In 2007 with four boys already at home ages 10, 7, 2 and 1, we started the process to adopt from China. What had been a desire for quite some time in our hearts was finally coming true. We submitted paperwork to adopt a as young as possible non-special needs daughter. We expected to be matched in six to nine months with a little one – 16 months or younger – to be the baby of our family. That was not God’s plan at all.
We quickly discovered the China program was slowing down and a match would possibly take seven to eight years for a NSN as-young-as-possible daughter. After much prayer and almost switching to another country, we decided China’s waiting child program was what we were being called to and proceeded with anticipation of being matched… still believing we would be matched with a child under two years old to fit in nicely as the baby of our family.
We would anxiously await an email from our agency every time a new list with waiting kids would become available. It was now October of 2008, and I was growing very impatient. We had been waiting nearly a year to be matched. Basically when a list came out you had to act quickly or someone else would likely lock the child’s file. When the October list came out there were NO girls under two with a special need we were open to. Once again we were disappointed. I did decide to look over the list again to see if we maybe could stretch ourselves a little.
The list had very limited information for each child:
As I looked over the list I saw a little girl who was seven years old. I think partly out of desperation to be matched and feeling like it would never happen and God’s divine intervention, I emailed my agency and told them we would like to lock her file and review it. What could it hurt, right? I did this without even asking my husband. A little while later her file was emailed to me. I opened I saw this little girl staring back at me.
After I screened the file, I had a strange sense of peace that she just might be our daughter. Later that night I told my husband, John, about the file. He confessed to me he might actually be more comfortable adopting an older child. Over the next 72 hours we had her file reviewed, prayed, and on then October 31 we submitted Letter of Intent to add this seven year old child to our family. The possible complexities of adopting out of birth order had never really crossed our minds and our agency did not address it. We went into it blindly.
Our daughter, Lily, waiting for us in China, had been abandoned at an older age. She lived with her biological parents and remembers them and also remembers having an older sister. Because of this she had some experience knowing how a family worked and the role of parents. She also was a little mommy in the orphanage who often looked after and cared for the younger children. These are not things we knew going into her adoption, but things we later learned and things that I think made her transition to our family go more smoothly.
In May of the following year we traveled to China and met our spirited, energetic, caring daughter. She was fun, and we enjoyed getting to know her…. but sometimes it takes more work to attach to an older child. There was not a lot of touch and she was very cautious with us at first.
She skyped her brothers back home and seemed genuinely excited to get home and meet them. They were equally excited about getting a sister.
Once home Lily loved her new brothers. They were obsessed with her in the beginning and loved spending time with her. I still remember my oldest son’s words when he said, “Mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better sister.”
Life quickly moved on. We all attached and grew closer to Lily as she found her footing in our family. Don’t get me wrong, we had our challenges and at times things were hard… as we made it through the challenges, we settled into a family of seven. I honestly didn’t give much thought to her being out of birth order, and it did not cause any issues. Two additional things I think that attributed to that was that she was the only girl, and she was smack dab in the middle of the four boys.
There were times I wondered why God had sent us down this path. How did we end up bringing a seven year old home from China? Years later with two more daughters home from China, I can see what God was up to. He knew this momma (and this family) would need Lily and her caring and loving ways in this season of my life. She is my shadow, my assistant, she watches everything I do. She swoops in when she senses I am stressed asking what she can do to help me. She loves helping out with her little sisters. She is a joy.
For our family adopting out of birth order worked.
I am not saying to go into adoption blindly, but sometimes we think so hard and may talk ourselves out of children that would bless our lives. Whether in birth order or out of birth order, adoption can be hard and easy, trying and wonderful. I am not an expert on this topic, I have yet to read a single thing on adopting out of birth order. But having lived this everyday for the past seven years, I would not only not change a thing, I would do it again.
They are worth it.
– guest post by Jennifer