We have heard the following “rules of thumb” from adoption therapists and families who have successfully adopted out of birth order:
- Pay particular attention to the displacement of the eldest child.
- There is less disruption if the eldest children, who will be displaced, is under the age of 3 since they haven’t settled into the power of being #1.
- The feeling of displacement is less if the new eldest child is a different gender than the previous eldest child. Your son will still be the eldest boy, even though he now has an older sister.
- Larger families (4+ kids) experience the disruption of birth order less. So many different relationships are already going on that this change is less noticeable. This general rule does not apply if you change the order of the eldest child.
- Success depends on the personality of the child being displaced and the new child coming in.
- Success depends on the parent’s ability to emotionally support each child in the family.
- Success depends on the parent’s willingness to get help early and often post adoption.
- Success depends on the parent’s preparation and education prior to adoption on the potential issues for adopting an older child.
- Success depends on whether all family members have bought into the decision to adopt.