The Greatest Need

After beginning the adoption process to adopt a girl, the Jackson family decided to be open to either gender. They welcomed Luke into their family a year and a half ago.

As we embark on 2016, our top priority remains: to meet the greatest needs of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. So we talked with our adoption counselors and asked them, “What is the greatest need right now among children waiting for adoptive families?”

The answer was resounding: “We need families to adopt boys!”

This need is not a new one, and it’s one we’ve been working hard to meet. In the past, we’ve advocated for boys by raising awareness on our blog and social media, featuring the need as a myth in our November myth-busting campaign, and sharing stories from Holt families about the joys of adopting a boy.

Yet still, the need persists. For country programs that allow families to specify gender, the number of families who specifically request a girl far outweighs the number of families who are open to a boy. This is especially true for the China program. Right now, Holt’s China program for children with correctable conditions has about 40 families who are waiting to be matched with their child. Of these families, fewer than 10 are open to boy — even though families will likely be matched with a boy in a matter of weeks, instead of months for a girl!

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why so many more families request a girl.

Maybe because boys are assumed to be more rowdy and difficult to parent, while girls are considered sweet and easier to parent. (Many parents to a teenage daughter may disagree!)

Or maybe the reason behind the international adoption gender gap is the continued perception that only girls need adoptive families. And for a period of time, this was true. In the early 1990s, when China first opened to international adoption, a disproportionate number of girls in China were abandoned as an unintended consequence of the country’s one-child policy. Adoptive families around the world stepped up to welcome these girls into their families. However, things have changed. Now an equal number of girls and boys are available for adoption.

But because they are less frequently requested, boys are waiting much longer than girls to be united with their permanent, loving families!

Don’t get us wrong — we LOVE girls and still need families to adopt them. We celebrate when an adoptive family welcomes a little girl into their heart and home. But right now there is a dire need for families to be open to boys. And for the sake of these little boys, we need to communicate it.

Who knows — maybe the addition of a boy to your family would be more fun and wonderful than you ever expected? That’s exactly what happened for the Jackson family.


When the Jacksons first began their adoption journey, they requested to adopt a girl. They already had three biological daughters, so adding another girl to their family seemed like the most natural thing to do.

“But the more we thought about it,” says Lisa Jackson, “we thought that if I got pregnant, we wouldn’t be able to pick [the gender].”

This realization prompted the Jackson family to change the checked box on their adoption form from “girl” to “either” when they were about halfway through the adoption process. And once their dossier was in China, they were matched with their son, Luke, after just five days.

For families who are open to adopting a boy, the season of waiting is almost always shorter. For families pursuing adoption of a child with correctable needs in China, it takes about 6-9 months to be matched with a girl. But to be matched with a boy it usually only takes 1-3 months — and sometimes just a matter of weeks!

Raising a boy is a new adventure for the Jackson family. “I often find him standing up on top of our coffee table,” Lisa says, laughing — something she never found her girls doing.

It’s also a wonderful adventure. They Jacksons are learning to build Thomas the Train railroads through their living room, race cars through their hallway and spend lots of time running around outside.

“It’s been nothing but a joy,” says Lisa. “We have fallen head over heels for him.”

Big sisters Grace, Halle and Avery are loving life with their little brother.

As we stand committed to meeting the needs of children around the world, we must advocate for these boys. And while many families are beginning to step up, the need remains great.

So as we head into 2016, consider this need and consider this for you and your family: could you open your heart to a boy?

Want to learn more about adopting a little boy from China? Click here for more information about our China program.

Or contact Kris Bales, our China adoption counselor and intake manager at

2 Replies to “The Greatest Need”

  1. We adopted a 5 1/2 year old boy back in 2009 from China. He is now 12. He is an amazing human being and we cannot imagine life without him. Boys are awesome!

  2. We too had 3 biological girls and set out to adopt another, simply because we knew girls, we had girl toys and clothes, they could share rooms, etc. India and God had other ideas for us and 12 yrs later we have been immeasurably blessed by TWO Holt sons. It’s been a wild ride. They are so different from our girls, but we wouldn’t trade our family for anything!

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