There are many reasons why prospective adoptive parents would want certain characteristics in an adopted child. Many of these reasons do not come from a place of selfishness, but one of concern for the child, other children in the home, and the knowledge of what they can handle as a family. For this reason, adoption is generally very friendly to the idea of adoptive parents being able to specify what they are willing to take on, and what they do not feel they have the capability or knowledge to handle. It is easy to feel guilty when marking off these specifications on various forms, but the reasoning behind these choices will make all the difference.
One reason to specify characteristics in an adopted child is family dynamics. If you are adopting as a way to begin your family or have more children and you want to adopt an infant, there is no shame in wanting that. While there are older children in foster care, there are also many infants who need a loving home. That desire to raise a child from birth isn’t a shameful one. If you have biological children, you may also have the desire for them to have a younger sibling. Your reasoning for adoption may not be solely to give a child a home specifically but truly as a way to start your family.
When my husband and I adopted our daughter, we were given a checklist during our home study process. This checklist was a list of all the possible characteristics that might be part of the child we were adopting. This list included everything from gender, ethnicity, special needs, exposures, mental health history, and criminal history or tendencies. Its comprehensiveness was quite shocking. The checklist is meant to ensure you feel capable of caring for a child whom you adoptor or foster, and that the characteristics of the child would not be a detriment to your current family dynamics.
For my husband and I, we were already matched with a child through kinship adoption. However, this list was very enlightening for when we decide to pursue foster care. For us, having four kids under the age of 7, we would prefer to foster or adopt a child within that range. For the safety of our other children and because we have five children to watch over, we know that we would only be capable of providing enough attention to a child with only a small amount of special needs and no child with a criminal history. There is that internal struggle to feel guilty for not just choosing to accept any child, but you can only do what you know you can do.
On the off chance that you want certain characteristics, if based on selfish or seemingly self-focused reasons, only you know your heart and intentions. It is okay to want a girl or want a boy. It might be about family dynamic, or you can see yourself doing a great job at raising a certain gender. Some may even choose not to accept certain ethnicities; not for any racist reason, but because they do not feel that they live in an area the child would feel nurtured in their culture or accepted. While there are those who may want certain characteristics for selfish reasons, more often than not, specifying what you know you can take on is beneficial to both you and your future child.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.