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The Adopted Child Cost Caste System: The Shocking Truths Behind U.S. Adoption’s Economic Racial Hierarchy

The issue is virtually unknown to those other than adoptive parents and those who are close to them. Conversely, it touches on a myriad of other issues involving adopting children and the minefield of racial politics of this culture.

In the United States, there are different costs for adopting children of different races, with white children costing the most to adopt. Explanations vary as to both why this situation exists and what it means for adoptive parents and children. While age and gender are more common factors than ethnicity or race for parents interested in adopting children, with infants and girls being the most popular preferences, some parents state that they would rather adopt white children.

Their reasons vary. Most parents interested in adopting children are white, and the appeal to some is to have children that look more “like them.” To others, there is the understandable desire to avoid the challenges of transracial adoption, which parents who choose to adopt children of different races face, in addition to the other challenges faced by both other adoptive parents and faced by all parents, biological and by choice. A third reason is the past controversy regarding and opposition to white parents adopting black children that resulted in high-profile cases and the 1995 film, “Losing Isaiah,” based on the novel of the same title, in which Halle Berry portrays a black recovering drug addict who contests the adoption by a white woman of the baby she lost due to her habit. The yearning to adopt white children and the high cost and excessive regulation of adoption in this country lead many parents to adopt children from Eastern Europe, who are more likely than their American counterparts to have problems with adapting to a new family and a new life and other psychological problems.

“In the context of placement, what we see is the preferred child is the healthy, white infant,” said Beth Hall, founder of Pact, An Adoption Alliance. “And, there’s a racial hierarchy that moves away from there for children of color.”

The fees associated with adopting an African-American child typically range from $5,000 to $15,000. For Latino children, fees typically range from $7,000 and $20,000. To adopt a white child can cost as much as $35,000, said Hall in the documentary, “Adopted: The Movie.”

Quite obviously, this is problematic in the slight it inflicts on children that others are valued more than they are. A less obvious problem is one of discrimination, with the children who present a greater expense to adopt being discriminated against compared to those who cost less due to the adoption fee system worsening their chances at adoption compared to other children due to their race.

While many find this racial caste system for children in need of parents shocking, offensive and abhorrent, it does have its defenders. The justification for it rests on three main points. The first is supply-and-demand, with some children being judged as having more or less potential “buyers” than others, and this leading to their differing “prices.” A related argument is that having a lesser “price tag” encourages parents to consider adopting children of another race. Another justification is that the higher fees to adopt white children can then be put to use in making other children cheaper to adopt.

Therefore, apologists for the current system argue, that it actually helps the children others see it as slighting.



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