Thursday, April 22, 2010

APs Prefer Girls, Non-Black Children

Have you seen this?

US parents looking to adopt a child prefer girls over boys, and non-black children over African-Americans, according to a new study carried out by a group of economists.

The team from the California Institute of Technology, the London School of Economics and New York University studied five years worth of data from 2004-2009 culled from a website run by an adoption intermediary.

They were able to see which babies attracted most applications from adoptive parents, and how much the parents would need to pay to finalize the adoption.

They found that a non-African-American baby was seven times more likely to "attract the interest and attention of potential adoptive parents than an African-American baby," said Leonardo Felli, an economics professor at LSE. But there was not a similar preference in favor of Caucasian babies over Hispanic babies, even though all the adoptive parents in the sample were Caucasian, Felli said.

The research also uncovered a unexpectedly strong preference in favor of girls, which were a little over a third more likely to attract the attention of adoptive parents than a boy, he said. "With biological children, the literature shows that there's a slight but significant preference for boys over girls," said Leeat Yariv, an associate professor of economics at Caltech. "But in adoption, there's a very strong preference for girls over boys."

I posted before about the girl preference, including some speculation as to why, and this study seems to confirm the gender preference. Is anyone surprised by the findings about racial preferences?

You can find the whole study here.


Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

Although the headline shocked me, I'm not at all surprised. I still haven't been able to wrap my head around the whole "girl preference" thing and how strong it really is.

Wendy said...

No, I am not surprised. We live in a country where the fringe still call for death of minorities when their hatred comes to a boil, but where race preference is not seen as a form of racism. Until we (citizens) acknowledge institutional and social racism/prejudices exist, preference for "lighter" children or those that hold model minority status will continue to dominant. Sadly, it would have surprised me if they found this trend ending as I don't see a reflection of this in other areas of society changing, except maybe for the worse.

GRM said...

Just like the US as a charged history with those of African-American descent, Canada has a similar history with our Inuit and Metis people. There is a lot of stigma surrounding Caucasian families adopting Native-American children, since it their culture sees them grown up in a community (bands) on reserves. The idea is that a Caucasian person (or a non-Native American) wouldn't be able to properly raise a Native American child to embrace and understand their identity.

A friend of the family is an Native American who went through the adoption system in Canada without being adopted. I spoke to her about how she felt about Native American adoption. She said that while she thinks it should be easier to adopt those children (under current law you have to get their band to agree to release them, takes a lot of time) that she feels a non-Native American family would not be able to raise the child properly.

I have heard stories (no idea if they're true) of domestic adoption agencies discouraging Caucasian families from adopting African-American children. Again, I have no idea if these stories are true.

This is not to say that racism doesn't play a big part. Just some other things to think about.

Louise said...

I'll share why I did not adopt a black child, but preferred a girl. And, I would think many have similar stories:

Single mother, I felt I'd do better with a girl since I didn't have a male role model.
Race: my father and some other family members are very discriminatory against black people. I am not, but was concerned about a bi-racial or black child being treated differently despite their best efforts.

Racism is alive and well! But, I hope decreasing with the generations.

Von said...

Surprised me not at all as racism is alive and well in most countries and different countries have different preferences as to favoured sex of child.
Back in the 1970's when international adoption was still fairly new and adoption practices in enlightened countries were firmly adhered to, it was believed that children who had to be placed be placed, with their own ethnic group and none other because it was better for children.Much changed.

Anonymous said...

I investigated almost all forms of adoption before deciding on China. I found the idea of "competing" for a child distasteful (to put it mildly), so decided against domestic (Caucasian)infant adoption. I talked extensively with someone who had adopted biracial (Black/White) children as infants. She and her husband were having to deal with racism on all sides. There was disapproval from both the white and the black communities. I just didn't think I could deal with the baggage that comes along with our tragic history of black/white race relations. Don't get me wrong, I know there is racism against Chinese, but the history is different and attitudes are different.

