A new twist

Someone has posted on a non-American board that the CCAA has been instructed to work towards balancing the gender of the children adopted out internationally. This person says that the amount of boys shall increase with a minimum of one percent each year. If there are not enough available boys, they will decrease the amount of girls respectively, so that the total amount of children decreases but the relative amount of boys versus girls raises. I am not familiar with this person, but I’m told that she’s been right about things in the past.

This is intriguing. We are told that the number of girls adopted out internationally isn’t even one percent of the girls that are missing.* But, we also know that the perception of them sending girls out of the country might look bad if it ever became any kind of news story in China (which isn’t likely, since the news is controlled, but with the advent of the internet the news isn’t quite as controlled as it used to be).

So, I decided to take a look and see what might be happening. The only true statistics we have that show gender are (to my knowledge) the U.S. Statistics. For those who want to crunch the numbers yourself, the data can can be found at the links below. For each link you’ll need to find the table for orphans and then download the spreadsheet.

I’ve downloaded each one and put the following table together by combining the China information from each year:

I should note that for earlier years the ages were broken down by 5-9 and then 9 plus, so for ease of presentation I had to add those two columns together since the latter years were only done by five plus.

So, from here, let’s look at the percentages:


We can see that the boy percentage raised more than a point in 2006. This puts this rumor into the suspect range, but often a first rumor that comes in is part true and part false, so I’m not ready to write it off just yet.

Add to this the fact that some European countries not allowed (by their own country) to specify gender and/or to turn down by gender, are being referred mostly boys, it’s possible that 9% number is higher for the total referred worldwide. Possibly a lot higher.

Is this because there are more boys available, or is this because of some sort of mandate to start making those percentages look better. I don’t know.

Logic tells me that there are a lot more boys being chosen because the SN program has taken off in such a big way. Also, not all babies are abandoned due to the one child policy, many are abandoned in China for the same reasons that families in other countries choose to make an adoption plan – often a single mom who realizes she isn’t in a position to care for a baby. So there are also more boys available in the NSN program as well. Although it would seem to me that if domestic adoption is indeed taking off in China that the boys would be much easier to adopt out domestically than the girls would be.

So it is possible that this increase is a natural occurrence, but I’m not convinced one way or the other. I can’t overlook the fact that the numbers dropped slightly in 2005 after plugging along at a small gain every year in previous years. And then the very next year they took a huge jump. The same year that total adoptions went down.

One last point. If 2006 had been 8000 total adoptions, then with 587 boys the male percent of total would have been 7.34%. Still an increase. But not as large of an increase. I wish we had the total worldwide numbers.

I’m not completely discounting this rumor, but I’m not convinced of it, either.


* UNICEF tells us there are 17,310,000 births per year in China. The 2000 census in China says there are about 117 boys to every 100 girls. This means there are 9,333,041 boys to every 7,976,959 girls. A difference of 1,356,082. The five or ten thousand girls being adopted out every year aren’t even a drop in the bucket here.


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55 Responses to “A new twist”

  1. windthrow Says:

    If one was looking for a silver lining in this particular rumour cloud it would be that at 1 or 2 % a year is is going to take a couple of decades to get things level. Meaning at least that the NSN program will still need to be around.

  2. waiting4agirl Says:

    This makes sense to a certain extent–not about the percentage matching, but about the boys being available for adoption. That I have no idea about, but rather about boys being abandoned.

    My neighbor is from China, and she said just as many boys are abandoned as girls. Just that boys are often reclaimed by family members or adopted in their domestic program first.

  3. waiting4agirl Says:

    I know nothing about the rumor and percentages, but my neighbor is from China and she has said that boys are abandoned at the same rate girls are. Just that boys are often reclaimed by family members or adopted in their domestic program first. So the abandonment part of this post is certainly verifiable, I would guess.

    In relation to this, I read a while ago that the Chinese government was concerned about the huge imbalance they have between boys and girls and that in the near future, there would be a shortage of available women to marry. As a result they are worried about the Chinese men looking to other avenues for sexual purposes. Maybe the increase in boys becoming available on the internation adoption scene has something to do with that as well–they are hoping to balance out their own population.

  4. waiting4agirl Says:

    sorry for the dupe post!

