Do adoptive parents choose the child they want to adopt?

Though adoption is a choice, like any other parenting choice, the concept of “choosing a specific child” to adopt is not how it works in the United States. Until the 1850s, children weren’t protected by adoption and we know the terrible stories of people “choosing” children to work for them, etc. as opposed to entering a family the way adoption is done today. Though we don’t choose the specific child we adopt today, there are choices you can make when adopting. 


Birth Families Get the Most Choice When it Comes to Adoption

It is a hard concept for many to understand, but adoption is not about an adoptive parent’s desire to become a parent, but what is in the best interest of the child. Today, birth parents look at family profiles and choose who they might want to meet to think about creating an adoption plan. When making this difficult decision, a birth mother and/or a birth father get to choose who they feel will be the best fit to parent their child. However, choice can be taken away if they’ve lost custody of a child, but traditionally, they make the actual choice. 


What choices do you have as an adoptive parent? 

I have always thought that I would get the child I was meant to have and I didn’t feel it was right to have any feelings one way or another about what child came into my home. However, I have a PhD in Global Leadership, facilitate trainings in DEI, have taught children of all ethnicities and races in my tenure as an educator, and was focused on various trainings regarding becoming a transracial family before adoption. My lens was very narrow in this aspect because some people feel unprepared to adopt a child of a different race and if they feel that they can’t do it, they probably shouldn’t. Many adoption agencies list what race of child you would be most comfortable parenting and if an adoptive parent is not willing to do the work to immerse their child in cultural experiences like their own, engage in lifelong learning, and provide a diverse environment for that child, it is likely in the child’s best interest to be placed with another family. 

In some instances, families can choose if they would be willing to take a child who had been exposed to drugs or alcohol in the womb or if they would be able to take a child with various disabilities. Though it is easy for us to say of course they should adopt those children, if they don’t have the time or finances to commit, then again, they probably aren’t the right parents for that child. 

Additionally, an adoptive parent can choose what age they are comfortable having in their home, and should they be fostering, they can choose a gender to ensure that they and the child they’re bringing into their home feel comfortable. Again, though you may have choices, some could be a limitation and ultimately, despite whatever “choices” you have made, the choice is that of the birth parents.