"chosen Child"

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"chosen child"

A concept derived from a formerly popular book (The Chosen Baby) that social workers in past years encouraged adoptive parents to read to their adopted children and that told how the child had been "chosen" by them. This story was urged because it was believed the child would feel special and unique, and this feeling would overcome any anxiety or negativism about being adopted.

A problem with the "chosen child" story is that it was not always accurate in the past and is less likely to be so now, except in some international adoptions.

Very few adoptive parents now actually select the child they wish to adopt. Instead, a social worker, agency team, attorney or other individual decides a particular couple or single person would be most likely to meet the needs of a particular infant.

As a result, when an older child starts asking for details on how or why she was chosen, the whole "chosen child" story falls apart.

Parents can instead explain that they chose to adopt as a way of building their family and that, once the child was placed, they chose to follow through and legally finalize the adoption in a court of law.

Today it is more often birthmothers who do the choosing-in such cases, adoptive parents are selected by a birthmother from a number of nonidentifying resumes or profiles written by prospective adoptive parents who were selected by professional staff as all being appropriate parents for a particular child.

Another problem with the "chosen child" story is that sometimes adoptive parents have biological children, either before or after they adopt a child. Given current technology, biological children are not hand-picked and come out however nature decrees. The parents are not "stuck with" the biological child, although the "chosen child" story does imply that they are when a child is born into a family.

The "chosen child" story also has an underlying implication that the child should feel grateful he was chosen when, in fact, most adoptive parents feel very grateful themselves that they have had an opportunity to adopt this child.

Most social workers and adoption experts urge adoptive parents to tell the child about adoption in a positive yet honest way, such as they wanted a child to love and the birthparents who were not ready or able to be parents themselves wanted the child to be placed in a loving home. (See also EXPLAINING ADOPTION.)


Lillian G. Katz, "Adopted Children," Parents, January 1987, 116.

Valentina P. Wasson, Chosen Baby (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1977).

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