Disrupting Birth Order in Adoption and Foster Care

Should you consider adopting or fostering a child that is older than a child already in your family. This is also known as disrupting birth order. Are there things you can do to make it easier for all the children? We talk with Teresa Bernu, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Adoption Center of Illinois, and Mark Lacava, LCSW and Chief Clinical Officer at Spence-Chapin Services to Family and Children, an adoption organization in NYC.

Hit the Highlights
  • There are no hard and fast rules in adoption, including whether or not to adopt out of birth order.
  • What are some of the pros for adopting out of birth order?
  • What are some of the cons for adopting out of birth order?
  • What are some of the different ways adopting out of birth order can occur?
  • Which birth order of children are most impacted by the disruption?
  • What age child is least affected by having his birth order disrupted?
  • What age child is most disrupted by having his birth order changed?
  • What age gap is best between children when disrupting birth order?
  • What are some of the potential issues parents need to think about when they change birth order?
    • Sibling rivalry.
    • Oldest or youngest child feeling displaced.
    • The adopted child is older in age but younger on an emotional and behavioral level.
    • Adopting a child who has been sexually abused.
  • Is disrupting birth order a predictor for adoption disruption?
  • Can lead to virtual twinning or artificial twinning where the family adopts a child of a similar (within about 9 months) of a child already in the family.
  • What are some of the difficulties of virtual twinning or creating artificial twins?
  • How to minimize the negative impact of virtual/artificial twinning?
  • What are the warning signs that parents need to get help with an adoption that is out of birth order?
  • Are their similarities between families that have blended children by adoption and birth and families with blended children from divorce and remarriage?
  • Tips for easing the transition for all the children in a family when the birth order is changed by the adoption.

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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Photo Credit: Lukas from Pexels