I am engaged and my spouse and I are beginning to plan our future. We know that we eventually want to adopt but would also like to conceive a biological child. We would like to provide the best environment for all of our children and were wondering if it is better to adopt a child as your first and then conceive or vice versa?

This is an intriguing question, but one that does not have an obvious answer. Many heterosexual families who adopt do so due to infertility. Most of these families adopt their first child and then if they have a biological child it is a "surprise" in that they did not realize that they could conceive. These families then have an older adopted child and a younger biological child.

There are also families who already have a biological child who then adopt because of secondary infertility (they are unable to conceive or carry a baby to term after a successful birth). These families then have the exact opposite situation. They have an older biological child with a younger adopted child.

There is no research examining which birth order is preferable, but anecdotally I can tell you that the birth order of biological and adopted children does not seem to impact outcomes. More important is ensuring that all of your children feel secure and cherished in their family no matter how they joined the family. It will be important to talk about this issue in your family and to explain that both adoption and biological birth are equal ways to join a family.