Black Boys Less Likely To Be Adopted, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

Adoptive parents prefer white or Hispanic girls over African-American boys, a new study reveals.

Researchers at the Centre for Economic Policy Research found that the probability that a non-African-American child will attract an adoptive parent is at least seven times as high as the probability that they will chose an African-American baby, The New York Times reports.

The study of both gay and straight parents also finds that adoptive parents prefer girls to boys, which is an interesting societal phenomenon considering that in so many cultures (China comes to mind), the biological preference is for a son. However, the study posits that adoptive parents may harbor fears about dysfunctional social behavior in adopted children. Parents may feel girls are a better choice if that is the case, the Times reports.

Susan Caughman, editor and publisher of Adoptive Parents Magazine, agrees that, in her experience, most adoptive parents are looking for girls.

"It is very clear and very documented that adopted parents strongly prefer girls," Caughman tells ParentDish. "And when we interview people at adoption agencies about it, they tell us that it makes them absolutely crazy."

In fact, a recent story in Adoptive Parents Magazine quotes Susan Myers, director of the Lutheran Adoption Network, as saying that 80 percent of prospective parents will choose a girl. Domestically, according to the magazine, trying to adopt a specific gender causes a quandary for everyone involved, especially when parents are looking for a newborn. Most prospective parents are matched with a birth mother well before the child's gender is known.

So why the want for girls? Caughman speculates that the influence of overseas adoptions, specifically China, has allowed parents to be picky when it comes to gender. There is an abundance of girls available for adoption in that country, she points out. Typically, women are driving the adoption process and anecdotal evidence shows that women tend to want daughters, Caughman adds.

Another factor could be that many parents looking to adopt have already been through the physically, emotionally and financially draining process of in-vitro fertilization -- and failed. And this time, Caughman says, they want control. "Women feel like, 'I went through this whole thing, I should at least be able to control the gender.'"

As for the racial preference revealed by the study, Caughman says there is less data. "We've never been able to prove that people prefer white kids," she said. "But I can't say it surprises me."

The study's data set included mostly white parents, which could account for the results; adoptive parents prefer children who look similar to themselves, past studies revealed.

Prospective parents looking for a specific race and gender may find themselves looking at a pricey adoption: "[T]he increase in desirability of a girl relative to a boy can be compensated by a decrease of approximately $16,000 in adoption finalization costs," the authors write. "Similarly, the increase in desirability of a non-African-American baby with respect to an African-American baby (both of unknown gender) is equivalent to a decrease of at least $38,000 in adoption finalization cost."

Foreign parents were less likely to exhibit gender and racial biases, the study says. The study also found that same-sex parents are more likely to submit an adoption application, and that gay adoptive parents are more "selective." According to the Times, gay couples and single women appeared to exhibit even stronger prejudice in favor of girls and against African-American babies than straight couples.

Related: Adoption

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