l stayed in the maternity ward for five days at San Francisco General Hospital where my daughter Megan was born in 1966. A friendly African-American woman, who had had her second child, occupied the next bed. While happy about the baby, she was disappointed in her gender. “Boys are much easier to raise when you’re single,” she told me without a grain of shame over her unwed status. Later her relatives and friends came to visit, bringing presents, excited over the new arrival.
A few days later, I had a new ward mate, a Latina. I believe she too was single. We did not talk because she did not speak English and I did not speak Spanish but I did not see any visitor that looked like a husband or boyfriend. She departed with her baby about the time I left. I, a middle class white woman, saw no way to keep my baby. Poor African American and Hispanic women had the luxury of motherhood denied to me.
I stayed alone at an apartment hotel, away from family and friends during “my confinement.” A Peruvian neighbor, who had driven me to the hospital where Megan was born, was appalled that I would give my baby to strangers. “You don’t understand,” I kept telling him. I realize now that I was the one who didn’t understand.
According to Rickie Solinger (Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade,1992), policy-makers promoted adoption to white mothers but not to black mothers because there was no demand for black babies. Adoption social worker Linda Cannon Burgess noted that the only black children she placed had white mothers (Adoption: How It Works, 1989).
Things have changed in the past 20 years. The adoption industry is now recruiting “minority” mothers. One of our readers sent me an email with ad for an “Adoption Consultant” listed under “Sales Professionals” placed by Adoption Network Law Center of Lake Forest, California on the Yahoo hot jobs web site. The ability to speak Spanish was among the desired qualifications.
Oregon’s largest domestic adoption agency, Open Adoption and Family Services, proclaimed in its 2008-09 Annual Report that it is “reaching out to the Latino community” through hiring a Spanish-speaking counselor, producing Spanish-language materials, and establishing a toll-free Spanish phone line.
Our reader also sent me links to the websites of adoption facilitators. Many of the babies marketed on these sites have Latino or African-American mothers. Here are a few examples:
From Adopt-Now.com of Walnut Creek, California
1/4 Caucasian//3/4 Hispanic baby due 8-3-10
Jayne is of Caucasian/Hispanic descent, 24 years old, 5' 5" tall and weighs 170 lbs. She has brown eyes and curly blonde/brown hair. She smokes about eight cigarettes a day, does not drink alcohol and has used some meth during the pregnancy. She is a single mom with three young children who are living with a relative. Jayne's medical expenses are fully covered by MediCal.
Andy is Hispanic, in his 20's, 5'8" tall and weighs about 175 lbs. He has brown eyes and black hair. Jayne is unsure of his whereabouts right now, but Andy knows that Jayne is pregnant and that she is placing the baby for adoption. He says he doesn't care what she does, and he doesn't want to be involved.
African-American//Hispanic/Filipino girl due 7-23-10
Tammy is of African-American descent, 34 years old, 5' 4" tall and weighs 280 lbs. She has brown eyes, black hair and does not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. She is a single mom with four children and knows that she is not able to raise a baby at this time. Tammy has full medical coverage for the pregnancy and the delivery.
Miguel is of Hispanic/Filipino descent, 5' 9" tall and weighs about 200 lbs. He has green eyes and light brown hair. He did not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs the one night that he and Tammy were together. Miguel was a one-night stand, and Tammy does not know anything about him except his physical description. The adoption attorney will need to terminate his rights.
From A Path to the Heart in Utah:
Hispanic baby unknown gender due in May in AZ. Agency fees of 28K plus 5K in assistance to mom.
African American baby unknown gender due in April in AZ. Agency fees of 19K for out of state residents and17K for AZ residents plus 2K in assistance to mom.
African American baby girl due April 20 in UT Agency fees are 16K plus medical
African American/Caucasian baby boy due May 11 in UT Agency fees are 22,500 plus medical
Hispanic baby boy due May 14 in UT Agency fees are 30K plus medical of 5-7K - they are working on a medicaid application, so it may be less. (mom is reporting some meth use during pregnancy)
African American baby unknown gender due April 25 in UT Agency fees of 16K plus medical of 5-7K
African American baby unknown gender due April 17 in VA Agency fees of 16K plus 5K legal
African American baby unknown gender due in MS (UT laws will govern) in May agency fees of 17K plus 2K in assistance
One can surmise that this new interest in the offspring of African American and Hispanic mothers stems from the lack of availability of white Gerber babies. Recruiting African American and Hispanic mothers allows the domestic industry to compete with agencies bringing in kids from South Korea, China, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Haiti, or where ever families can be bribed, coerced, or tricked into giving up their babies.
Many of these new mothers are older than the birthmothers of my generation and have other children. Cuts in welfare beginning with “welfare reform’ in 1996 (remember Newt Gingrich’s plan to reduce welfare rolls by placing poor children in orphanages?) and the current recession may drive their “adoption plans.” Many Latinas are Catholics and oppose abortion. Today white couples accept babies of other races more readily and more African American and Hispanic families may be adopting.
In promoting adoption to “minority” mothers, the adoption industry undermines the commitment to family which has been one of the strengths of the African American and Hispanic communities. In their zeal to become parents, white Americans may be exploiting poor African Americans and Hispanics as surely as they exploit their labor to clean buildings and tend the fields.