  5. manda Says:

    thanks for posting this RQ. Very interesting. I find your last paragraph very telling. I agree that the 5 or 10 thousand girls being adopted out, are not even a “drop in the bucket”. A lot of people who are not familiar with China IA, have the perception that this number is much higher. My sons HS Social Sciences teacher being one of them. He recently lectured his class on this. Your post aligns more with my thinking.

  6. wickedwitcheast Says:

    As someone who recently adopted a boy, I would have to say that I really wish we had put either down for China. We put “girl only” because we thought it would be easier to plan while we waited. Now, we are really thinking that we would prefer two boys in our house. I am in love with my son, I plan to raise him into the guy you will all want your daughters to marry.

    I think they are going to have a hell of a time in China (as in India) when the ratio is really noticeable and these kids grow up. It is typical that throughout history, cultures where the gender balance is off kilter (usually toward having more males), there is more aggressive behavior by the country, more fighting, more crappy stuff we don’t to see.

    So, I for one would like to see them address this. And if we could change our dossier and not screw the universe up in the process, we would gladly take a second son. Even though I had thought I always wanted a daughter, I have realized that a kid is a kid. And having great kids is what I am in this for.

  7. geawiz Says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to figure all this out and inform us.
    It is appreciated.

    I hope to be referred a girl since “the girls” were to share a bedroom! I did request girl.
    Not sure what I will do if a boy is referred!!

    Thanks Again

  8. mcwannab Says:

    I agree, RQ, that the increase number of SN adoptions has added to the larger increase of boys being adopted. I also agree that IA for China is a drop in the bucket of babies born, so this plan wouldn’t quickly impact the gender imbalance. However, what it does do is give the impression (illusion?) that they are doing something to correct the problem. Once again, saving face.

    I’m noticing with many of my recent posts that my trust level has gone down a lot.

  9. babymakes3 Says:

    I’d be interested in knowing how many folks out there requested a girl, versus requesting either. A poll perhaps.
    We requested a girl. We decorated for a little girl. My wife has purchased LOTS of clothes and hairbows for a little girl. We have had our daughter was named before our dossier document search began. When we dream at night we see a “her” versus “him”.
    Not sure what we’d do if we were referred a boy. Love him… you bet!! But I think it’d be a major adjustment, since we have referred to our child as “daughter” from the beginning of the process.
    Pins and needles… and not much longer.
    Hoping we’ll get our in December.

  10. waitingforlibby Says:

    Thanks for this info, RQ. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future…

  11. Frenchiegirl Says:

    We lost our 7 year old daughter unexpectedly nearly 2 years ago and my son started asking for a sister. We decided to adopt through China because of all the little girls who needed homes and we missed having a girl in our home. This new twist definately puts a spin on things. I understand with babymakes3…we would love and cherish him but we keep talking about when Annie comes to us. He even named her.
    LID Feb 2007

  12. 2qts4me Says:

    We had 2 Guides, the male guide told me that he knew that more baby boys will be referred.

    We have a girl and a boy, and I would LOVE LOVE another
    boy, but unfortunately my dh is aged out. He is 53.

    We know someone who has 1 girl adopted from China and
    a boy, and she would love to be referred another boy this time. She did request it, so maybe it will happen. My friend requested a boy after 3 biological daughters, and was referred one a couple of months ago. My little guy
    is the only one of these boys who is special needs, although
    we don’t consider him special needs, just special.

  13. RumorQueen Says:

    For the record, some U.S. agencies will not allow parents to turn down a referral based on gender and still ask for another referral.

    However, most U.S. agencies (that have recently had parents with boy referrals) will allow parents to turn down based on gender (as long as their request was for a girl only) and they will ask for another referral for the family.

    I am not aware of anyone in recent history who turned down a boy referral, and who had the support of their agency, who did not receive a girl referral.

    I don’t want this to turn into another debate about what people should or should not do, I’m just stating what has happened in recent history that I have been informed about.

  14. laural Says:

    I am sure there are plenty of us, who didn’t put down a gender and would adopt either sex. I don’t think having to refer more boys out will damper anyones plans for the child they wanted.

