Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Breaking Birth Order

When we first started out on our adoption journey, we were like sponges...soaking up information from books, other adoptive families, training and the like.  The theory of birth order is often talked about in adoption circles.  It is the idea that the order of birth influences a child's personality and also assigns the child a particular role in the family.  Some psychologists and social workers (the people responsible for doing your home study and approving your family for adoption) do not believe in breaking birth order or allowing a child to enter the home that is older than the oldest child in the family.  The idea of artificial twinning is sometimes frowned upon as well.  Thankfully, our social worker and adoption agency (supported by our statements, plans, additional training, and reasoning) gave us two thumbs up!  

When we realized God was asking us to step WAY out of the little box we had so neatly created, we should have know that He would also be providing the resources, wisdom, and strength to support the decision.  We worried about how we would communicate with a child who does not speak English, how we could incorporate the schedule of an eleven year old into a house of preschoolers, how Larry (the previous 'oldest child') would respond to his new role, whether or not we should homeschool, etc. etc. etc.  However, all along (if we could have only seen it), God way laying the path.  Little did we know there was another Ethiopian boy in the fourth grade at our school who speaks Amharic.  (Sporty and him now sit at the same classroom table.)  Little did we know the registrar from our school was also an adoptive parent.  (She let us know what an excellent ESOL program our school has and that there are over one hundred children in the program.)   Little did we know the local Ethiopian community would be so supportive and willing to help.  (We have connected with local Ethiopian-Americans who help translate, offer advice and support, and have in a sense adopted us.)  

With that being said, adopting out of birth order does present some unique challenges.  As parents, we were thrown into a world previously only known to us by our own past experiences.  Two months ago, our routine consisted entirely of preschool activities.  Now, we are doing math and language arts homework daily, planning field trips, and signing up for soccer teams.  I honestly believe that most challenges can be dealt with the same way we handle everything else in life. That is, by being intentional.  Does it take planning?  Yes.  Does it take faith and sweat?  Yup!  Are we more tired at the end of each day than we have before been?  Of course.  Are we more wired and inspired to be the hands and feet of Christ than ever before?  Y.E.S.!!  

The amazing thing that has resulted from our newfound crazy-hectic home is we have we have become way more efficient in almost every area.  The children are dressed and teeth are brushed before we come downstairs every morning.  Lunches are packed the night before.  Meals are now planned and we eat at the dining room table as a family every night.  Our prayers have become more focused, intentional, and intense.  The number of children in our family has doubled and they love on each other (and beat each other up) like siblings all around the world.  You would never know (or so we have been told) that we have been together as a family only a few short weeks.

During my freshman year of college, one of my favorite courses was Sociology.  We learned about Parkinson's Law and it is something that has stuck with me throughout adulthood.  The law states that "work expands to fill the time necessary for completion".  I think about this law often as it can be applied to pretty much everything.  Two months ago, our tasks and commitments seemed to fill up our entire schedule with nothing left to spare.  Now, with double the kids and undoubtedly less energy, we are still able to accomplish what needs to happen.  Unless we impose artificial deadlines (which I do often and highly recommend), the amount of work we have to do nearly always take the exact amount of time allotted.  

Breaking birth order has probably been the least significant issue surrounding our adoption.  That is probably due in a large part to the six year gap between Larry and Sporty.  I assume it would be much more significant if they were closer in age.  The biggest issue surrounding our adoption at this point is that God has blessed us with four very intense 'only children'...but that is a topic for another day!  

Hebrews 12:1 states, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  

Father God, help us run forward, setting our eyes on you, leaving our fear in the dust, continuously and intentionally seeking your wisdom and strength so that we are able to accomplish your will and abandon our own.  
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your insightful post. We have broken birth order a couple times in our family. I know that there can be a lot of problems with it for some families, but--for us, it has been wonderful. It certainly helps to study the personalities of your children, to have an understanding of the developmental tasks of the children you are bringing in, and (for us--most importantly) to have a real sense of God's calling to a particular course. May your family continue to know His blessing!