It seems like a simple equation. People want to be adoptive parents. People decide they want to place their child with an adoptive family. All you should need to do is put them together, right? But here enters the business of adoption and here is where things can get complicated, frustrating, overwhelming. Here is where I had to ask myself once all was said and done, “Did we just buy a baby?”


The average cost of domestic adoption of a newborn in the U.S. is $30,000 to $35,000. Our adoption fell a little below the average. So what exactly did we pay for? There was, of course, no line item on our Statement of Expenses for “Baby”- just for Home Study and Background Checks, Facilitator’s Fees and Costs, Attorney’s Fees and Costs, Interpreter’s Fee, Court Costs, Travel Expenses, Birth Mother’s Expenses and Medical Expenses. It would be unthinkable to actually itemize the cost of the baby
itself. Many people would call putting a price tag on a newborn “baby brokering” at best and “human trafficking” at worst.

But consider this disgusting fact. It costs less to adopt a black baby than a white baby. Is this because the facilitator, lawyer or agency are giving a discount on their
hours? Is it because the birth mother’s care is less expensive or the court costs are lower? Of course not. It is because minority babies are harder to place than white
babies and, as is the case in any business, lower demand means lower prices. This is the vulgar reality of adoption.

In the end, having been party to the system, I have to say I feel like we bought a baby. It seems we accept the adoption business because it’s been dressed up in feel-good semantics- and because for desperate-to-be parents like my husband and I, it was the only legal option we had. The system needs a lot of fixing, and call me naive, but it
seems a good place to start would be to demand that adoption begin and end with a very simple equation: parents + baby = family.


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