Are Women More Open To Adoption Than Men?

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man's hands over child's handsBuilding a family through adoption is a route to parenthood that many couples, and even singles, actively consider in the United States. Among IVF and surrogacy, adoption remains the option that is reviewed by couples struggling with fertility, as well as those who feel compelled to help a child in need of a home. But even though many Americans favor adoption, and do contemplate the possibility in their own lives, very few actually embark on the adoption process — and even fewer actually adopt a child. A peek into the consideration of adoption between heterosexual couples, however, reveals a pretty pronounced gender disparity into who is reflecting on this choice in creating a family. Men appear to be not be as willing to engage with the idea of adopting as women.

The first national adoption survey to include both men and women revealed the exact opposite. The highly-publicized 2008 poll revealed that on paper,  men adopted at twice the rate of women with nearly 1.3 million men adopting a child versus an estimated 613,000 women. But those numbers primarily told the story of adopting stepchildren, as the men surveyed often married a woman and fathered her children from a previous relationship. Jeff Katz, a consultant on adoption and foster care issues, told  USA Today that this scenario is “not surprising” given the common trajectory of divorce:

“More women get custody of children in divorce cases, so after a divorce the mom is living with her kids and she meets a man, and they get married, and he adopts her children.”

But as for heterosexual couples who are childless upon their union, men’s sentiments about the process were not to be found in that survey.

However, a recent Mommyish poll illustrated a very keen divide between adoption consideration between men and women. When asked how their male partner feels about adoption, a whopping 74% readers reported that he was opposed to the idea of adoption. Approximately 25.9% of readers shared that their male partner was initially against the possibility of adoption or completely indifferent. But more importantly, our readership failed to highlight any male partners who were explicitly “pro-adoption.”

Mommyish Adoption PollJohn Carr, a writer in New York City, says that these findings don’t surprise him as a biological father to a three-year-old girl. Although he deems adoption “fine” for others, he tells me that he had no interest in adoption when creating his own family.

“Part of it stems from my views about the role of nurture–meaning, its overrated,” he says. “What I mean is that by the time a child is born, your options for influencing [the kid] are severely limited. Your main opportunity is through mate choice.”

He maintains that raising any child is a wonderful experience, but that genetics have made fatherhood all the more  brilliant in his case:

“Raising [a child] who, in some way, really is a next generation of you, who shares your genes and thousands of years of family history, is mind-blowing. I can look into my daughter’s eyes and see the eyes of my father’s father’s father.”

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