Child Adoption

Desktop and mobile (animated) version of an interactive chart that represents children as tiny plants, that grow as time passes – while they wait for a new parent to adopt them. These plants are also grouped by categories such as ethnicity, siblings and disabilities.

Simulation shows which children are adopted (and which are not) in Brazil

🏆 Information is Beautiful sole winner

🥉  Bronze for “innovation” at Malofiej

🎤 Featured project on my talk at Dataviz.Rio


Among children living at a temporary home, you could probably find a 14-year-old black boy who has a brother or sister. These are the most common attributes of children available for adoption.

However, the profile most sought out by future parents is that of a 2-year-old white girl and only child.

According to our simulation, the 14-year-old’s chance of being adopted within 12 months is 1 in 1,000. The girl’s adoption is taken for granted.

In search for a more sensitive approach, we opted for a visual metaphor and represented each child as a small plant 🌻 that grows as the years go by.

The higher the plant, the older the child. The V-shaped ending means that the child has at least one brother or sister. The flower indicates that this child has a physical or cognitive disability.

When this story was published, the link between prospective parents and children available for adoption was manually performed by judges – through their own spreadsheets, for example.

But a new tool was on the horizon. It would match parents and children using an integrated national system.

Inspired by this new system, I developed an open source simulator of our own, which also matches prospective parents and children.

This simulator lets you interactively track how long it would take for a 2-year-old to be adopted – and compare it with the waiting time of a 10-year-old.

Users probably ran this simulation once. We have performed it thousands of times.

Doing so, it was possible to identify the attributes that most facilitate or hinder the adoption of a child. Being over 5 years old, having siblings or some kind of disability makes adoption extremely difficult.

After running the simulation up until a total of 1,000 children were adopted, we grouped them by different categories: race, disability and siblings

We then compared the characteristics of children available for adoption with those of children who were adopted. This indicates that, although skin color plays an important role during selection, there are other more selective filters in action.

For example, almost half of the children with cognitive impairments are not adopted. In addition, children that have brothers or sisters are much less likely to be adopted if they are over 10.


Before talking about some actual results, let’s look at the situation we were in.

The charts below represent the prospective parents preferences around August 2019, at the time when the article was being created.

It seems harsh to me that only 1% of parents accept children over 10.

When a couple or a single person is able to apply for the adoption process, it is necessary for them to define the attributes of the desired child. These decisions involve maximum age, sex, race and many others.

Just to name a couple of discrepancies:

White kids are accepted by 92% of the prospects, but only 56% of them accept black boys and girls. Also, children that have at least one brother or sister are only accepted by 37% of the prospective parents.

These numbers don’t add up when you compare them with the Brazilian population, from babies to teenagers.

To address this kind of problem, a Brazilian senator spoke up the at the national Upper House.

The adoption of older kids was promoted by Kátia Abreu only two days after this article was published – and the newspaper’s name was mentioned during her speech.

She was announcing the creation of a local branch for the National Association of Adoption Support Groups, at the state that she represents.

But it’s not all about official repercussion. The quotes below were extracted from tweets that shared the online article – and I feel like the comments they wrote really made all the months spent on this project worth it.

It’s time to adopt a new way of thinking

Julio, Director of the LGBTS+ Center in Brasília

Reading about adoption, watching the simulator they developed and crying inside an Uber. I really want to be a stable adult to be the mother of these kids

Besides publishing a delicate visual story about adoption, our underlying goal was to promote a shift in perception, so that those charts and numbers could look – a few years from now – a bit different.

My role

  • Ideation Workshop
  • Design
  • Coding
  • Data analysis
  • Team Management
  • Content Editing

Some of the people that made this project happen include Bruno Ponceano (designer), Mariana Cunha (visual journalist) and Julia Marques (reporter).

Fun fact: the team and I had this idea while sorting random verbs, nouns and adjectives during an outdoor ideation workshop that we organized ourselves.

You can read more about it on our interview for the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards.

Stage and trophies photographed during the ceremony for the KANTAR Information is Beautiful Awards 2019, at the London Symphony Orchestra’s St. Luke’s, an 18th century church turned cathedral of the arts.

After this data visualization won the trophy as the Best Non-English project of 2019, the folks responsible for Information is Beautiful asked us to present a behind-the-scenes look at our story. Feel free to check it out.