  15. 3xwait Says:

    We’ve always had a boy and a girl’s name picked for each adoption, just in case. :)

  16. kbdelarosa Says:

    Although the closet is full of pink, I will gladly buy a gallon of blue dye! Even though we asked for a girl, I just want a healthy child, that’s all I ask!

    My anti-spam word is Chengdu, what is that? A city in China?

  17. breezy Says:

    This is so interesting, thanks for posting this RQ. I really do think the rise of the SN program plays a large role in the numbers of boys. Look at any agency SN list, and there are proportionally more boys and girls listed. I think more and more boys are being adopted through the SN program, while the number of NSN girl adoptions drops, resulting in the difference.

    We went with China thinking a girl, and brought home a boy…I think it happens for alot of families.

  18. tlday13 Says:

    We put down either, but my son has it in his head that its going to be a “baby sister, baby girl”. (He’s 6 and mildly autistic…so sometimes its difficult to get him to chance his mind!) (haha)
    That said, I think he’d love a di di as much as a mei mei.

    LID 1-12-06

  19. fjm Says:

    I requested a girl because at the time I was told that requesting a boy would make my wait longer (hah!). I actually had no preference then or now.

  20. Paddington Says:

    We are not allowed to choose the gender.
    We may not say no to a child because of gender -then we’ld not be able to have another referral.
    But having 2 boys, my heart is set on having a girl…
    I may not wish for it but will try to somehow get our wish through -Maybe take a picture for the presentation with us painting a room pink? Or the boys drawing pictures that say “To our baby sister”? Even our boys say they want a baby sister.. I too would not love a boy less -I love mine higher than the sky, but still… I would love to have my baby girl.
    Today we got info from our adoptin agency stating that they had received 45 kids -10 of them were boys this year.

    I too would love to see statistics about what gender was asked for and what they got.. Maybe we could make a poll?

  21. Paddington Says:

    I meant 45 kids totally so far this year -and 10 of them were boys.

  22. waitingtobeamom2 Says:

    This rumor makes sense to me, as I have now come to the conclusion that all the changes we have seen recently are about “saving face”. China desperately wants to be seen as a first world power and distance themselves from their one child policy and any human rights violations.

    Less children available than families waiting to adopt (yeh right), the longer waits (our one child policy and rampant poverty isn’t causing abandonment issues), more SN I just have to think of the lengths China has recently gone to in order to present the best light to the world (extreme mine disaster cover-ups, Olympic air quality measures).
    available (surgeries are expensive, it’s understandable that citizens may have difficulty adopting a SN child), more boys available (see we don’t have a problem with missing girls), improving condition at orphanages (our agency has recently emailed this one). Could it be because China intends to hold on to and raise more of the children there?

    I guess I have gotten so cynical. Our agency from the beginning has spun things in the most positive light. 6-8 month referrals (told to us in December 2005), no quotas (again from a direct question asked in late 2005).

    China seems to be reworking their IA program to protection and improve their reputation.

  23. neatokimmo Says:

    Wow thanks for the information. I am single and asked for girl only, one of my pictures to China is me in front of her packed closet with all the pink dresses!

    Not that I have anything against little boys, I’ve just not thought about it enough I think. I’ve been in “girl girl girl”! mode for so long.

    I guess I’ll know in a couple of weeks, I’m next :)

    LID 12-05-05 wooohooo

  24. cindy in AL Says:


    Yes Chengdu is a city in China. It is where our SN daughter is waiting for us to get LOA/TA/CA.

  25. goingtochina08 Says:

    I think this is just another link to the chain that is causing the trickle of NSN referrals each month to go even slower. My guess would be that it is a matter of losing face, and making the statistics look better. Think about it – almost every agency web site you go on says that 95% of the children adopted from China are girls. What is this saying about China? It doesn’t make them look very good, IMO. It just adds to the circulating stories of them “throwing away” their baby girls. (I don’t ever say this, for the record, but I hear it all the time.) I think this is a way that they are trying to straighten out the numbers. Although it will take much more than one percent a year to ever make a difference. We have been seeing many more boy referrals…

    P.S. My anti-spam word was ‘onesie.’ I am now wondering if I will be buying blue onesies or pink onesies! :-) I have always had it in my mind that it will be a girl, but I guess you never know. I will be happy with either, but I know a lot of people do want a girl.


