In part integration saves you a lot of little jobs. But later the integration might not be a big win, as your particular application goes further from the assumptions the integration makes. But, that still leaves you with a base to start with, and a convention -- if the integration serves no purpose except to codify application layout and object composition, that's still a valuable thing.
Hmm... I've noticed the column ordering problem in SQLObject as well. It would be good to keep track of the chronological order in which the Col objects were created, then sort on that. That should give the ordering you want.
As far as adapters, that's certainly how they are intended to be used. I've had mixed results using them; I might just be using them incorrectly, but I might again blame it on a lack of codifying best practices ;)