Recently, NPR’s The Race Card Project highlighted a startling practice. When it comes adopting a child, African-American infants cost less to adopt.
Adopting a child can be an emotionally draining and costly process. People can spend thousands of dollars on medical costs, and legal and agency fees. But according to NPR’s The Race Card Project, race (and even skin color) can play a critical role in cost of adoption.
The Race Card Project asks listeners to share six word stories about race in America, and one caught them off guard: “Black babies cost less to adopt.”
Other entries, like that of Caryn Lantz, illustrated how the cost of adopting a child fluctuates based on race.
After being informed that African-American babies were “cheaper” than biracial, Hispanic, or White babies, Lantz was disturbed.
“I remember hearing this and just sort of being dumbfounded that they would sort of segregate — to use a loaded term — segregate these children by ethnic background before they were even in this world,” Lantz told NPR.
The cost? Lantz was quoted fees of approximately $35,000 for a Caucasian infant, $18,000 for a “full African-American” girl, and between $24,000 to $26,000 for a biracial child.
While many state agencies use an income-based scale adoption, many couples who are desperate to adopt often turn to private agencies—some who use race-based pricing–to help them facilitate the process.
Non-white children, and black children, in particular, are harder to place in adoptive homes, Norris says. So the cost is adjusted to provide an incentive for families that might otherwise be locked out of adoption due to cost, as well as “for families who really have to, maybe have a little bit of prodding to think about adopting across racial lines.”
In other words, Norris explains, there are often altruistic reasons for the discrepancy — “but people who work in adoption say there’s one more reason, quite simply: It’s supply and demand.”
The fees typically cover administrative costs, but also costs associated with taking care of the mother, like travel, rent, health care and counseling services. Now, some states and agencies are using a different formula to make adoption more affordable for families, with a sliding scale based on income rather than skin color. In that system, lower-income families pay less to adopt. Some agencies are also moving toward a uniform cost system where all adoptive parents would pay the same fees.
With over 100,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, the majority of whom are not White, it’s not clear whether or not race-based adoption pricing merely reinforces the notion that White babies are somehow more valuable than others, or will actually encourage more couples to open their doors to children of color.