  26. waitingforlaurali Says:

    Yes, this doesn’t surprise me either. My niece’s teacher talked about China wanting to balance out it’s population because so many girls were leaving the country.

    We chose “no preference” when we submitted our medical checklist. Like alot of other people, we assumed we would get a girl when we went through the NSN program so that is where our minds have been. But we just want a child so either one would be fine with us. At least we didn’t buy any clothes yet!

  27. frannysmom Says:

    It does bother me that agencies in the US don’t seem to adequately prepare families for the possibility of getting a boy when they asked for a girl. I mentioned to a friend who is also waiting that increasing numbers of boys were being referred and she was absolutely shocked. Her immediate response was that there was no way she could accept the referral of a boy. I think she might reconsider that position having had a chance to think about it. I am glad some agencies are going to bat for families who reject the referral of a boy when they’ve requested a girl, but I do think it would help if agencies would just alert people to the possibility beforehand. If people don’t spend much time on sites like this they often have no idea that getting referred a boy is even remotely possible. There is so little information about the whole process that agencies can really provide–e.g. in terms of what will happen to the wait times. But they could prepare families in this way.

  28. bailey Says:

    We have seen the increase in boys happening gradually. First, they were “surprise” boys. Now they aren’t as surprising although there still aren’t many boys. My husband and I are even more excited because we cannot be so sure about the gender of our child. I really like the surprise factor. We stated that we would be very happy with a boy or girl. The funny thing is that a boy name is much easier for us than a girl. I think we still visualize a girl, but we only have a boy name, and my idea for the nursery is not gender specific anyway.

    Very intersesting new though.

  29. ria Says:

    In the last referral to an agency in our country in Europe there where 6 babies and all off them where boys. An other agency in our country says that for many months the referrals have been nearly 50/50 boys and girls.

    Sorry for my bad English

  30. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Hi RQ — I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but the Great White North also splits out by gender.

    The 2006 numbers are the third table from the bottom:

    Here are the 2005 numbers with the table in the same place:

    Here are the 2004 numbers, but the relevant table is the second one from the bottom (who says Canadians are boring):

    And 2003:

  31. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Me again. I was going to let smarter folks crunch the Canadian numbers, but to my rather numerically inept brain, it appears that the exact same jump in the number of boys happened in 2006 for us as well. Hmmm.

    I feel like Nora Charles “detecting”. Who knew playing with a calculator could get me so excited!

  32. waiting4kiera Says:

    We wanted to request a girl, but when we talked to our SW during our home study, he said no one could request boys because no boys were available for adoption. If we had wanted a boy, he would have said no. I have LOTS of pink stuff and pink hanging butterflies for the nursery. Wouldn’t go well for a boy!

  33. dtownphys Says:

    When we were in China in July 2007, there was an article in the China Daily News about the gender imbalance in China. From what I’ve seen, the Chinese government realizes that it’s going to have a problem down the line, and they’re not trying to hide it from anyone (including their own people). My best guess is that they’re going to try to keep more of the abandoned girls in China (through domestic adoption, foster care, or even being raised in SWI’s) to try to even things out a bit.

  34. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Me again. I was going to let smarter folks crunch the Canadian numbers, but to my rather numerically inept brain, it appears that the same jump in the number of boys happened in 2006 for us as well. Hmmm.

    I feel like Nora Charles “detecting”. Who knew playing with a calculator could get me so excited!

  35. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Me again and sorry if this posts twice but I’m having quite the time trying to post comments tonight.

    I was going to let smarter folks crunch the Canadian numbers, but to my rather numerically inept brain, it appears that the same jump in the number of boys happened in 2006 for us as well. Hmmm.

    I feel like Nora Charles “detecting”. Who knew playing with a calculator could get me so excited!

  36. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Me again. I was going to let smarter folks crunch the Canadian numbers, but to my rather numerically inept brain, it appears that the exact same jump in the number of boys happened in 2006 for us as well. Hmmm.

    I feel like Nora Charles “detecting”. Who knew playing with a calculator could get me so excited?

    (I hope this doesn’t post, like, 12 times because I’ve had a heck of a time posting here).

