Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Thoughts on Birth Order and Child Spacing in Adoption
I wanted to address kate's comment :

"I am wondering why so many agencies discourage out-of-birth-order adoption. All anyone says is that it's not a good idea. WHY is it not a good idea? What if a family has a big gap? Does that make a difference?"

I think the idea behind adopting a child that is younger than your other children may be because the youngest children in the family usually need and receive the most attention from the parents, since adopted kids are usually very needy (whether they appear to be or not) it might be difficult to also care for the children who are younger than them. In some respects, this coincides with adopting a very young child. Thus allowing the parents to go through each developmental stage with the child as they grow. I think it is seen as the natural order of things. When parents have bio children the new child is always the youngest. It is understood and expected that this child will get the most attention due to their young age.

However, I know that there are many families who have successfully adopted older children out of birth order. I think that each child and each family is different. I am in no way advocating or condemning older child or out of birth order adoptions. I am just explaining why I think adoption agencies tend to discourage out of birth order adoptions.

There are a lot of older children out there that would never get adopted if preadoptive parents put too much emphasis on the birth order issue. I think it is more important that these kids get families than whether or not they join a family at the end or the middle.

I would be happy to hear from any of you on what your views are on this issue.

I was also thinking more about my post "Should You Adopt If You Have Young Children?". Tonya's comment made me think more about this:

"In our case (we had a 9,7,5 and 3 year old at the time of our 22 month old's adoption) it was a HUGE help, not a hinderance at all. Lyra adapted amazingly quickly to family life and strongly and truly attached to us all pretty much right away. I think having so many small kids in the house made her feel very comfortable and very much a part of the group. She is constantly talking about "my fam-il-lee" and naming us all and talking about how much we all love each other. It is very cute. I love having all my kids close in age. They have a lot of fun together. I would do the same thing over again in a heartbeat."

In this case, her children were young, but not younger than her adopted daughter. I think if Tonya had also had a 6 month old, it might have been a more difficult transition. However, it seemed to be great for her daughter to have siblings close in age to her. I was thinking that it was good for Piney that her older brother's (age 9, 13, 15) were not needing a lot of extra attention due to their older age, but on the other hand she doesn't have anyone close to her age to play with.

My oldest two boys were 18 months apart and they played together all the time and really enjoyed having a brother so close in age. However, they also fought all the time (he hit me, he took my toy, he won't play my game, etc.). After having my third son 4 years later I decided that it was easier for the mom to have a big age gap, but more fun for the kids to be closer in age.

I grew up with a sister 18 months older than me, a brother 2 years younger and another brother 18 months younger than him. We were very close in age, and we had a blast with all of our games and fort building and outside play. I think it was hard for my mom (especially since she went on to having several more children after that), but she wouldn't have had it any other way.

I think it is great to have siblings close together if the mom (and dad) don't mind the extra work involved and have a lot of support. These types of families can have a lot of fun together and be really close.

If there is a large age gap between siblings, they can still interact, it is just a different kind of interaction. I think it requires the parents to be more active in setting up play dates and even bringing friends along on vacations, so they can form good relationships with kids close to their children's ages.

There are successful families of all shapes, sizes and arrangements. I think what matters most is the commitment to the family and putting the family first.

What do you think?

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3 Comments:
Blogger Rachael said...
We met a lot of resistance from agencies and social workers when we first explored adopting an older child, out of birth order. The first agency we wanted to use wouldn't even allow it!

Here was our reasoning: we were passionate about wanting to adopt an older child (6-8 age range was what we ultimately settled on) AND we didn't want to wait to adopt that older child until our youngest was older because we wanted the kids to share some sibling history and grow up together. If we'd waited until Ben was was 9 or 10, our oldest would be 16 or 17.

I can understand how it would not be a good idea in all situations, certainly I agree that the adopted child does seem to get the most attention initially and that is an interesting dynamic when they are not "the baby", but it CAN work. You just have to know your family and your children's personalities and what your expectations are and what you and they can handle. It has worked pretty much seemlessly for us!

Blogger Tonya said...
Yes, if Tonya had had a 6 month old, it WOULD have been a more difficult transition:):):). I carried Lyra around tons when she first came home. She lived on my hip or the kitchen counter if I was working in there. Newly adopted children do need lots of attention (of the right kind), but I have heard of people adopting toddlers with a baby in the house and it works out fine. Some moms are great at that kind of thing.

One of the great things about having 3 year old Solomon in the house upon Lyra's arrival was that she was his sister in every sense of the word from day one. While the other 3 boys wanted to baby her and spoil her, she got no special treatment or sympathy from Solomon. With him, it was just "Hey Sister! Let's go play", and she was one of the gang. It was so good for her! They are still best buddies and they play delightfully and argue terribly just like they have done from her first day home. He also thought that all babies came from Ukraine, including him. I had to set him straight on that one and he argued with me about it like I was crazy (of COURSE babies come from NewKraine, Mom!)

Blogger nates5bs said...
I agree with Tonya. Having all of my kids close in age and having them here waiting for their new sister was the biggest blessing. They had waited for her for 2 1/2 years and were elated she was finally here. I think she has transitioned easily into our family because she was used to her groupa. This feels like this is another groupa since there are plenty of other kids around.

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