Can Adoptive Parents Choose The Child They Want? We Find Out

When planning to adopt, it is common to have a particular idea of which type of child you will bring home. Almost everyone will want to know, can adoptive parents choose the child they want?

Adoptive parents can choose the race, age, medical history of the birth mother, contact arrangements such as closed or open adoption, and to some degree the adoption budget. It is much more challenging to control the gender of the child if adopting a baby, or the genetic traits your child will have.

Although prospective adoptive parents deserve to hold out for the type of child they ultimately want, there are some aspects of the adoption process that cannot be controlled.

We will cover the following in this article:

  • Can You Choose Your Adopted Child?
  • Can You Choose the Gender of Your Adopted Child?
  • Can You Choose the Age of Your Adopted Child?
  • Can I Change the Name of an Adopted Child?

Keeping an open mind and having a good line of communication with your adoption agency is highly recommended.

What can we control and what can’t we control about the adoption process? Adoption is expensive, and one would expect that they would be able to ask for exactly the type of child they want, right?

However, there are some things that are more difficult to control than others.

Can You Choose Your Adopted Child?

As with any big decision in life, you have some control and are able to decide how that decision plays out.

Adopting a child involves many complexities and is not so cut and dry. The best piece of advice that can be offered when adopting a child is to do two things.

Make a wish list about the adopted child you dream about, then make another list of the things you are willing to compromise on.

More often than not, what we wish for and what we actually are presented with may be on two completely different ends of the spectrum. Remember that many children that are put up for adoption have experienced traumas in their little lives.

Many will need continued counseling. Some will have special needs, and others might be exactly what you were hoping for.

Adoption in some ways can be like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are doing to get. To certain extents, you can choose the age and gender of your adopted child, because you are allowed the option to say no thank you.

Open, honest communication with your adoption agency about your hopes and dreams is recommended so that you are both on the same page.

Communication will help assist the process so that you are only presented with the type of child you are holding out for.

There are countless children who need forever homes, and your unconditional love is what they really need. This is about the children more than this is about the hopeful parents who want them.


Related Article: Adoption is such a long, drawn out process, and your focus will be finalizing your adoption and bringing your child home. But then what? How to Make Your Adopted Child Feel Welcome: 11 Tip Checklist is a terrific resource for helping you make that adjustment after adoption.


Can You Choose the Gender of Your Adopted Child?

Your quest to learn more about the adoption process has stirred up many questions such as, can you choose the gender of your adopted child?

You can choose the gender of your adopted child depending on the circumstance. If adopting a newborn, you may not know the gender of the baby until it is born. If a birth mother has already picked you as the adoptive parents, changing your mind based on the gender of the baby would create unfair stress on the birth mother.

Perhaps you want to adopt a newborn. For whatever reason, the birth mother has decided that it is in her baby’s best interest to place her baby up for adoption.

The birth mother has countless of prospective hopeful parent profiles to go through to decide which parent or parents would be the best fit for her baby.

Your phone rings, and you get the good news. A birth mother saw your profile and has decided to possibly choose you to adopt her baby.

After further communications between you and the birth mother, the decision has been made that you will be the adoptive parents to this new little baby.

You are beyond excited, and the big day is finally here!

Perhaps you are hoping for a boy. After all, you may be thinking that you can legally change your mind and back out of the adoption process if it turns out to be a baby girl. But is that fair to the birth mother?

Can you imagine the unnecessary stress that would put on her to have to go through the selection process all over again?

After all, she was ready to go through her grieving process almost immediately after the birth of the baby.

If you are hoping to adopt a newborn, the birthmother may prefer for the gender of the baby to be known once the baby is born and not beforehand.

You need to ask yourself if you are willing to accept either gender.

If a particular gender is important to you, then perhaps adopting a slightly older child may be the way to go. The caseworkers will be more interested in finding a home that is best for the child over and above your desire for what gender you may prefer.

Yet you will still have the opportunity to say no-thank-you, if you are presented with a child that you feel would not be a good match for what you are holding out for.

Can You Choose the Age of Your Adopted Child?

Children of all ages are adopted, but can you choose the age of your adopted child?

You can choose the age range of the child you wish adopt. This may, however, effect your wait times. Most prospective adoptive parents would prefer to adopt a newborn baby, and the wait for a baby could be a bit longer than for an older child that is already waiting to be adopted.

You deserve to hold out for what you ultimately are wishing for.


If interested in adopting a baby, you may assume that the baby will be fed formula, yet you may be surprised to learn that adoptive mothers are actually able to nurse an adopted baby.


One thing you will learn on your adoption journey is that the case workers involved in the adoption process will be more concerned about matching a child to the right family over and above matching a family to the child they most desire.

Each child will have their own specific needs, and depending on the child’s age will depend on their length of history with any possible traumas they may have experienced.

Although each state’s laws indicate that an adult may adopt a child at any age, there is still bias that effects reality in the adoption world.

A couple that is much older who wishes to adopt a newborn may find themselves on that waiting list for an extended amount of time, as the birth mother may likely choose to place her baby with younger prospective adoptive parents.

The age of the child that is adopted matters to all parties involved; not just the hopeful adoptive parents.

Being openminded and realistic about the age of the child you want will benefit not only the adoptive parent, but the child who needs a new family that meets his or her specific needs best.

Can I Change the Name of an Adopted Child?

One part of having a child is being able to choose their name, what about with adoption? Can you change the name of an adopted child?

You can change the name of your adopted child. This simply requires filling out an application, paying the required application fee, and then updated the birth certificate and social security card. Name changes happen all the time with adopted children.

The most common type of name change when adopting a child is to update the child’s last name.

After an adoption is finalized in a courtroom, the time has come to apply for an updated birth certificate and social security card.

This child is now legally a part of his or her new adoptive family, and the new last name is a given.

If adopting a baby, then a name change is not an issue, as the adoptive parents would be picking the name of the child. Yet, if the child being adopted is older and already has a given name, there may be a desire to change the first name of the child.

The one question you may want to ask yourself, though, is should you change your adopted child’s name?

This question is debatable and for good reason. When you adopt a pet who already had a name they were use to, would you change it? Some would not, as then the pet would not know their name and would be confused.

Children are not pets, but the same consideration applies here.

Name changes for adopted children happen all the time, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are just a few things that naturally need to be taken into consideration before making that decision.

If the child who is being adopted is older and already has a name, will there be continued communication with the child’s biological family?

Having an open discussion with the biological family about a possible name change is an option. The decision is ultimately yours to make, but extending the consideration of the open dialog would be highly appreciated by the biological family.

Moving forward, would the biological family refer to the child by his or her original name, or would they accept the new name and adjust accordingly?

Would this cause confusion for the child in any way?

This brings to mind the age of the child. One may feel that if the child being adopted is very young, then they may find it easier to adjust to a new name.

A child who is old enough to have even a simply conversation about their name may find the idea of a new name fun and may really like the idea.

A possible suggestion would be to think of a few names that you really like, and then let the child pick which one they like the best.

Including your adopted child in the name-change process would give them a sense of control over their name being changed as to prevent any possible resentment down the road.

What do you do, however, if your child is not on board with your idea of changing their name? Would you do it, anyway?