adopt out of birth order. The families get frustrated and either drop out of the adoption process, go overseas, or go to a private agency paying $30,000 or more. Meanwhile, the first child just gets older and older in care, going to bed every night thinking no one ever wanted him.
Originally Posted By louise speak with wisdom. I happen to agree with you. Every single adoption experience is so individual. When an opinion is sought [e.g. out of birth order adoption] it is a challenge to share thoughts without imposing one's own ideals. We have adopted out of birth order and for us it has worked. We did not consider adopting a child older than our oldest, in great part, because of her particular personality. Our twins, whose birth order did become disrupted, are much more flexible. This, in part, is due to them being twins and always understanding the need to share. Even with our latest addition, a 7yo, the oldest took some time to warm up and the twins went with the flow. Every situation is so personal and needs heart searching for the family in question. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Fondly, Louise.
Originally Posted By Pam
are going to really have a hard time with being upsurged as not only the "only" status, but the oldest status. It isn't the same trauma to be "upsurged" as the youngest because the younger child often/usually adores the older/only child. I'm talking about ONLY children here, who are used to being the only and the best, and I never cared much for theory or what we were "taught" (we adopted transracially and didn't bat an eye about it). I'm going by personal experience coupled with what dozens of couples have told me throughout the years. Once our family grew, we upsurged the birth order of our k ids twice (but always the middle kids) without the age factor being a problem. The oldest/only kid has a special spot in the family and isn't always happy about the older kid suddenly bossing him around (and they do try to do it, whether or not you try to stop them). I would definitely adopt an older child. I would adopt transracially (and have). I would adopt out of order with my middle kids and I wouldn't worry too much about adopting a younger child than my baby (because younger children usually look up to their older siblings, giving everyone an ego boost). I just would never upsurge the birth order of an only child. I've heard too much thru my 16 years of doing it ourselves, talking to people who've adopted, and going to Special Needs adoption groups. It wasn't what we were "taught"'s what we learned thru often grim experience. You can not destroy your own children because other children wait...there are people who want those older kids. Only children are particularly vulnerable to birth order switches. If there are already 7 kids in the family, I don't think it matter so much if number 5 is bumped down to number 6. But only children are different...they just are. A lot of people, and we were one of them, would take a chance with only children, to get a placement. It takes longer to adopt a younger child. Ours was almost six when we got our first adoptive child. We didn't want to wait forever so we said we'd consider any age up to 10. Now, in retrospect, we know it would have been best to wait longer and to adopt a younger sibling. Again, people will do what they want to do, and will disregard advice, as we disregarded it. But I wish we hadn't. To this day, that is the one big mistake we feel we made when we adopted. ONLY children are different. And, because I've heard so many horror stories about children who have sexually abused other kids in the home, I would be VERY careful about the older child you bring into the house if the child is older than ANY of your other kids. That is about the saddest scenerio that can happen...nobody wins....none of the kids or the parents and disruption is the usual consequence. A quick story about a very experienced adoptive family in Illinois: They had adopted nine children with various physical handicaps when one of the children's birth brothers became freed for adoption. The family met him and he begged to be adopted, came home, and acted like the perfect child. ABout six months later they found him sexually abusing one of their children who could not talk or walk. THe child told the social worker that he hadn't done anything and that his adoptive father had abused HIM. This lead to all the kids being removed and an investigation that went on for a year. Extreme? Not that extreme. Be careful with older kids. Don't put more on your kids than they can handle. Don't bring kids into your home that your ot her kids can not defend themselves against. It turned out that this child had abused all the kids in that home, and the family couldn't get their kids back for a year....I wish it was the only time I've heard this sort of story. Take care and be cautious :)
I agree that ANY type of a special needs adoption has its pros and cons for each family. I don't believe that an only child is doomed if you adopt an older child, anymore than I believe that all children should be place in a family of the same race as the child. Each family is different in regards to the issues that they feel comfortable dealing with. Our family wouldn't adopt a child diagnosed with FAS or RAD, but I would never tell another family not to adopt these kids. Yes these kids come with many more challenges, but there are families (thank goodness) that work beautifully with these children and it works for them. There are just no set "rules" when it comes to special needs adoptions.
Just my .02
Once again, we adopted out of the birth order - with a BOY older than every other kid in our house... age-wise, at least. Maturity-wise... That's a different story. Demario is about 6 years old when it comes to maturity.
This adoption has been absolutely one of the hardest things we've done in our life. That has nothing to do with birth-order, but with the sheer dynamics of older child adoption. We are NOT a "normal family," we are NOT the same people as we were a month and a half ago. It's changed everything and everyone. The amount of work involved is staggering...
BUT... things are going extremely well. Each day, there is progress... Even as we grapple with deciding who we are now as a family, and are STILL trying to figure out who exactly this little boy is... things are going well. Even my other children would say that it's all worth it. There's no one in the world we'd rather be doing this for than this one little boy who is 6 months to eight years older than his younger sisters.
Yes, we were selective about who we brought home. It was actually PAM who suggested we call and inquire about Demario, and Pam saw his file before we did. There is no history of sexual acting out with Demario... and she can tell you that too. Does that mean that we can just sit back and let that issue go? No. Not ever. Discussions of "good touches and bad touches" have become common-place with my girls. I've talked to the older two about it to the point that they feel comfortable talking about it with me (that was the goal... reached with much nervous giggling) and will continue to talk to them about it for the rest of their lives or until they at least reach adulthood. I think it's probably a good thing to talk about with ANY child, even if you aren't adopting, because you never know when someone's going to find themself in a "bad touch" situation. The baby is NOT left unsupervised with Demario. He isn't allowed in the girl's room without permission, without BOTH older girls being there, and the door is never shut when he's in there. Nor are they allowed in his room under those conditions. Outside play is done within sight of my husband and I.
