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Adopting out of birth order

I’m curious about people’s experiences adopting out of birth order. We have one beautiful little girl, almost 3.5, whom joined our family at 14.5 months. We had had planned on adopting again but had thought we would maintain birth order and have DD become a big sister. Today we were contacted by DD’s case worker to see if we’d consider adopting a 5 year old girl. It wasn’t the original plan but we are open to it, I’m just wondering what, if any, issues it could cause for our daughter. I know this sounds silly, but things like sharing. Like all the large gifts she received from Santa, grandparents etc, things like a play kitchen, trampoline, TeePee etc, the type of thing we wouldn’t get another and have one for each child. I feel like it would be different when a baby or younger one came along than an older sibling who you suddenly have to share all your possessions with. And how might it effect the 5 year old as well. Any insight appreciated!


Our daughter is 5, placed with us at 3. We’re in the proces of adopting a second child, and will adopt a child older than her. Our agency and her counselor agree that she “mothers” younger kids, and it’s important for her to just BE a kid.

Posted by gocode03 on Aug 23, 2017 at 4:28am

Unless there is a specific history like gocode’s that makes out of order adoption workable, most experts frown on the practice. For your child adopted at 1 and now well established at 3 and a half, I think it’s a very bad idea.  If you had other children or multiples, it might be different. Your daughter will feel displaced, and most likely betrayed, and it may forever alter her behavior. Instead of being the big sister, the helper, with all the positive bonding and maturing that goes with it, she will suddenly be lessor, and all those first child privileges will evaporate. The next question you have to ask yourself, is what will their relationship be like as adults? Will the five year old develop the same bond when the relationship starts years late? WIll your daughter accept the displacement, or fight her suddenly subservient position every step of the way?
Please talk to a few professionals before making your decision. Best wishes!

Posted by hdctx on Aug 23, 2017 at 5:19am

I tend to suspect the previous posters both have good points. I also wonder about the adjustments hdctx mentions.

However, I would talk to the adoption worker and ask, is there a specific reason they are soliciting an out of order adoption. Is there a problem placing the older child and why?

I know 5 is on the end where they are harder to place, even if there is no problem, but I wonder why the child wasn’t placed before.

The flip side is, will a child not have a family because she has “aged out” of the desirable range?

Or is it just that they don’t have that many children available?

Tough decision, so I say ask more questions.

Posted by Bob Klahn on Sep 01, 2017 at 6:17pm

I don’t have experience with this but here’s my thought.
In general, yes, the adoption community/professionals do tend to frown upon this. However, I am a firm believer it just depends on each unique situation and the kids involved. I know a family who adopted out of birth order and it was greatly successful (child in home was a 2).  I also know of a family who adopted very close in age to other child and they struggled a lot at the beginning.
Some things to consider:
1) Did your child have older birth/foster siblings she was with prior to you?
2) Does your daughter enjoy being around older kids. Does she take to them “bossing her around”/ play well.
3) Personality of 5 year old and her birth order in previous family.

In regards to the sharing, I wouldn’t worry too heavily on that. If you adopted a 2 1/2 year old tomorrow you’d be in birth order but also have to immediately deal with all the sharing.

Good luck. And I also think knowledge is power so good for you trying to gather info on it ahead of time. And yes definitely talk to the 5 year olds case worker for insight and opinion.

Posted by momma21 on Sep 01, 2017 at 8:38pm

I think we are leaning towards not going in this direction. It will be a while for TPR, but our daughter has a strong first/only child personality and I worry about how it may affect her.
As far as why we were contacted about an out of order placement…TPR hasn’t happened yet and the adult daughter (and her husband) of the 5yo’s foster family is interested in adopting her once TPR happens. However, the little girl is Native American, due to ICWA, they first have to try to place her with an Indian family. The 5yo has no bio siblings but has been in foster homes with both older and younger children. She was removed from her last placement because the foster mother got into an abusive relationship.
Our daughter has 3 older bio brothers that were placed together before she was born. That family was unable to take our daughter because aside from her 3 brothers, they have another adopted boy, plus 2 bio children in the home and another grown and they care for their grand child.  They felt maxed out on resources. We send photos and videos but she only met them once as a baby. We hope to road trip out to where they are next summer so they can spend some time together. As far as her history, she went straight from the NICU to her foster home. They had two bio daughters, one in college that was there part of the time and another that was a senior in high school. Part of the time she was there a 4 year old girl was as well, but she came to us at 14 mos and has now been with us over two years, she was so young I don’t think she relates to that time very much even though we talk about it.

Posted by thegoldings on Sep 02, 2017 at 4:01am

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