I chose China partly because I grew up in Asia and I knew the historical attitudes toward girls there. It broke my heart that these girls were abandoned just because they were girls. I didn't actually specify that I wanted a girl, but I knew there was almost no chance I would get a boy from China (this was a few years ago). My other reason for choosing China was they seemed the most organized and ethical. This has been called into question, of course, but that was the information we had at the time.

My attitudes have changed as I've learned more about adoption/orphans over the years. My last adoption was an older child because I learned that older children have such a slim chance to be adopted. If I were going to adopt again I would probably specify a boy this time, as I now know that they have less chance of being adopted than a girl.


travelmom and more said...

My husband is AA and we adopted from China because I had wanted to adopt from China for a very long time, we didn't even look into any other programs. As our second adoption drug out longer and longer I started looking at other programs and the domestic adoption agencies that work to place AA children specifically don't work in my state. One domestic adoption agency told me for 30K we would have an infant placement within a month, which smelled of corruption. In domestic newborn adoptions a birthmother chooses the parents. I assume the AP can choose if they are open to various races, but the idea of “selling” my-self as a good parent never felt right to me. It is important that birthmothers take an active role in deciding the future of their children so I agree with this process, but it wasn’t something I wanted to participate in. IA is as popular as it is because it is more predictable than domestic adoption both in terms of process, timelines (although not China these days) and financially. I also think there is concern about open adoptions and neo-natal exposure to drugs or alcohol. Although drug exposure is a risk factor in China, culturally Chinese women are much less likely to drink excessively, smoke or do drugs than American women. If I weren’t three years and many dollars into a wait for a second child, I would reconsider a domestic AA adoption but right now this is not feasible for us. A few months ago I even called the state about a foster adoption program, but they don’t place many young children and their goal is to place children back with their families. This is maybe the right goal for the foster program but not for my family.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what state the residents resided from that took part in the study(?) For example, where I live there are many Latino families, hence many Latino communities. Therefore, if I was looking at a domestic adoption, I might have chosen Latino over AA for that reason alone. This is not to undermine that racism and light skin preference (even w/in some of the AA and Asian communities) is alive and well.

The girl preference is not a shock AT ALL. I still believe that both married and single women drive the adoption, and are more comfortable with the idea of raising a child of their own gender.

Mikenjane said...

I haven't had time to look at the study, but I think possibly the availability of girls (through the Chinese IA program) might have something to do with the high percentage of female adoptions in the last decade. Also the high percentage of non-AA adoptions.

Similarly, the long waits in China are causing prospective APs initially comfortable with adopting an Asian girl to take a second look at domestic adoption and the adoption of boys and other minorities. Many are changing their minds, which is very positive.

I think the choice factor in adoption has the effect of exposing prejudices that many people may not have been aware of (both personally and in the case of extended family members). This can be good b/c it forces you to talk about topics that are otherwise hidden, but it is also uncomfortable, as I know.

Jessica said...

I'm an adoptive mother to a girl and boy, both born in Guatemala and brown-skinned. My observation is that most adoptions are "driven" by women, who obviously are more familiar with "being a girl." This makes sense to me. For our second adoption, we specifically requested a boy because we had learned they are "harder" to place.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are APs of a Korean son and from what we understand, there is a huge preference for girls in domestic Korean adoptions. They appear to want bio sons to "carry the family name" and prefer adoptee daughters. We really had no gender preference.

As for why we didn't consider African American adoptions, it's because so very many African Americans themselves consider it cultural genocide. Nobody in my family would have had a problem with it: we have mixed race couples in my family. But the African American community at large is really opposed to black children being raised by whites. There's a woman who writes a column about her adoption experiences in the "Korean Quarterly." She and her husband adopted an African American girl and a Korean boy. They live in a very racially diverse area and it is not uncommon for African Americans to call out insults to her and her family as they are walking down the street. I really didn't want my child to have to deal with that level of hostility. (Yes, I am aware that not all Koreans like transracial adoptions either, but I have to say that we haven't encountered any hostility--at least not overt.)