Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Adoption Fees Should Not Be Based on the Child's Race

This week, a reader asked me to address this issue:  Is it OK for adoption agencies to charge fees based on the race of the child?   

Short answer:  no.  

Long answer.  Here it goes.  

1:  An adoption journey should cost what an adoption journey costs.

If an agency is charging based on the race (or sex) of the child, that means they're charging money FOR the child, not for the adoption journey.  Because adoption journeys, generally speaking, cost agencies about the same amount of money.  The adoption journey costs should be averaged and that's what EVERY family should pay.  

Essentially, charging money based on a child's race ensures that there is baby-buying and baby-selling, not an ethical adoption where parents are paying for a process, not a person.  

2:  It can be detrimental to the parents. 

An agency that charges based on a child's race encourages lower-income (white) hopeful parents to adopt a child they are not prepared for or do not truly desire.  

If an agency hikes up the adoption fees for the most "in demand" babies (typically white, healthy newborns) while "discounting" the adoption fees for babies in less demand (children of color, especially males), they are not only baby selling (see point #1), but they are also allowing only the wealthier families to adopt white children while "limiting" less wealthy families to children of color.

The problem?

Not every hopeful parent should be parenting children of color. (And by the way, a bi-racial child is a child of color, so I completely disagree with agencies allowing hopeful parents to be open to a white or bi-racial child, but not a "full" child of color.  Colorism in adoption is NOT ok and is also detrimental to the adoptee whose parents fail to understand transracial adoption and race.)

Transracial adoption requires many things.  And honestly, it is OK that not all families are open to children of any race.  Some families may lives in areas with little-to-no racial diversity.  Or they may have racist family members.  Or they may simply feel ill-prepared to adopt a child of color. 

An agency that encourages any hopeful parents to accept the placement of any child that the hopeful parents are prepared to raise is irresponsible of the agency.  Agencies that "encourage" placements of kids of color into families who cannot afford the adoption fees for a child they are prepared to parent (white children) is so disturbing and disgusting, and clearly indicative of an unethical agency.  (See point #4.) 

3:  It harms the adoptee.

This is point #3, but is certainly the most important argument for agencies NOT basing their fees on the child's race.  Because the innocent party in any adoption, the one who has no say-so, is the adoptee.  The adoptee is reliant upon the adults in the situation (the agency, the hopeful parents, the biological/expectant parents) to make good, healthy, responsible, respectable decisions.  

Allowing families who shouldn't be adopting transracially to adopt transracially does the adoptee a major disservice.  Worse, it could completely ruin the child's life!  Furthermore, how would an adoptee feel knowing that their parents got a "discount" on adopting him or her?  

What is done in the dark will always come into the light.  I'm a firm believer in telling our children the truth.  About handing over to them, when age-appropriate, their adoption files.  Disclosing to them information about their adoption stories throughout the child's entire life.  Transparency and authenticity build trust, and all good relationships are firmly planted in trust.  I can see how trust could be completely broken if you either do not share information about adoption fees with your adoptee and/or your child realizes he or she was "less" because of the color of their skin!  And you, as the parent, approved of that.  

4:  An ethical agency isn't being used.

In my opinion, an agency that charges based on the race of a child isn't an ethical agency.   

Because an ethical agency would charge reasonable, fair fees for an adoption journey AND would focus on what is best for the adoption triad, mostly on the adoptee, and not on capitalizing on the race of the child and the income of the hopeful parents.  This goes back to both points #1 and #2.   

Using an unethical agency has so many negative and forever consequences.  So though just one problem is fees, there are many, many other problems with using an agency that charges based on a PERSON and not on a PROCESS.

Finding an ethical agency is so incredibly important.  I spend a lot of time detailing why and how to find an ethical agency in my latest book.  For anyone considering embarking on a domestic infant adoption journey, or someone who is in the midst of one, I cannot emphasize enough how important ethics are and why you must, above all, be committed to an ethical adoption.  

If you sign up for my e-newsletter, you can receive my FREE e-book, "The Magic Letter in Adoption," right to your inbox.  There I explore why ethics (among other things) are crucial to your journey.


We have adopted four children over the course of a decade, and we have never used an agency that charged families based on the race or sex of the child.  We also do not use agencies that base their fees on the income of the hopeful parents for some of the same reasons I listed here, but mainly, because I have ethical concerns with it.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this very important issue.  Let's connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.    

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