African-American children are seven times less likely to be adopted domestically than white children, and in some cases cost $38,000 less in adoption finalization costs, according to a 2010 study in the academic publication American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Nationally, there is a shortage of African-American families, the study found.
Court records show there are at least 97,000 domestic adoptions each year. Still, there no exact statistics because there are no federal requirements for private adoptions, which are regulated by state licensing boards. That means private agencies can set their own fees.
Due to supply and demand in the adoption market, many agencies create monetary incentives, including discounted service fees, to make the adoption of an African-American or biracial children more attractive.
Some of the agencies have good intentions, but the practice of putting differentiated prices on children based on race raises uncomfortable questions. Critics say the practice of race-based fee structures are at best unnecessary and at worst racist. Others warn of the danger of agencies convincing adoptive parents to choose children based on bargains.
But there are alternatives. One adoption model operates on a sliding scale based on parents’ income, rather than assigning a value to babies.
Credit: Kimberly Brooks, Bradley Blackburn, Darwin Phillips