The Wonder of Adopting Boys

Dawn Davenport


It remains a sad and frustrating fact that the majority of adoptive parents prefer girls. Adoption agencies tell me that if given a choiceThe Wonder of Adopting Boys about 80% of pre-adoptive parents choose a girl. In special needs international adoption where there is a list of children with special needs, almost inevitably the little girls find families while the little boys wait. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why this preference for girls exists. (See my blog Snips and Snails Vs. Sugar and Spice: Gender Preferences In Adoption.)

As the mom of 2 boys and 2 girls who are teens and beyond, I’d like to share my perspective. First, a confession: Before I had kids, I really really wanted a girl for many of the reasons I pointed out in my Snips ‘n Snails blog. I thought that girls would be more affectionate and cuddly, that a girl would remain more involved with us after she left home, that I would share more interests with a girl, and on and on. Other moms have also mentioned rowdiness, dirtiness, noisiness, and wilder teen years as reasons to prefer the “quieter” gender. Now that I have weathered parenting both boys and girls up to their mid 20s, I see things differently.

Both from my personal experience and from the research I’ve read, while I acknowledge that there are some broad differences between the genders, there are far greater differences amongst the genders. I realize this isn’t scientific, but for what it’s worth here is what I see from the trenches.

  • Affectionate: Both my boys are more overtly affectionate than my daughters. One of my sons hugged and kissed me each day when I dropped him off at 5th grade without prodding from me–in front of his friends. This same boy, ends every phone conversation from college with “Love you”.
  • Remain More Involved with Us after Adulthood: Too early to tell. I’ll get back to you on this one. My eldest is a girl with the traveling Jones. She’s currently living in Morocco, so…
  • Shared Interests: Parenting has taught me that as the adult n the relationship, I am in the position to find shared interest with each of my children. It’s been easy and fun to do with my very different children. I’ve also found that interests aren’t gender specific. For example, I love to read. As younger children my daughters loved books more. One has continued this passion as she aged, the other not so much. Neither of my sons were “into books” as younger children; both are book lovers now, although admittedly, not as much as me. I love to run and play tennis. One son and one daughter love sports; however, the one that loves tennis, does not love to play with me. (Apparently, I’m not as much fun or as good as her friends. Plus it hurts her pride too much if I win. :-)) I love to cook. Only my eldest son shares this interest, and he and I have spent many enjoyable hours cooking and talking about cooking.
  • Rowdiness: Well, I’m pretty rowdy, and fortunately all our kids have followed suit. By far, the least rowdy of my kids is my youngest son.
  • Dirtiness/Messiness: They are all slobs, sad to say, except perhaps my youngest son.
  • Noisiness: The loudest is a boy, the calmest and quietest is the other boy.
  • Teen Years: I’m still in the midst of this, so I suppose the jury is still out, but although I’ve been fortunate that all my kids have had relatively uneventful adolescences (so far—knock wood), the two that have caused me to hold my breath more and talk to God more have been a boy and a girl.

My point is that boys and girls come in such wonderfully and gloriously different flavors. Parenting boys has been one of the great joys of my life. Check out this wonderful video by our friends over at Love Without Boundaries . If this doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will.


Image credit: HarryetN

07/02/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 12 Comments

12 Responses to The Wonder of Adopting Boys

  1. Carolyn Hawkinson-Pruett Osci Artist Carolyn Hawkinson-Pruett Osci Artist says:

    Good luck to Jocelyne – our Chinese 14 yo is our first (only) child and he’s wonderful. Ours developed a penchant of junk food right quick, LOL.

  2. Jennifer Michalik Olson Jennifer Michalik Olson says:

    We did domestic, and at the time, our agency did not allow you to put in a preference (which I was glad about – now they do). We adopted two girls, but I personally would have preferred boys both times. We have a bio son and I hoped for boy then too. I absolutely love my girls, of course, and think God chose them for us. But I think that *most* boys handle adoption more easily than girls. That is from my experience working with teenagers in youth ministry. I also think boys are easier to deal with generally as teenagers than girls (I am terrified of the teenage years with my daughters – I was a good kid but was so mean to my mom as a teenager). Even now, at age 5, my older daughter is so much more dramatic and spirited than my son.

  3. Joanna Madine Joanna Madine says:

    Our agency (Holt International), at least in the Ethiopia program, will not allow a request for a girl if there is already a female child in the household. They may still get receive a girl referral, but they have to be open to either gender. They cannot decline a referral based on gender.

  4. Cindy Modrosic Cindy Modrosic says:

    we’ve named 4 boys. had the girls name picked out 1st. 🙂 never used it. i am glad i have 2 boys – and i think i will be more glad as they get older. 🙂

  5. Sherry Mitchell Sherry Mitchell says:

    We wanted a boy, and when we learned that 70% of the babies in Russian orphanages were male and that 60% of the kids who age out would commit suicide in the first year (at age 16), that sealed it. He’s messy and he’s loud and he’s amazing. Completely different from our girls and 200% wonderful.

  6. Carolyn Hawkinson-Pruett Osci Artist Carolyn Hawkinson-Pruett Osci Artist says:

    Hadn’t watched that video again since our 14 yo SON came home from China 4 months ago. I agree with every point in the video and I do not understand the disproportionate preference for girls. I spent a couple of days in his orphanage with he and his friends (a performance troupe). The boys engaged in friendly horseplay, but the girls were MEAN to each other! Are people just not aware that there are boys available? Do people think that a girl will attach more easily than a boy? We adore our xiao long. He is impishly funny, caring and loyal. He is a talented artist and we do art stuff together. He is learning how to cook Chinese food. He plays basketball and video games with Baba. He is fiercely protective of our dogs.

  7. Avatar wondering says:

    It’s so much easier to see how wonderful boys are when you get to experience both. Why is it wrong to want to parent a girl when you already have just boys?

    • Wondering, speaking only for myself, I see nothing wrong with wanting to adopt a girl if you already are parenting a son and are seeking “gender balance”. It is one of the advantages of adopting–especially international adoption. This blog was directed to the folks who are adopting their first child or are already parenting a girl.

  8. As a single mama to two incredible sons, one 12 and one 2 1/2 (who just recently joined our family) I would love to add my voice to the chorus of praise for boys. Both of my boys are active, curious, messy, joyful, and very very affectionate. Little boys (and big boys too) can be just as loving and snuggly and communicative (and even as tidy) as you would imagine little girls could be. Thanks for the great post!

  9. Avatar Robyn says:

    The first time, we were open to either sex, and we had a son! The second time, we knew we would only be able to adopt once more. We wanted the experience of parenting a boy and a girl. Also, my son specifically wanted a baby sister. If we had had a girl first, then we would have specified boy the second time around.

  10. Avatar Jocelyne says:

    We are in the process of adopting a 13 yr old boy. He is sweet, funny, affectionate, loud, has a selective memory, is growing 1 inch every 3 months and eats 12 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but he is all ours! He is one of the greatest teens I have ever met. I am glad we are not dealing with PMS, girl drama and other issues that come with teen girls. He is our first child so we knew the teen years could be rough anyways. In the foster care system there are more older boys available than older girls; so many of them age out of the system.

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