Adoption has been an important historical Eastern Asian family strategy to ensure family continuity. Adopting children out of the household can, however, also be seen as a strategy for dealing with excess children. This topic is the focus of our article, which investigates who was given away for adoption and why in Taiwan during the period 19061945. The Taiwan Historical Household Register Database (THHRD), which can take changing household composition over time into account, is analysed using univariate and Cox proportional hazard analyses. Results demonstrate that gender, birth position among siblings of the same sex, and variation across place and time are the most important factors explaining the likelihood of being adopted for all children. Socio-economic position also played an important role and the presence of a grandfather and grandmother lowered the likelihood of being adopted especially for boys, while only the presence of a grandmother had the same effect for girls. Moreover, when looking more specifically at adoption risks for girls, the age, gender and adoption status of siblings in the household seem to matter as well, as similarly aged young siblings of either sex increased the likelihood of being adopted for girls. These findings underscore that household decision making regarding adoption is more complex than simply giving away later-born children and that it is also important to pay more attention to the reasons and motivation of households in giving away children for adoption. It provides a broader perspective on adoption practices and how children were circulated from households with too many to those with too few and how this benefited both kinds.