One factor making a child more likely to wait? Being a boy.

Most of us know that children with special needs and those who are older wait longer for families. Meanwhile, boys – for no reason other than their gender – wait longer too, in almost every country, even our own.

Prospective adoptive parents talk about the need for families for girls in China, because of their one-child policies combined with a preference for boys. In other countries, orphaned girls are at risk for becoming victims of child trafficking, sexual abuse, and forced slavery. I agree – girls matter. Girls in need of families should be adopted.

But boys in need of families should be too.

This time around, our preference was for a boy. We have two girls and one boy, and Robbie badly wants a brother. I wanted a brother for him too.

I knew of the preference for girls in adoption, based on stats I’ve read and the trend I’ve noticed in waiting child listings. It didn’t sink in fully until program after program, agency after agency, said, “Oh, if you want a boy, the process should move more quickly for you.” Right now, many more boys wait in China for families, despite the perception that Chinese girls are the ones who languish in orphanages.

Obviously, our path took a different turn, and we’re adopting a sibling group: two girls and one boy. We didn’t truly pick our children this time around, just like last time. God wove their stories into ours through a Facebook friend, just like He did with Zoe, and all we did was say yes. Nonetheless, this topic is a worthwhile one.

In an article on Adoptive Families,
“If it was just about parents getting a preference, it might not matter so much, but this really affects children,” Mary Ann Curran, director of social services at WACAP, says. “It makes the wait dramatically longer for boys. You see little boys waiting for homes who shouldn’t have to wait, and families cheating themselves out of getting a child sooner.”

In another article, this time in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune,

"When it comes to families, we just have more boys [waiting] than girls," said Rochon, senior country relations manager at the St. Paul agency. "We place more girls. It's just what families want."
How many more? In 2006, families expressing a gender preference chose girls over boys 391 to 166. In 2009, the split was 213 girls and 88 boys; in 2010, 121 and 38. Last year, it was 78 girls and 31 boys.

Some hypothesize that girls are easier to raise than boys: less violent, less active, more well-behaved. (Which begs the question: Have they met our girls?) Others point to more single women adopting than single men, many of them feeling that a girl would be easier to relate to or that a boy needs a father figure that they’re unable to provide.

Whatever the reason, boys wait.