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Why Do Black Babies Cost Less To Adopt?

When we first toured my daughter’s private school, I saw a little African-American girl toddling around. She was adorable with her short, curly Afro and cute pink bracelets that matched her pink sandals. I looked around for the girl’s mother and got a little nervous when I didn’t see any black women nearby.

But then a slim white woman with short blonde hair swooped her up. She had been standing next to the little girl the whole time. Why did I assume that a black child would have a black parent?

My assumption wasn’t too far from reality. Most recent data on private adoptions shows that most adoptive parents are white, and they tend to adopt white children.

Last month, NPR’s “Race Card Project” reported on an uncomfortable aspect of adoption: in many cases, black children cost less to adopt than biracial or white children. In one instance that the radio project examined, the fees to adopt an African-American baby were $12,000 less than those for a white child. Some representatives at the agencies say the cost differential is an incentive to coax potential parents to consider adopting children of a different race, as a simple marketplace response to supply and demand. There are more African-American children waiting on adoption lists.

I’m supportive of attempts to see more children adopted. All children should get a fair shot at finding a “forever family.” However, I’m not thrilled with African-American babies being on the clearance rack, so to speak. There are enough messages out there that black children are “less than.” Do we also need them to come to their families at a discount?

A mother to an African-American child asked on the NPR blog: “My son was cheaper than if he’d been white. How will he feel, if he ever finds out about that?”


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