Study: Adoptive Parents Don’t Seek Out Black Baby Boys, Unless They Are Cheap

A study out this month by the Center for Economic Policy Research has some results that really startled us — though perhaps they shouldn’t have. According to the center’s research, potential adoptive couples consistently prefer girls to boys, and they are seven times less likely to pursue an African-American baby than they are a baby of another race. From the Times’ write-up of the study:

These preferences against boys and black babies translate into differences in adoption closing costs, which can often be expensive. In other words, people seem willing to overcome their racial or gender biases if they can get a good deal on the babies they’re less interested in.

Yep, that’s right. They’ll take a black baby boy if it’s cheap. The study also provides possible reasons for these biases. For example, the majority of potential adoptive parents are white, and therefore seek out babies who will look like them. Also, since parents don’t know everything about what type of behavior history they’ll be getting in an adoption, parents perceive girls as “less risky” than boys. (Gay couples, who were also included in the study, tend to follow these biases, but to a greater extreme than heterosexual couples.) Wanna know how much cheaper a black baby or baby boy has to be in order to attract attention from potential parents? The study provides numbers:

[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.”

Hear that? Some couple will eventually adopt your black baby. He just has to be able to save them about a year’s worth of college tuition.

Black Babies, Boys Less Likely to Be Adopted [Economix/NYT]
Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption [CEPR]

Study: Adoptive Parents Don’t Seek Out Black Baby Boys, Unless They Are Cheap