In most instances people pick out a child because he is dark or fair, fat or lean, because his hair is curly or straight, blond or brunette. The wise couple will realize from the first that the health of the child is much more important than the tilt or turnup of his nose.
An extremely cute baby may be just the opposite when he reaches eight years of age. The fat babies get thin and the thin ones get fat; the curly-headed blond six months of age may be a straight-haired raven at fifteen.
The child with a positive Wassermann test has a condition which demands a great deal of attention before he is suitable for adoption.
The child who has come from a family with tuberculosis may pass through a long period of invalidism before he is healthful.
Mental deficiency can be recognized after three or four months of age, but some mental taints do not appear until later in life. Some conception of the amount of mental defect in the ancestry of the child being considered for adoption is desirable.
Some hereditary defects can be controlled to a certain extent through environment, but it is far safer to be sure of the heredity of the child and not to take chances.
Most people who want to adopt a baby want an extremely young one so that he will not know that the parents are not his own. It is undesirable to adopt a baby during the first few days of his life. At least several months should be given to observation of his physical and mental state before he is taken by the family for rearing.
Most of the children available for adoption are either illegitimate, those abandoned by their parents, or those taken away from disorderly or vicious parents by legal authorities.
The demand for children for adoption far exceeds the supply. Girls are requested more often than boys.
Sometimes parents want a child to replace an infant who has been lost, in which case they endeavor to duplicate the physical and superficial characteristics without giving sufficient attention to the mentality and the heredity.
One woman suddenly decided to adopt a baby because she thought he would look sweet in a coat which she could make from some leftover pieces of white fur.
Parents usually ask for golden-haired, blue-eyed girls with sweet dispositions. It is merely necessary to take the prospective parents through the nursery in order to cause them to take the first child who may happen to hold his arms out to them.
The child is not only the direct descendant of his parents but the sum of all of the ancestry of both for hundreds of years back. Moreover, nature has extraordinary ways in that it suddenly projects a black sheep into a thoroughly good family, and raises great statesmen, multimillionaires, and intellectual giants out of mud heaps. At least 70 per cent of weight can be placed on the immediate parents in the selecting of an infant with a view to getting a clean history from the point of view of mentality and 3o per cent on the influence of the more remote ancestors.
Pick out a child with as good an ancestry as possible, pick the child young, and take the child only on trial. Most institutions having children available for adoption now have definite procedures which prospective parents follow in order to be assured that satisfactory results will be secured.