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The Adoption Industry{secti

WHAT Industry? | BIG BUSINESS: $1.4 Billion | Adoption Affects Millions | CONSUMER DEMAND | The Industry Admits COERCION | Today's "Modus Operandi"

WHAT Industry?

Like any other industry, adoption is fueled by consumer demand. In this case, the demand of infertile couples to obtain other women's children, and who are often willing to pay from $25,000 to $50,000 for that child.

Adoption Services Valued At $1.4 Billion

Report by Nancy Ashe Copyright  © 2001 About.com, Inc.

"An industry analysis of Fertility Clinics and Adoption Services by Marketdata Enterprises of Tampa, FL, has placed a $1.4 billion value on adoption services in the US, with a projected annual growth rate of 11.5% to 2004. According to a report from PR Newswire, this is the only analysis of this business sector ever undertaken.

Some details:

  • In 1999, there were 138,000 US adoptions; 
  • There are 4,500 adoption services providers in the US, which include 2,000 public agencies, 2,000 private agencies, and 500 adoption attorneys; 
  • The number of attorneys involved in adoption has doubled over the past 10 years; 
  • Gross income for small agencies can come to $400,000 per year, and $10+ million for large agencies. 
  • Much of the present and future growth is attributable to the rise in international adoptions. 
Marketdata's analysis places adoption costs between $15,000 - $30,000, and describes adoption as 'complex, and stories of unscrupulous operators abound in this loosely regulated field.' " 
From "About.Com:  About Adoption"
Reprinted with Permission of Author


Adoption Affects Millions

There are approximately 6 million adoptees in the United States. We can extrapolate that there are usually 4 of parents involved in each adoption (two natural parents and two dopters). This increases the number to 24 million people involved in Adoption. Add siblings, stepparents, facilitators, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and it is not illogical to conclude that there are over 100 million people in the United States involved in Adoption.

There are costs involved in the original adoption - usually fees paid by adopters to a "third party" who acts as a broker. Examples of some fees are:

  • Religious Agencies: A few hundred dollars to $10,000.00 or more 
  • Non-denominational Private Agencies: $10,000 to $20,000 
  • Independent [Private] Adoption: A few thousand dollars to $50,000 but may be higher if there are extremely high medical bills.
  • Public Agencies: None to minimal. There may be attorney fees to finalize the adoption
  • International Adoption: $5,000 -$20,000 to the agency plus transportation and lodging fees.

This is why there are entrepreneurs who make their livelihood convincing young parents to relinquish their babies - it is a profitable business. These "baby brokers" include: adoption lawyers maternity homes (often operated by charities and churches) "facilitators" government social workers commercial and "non-profit" agencies

Consumer Demand

Like all industries, the adoption industry is driven by consumer demand. This demand was recognized as far back as 1953:

"... the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines...(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions." - Leontine Young, "Is Money Our Trouble?" (paper presented at the National Conference of Social Workers, Cleveland, 1953) {quote courtesy of Karen WB}

". . . babies born out of wedlock [are] no longer considered a social problem . . . white, physically healthy babies are considered by many to be a social boon . . . " (i.e. a valuable commodity..). - Social Work and Social Problems (1964), National Association of Social Workers. {quote courtesy of Karen WB}

" Because there are many more married couples wanting to adopt newborn white babies than there are babies, it may almost be said that they, rather than out of wedlock babies, are a social problem. (Sometimes social workers in adoption agencies have facetiously suggested setting up social provisions for more 'baby breeding.')" - Social Work and Social Problems (1964), National Association of Social Workers. {quote courtesy of Karen WB}


The Industry Admits Coercion:

When unmarried motherhood was considered shameful to the family, it was easy to convince parents to ship their unwed daughter to maternity homes (assuming that marriage had been ruled out) and adoption lawyers:

"Parents embraced the idea of maternity homes partly because in the postwar decades, parents themselves needed protection as much as their erring daughters... If the girl disappeared, the problem disappeared with her." - Rickie Solinger, "Wake Up Little Suzie."

Pressure from society, churches, parents, maternity homes, hospitals etc. - plus the virtual non-existance of welfare for young single mothers - virtually guaranteed that a young woman raised to respect authority would surrender her baby. As well, social workers were convinced that unwed equalled unfit, that that they were doing their moral duty in convincing (forcing/coercing) young women to surrender:

"When she renounces her child for its own good, the unwed mother has learned a lot She has learned an important human value. She has learned to pay the price for her misdemeanor. and this alone, if punishment is needed, is punishment enough. -- Dr. Marion Hilliard. Toronto Telegram (November 22, 1956)

" The fact that social work professional attitudes tend to favor the relinquishment of the baby, as the literature shows, should be faced more clearly. Perhaps if it were recognized, workers would be in less conflict and would therefore feel less guilty about their "failures" (the kept cases)." - Social worker Barbara Hansen Costigan, in her dissertation, "The Unmarried Mother--Her Decision Regarding Adoption" (1964) {quote courtesy of Karen WB}

" The caseworker must then be decisive, firm and unswerving in her pursuit of a healthy solution for the girl's problem. The "I'm going to help you by standing by while you work it through" approach will not do. What is expected from the worker is precisely what the child expected but did not get from her parents--a decisive "No!" .... An ambivalent mother, interfering with her daughter's ability ... to surrender her child, must be dealt with as though she (the girl's mother) were a child herself." - Marcel Heiman, M.D. in "Out-Of-Wedlock Pregnancy In Adolescence," Casework Papers 1960. {quote courtesy of Karen WB}

Governments had (and still do have) their own incentive for encouraging the adoption industry. Every baby surrendered by an unemployed unsupported single mother means one less welfare recipient. An example: if a single parent is eligible for welfare until their child was 7 years old, a government saves $35,000 (7 x $5,000 annually) in welfare payments each time its social workers obtain a surrender. Federal governments also encourage adoption by providing cash bonuses to states for every adoption completed.

"To the Province generally the great advantage and economy of the Adoption Act can be realized when it is stated that many of the children before their adoption were costing five and six dollars a week for maintenance." - 35th Report of the Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children (Ontario, 1928)

Today's Modus Operandi

As divorce rates rose in the 70's and 80's, single parenthood lost its stigma, women no longer experienced the same societal/family pressure to surrender, and the number of babies surrendered in the U.S. and Canada began falling. Consumer demand has, if anything, risen dramatically, as women who have postponed children for careers are now finding themselves infertile (see the April 15, 2002 Time magazine article "Making Time for a Baby"). According to Adoptive Families magazine, "For every healthy newborn available, there are now almost forty potential parents searching." ("Love for Sale," Adoptive Families).

With money to be made from desperate "Family Builders," the industry has had to come up with new ways of obtaining its commodities. They have done this through modern marketing and advertising tactics.

  • Adopters have now formed "consumer groups." Pressure from these consumer groups on government has led to laws changing to vastly decrease the time period in which a woman can revoke her surrender or consent to adoption.
  • Adoption lawyers are promoting the legal idea that, if a child is placed in an adoptive home even before the adoption in consented to, the adopters have the right to retain that child against any challenge from the natural parents (see the "Children's Rights" page by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys).
  • The Internet has increasing numbers of websites set up to encourage women to "place" their children. Agencies and lawyers fund these websites by purchasing advertising space on them.
"Adoption was created to provide homes for orphans. These by definition are children without parents. Car crashes, war, natural disasters.  It was never created to provide children to 'poor infertile couples'. When did the wires get crossed? I guess when someone started making money. Children are not a commodity!!!! Get a puppy." 
- An adoptee

 "Follow the money"  - Deep Throat



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