November 19th, 2007
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Categories: Racial Discounts

A controversial area of adoption is providing discounts for adopting a child of a certain race. For example, an adoption agency might charge $20,000 for the domestic private adoption of a Caucasian newborn but only $15,000 for the domestic private adoption of an African-American or biracial newborn. Is providing a discount a practical way of providing more homes for children who might not otherwise be adopted, or is this blatant racism?

Arguments For the Practice

Those who believe it is a good thing to charge different rates argue that reducing the cost of adopting a non-Caucasian baby encourages some adoptive parents to adopt these babies. If all adoptions cost the same, then many Caucasian couples will choose to wait longer for a baby who looks more like they do rather than adopt a non-Caucasian baby who needs a home now. Meanwhile, the agency might not have many couples of other races waiting to adopt, making it harder to find a home for non-Caucasian babies.


Those supporting the practice might argue that reducing the cost of an adoption for certain babies makes the process more affordable, enabling some couples to adopt a baby who might not otherwise be able to afford to adopt a newborn. Also, some might say that this is a simple issue of supply and demand: Fewer Caucasian babies available for adoption simply drives up the price.

Arguments Against the Practice

Charging more to adopt a Caucasian baby sends the message that a Caucasian baby is “worth” more than another baby is. The practice seems more like reducing the cost of a pedigreed puppy whose markings are inferior to its littermates’ markings.

Also, considering that the process is exactly the same regardless of a child’s race, why is there a need to charge more for the Caucasian baby’s adoption? Where is this extra money going? Is more money being provided to the expecting mother? Or is the agency simply making a tidy profit off each Caucasian adoption?

Another concern is whether an adoptive parent will love an “on sale” baby as much as he would have loved a “full price” baby. If the only reason for adopting a non-Caucasian infant is saving some money, will the adoptive parents fully embrace the child as theirs? Also, will couples who adopt the “cheaper” baby do the necessary research to educate themselves about the issues involved in transracial adoptions?

What do you think? Is it okay to have tiers of adoption costs based upon on the baby’s race?

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

9 Responses to “Adoption Cost: Putting Certain Races “On Sale””

  1. fenyimom says:

    It makes me wonder why the agency charges $20,000 for the first adoption. If the costs for the adoption are only $15,000 (employees get their regular paychecks on time), then why doesn’t the agency charge $15,000 for all of their work? My assumption is that the agency isn’t for profit, so that extra $5000 is going somewhere. Is it going into the pockets of the agency owner? Distributed among all the employees? Going to a charitable organization to make life better for other orphans Or is the agency losing money by charging only $15,000, and someone isn’t getting paid?

  2. Chromesthesia says:

    Now, it is not better. They should charge less for all adoptions.
    In fact, profit shouldn’t enter in the equation at all. It is about finding homes and loving families for babies, right? Not about making that extra money.
    I don’t agree with John Stossel at all, there are just some places profit doesn’t belong, like when people can’t get the medical care they need because of lack of money, or when people just want to start families and have to pay up to 30,000 dollars. Even 15,000 is too much to pay, unless it’s specifically work related and not just folks trying to make an extra buck or two.

  3. Faith Allen says:

    I don’t know where the extra money goes. I guess an argument could be made that an adoption costs $17,000, so the increased cost of Caucasian adoptions are off-setting the costs of the non-Caucasian adoptions. It just seems fundamentally wrong to me to put a child “on sale” based upon race.

    - Faith

  4. MamaS says:

    I always assumed that the purpose was to make the adoption of AA children more “affordable” to AA parents who might not be able to raise $20,000 and still have a college fund. Sort of like health clinics with a “sliding scale” based on income.
    If you read the “pets for sale” in the newspaper, female puppies almost always cost several hundred more than male puppies. Why? Because the supply exceeds the demand. As soon as an agency has a waiting list of parents-to-be demanding AA or bi-racial infants, the agency will raise their prices across the board for infants and start discounting “older kids” or “handicapped kids” just like the state foster systems do already by providing supplements.

  5. Faith Allen says:

    Good points, MamaS. I will write about post about them.

    - Faith

  6. fenyimom says:

    I hate to even think about this. My 5 yr old from China became available to me because none of the married parents at my agency wanted her. So she was discounted and offered as unmovable merchandise to a second rate home (single parent). “Mom, how come you adopted me instead of a married couple?” “Because no one else wanted you, and you were all I could afford.” That isn’t actually true, in that I’m sure that the woods are full of married couples who would have been happy to adopt her, and I would have paid anything the agency asked to bring her home. But thinking about it from her point of view…. I doubt that I can ever tell her the truth about how she ended up in my family. She was a waiting child file due back in China in a week.

  7. Faith Allen says:

    Good call. I agree — that would be hurtful for her to learn. I am glad it all worked out for you to come together as a family.

    - Faith

  8. dogs41c says:

    I also feel this is a supply and demand. The fees involved in adopting a 1/2 caucasian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American are more than if to adopt an African American or biracial(1/2 African American). The items covered seem to be the same or close for both, so how is the difference in price justified???? Most places I’ve looked into state the birthmother gets to choose their child’s family. However, my understanding is, your profile is only shown based on the fees applied to that child’s race(Caucasian, African American, etc.). For instance, if you only have $15,000 to spend, and someone else has $26,000, your profile will not be shown to the same birthparent as the $26,000 adoptive parent. To me that doesn’t seem like the birthmother has a choice as to the adoptive parents because she is limited to who may be able to spend more money if the baby is Caucasian. It is frustrating for me to try to understand how this all works and how the cost difference is justified. We seem to be putting price tags on children. What a shame!

  9. read this article…

    Adoption Cost: Putting Certain Races On Sale -…

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