Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race-Based Adoption Fees

Here's another issue that the public should be made aware of during National Adoption Awareness Month:
Joe and Becky Ketarkus said money was not a factor in how they approached adoption, but they said they were stunned to learn of a stratified fee system in which white children cost thousands of dollars more to adopt than black children.

"It made me furious that free-market economics would be applied to babies," said Joe Ketarkus.

Beth Hall, co-author of "Inside Transracial Adoption," said race-based adoption fees are "inherently racist and unethical" but common. Such a system has the unfortunate side effect of discouraging some families of color from adopting children because they find the system insulting, Hall said.
I've blogged more about the issue here. When did you first become aware of this stratified fee structure that values children according to their race?  What did you think about it?  Do you think it's an appropriate recognition of the reality of "hard-to-place" children?  Or does it reinforce racism?

15 comments:

Joy said...

I found out about this in 1999 when we started looking into domestic adoption. It was the VERY thing that made us choose international adoption. We decided if we ever adopted domestically, it would be through CPS.

Anonymous said...

Its quite honestly ugly but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Sadly children of color were more difficult to place long before race based fees were applied.

Its the whole chicken and egg scenario...which one came first?

Ethicially its a travesty but its not so different than the clear bias towards adopting girls over boys.

I have seen agencies willing to wave certain fees or offering grants towards families willing to adopt a son. Is that different?

Many of the same families who turn in outrage over these systemic race clauses/issues, turn a blind eye when its their turn to adopt. Only a girl for them. I'm not judging but it seems.....hypocritical to me.

I realize China places mostly girls due to their policies, but around the world its virtually equal the number of girls and boys in need of loving homes.

Andi said...

I think everyone looks at this the wrong way. It's not that they are charging less for black and mixed race babies (does anyone really think an adoption BUSINESS would undercut their own profits?), but they are charging extra for white babies Because They Can. Because there is so much demand for white babies that they can get away with putting an surcharge on those "more desirable" babies. We need to focus more on why is anyone allowed to make profits by essentially selling babies - and the hope of getting a baby (when they ask you to pay at least partially before the baby is even born) - and less on whether they make smaller profits selling black babies. Sorry. I don't think adoption is baby selling, but domestic infant adoption comes suspiciously close. When I first started looking into adoption I thought infant adoption was the way to go, but the more I've learned the more I think the only kind of adoption I could be comfortable with myself is through the state (and that of course has its own, different, issues).

Amanda said...

On one hand, people will say it is racist because people are charging more for white babies because they're more in demand and people are willing to pay more to get one.

On the other hand, people will defend it saying that it's important to place children of color with families of the same/racial and ethnic backgrounds. What might be hindering racial/ethnic minority families from adopting is that they cannot afford to because they've been disadvantaged historically and because of systemic barriers based on race.

I agree with the first argument and find the second argument horribly offensive. Yes, we should be seeking to place children with families that can teach them their history and give them the tools to deal with racism. But to "charge less" for them? No one should be charging anything in order for a child to receive a home, ever. When a child is in need, their need should be met, and not based on a family's ability to pay. Charging fees for children based on the demand that there is for them is horribly unethical.

I also believe it is unethical to offer insentives based on gender or any other attribute as well.

There's some linked info here that may interest you: http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/2010/09/race-gender-age-adoption-money.html

Anonymous said...

true story: a couple of years ago, amazon was charging less for black dolls and more for white ones. controversy ensued, and amazon made black and white dolls the same price.

as far as the article, it just says to me suppy and demand. so ugly in those terms when the commodity is children.

i became aware of it when we were considering domestic adoption quite a few years back. after speaking to a couple private adoption attornies, i was uncomfortable with the close proximity to baby buying (or maybe more accurate, baby bribing), that we chose a different path to form our family.

Anonymous said...

Many of the same families who turn in outrage over these systemic race clauses/issues, turn a blind eye when its their turn to adopt. Only a girl for them. I'm not judging but it seems.....hypocritical to me.

---> Well, you are judging but that is O.K. because it is hypocritical. The fact is-- boys typically wait much, much longer than girls when there is a gender option. The China WC program is a clear example of that.

Anonymous said...

oops-- apologies for all my typos-- attorneys, etc etc etc

Mei Ling said...

