Q: We have 3 children by birth and want to adopt a child that really needs a home. Given our kids' ages, this will probably mean that we will disrupt the birth order of at least some of our kids. The agency we have talked with is definitely against this idea. Is this something that is harmful to kids?
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Dawn Davenport 0:00
Welcome everyone to Weekend Wisdom by Creating a Family. Creating a Family is a national support and training nonprofit for foster adoptive and kinship families. This segment is part of the creating a family podcast. Each Sunday morning, we dropped this short segment which is answering a question that we receive. And just a shout out, you can submit your own questions that you would like us to answer to address to info at creating a family.org just put something like weekend wisdom or question for the show or something like that in the subject line, and it will find me and I hope you guys are enjoying these weaken wisdoms as much as I am. I am loving it. So I hope you guys are as well. Today we're going to be talking about should you disrupt birth order when adopting or fostering? This is a question we get a lot. And we got a specific question from someone about this. He or she says we have three children by birth and want to adopt a child that really needs a home. Given the ages of our kids, this will probably mean that we will be disrupting the birth order of at least some of our children. The agency we have talked with is definitely against this idea. Is this something that is harmful to kids? All right. So let's address that. As I said, this is probably one of the most common questions we get families that already have children. And these families are interested in adopting or fostering older kids or sibling groups are often faced with a decision of whether to disrupt the order of the children in their family. So let me say first, that birth order is important. And the decision to disrupt birth order through adoption or fostering should not be taken lightly. And you're right that many adoption professionals in the past and even now routinely advise against this practice. But that may be changing as the renowned adoption expert Dr. David Brodzinski, said in an interview on the creating a family show, the topic we were talking about was disrupting birth order and adoption. What he said was, when talking about adopting out of birth order, it is best to throw quote always and quote, never out the window and replace them with quote sometimes. In other words, adopting a birth order is neither always a good idea, or it never a good idea. I guess it's sometimes a good idea. And thoughts about disrupting the birth order has said really been steadily changing in recent years. The change came about mainly because there were so many children older than toddler age, who need families, and there are not enough families to meet these kids needs. So, at creating family, we take the position that adopting a birth order is complicated and risky. Therefore, let us help you be successful. To be sure, it is still not the best choice for every family, or for every child, or for anyone who isn't willing to go into it with their eyes wide open. However, it's a reality in the adoption community for which we believe families can be prepared. And our vision as an organization is that every child and foster child has a family who understands their unique gifts and challenges and is equipped to help them thrive. We also want to help this family thrive. I'm going to start by noting that larger families, those with four or more kids already in the home, tend to experience the impacts of disrupted birth order to a lesser degree. Now, let me share five tips for being successful when adopting a child that will disrupt your current birth water of your existing family. Keep in mind that both the resonant children's birth order the kids who are already in your home, may be disrupted, but So may the birth position of the new child coming into your home. Alright, tip number one, keep an eye on the oldest pay particular attention when it's your oldest child of the resonant children, kids already in the family being displaced. Also, if the new child being brought into your family was once the oldest in their family of origin, coming into your family now and being not the oldest but being the second or the even the youngest in your family is a big change. You should keep an eye on adjustment and look for stress and anxiety over there changing roles and keep the communication between you and your oldest child open and honest. It's okay for them to have bad feelings. Don't try to make them feel that they can feel angry they can feel obviously displaced, keep the communications open and focus on problem solving. There will be likely less disruption if the eldest child being displaced is under the age of three. Because at this point, they really haven't had time to settle into the power position of being the oldest and I say that as the second in a family of two. There was definitely power position for the oldest in our family. Also, often the child's feelings of displacement will be less if the new eldest child is have a different gender than the previous eldest child, for example, your son will still be the most senior boy, even though he now has an older sister who's come into the family. Alright, tip number two, streamline and simplify your life during this transition. Plan on spending focus time at home with your new family dynamics. That means you need to get help to handle everyday tasks that others can handle for you. Like if somebody offers to do a meal train, say yes, yes, yes, rather than Oh, we really don't need it. So meal preparation is somebody sign up for grocery delivery. I don't particularly love grocery delivery, because I like to pick things out. But you know, for a couple of months, you can get used to it. And so could I, if somebody offers to house clean, or offers laundry help kiss the ground they walk on, say yes, yes. If not, look at your your budget and see if you could possibly splurge for cleaning or laundry help for a short period of time, the goal is to simplify your load of responsibilities so that you could really focus on your new child's transition, and the changing relationship dynamics with the other children in your family. So tip number three, spend individual time with the kids. Now I know what you were thinking, Yeah, sure how the heck am I going to find the time to do that. And it's true, you aren't going to have a lot of time when you bring a new child in. And honestly, I don't have a magic bullet. But if it makes you feel any better, I had been in your shoes. And there are ways you can find to spend individual time, one of the best things you can do is bring only one child along on errands, you're not going to have time to sit and just pay undivided attention to a child, but you're already going to be going to the grocery store or running to the pharmacy to pick something up. So bring a child we all know that when we put kids in the back of the seat of the car, they're going to be doing more talking because they're not looking at us. So that's a really strong example. Another example is dinner preparation habits so that each child has a different evening where they help you prep dinner, and make that special talk to them. Let them taste things, let them be the one who stirs or if they're older, pick out a recipe together and the two of you make that recipe together. Let's see if you're going to another idea is if you're going to a sports game, have another child in the family. Bring a second child with you to sit in the stands with you and spend time talking while you're watching and cheering on. And again, as I said in tip number two, ask for help for the first couple of months for things like meals and cleaning so that you can free up a little bit of extra time. Tip number four, listen without defensiveness. Now this is a hard one, because we're the ones as parents who chose to do this. And it's easy to start feeling defensive, if things aren't going as smoothly as we wanted. So talk with your child about how they're feeling. And here's the important part. Allow them to express their true feelings. Allow them to say that they're frustrated or angry or, or they hate this new kid, or this kid gets things that do didn't get at that age, and it's not fair, whatever they're saying, Don't become defensive, listen to them, and then do some collaborative problem solving. brainstorm with them some solutions to the problem they raised. And even if it's not your first choice, go with it, try their ideas that might alleviate some of their resentment. And tip number five, and that has to do with virtual training. What we mean by virtual twinning is, if you're adoption, or fostering results in two kids of a similar age are in the same grade. That's called virtual twins. You need to not treat these children the same. Yes, they both may be eight years old or they both may be in fifth grade. But they are two very distinctly different kids coming from different backgrounds and different privileges, different advantages, everything is different. So you need to create space for each child's individuality and independence. Neither child should feel pressured to be the other one's, quote, twin or best friend. Of course, if
possible, keep virtual twins in separate classes at school, if they end up in the same grade. And so important, don't compare them academically. Instead, look for strengths in both kids focus on what their strengths are. And if you look hard enough, you're going to be finding those strengths. And there you have it. Five Tips for if you are considering disrupting the birth quarter in your family. Now before you go, I want to do a shout out to a really special resource that we have at creating a family if you are in the position of needing to train foster adoptive or kin families or if you are running a support group for these demographics foster adoptive or kin. We've got your answer. We have a turnkey off the shelf resource curriculum that can be used either for training or Are for support group. It is a video base but it is interactive. There is lots of discussion that goes on. I'm so proud of this resource and I want everybody to use it and check it out. You can find it at creating a family.org hover over the word training and click on Support Group curriculum. And thanks for joining us today.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai