Discouraging Racial Preferences in Adoptions

66 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2005 Last revised: 27 May 2015

Date Written: 2006


More than 20,000 white Americans go abroad each year to adopt children from other countries, the majority of whom are not white. At the same time, there are more African-American children available for adoption than there are African-American families seeking to adopt them. While Americans claim there are few healthy infants available for adoption in the United States, hundreds of African-American newborns each year are placed with white families in Canada and other countries. Tracing the history of transracial adoption in the United States, Professor Maldonado argues that one reason Americans go abroad to adopt is race. The racial hierarchy in the adoption market places white children at the top, African-American children at the bottom, and children of other races in between, thereby possibly rendering children from Asia or Latin America more desirable to adoptive parents than African-American children. Drawing on the rich literature on cognitive bias, Professor Maldonado debunks the myths about domestic and international adoptions and shows that racial preferences, even if unconscious, play a role in many Americans' decisions to adopt internationally. She proposes that the law discourage international adoptions based on racial preferences by requiring that Americans seeking to adopt internationally, while there are available children in the United States who meet their non raced based criteria, show non-race-based reasons for going abroad.

Keywords: adoption, international, African-American, Black, race, racism, unconscious racism, cognitive bias, implicit bias, children, infants, babies, Asia, Latin America, Romania, Russia, Korea, Guatemala, racial hierarchy, transracial, interracial, Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, race matching

Suggested Citation

Maldonado, Solangel, Discouraging Racial Preferences in Adoptions (2006). UC Davis Law Review, Forthcoming, Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 36, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=794705

Solangel Maldonado (Contact Author)

Seton Hall Law School ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
973-642-8830 (Phone)
973-642-8194 (Fax)

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