How Much Is That Baby In The Window
If you grew up in the fifties as I did, I know you probably heard that cute little song; How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? If you remember, it was cute. Right?
I forgot about that song. It came to mind a few times when my kids were small, and we had puppies around the house. But I never really gave the actual words much thought. The song came back to me very suddenly when the daughter of a friend of mine started telling me about her experiences in trying to adopt a baby.
Did you know that here in the United States the cost of adopting a baby through an agency is based on the race of the child? The following is the current breakdown; white babies: $44,000, Hispanic babies: $37,000, Black babies: $22,000. Biracial babies go for $28,600. Apparently Asian babies are not usually up for adoption here in the U.S. You have to go to Asia to find them.
It gets even more complicated. If a baby is three fourths Hispanic, and one- fourth white, the baby is labeled as “white,” (for the purpose of calculating the adoption fee). Apparently any white blood reclassifies the baby for a higher fee. If the baby has any black blood; that baby is labeled as biracial.
Adoption agencies explain that this “pricing,” is due to the fact that there is more demand for white infants, and that infants of color are much harder to place. They justify the cost by stating that the wait time for a white infant is much longer, eighteen months, and the wait for a Hispanic or Black baby is three to nine months.
Another argument that is propounded by adoption agencies is that generally, they believe that most expectant white mothers foot the cost of their pre-natal care themselves, while expectant mothers of color are aided by Medicaid or other charities. Therefore, the pre-natal cost is passed on to the potential adopting parents. In some places adoption agencies charge ten thousand dollars for a Hispanic baby and four thousand dollars for a Black baby. Agencies contend that many Black families have a history of taking in children from extended family, and therefore there is a need to make it economically feasible for them to adopt outside the family.
Agencies believe their charges reflect the status of supply and demand and I heard that one agency stated that they have to charge less for a Hispanic baby because they are trying to place them for adoption in a country that wants to keep Hispanics out with a fence.
The woman that reiterated her experiences to me said that they were told that the pricing is also reflective of white people’s belief that they are getting a “superior” product, and that the baby they adopt with a lighter skin color has better genetics and will be a “smarter,” adult, probably better looking, and better able to succeed in the world. These future parents voiced the belief that they were getting a product that was guaranteed if they adopted a white baby.
Other agencies also stressed the importance of trying to place “hard-to-adopt children of color, because many prospective Hispanic and Black parents did not have sufficient monetary resources to pay the same fees that perspective white parents were able to pay. Some agency representatives said that they routinely placed ads in publications that were commonly read by Hispanics and Blacks, offering expectant mothers “monetary alternatives,” if they gave their babies up for adoption, even though this is against the law. These agencies stressed that there are ways around the law, and that money paid by prospective parents for the mother’s medical care and other fees associated with the adoption process, can be “finagled,” so that the expectant mother walks away with some cash when she gives up her baby.
All of these practices, both on and off the books, restate the simple truth; children of color are devalued at all stages of life, and the selling of humans by supply and demand is alive and well in today’s the United States. So, the old song, How Much Is That Doggy In The Window only needs a slight revision to make it relevant today in 2021.