I'm not a parent but I have considered children for the future.

I was having a conversation with my partner about adoption / birth. Let's say we were to (choosing my words carefully not wishing to offend anyone) adopt a child and have one we made? Assuming the adopted child was old enough to understand it was being adopted.

Which would be easier on the child? To already have one we made? Or to adopt, then have one we made? It's common for children to feel like they are not getting as much attention when a new baby comes and would that be worse for an adopted child?

Would like to know what people have to say, especially if anyone has any experience in this matter.

  • 1
    This sounds like a pretty opinion-based question - though one thing you might want to consider is that an adoption date is (probably) easier to fix and plan ahead, while you can't tell for sure when (or if) the desired pregnancy occurs Feb 27, 2014 at 12:48
  • The title misled me to believe the question was silly. In the actual question you raise an interesting point about new babies stealing attention, etc. I am very curious to see if anyone chimes in with first hand experience in a similar situation. Feb 27, 2014 at 13:07
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    as a practical matter, adoptions are often run by agencies that try to be fair by letting all the prospective parents have one child rather than one having two and other having none, so it is rare to be able to adopt a child when you already have one. That said, adopting from the dwindling pool of available babies when you can "make one yourself" doesn't seem very fair to the people who cannot. This plan needs attention to a lot more details than which order is easier on the children.
    – Chrys
    Feb 27, 2014 at 13:31
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    @Chrys, while that might be true for newborn babies, the fact is there are about 2-3 times as many children in the U.S. waiting for adoption as there are adoptions any given year. Child welfare agencies are always in desperate need of more families willing to adopt or foster. The idea that you shouldn't consider adoption when you already have a child is frankly misguided. Feb 27, 2014 at 16:51
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    I have never heard adopting a child being referred to as selfish before. I was always under the impression that there were too many children in need of a home/family, and not the other way around. Feb 28, 2014 at 10:05

4 Answers 4


We adopted our middle child and his older and younger sisters are biological. Out of the three, our son craves attention the most, by a factor of five. We were told in our fostering and adoption classes that is fairly typical. He doesn't remember the first year of his life when he didn't live with us, but it still subconsciously affects him.

So, sibling rivalry is likely to be worse for an adopted child, and since it's usually sparked by a change, always having an older sibling is likely to be less stressful than always being an only child then suddenly having a baby brother or sister. Is it going to be a life-defining, insurmountable problem if you adopt first? Probably not.

Also, you should examine your reasons why you want to adopt one and birth one. We looked into adoption because of fertility issues, and my wife struggled with it feeling like she was "giving up" on getting pregnant. It would be very painful to put off getting pregnant only to find out you are no longer able to, or never were able to. These are very primal, instinctual emotions for a woman, and they need to be addressed.

That may not show up until you are well into the adoption process, so what I usually tell people is to go into it expecting you might change your mind. We looked into adoption for our first child, and decided partway through to do fertility treatments instead. The agency told us that was very common and understandable. Don't think you have to plan out your entire family before it starts. Frankly, you don't have enough information about adoption, parenting, or even yourselves to make all those decisions now.


I don't have personal experience as a parent of an adopted child, and I am not an adopted child, but, one of my best friends is adopted, and I feel as though sharing her situation/circumstances will give you the perspective that you are looking for.

She was adopted by her parents when she was 4, and does have some memory of her life (with her mother) before she was adopted. She became a big sister to a brother when she was 6, and LOVED her brother. They were always very close. Her parents truly felt as though she was theirs, no matter how that came to pass, and felt there was no difference between their children, and so the issue of the siblings not being biologically related was not discussed. My friend and her parents didn't maliciously or even purposely keep the fact that she was adopted a secret from her brother, it was just not relevant, they felt.

Eventually, when my friend was in her 20's, her biological father, who she had NEVER known, contacted her and wanted to establish a relationship. She agreed, with her parent's blessing, and embarked on an emotionally difficult path where she eventually discovered the circumstances that led to her birth, and ultimately to her adoption. She discovered she had three other siblings, two half brothers on her dad's side and a half sister on her mom's side. It was difficult for her, understandably, but she got counseling, and did the best she could. However. Her brother, with whom she was raised, was totally blindsided by this. Not only was it very difficult for him to deal with the fact that he had been "lied to" by his family, he also felt left out once my friend began developing relationships with her newly discovered families (bio mom and dad were not married to each other-she was the product of an affair between married people.) Ultimately, she gained three new siblings, but lost her brother. Her brother is also estranged from his parents now too. Ten years later, things are finally starting to get better for my friend and her family (immediate family, we'll say). But her biggest regret, and her parents', is not discussing the impact her decision to explore her past would have on her then teenage brother. Her parents had mentally prepared HER for the difficulty, but never thought how it would affect him.

I guess the moral of this story is that whatever you choose to do-adopt first or second- the important thing is to be honest with yourself and with your children, and be prepared to navigate through some difficult waters. I hope that sharing this experience helps.


If you're adopting a baby, I don't think it really matters.

If you're adopting an older child (who are the ones most in need), that's a different matter, because some of these children can have problems with abusive behavior resulting from prior trauma - and you won't necessarily know ahead of time if your prospective child has these issues. You will need to consider carefully how to make sure your biological child doesn't end up being a victim of their adoptive sibling. (As I did when my parents fostered two teenagers while I was a toddler.)

There are a few options you could do to minimize the risk.

First, you could have a biological child, and then adopt a child who is two or more years younger than yours. That way, if the child turns out to be aggressive, your biological child will be able to defend themselves. Of course, you should still make sure to give your biological child plenty of support and encourage them to tell you if they're having conflict with their new sibling, even so. This works especially well if the biological child is many years older, and they are less likely to be intimidated by a child with serious problems with aggression, and more likely to be able to put themselves in the other child's shoes and understand why they're acting badly.

Alternately, you could foster-to-adopt before having a biological child. Fostering a child before adopting them gives you a chance to get to know what they're like before you have a legal obligation to them. Make sure to observe the child in interaction with other children, including babies, to make sure they are appropriate with them.


I only have a little to add, but I had a childhood friend who was adopted, she had about 4 older siblings ( biological, but some from another marriage i think. I never got to meet them ). She was told right from the beginning she was adopted so she had faced the reality early and was quite spunky and proud, dismissive of the fact. Reading the above messages made me lol about siblings, she had an older brother or two who would roughhouse with her and she gave it all back. For this reason I thought being honest early was good, and I see where the older biological siblings thing comes in handy. Ultimately I think they would feel protective, unless they thought the adopted one was being favored. But that's typical older sibling stuff.

I also had an adopted friend in college, he found out by accident when he was 19 or so. And his younger sister was adopted too, maybe 5 year difference ( he still didn't notice his mother was never pregnant lol ). So here is adopted + adopted. They were super different but pretty attached to each other. To be honest the younger sister basically owned him because he was a softie and they hug like a lot. I don't think it was great to keep a secret that long but they seemed well past the point of melting down about it. He eventually reconnected with his biological parents but they were unsavory. It would have been better if they connected sooner though, because he had to have emergency surgery to remove cancer that was genetic in his family and killed his father.

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