  37. mumarlene Says:

    …Rumor Queen…..ok for the life of me….How do I join the March 2006 Log in Group.???…I have gone to the “Forum”,….the “General Discussion”.area….which states if you want to join…I do not see how or where I am to replay to send in my request….HELP!!!!!

    LID March 17, 2006

  38. ChristyCanuck Says:

    Me again. I was going to let smarter folks crunch the Canadian numbers, but to my rather numerically inept brain, it appears that the same jump in the number of boys happened in 2006 for us as well. Hmmm.

    I feel like Nora Charles “detecting”. Who knew playing with a calculator could get me so excited?

  39. dreaming of china Says:

    RQ I am in the same boat as mumarlene – I was going to ask the same question yesterday?? I think I signed up LID Aug 06 group about a month ago but have not seen anything yet and now I am thinking I did something wrong?? I can’t even remember where I found it in the first place – sorry I am such a pain:(

    As for this interesting topic – I think if China is worried they should state that no one be allowed to request a specific gender from now on. I think it is just wrong when they refer a different gender than was requested. If someone does not specify then I can understand but at the time when we chose China one of our reasons was because we were allowed to request a girl. Friends of ours that were a month behind us decided that they were willing to receive either gender and therefore switched to the Korean program – they have been home for 4 or 5 months now. If I wait 3+ years and then am referred a boy when I specifically requested a girl I can honestly say that I would be upset. I have nothing against boys infact for a second adoption (if we can ever do it again) we have discussed that we might request a boy or not specify and let it be a surprise – this is fine when you are prepared for that but when you have requested a girl, have prepared for a girl, bought things for a girl, named the girl etc… that is what you expect to get.

  40. overjoyed Says:

    Enjoying reading all the personal stories and situations on how/why families chose what sex. We said either because our then 2, almost then 3 year old said that she wanted a brother. Now 10 months later and still wanting a brother, we’re wishing we had requested a boy and are so hoping she gets her brother. So, this is good news to us now, but with our daughter’s adoption we were like others, everything we owned for her was in PINK!:) And, I really had my heart set on a little girl. Having an older daughter and only having one sister and no brothers, a boy seemed foreign to me. I lived in a girly world (poor hubby). With all the talk though of a brother, I’m looking forward to bringing out the blue paint~ wish I knew though what colors to paint with all this extra, extra wait time on our hands!

  41. dutchmomtobe Says:

    Hi everyone,

    last week we received our daughters finding ad (we adopted her September 2006) the finding ad was in a newspaper and on the page our daughter’s ad was printed there were 200 other finding ads!!!!! 4 of which were boys. so how can anyone say that as many boys as girls are being abandoned??


  42. dutchmomtobe Says:

    Hi everyone,

    last week we finally received our daughter’s finding ad (we adopted her in September 2006) and in this particular newspaper she was in there were 200 other finding ads!!!!!!! 196 girls and 4 boys. so how can anybody say that as many boys as girls are being abandoned???

    ps: my anti-spam word was Beijing, and this Christmas we are going on holiday with our daughter to Beijing!!! :o)

  43. Myline Says:

    0-1 1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5

    2006 75 71 9 4 1
    2005 70 120 9 1 7
    2004 76 82 2 2 1
    2003 103 71 1 1 1
    2002 54 85 6
    2001 47 54 1 1
    2000 46 30 4 6

    Total M F

    2006 160 16 144
    2005 207 15 192
    2004 163 7 157
    2003 177 3 174
    2002 145 4 141
    2001 103 0 103
    2000 86 1 85

    Here are the Danish numbers for the past 7 years. We can’t specify gender or age – most get a general approval for a child I the age 0-36 months.

  44. mafalda Says:

    Hi RQ,

    Just a little comment on domestic adoptions. It would seem to me that if domestic adoption is really to take off, it will do so firstly and mostly in the big cities. And in the big cities girls are more and more appreciated amongst people in “adopting age” (or parenting age). Most of my Chinese friends in Beijing prefer girls to boys, in spite of their parents (the grandparents) prefering just the opposite.

    I enjoy your analysis very much. Thanks for the effort.

  45. kim532 Says:

    While I didn’t do all the math out, the Danish numbers are quite interesting. It looks like the smae type of increase RQ is showing.

