Adoption is a very personal decision for prospective parents to make. It’s impossible to say there is one reason why people adopt — because every family is different, and every family chooses adoption for different reasons.
There are many reasons why a family will choose to adopt. Due to infertility, some couples cannot have a biological child, or, some women have conditions that make a pregnancy impossible or ill-advised. Some studies find that black women are 1.5 times more likely to experience infertility than women of other races. Many of the factors leading to this higher incidence is in our hesitance to visit the doctor, as well as higher rates of conditions such as fibroids. Whether it’s a condition that she’s been aware of since she was young, or something she developed during a previous pregnancy, these conditions could endanger her life. In other cases, some couples may be fully capable of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy, but they’re worried about their child being born with genetic diseases.
When a person is ready to become a parent but doesn’t have a partner to start a family with, they may decide that adoption is right for them. Instead of going through fertility treatments to have a biological child, they decide that adoption will provide them what they want — a chance to be a parent, no matter if there’s a genetic connection or not. Why adopt? Because family is much more than biology — family is love.
Similarly, LGBTQ couples cannot have genetically related children naturally. The IVF process will only allow one parent to be genetically related to the child. So, one good reason to adopt a child is that adoption creates a way for these couples to become the parents they have always dreamed about being.
Prospective adoptive parents recognize that there are many children who don’t have the safe, loving, and supportive home environments they need. This is one of many reasons to adopt. It’s estimated that, worldwide, there are 15 million children who are waiting for a family through adoption. The scope of need is massive. Many families respond to this need through international adoption — the process of parents from the U.S. adopting a child from a different country.
Adoption helps many childless couples fulfill their parental ambitions and gives many abandoned children the opportunity to be raised in stable, supportive, and financially secure homes. Adoption is also helping to make the U.S. a more global society, increasing ethnic diversity, and broadening the definition of what it means to be a family.
There are many children in the U.S., such as those in the foster-care system, who might benefit from adoption and are currently being left out of the process. And there are certainly ways in which adoption practices could be improved to better inform and prepare prospective parents to make a lifelong commitment to a child in need of a loving and stable family.
African-American women, at 6%, made up the third largest portion of adoptive mothers. The latest available data, from 2016, show that only 1% of adoptions by black families were of white children – in 92% of cases they adopted black children. By contrast, 11% of adoptions by white families were of multiracial children, and 5% were of black children.
Currently it is still very rare to see black families adopting white children, much more so than the other way round and that may have to do with cultural biases that still exist within the US adoption system.
Each year 20,000 children age out of the system without being adopted into a family. There continues to be a desperate need for foster parents, those who will love and support children, working to help reunify them with their biological family and for families to adopt children who are legally free for adoption.
There are absolute challenges when fostering and adopting. However, there are joys, too. At the heart of each of these families is love that doesn’t allow racial differences to define what family can and cannot be.