Maybe it was logistics due to Jax’s age when we were ready to add to our family, or maybe it was because something down in us knew how to find our kids, but we always knew we would be adopting older than Jax. In the adoption world, people call this “disrupting birth order.” It never really made a lot of sense to me, to be honest, but I couldn’t put words to that. I have some conscious thoughts about this now, and I would like to try to put words to them.
Any time a family adds children to the family, birth order is disrupted to some extent. An only child suddenly becomes the oldest child. When you have two kids and decide to have another baby, your youngest becomes a middle child. When we talk about not wanting to disrupt birth order, we need to be honest that we are only looking out for our birth children’s birth order. If we had a 12 year old, and adopted 10 and 8 year olds to “maintain birth order,” we just made that 10 year old oldest child a middle child. Their birth order is disrupted, and the priority for birth order is given to the biological child. The concept of “you have never parented a child that age” doesn’t make sense to me. I have never parented a child Jax’s age, either. You learn to parent only by parenting. I think the reason the disrupted birth order concept never made since to us, is that we don’t differentiate between our kids based on the way they arrived in our family. Their roles are all important, and we value them as human beings. We aren’t trying to save anybody, because it turns out they never asked to be saved.
I don’t see broken or damaged children when I look at my kids. I see amazing, beautiful, resilient kids. Part of their resiliency meant developing survival skills that they don’t need anymore with us. Some day, they will believe us. When that happens, we won’t have to supervise 24/7, pat J down when we leave a store, or lock up lighters. Until then, I respect the fact that the behaviors that can drive us crazy are the root of the very things that make them so amazing and resilient. They are survivors.
I am reminded daily that we didn’t “mess up” anybody by doing things non-traditionally. I was reminded of this when Jax told A she is beautiful upon waking. I was reminded of this when I overheard J pointing out his “brother and Dad” to his friend. I am reminded of this when Jax and J excitedly tell us they are best friends. I am reminded of this when A tell us she loves her “crazy little brothers.” I am reminded by this by the laughter in our home.
When Jax asked me last week if I was A and J’s Mom, too, I had a brief moment of panic. I confidently replied “yes, sweetheart,” with a pit in my stomach that this might be traumatic or upsetting for him. Did he really not understand that? “Cool,” he replied with a smile. Cool.