“Are You Trying for a Girl?” Gender Specificity & Adoption

By Megan Monsour

I’m sure many of us with multiple children of the same gender have been asked by a friend, family or stranger in the grocery store whether we will, “Try for a girl.” Our society seems to have a general opinion that families should have both genders, despite the fact that it isn’t something within parents’ control.

Opinions abound regarding the gender of unborn babies, too.  Thus, it is no surprise that on occasion an adoptive family will state a requirement for one gender or the other. Despite the reasons a family provides for a gender preference, I quickly tell them why the adoption world doesn’t easily accommodate this request.

1. Gender is unknown. 

Expectant mothers making an adoption plan choose the family who will adopt their child. The vast majority of these women do not know the gender of the baby when they choose the adoptive couple. Thus, the families they consider for placement of their child must be happy to adopt either gender.

2. Gender preference is a turn off to expectant mothers. 

Expectant mothers want an adoptive family who will love their child no matter what gender their child is. After all, the biological mother didn’t choose the gender either. In the past, when I attempted to include gender-specific adoptive families in the matching process when the gender of the baby was unknown, I would speak to the expectant mother about a family’s gender preference. The overwhelming response was negative and resulted in a decision not to consider the gender specific family.

3. Most adoptive families do not have a gender preference. 

Because the vast majority of adoptive families do not impose a gender restriction, those that do have an exponentially harder time being chosen. On the rare occasion when a mother does know the gender of her child at the time she is choosing an adoptive family, she will be presented with families who do – and do not – have a stated gender restriction. Thus, a gender-specific family has a much smaller chance of being chosen by a mother because the numbers are not in their favor.

So many factors must match up for a family to be considered by an expectant mother:  the cost of the adoption matches their budget, the race of the child is a race they want to adopt, the biological mother’s mental health and drug history is acceptable to the adoptive family, the list goes on and on. And those are just what has to match up to be considered by the expectant mother. In order to adopt the child, the family has to be the expectant mother’s ‘favorite family.’

I do tell clients after discussing these factors that it is up to them if they decide to proceed with a gender restriction but it will prolong their adoption journey significantly. My hope is after some education an adoptive family realizes they care more about becoming parents than whether their nursery is pink or blue.

This article was originally published on Wichita Mom on Aug. 11, 2019.

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