Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Adoption Preferences

  • Anthony A. VolkEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2285-1



What child traits influence parents’ desire to adopt?


Adoption is a complex behavior that can take many forms and offer many functions. There are numerous factors that influence an adoption, including cultural norms, parent’s traits and resources, and the social and legal parameters surrounding adoption. One important potential influence on parents’ decision to adopt is information about the children themselves. In particular, cues of resemblance/kinship, age, and child attributes can all influence the desire to adopt a child. From an evolutionary perspective, each of these traits can influence the costs and potential outcomes of an adoption, making them highly relevant to adoption decisions.


Evolutionary theory suggests that parents should invest in related children so long as the cost to themselves (i.e., their own genes) is offset by the benefit to the shared genes in the related...


Parental Care Related Child Adoptive Family International Adoption Complex Decision Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alvergne, A., Faurie, C., & Raymond, M. (2007). Differential facial resemblance of young children to their parents: Who do children look like more? Evolution and Human behavior, 28(2), 135–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvergne, A., Faurie, C., & Raymond, M. (2009). Father–offspring resemblance predicts paternal investment in humans. Animal Behavior, 78, 61–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blasi, C. H., Bjorklund, D. F., & Soler, M. R. (2015). Cognitive cues are more compelling than facial cues in determining adults’ reactions towards young children. Evolutionary Psychology, 12, 511–530.Google Scholar
  4. Cunningham, H. (2005). Children and childhood in Western society since 1500. Toronto: Pearson.Google Scholar
  5. Gibson, K. (2009). Differential parental investment in families with both adopted and genetic children. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30, 184–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Halbmayer, E. (2004). The one who feeds has the rights: Adoption and fostering of kin, affines, and enemies among the Yupka and other Craib-speaking Indians of Lowland South America. In F. Bowie (Ed.), Cross-cultural approaches to adoption (pp. 145–164). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Hamilton, L., Cheng, S., & Powell, B. (2007). Adoptive parents, adaptive parents: Evaluating the importance of biological ties for parental investment. American Sociological Review, 72, 95–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hobaiter, C., Schel, A. M., Langergraber, K., & Zuberbühler, K. (2014). ‘Adoption’ by maternal siblings in wild chimpanzees. PloS one, 9, e103777.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Howell, S. (2006). The kinning of foreigners: Transnational adoption in a global perspective. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Lorenz, K. (1943). Die angeborenen Formen möglicher Erfahrung. Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie, 5, 233–519.Google Scholar
  11. Luo, L. Z., Li, H., & Lee, K. (2011). Are children’s faces really more appealing than those of adults? Testing the baby schema hypothesis beyond infancy. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 110, 115–124.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Miller, L. C. (2005). The handbook of international adoption medicine. Toronto: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Scelza, B. A., & Silk, J. B. (2014). Fosterage as a system of dispersed cooperative breeding. Human Nature, 25(4), 448–464.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Silk, J. B. (1990). Human adoption in evolutionary perspective. Human Nature, 1, 25–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Stolley, K. (1993). Statistics on adoption in the United States. The Future of Children, 3, 26–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Talle, A. (2004). Adoption practices among the pastoral Maasai of East Africa: Enacting fertility. In F. Bowie (Ed.), Cross-cultural approaches to adoption (pp. 64–78). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Testa, M. F. (2004). When children cannot return home: Adoption and guardianship. The Future of Children, 14, 115–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man (pp. 136–179). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  19. Volk, A. A. & Atkinson, J. (2008). Is child death the crucible of human evolution? Journal of Social and Cultural Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 247–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Volk, A. A. (2009). Chinese infant facial cues. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 7, 225–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Volk, A. A. (2011). Adoption: Forms, functions, 8 and preferences. In The Oxford handbook of evolutionary family psychology (pp. 113–127). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Volk, A. A., & Atkinson, J. A. (2013). Infant and child death in the human environment of evolutionary adaptation. Evolution and Human Behavior, 34, 182–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Volk, A., & Quinsey, V. L. (2002). The influence of infant facial cues on adoption preferences. Human Nature, 13, 437–455.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Volk, A. A., & Quinsey, V. L. (2007). Parental investment and resemblance: Replications, revisions, and refinements. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Volk, A. A., Lukjanczuk, J. M., & Quinsey, V. L. (2005). Influence of infant and child facial cues of low body weight on adults’ ratings of adoption preference, cuteness, and health. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 459–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Volk, A. A., Lukjanczuk, J. M., & Quinsey, V. L. (2007). Perceptions of child facial cues as a function of child age. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 801–814.Google Scholar
  27. Volk, A. A., Darrell-Cheng, C., & Marini, Z. A. (2010). Paternal care may influence perceptions of paternal resemblance. Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 516–529.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Waller, K., Volk, A., & Quinsey, V. L. (2004). The effect of infant fetal alcohol syndrome facial features on adoption preference. Human Nature, 15, 101–117.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Wegar, K. (2000). Adoption, family, ideology, and social stigma: Bias in community attitudes, adoption research, and practice. Family Relations, 49, 363–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Curtis Dunkel
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Illinois UniversityMacombUSA