And this vigilance has to continue. I will have one boy and two girls going through puberty at the same time. I realize that temptations increase, along with hormone levels... Sexual interests/ questions arise. The vigilance has to continue.
BUT, if vigilance and work that is so emotionally draining that it leaves you bone-weary at the end of each day doesn't scare you off... Then keep an open mind about adopting an older child. Even with an only. Is life so fragile that one's LIFE could be RUINED by the disruption of the birth order?? I think not. Yes, I think it's a hard adjustment to make. Yes, I think older adoption changes the ENTIRE dynamic of the family and all the members of it.
But is life such a fragile thing that it can't stand change? And is the change that comes from modifying your life in order to include someone else in it necessarily a BAD thing? I'm certainly not arguing with my good friend Pam about this... I simply have a different point of view.
Originally Posted By louise
This is one of the best discussions I've encountered on this subject. Thoughtful, respectful and very helpful. It seems to me that there are no 'right' answers only suggestions to think about. I too worry about the child that waits for a forever family. It boils down to how much risk are you willing to take. Are you willing to do the kind of vigilant parenting Susan talked about? The bone weary fatigue at the end of the day can takes it's toll after a number of years. We did adopt those risky kids out of birth order. They have the sexual abuse history and plenty of behavioral issues. and across racial lines. We broke all the 'rules' and, even though it is the bone weary kind of parenting, I have no regrets. Thanks for letting me share.
Originally Posted By barki
I keep thinking of this little 16 year old (ok BIG 16 yo) girl who would like an adoptive family. I hate reading those bios...but I digress. I've talked with my dh about considering an adoption of this older girl. We don't have a bedroom for her alone, she would have to share with an 8 yo. We don't have experience parenting teens, other than exposure to the teen nieces and nephews, which has consisted of mostly dodging out the door when the fur starts to fly! lol
When our son's adoption is finalized (in the year 3004 at last estimate) I would like to inquire about her. If she's willing to move a few states away, if she is really good with younger children and doesn't mind really younger siblings, if they'd consider having her share a room, if....
Any CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM? I think we may be able to have a seperate room for her in time, but not for a few months. I've not seen any paperwork on her, but we'd be VERY up front about what we could and could not handle. And it would also hinge on her willingness to consider this, as well.
I don't think it would hurt one bit to make an inquiry on this girl. Get some of your questions answered. If it sounds good at that point and her worker is open to considering you as a potential placement for her, see if you could meet her, have a candid discussion with her, let her know what life would be like in your home. She what she thinks of the idea.
You've had some experience with teenagers... YOU were a teenager at one point weren't you? It's a quirky time... a teen has this idealistic view of themselves as adults yet they are still children. Remember? It would be a hard adjustment... extremely hard... but if you feel yourself led in the direction of this girl, then why not at least make a call and inquire?
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
God bless,
But seriously, some people may think that I am too much of an idealist, but I think that you have to be to some degree to go down this path that we do. My opinion is to get as much information as possible, look at the situation from all angles, and then make an informed decision. Of course there are no guarantees (I know, big shock there, huh?) but there are also no guarantees that an adopted baby won't burn the house down on their 6th birthday. It's okay to follow your heart as long as you do your homework too. By the way, this "little" girl isn't by chance in Tenn. is she?
Originally Posted By Jerry
I'd be cautious with a placement of a teen with your younger kids. Teens can be great fun and at the same time can put you through a lot of grief!!!LOL!! If you have a teen that is secure (good self esteem, is comfortable with you and hubby as mom and dad) then the problems can be worked out.
If not.......then you're going to have problems. First, there will be the "pecking order" to deal will your 8 yo take to a new big sister? If she does idolize her big sister, will big sister be the right role model. If she's been in foster care for any length of time and particularly if she's been in a group home she'll, at the very least, have been exposed to the survival mind set of the biggest, strongest and smartest get what they want. Then there's the issue of independence and monitoring. A child's willingness to be monitored (where they are and what they're doing) is directly related to their attachment to their parent's.........and as the leg bone is connected to the thigh bone.....their willingness to attach to you is related to their acceptance of you as their parent and so forth (if they've accepted the loss of their bio parent's, and any subseuent foster parent's). You have to consider that you won't have all that much time with them if they're older, and some attachments take longer than other's.
Then there's the needs of a teen as opposed to the needs of young children. Your time and attention with your toddler and 8 year old are different. Somewhere along the negativity path that teens take from time to time will she see her place in your home as just a babysitter. She could very well adore young children, but most likely her struggle for independence has lead her to push away from family. At the very least she will feel obligated to show her superiority to the younger kids in some way. That of course is manageable, if you're prepared to deal with it.
This brief soap box outing is not to say that such a placement is impossible or wouldn't work out. I would empasise that it depends on the teen. We still think about the first placement we tried to get. She was a 17 year old girl who's parent's had been killed in an auto accident, and her only living relative didn't want her. She was a great kid who had experienced tremendous loss in her life. Our homestudy wasn't complete and by the time her caseworker got back to us she felt there was little hope she could ever be placed with a family. She had become severely depressed and was regressing (behaviorly with "baby talk" and so forth) seeking attention and someone to attach too. The caseworker let us know some time later that she had been instituionalized, with no hope of placement. Even though we offered to work with her, regardless of when she turned 18 or not.