I grew-up keenly aware of the disparate adoption price tags determined by a baby’s skin color. As an adoptee and the only child of an infertile mother, I begged my parents to adopt a brother or sister for me. Years and years past and I must have heard a thousand times how difficult it was to adopt a “SECOND white, healthy newborn.” My mother would bluntly tell anyone who asked, “The only babies that are out there for adoption are black,” and the response was always, “Wow, you were so lucky to get Rebecca!” Gross.
Fortunately, I attended a fantastically diverse public school system (at the height of desegregation in the South) in which my elementary school teachers, who happened to all be black (except 5th grade), were my idols. When I was twelve, my parents got their second white, healthy newborn. My brother is awesome nonetheless, and my parents paid up.
These days, the issue of race and adoption has come full circle with a backlash toward white parents who have adopted black children (see Sacha Baron Cohen’s film “Bruno”). Now termed “transracial adoption” there are volumes of required reading, websites and support groups to dish out and then soothe white guilt and lessons on raising a black child. My parents would never have invested in educating themselves about transracial issues, so maybe they were right to hold out and pay up for a white child?
Of course, the real issue is why is there a such a significant cost difference. And in case you didn’t know, I’m talking $30,000 for a white baby verses $10,000 for a black baby. Pure supply and demand. How does that sit with you? To be fair, one could argue that by lowering the cost (or incentivising as some call it) of a black baby adoption, it might be making adoption more accessible to black parents. Also, the goal is to find all babies, regardless of color, a home—so if costs have to vary, so be it. That doesn’t sound so bad. I just wish we were talking about it more.