"No one should be charging anything in order for a child to receive a home, ever."

That's the whole point of adoption, politically speaking. You hand over money and you get to adopt/raise a child.

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Charging for a baby IS baby selling. I can’t stand to hear anyone talking about adopting children as if they are picking out a new pair of shoes. It is just plain wrong. If you want to provide a child with a home than does it matter what “shade” they come in?

There are not guaranties with children whether they are adopted or your own.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, the fact that money is required to complete the complexities of an adoption does not equal baby buying. Sorry, it does not. So get over it people.

Now, finding a woman with a baby and paying that woman cash for her to hand over her baby to you, that IS baby buying, and it is illegal.

The whole larger issue of "expenses" for the mother, as handled through lawyers is a much more muddy area though. Lawyers in the US should be embarrased by their own in how they make a profit on this aspect of adopting children in the US. WHY is it legal to begin with in this country????? But if it is legal, you can bet a lawyer will be milking it for every dollar possible.

The REAL crux here though is that white children are worth more then children of color TO WHITE PEOPLE who want to adopt a child. Which means that white people with money will pay higher access fees to complete an adoption.

You don't have to like it. You can even be appalled about it.

But it is the product of our racist society where white parents want white children and for reasons beyond their control are not able to conceive biologically. So they exlore alternatives.

And since white couples in this situation very often are people of means, they can and will pay for access to adopt a child of the gender and ethnicity they desire. That is WHITE PRIVILEDGE in action.

The people who complain most about this issue in my experience are white couples who are less wealthy then the average OR have "money issues" either real or psychological. Some will even tell you they resent that it forces them to adopt a child of color instead. So you have racists adopting children of color as a result.

Seriously, this is about the pervasive and persistent racist society we live in. Not about racism in adoption. Racism is integral to our white priviledged society here. Everyone wants to pretend we are post racism in America, but that is complete B.S.

The real offensiveness of this topic is the fact that children of color are LESS DESIRED by white couples and so adoption agencies and officials face the prospect of a child staying in foster care forever, OR fees are waived or discounted to encourage people with some semblence of actual heart within them to actually consider a child of color for adoption.

In my view however, people attracted to children of color because the fees are lower are at the top of the hypocrisy list for me. white people overall are crowded at the top of this list in any event.

Mei Ling said...

"Now, finding a woman with a baby and paying that woman cash for her to hand over her baby to you, that IS baby buying, and it is illegal. "

So that can't be changed around to...

"Now, find an agency which has a bunch of infants available for adoption and paying them to give you a baby, that is baby buying."

... at all?

Or is that just more along of the lines of processing technicalities?

Then again, how would adoption staff make any money if infants weren't available for adoption? :\

Mei Ling said...

"The REAL crux here though is that white children are worth more then children of color TO WHITE PEOPLE who want to adopt a child. Which means that white people with money will pay higher access fees to complete an adoption."

True.

Healthy white infant
Non healthy white infant
Asian infant
Non healthy Asian infant
Black infant

... it just occurred to me that many Asian infants have medical complications. Wouldn't that mean they are more expensive to adopt than healthy white infants?

Anonymous said...

Hard to place special needs children are discounted too. I can't decide which is worse - telling my special needs daughter with a cleft lip and palate that she was a blue light special, got $2000 off her original sticker price, or my special needs daughter with seizure disorder that I paid full price for her (she hadn't been on the shelf long enough to be discounted).

Anonymous said...

I discovered this when my daughter was around seven and her adoptive parents cheerfully informed me they "got a deal" on her because she was half African-American. Sad indeed. Prior to that, I had no idea money was involved in "non-profit" adoption. Naive perhaps, but it was before the internet.

Becky said...

I'm the Becky Ketarkus in the article. My husband and I are outraged at the system being stratified the way that it is. But we didn't have a better answer for it. So, we did the best we could in a broken system. We went through ethical agencies/attorneys that charged us only what it cost to process the adoption. They quoted us correctly, we would have paid more in adoption fees had it been necessary, but not in AGENCY fees or in birth parent "expenses".

For anyone who says they won't participate in this, and they'll adopt through CPS, good luck to you. That system is equally, or even more broken, then the system that makes it so that black and special needs children "cost" the least.

--Becky