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The Free Market Approach to Adoption: The Value of a Baby

Michele Goodwin

University of Minnesota Law School

Boston College Third World Law Journal, Vol. 26, 2006

Adoption processes in the United States, once based on the altruistic child welfare model, have morphed to reflect the desires of would-be parents. The author argues that the current adoption model in the United States resembles an unregulated marketplace in children. Whether lawmakers and citizens wish to recognize this marketplace, its existence is demonstrated by frequent financial transactions among adoptive parents, birth mothers, and adoption agencies that resemble payments. The author explores this marketplace and the way in which race, genetic traits, and class are implicated in adoption processes, resulting in higher fees associated with the adoption of children with desirable traits. The author proposes two mechanisms by which the government could regulate the adoption market - price caps and taxation. Ultimately, however, the author advocates greater transparency and information in the adoption process to protect the welfare of children who might otherwise be exploited in an unregulated adoption market.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: adoption, market, economics, race, class, taxation, privacy

JEL Classification: A1, D61, D63, D64, I3, Z00

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: January 31, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Goodwin, Michele, The Free Market Approach to Adoption: The Value of a Baby. Boston College Third World Law Journal, Vol. 26, 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=960283

Contact Information

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)
University of Minnesota Law School ( email )
229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
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