For the thousands of foreign-born children that Americans adopt annually, you might assume that would mean that there aren’t any U.S. kids on the adoption market. On the contrary, foreign couples adopt hundreds of American children each year. With the majority of these kids being black or half black, racism may be a leading reason that U.S.-born kids are finding homes abroad rather than domestically.
As CNN reports, the number of foreign families adopting from the United States is consistently increasing. “Most American families were, and still are, interested in adopting a white infant,” concedes Steven Kirsh, an Indiana adoption attorney. He notes that, meanwhile, other countries with fewer prejudices are interested in adopting young children regardless of their skin color. As a result, adoption agencies move African American children abroad because it is easier to place them.
To be fair, racism is only part of the equation for this trend in adoption. In many cases, birth mothers are choosing to send their kids abroad instead. Recent laws have given birth parents the leeway to select the adoptive parents. For some, having their child further away just seems simpler, while others find the idea of their child living an exotic European lifestyle more appealing.
In the case of a Susan, a 30-year-old Floridian woman CNN profiles, she intentionally chose a foreign family to avoid facing discrimination altogether. As a white woman pregnant with a black man’s child, Susan already faced racism and hate language from her own family members. “There’s too much prejudice over here… I did not want that for my kid.”
On the flip side, a lack of American prejudice also contributes to these foreign adoptions: specifically, a less hostile attitude toward homosexuality than most of the world. Gay adoption is forbidden in many countries, but – despite obstacles in certain states – the United States will permit its children to be adopted by homosexual couples, even abroad. In some cases, gay couples disallowed from taking in kids from their own nations can form a family with American kids instead.
Overall, international adoption has taken a dive due to shady practices of abducted, non-orphan children and faked medical records in some poorer nations. However, foreign couples are attracted to American children in particular since the process is more transparent and authorities maintain accurate records. Most prospective adoptive parents abroad do not even realize American children are an option, though.
“I thought it was so strange,” said Bart van Meurs, the adoptive father of an African American child. “I’m here in Holland and they’re telling me I can get a[n American] baby… This can’t be true.”
The skepticism was probably warranted, but, indeed, it was true. In fact, the Netherlands is second only to Canada in adopting U.S. children. Nearly 70 such families gather for an annual Fathers’ Day picnic in Amsterdam, with others celebrating Thanksgiving together in order to honor their kids’ American heritage.
As more foreign countries either ban or put severe restrictions on Americans adopting their children, it will be interesting to see whether there will be a flux of more children being adopted out of America rather than into it.