All Babies Are Created Equal (Some Are Just More Profitable)

In an age of genetic engineering, it is theoretically possible to “design your baby” not only to be born without serious genetic diseases, but also to have certain traits from intelligence to height. But that the hunt for “designer babies,” or babies with “certain qualities,” is more than well on its way, based on a recent NPR report about the different costs to adopt children of different races.

Caryn Lantz and her husband, who are both white, have adopted two African-American boys. As Lantz tells NPR, when they decided to try to adopt a child after struggling to conceive a child for years, an adoption agency social worker told her that there were “different fee structures … based on the ethnic background of the child.”

If Lantz and her husband wished to adopt an African-American child, the process would be quicker because (as the social worker informer her) there were simply more parents wanting to adopt children who are biracial, Latino, Asian or Caucasian. Even more, there are different costs for children based on their race, according to a document from an adoption consulting group linking potential parents with agencies.

The phenomenon of race-based adoption fees is not new, writes Stacia L. Brown in The Atlantic. She cites a 2002 ABC News report that noted a number of factors that can result in different costs for adopting children of different races. In a 2010 study in the North Carolina Law Review, law professor Barbara Fedders found that a number of private adoption agencies “openly advertised race-based pricing.”

According to NPR, while fees for one African-American baby were $17,000 before legal fees, those for Caucasian and biracial babies were higher, from $25,000 to $30,000. Biracial babies were identified by race and ethnicity in the fee chart. The fee for a baby whose parents were identified as CC/HISP (Caucasian and Hispanic) was $30,500 plus $4,500 in legal fees. In contrast, the fee for a baby with a whose background was AA/NA (African-American and Native American) was $22,500 plus $2,500 in legal fees.

NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris says that such differences in fees are “not widely talked about,” but are “common” and intended to be an “incentive for families that might otherwise be locked out of adoption due to cost” as well as to provide a “little bit of prodding to think about adopting across racial lines.”

That is, the different fees are intended to make it more likely for a child to be adopted. But the reality is something harsher, adoption agencies tell NPR: It is a matter of “supply and demand” — of more couples looking for a child who is white and being willing to pay more for such a child.

The aim of the different fees for children of different races and ethnicities is meant to be “altruistic.” But the fact that an African-American baby “costs” less than a white baby amounts to treating children as commodities, says Fedders. As she also notes, charging more for white babies places may also “place undue pressure on low-income white pregnant women and, ultimately, the children themselves, for whom parents have paid a vast sum.”

Race-based pricing by adoption agencies “is a concrete demonstration of our society undervaluing black children,” Fedders says. It is also yet more evidence that, as recently attested by the Supreme Court’s recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act, that racism is far, far from dead in the U.S.. As a result, in the U.S., some babies – some people, some lives — are just seen as “worth” more than others.

Photo from Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

if it gets them adopted when they normally wouldn't be? Good. I was a foster child for 6 years, there is nothing fair about foster care. Foster kids are like puppies at a shelter, the cute little ones go first, the older ones stay for awhile and go through hell. That is just how it is. And if there is higher demand for certain type, they charge more. The cheaper ones are priced that way so they move out. It isn't about racism. Not really. Change what couples want, if you can, but if you raise the price on lower demanded kids they will be stuck there, aging out, committing suicide, getting into drugs or becoming pregnant at 15. Simple facts.

sylvie a.
.4 years ago

La discrimination sous toutes ses formes existe depuis toujours, depuis que les gens de partager un même territoire. Il est dommage que les gens soient ainsi séparés à cause des préjugés engendrés par la couleur de leur peau ou leur rang social. Mais il faut croire que l'Homme se définit d'abord et avant tout en se comparant avantageusement à son prochain et pour ce faire, il doit diminuer l'autre. Je crois que c'est malheureusement un trait de l'humain.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

It's a grounding of equality

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

that's just sad.

maria a.
maria A4 years ago

Sad that governments take decisions on the future of the children. Being orphan is already a tragedy and if you are from x race, it puts you behind the line since the beginning. :-(
In uk they separate families by races, a black family cannot adopt a white and viceversa, Since there are fewer black families that want to adopt, there will be more black children that will stay without parents and grow up completely alone in institutions......

Gina H.
Gina H4 years ago

The adoption rackets have always priced accordingly. Particularly the xtian-based ones. I always wanted to know just how many people of other ethnicities (non-caucasion) were allowed to adopt caucasian (white) children. I can only imagine that the race of an adopting couple has always played a huge part in being able to adopt a child. I knew of some couples who had to join a church order to adopt children through their programs, go through church-based courses and be a donating members for long periods of time even though the children were from other countries. I'm sure many of those children were not Mormon, Catholic or Baptist. No wonder so many churches spend so much money trying to ban birth control and abortions... cuts into their adoption racket money.

Monica T.
Monica T4 years ago

Thank for this interesting article

Denise Extence
Denise E4 years ago

interesting article.

joe MARTINEZ4 years ago

The core of the matter. Discrimination is common practice even at the present Supreme Court justices. It is a Conservative seating, established by the Republican party during the Bushes Administrations. It's no secret the Republican party discriminates against people of dark skin. Supreme Justices can not change their (inherent) views about skin color just because they become Supreme Justices, it's still the same person. They're appointed to the Supreme Court facilitate the parties agenda. This was so obvious during the latest decisions on voting rights for one and others Republican pet,peeves concern black American rights. You have to blind and stupid not to see it.