    Ever since we started the adoption process I have seen us with a son. I didn’t think we could request a boy, and therefore put down either gender.

  46. ChristyCanuck Says:

    My apologies for my multiple posts. I kept getting basically a 404 message each time I hit “submit”. I’m really not OCD with posting…. Really.

  47. Julenisse Says:

    Hi Paddington,

    We are with the same agency and as far as I have heard, at least half of the boys referred in 2007 where SN boys.

    From my China guide I learned that healthy boys abandoned in China mainly get adopted domestically while SN boys get adopted internationally.

    We are prepared for a girl referral but will be absolutely happy to get referred a boy too. I am sure he will look cute in all the nice dresses I bought … :-)

    Best regards
    LID 12/08-2005

  48. crankhard Says:

    I can’t say that I’m neutral on the gender issue. I have three bio sons, and we are all pretty excited about adding a girl to the mix.

  49. Alianna Says:

    Don´t buy pink clothes! Don´t paint the room pink! Don´t name your blog -Waiting for Grace-!

    Because if you do you haven´t realized that nowadays an adoption from China not automatically brings you a girl…

    That was in the (good?) old days.

    Prepare yourself for a son.

  50. RumorQueen Says:

    Just want to restate what I said above here because I don’t thing some have seen it:

    For the record, some U.S. agencies will not allow parents to turn down a referral based on gender and still ask for another referral.

    However, most U.S. agencies (that have recently had parents with boy referrals) will allow parents to turn down based on gender (as long as their request was for a girl only) and they will ask for another referral for the family.

    I am not aware of anyone in recent history who turned down a boy referral, and who had the support of their agency, who did not receive a girl referral.

  51. china dad 1 Says:


    Nice work. The most interesting number in this all is the drop of roughly 40% of total numbers of 1+ year olds in 2006 compared to 2005 which accounted for virtually all the drop in total numbers placed.

    We really need the 2007 numbers to see what has happend over the last year – if the older children are “gone” the new numbers going forward should match up with under 1 years old.

    I do belive that a ratio quota make sense. I agree the total numbers are only a drop in the bucket, but to save face and address the drop in numbers – if you limit the girls to a percentage of boys you can further reduce the IA numbers with out too much fanfair.

  52. ruthiesmom Says:

    Before you all completely panic: We requested a boy and are leaving tomorrow to pick up Margaret Sijie (and no we are not needlessly cruel parents). So don’t jump to any conclusions.


  53. susiesgirls Says:

    very interesting. i’ve always wondered when people get their referral for a boy if they have asked for a boy, girl or either. sometimes people don’t explain what was in their adoption petition. we’ve requested “either” and i am always looking to see how many girls vs. boys are referred to the families stating either.

    of course, with us being in for a 3+ yr wait, it has no real bearing on what will happen when we are in matching. but i’ve already been fielding questions from people if we tell them we are waiting again for a dd or ds…usually expressing surprise that nsn boys are being referred.

  54. klem Says:

    Dutchmomtobe: the number of children abandoned does not equal the number of kids who have finding ads. While I think far more girls are abandoned and living in orphanages, the number of finding ads for boys may not accurately reflect that number that are abandoned or are living in an orphanage.

    Many of the kids who are abandoned don’t even go to an SWI–they are “adopted” by the person who finds them or someone else in the village, etc. I am told this happens a lot when the abandoned child is a boy.

    The kids who get finding ads are those who will be submitted for IA. So children who are going to be adopted domestically don’t need one nor do those children who aren’t going to be considered for adoption. So it is possible that more boys are living at the SWI–they just don’t get a finding ad.


  55. tgredthread Says:

    someone…perhaps even RQ touched on this..but one reason (even if it’s a small one) that more boys are being abandoned (i.e. available for NSN adoption) could be this:
    since the Chinese economy has been growing and there are more factory jobs, etc available…many single women/girls are becoming migrant workers. Some may end up getting pregnant and can not afford to raise a child or are not ready for other reasons. We had three boys in our group of 10 from WanZhou SWI and our guide hadn’t seen that many in one group before and told us she suspected that this could be happening.

    oh and I like how my security word was baba hehe quite appropriate I must say. :)