Selling Transracial Adoption

Families, Markets, and the Color Line

Elizabeth Raleigh
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1478-6
Publication: Dec 17

HC: $94.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1477-9
Publication: Dec 17

250 pages
6 x 9

Examines cross-race adoptions from the perspectives of adoption providers, showing how racial hierarchies and the supply and demand for children shape the process

Read the Introduction (pdf).


While focused on serving children and families, the adoption industry must also generate sufficient revenue to cover an agency’s operating costs. With its fee-for-service model, Elizabeth Raleigh asks, How does private adoption operate as a marketplace? Her eye-opening book, Selling Transracial Adoption, provides a fine-grained analysis of the business decisions in the adoption industry and what it teaches us about notions of kinship and race.

Adoption providers, Raleigh declares, are often tasked with pitching the idea of transracial adoption to their mostly white clientele. But not all children are equally “desirable,” and transracial adoption—a market calculation—is hardly colorblind. Selling Transracial Adoption explicitly focuses on adoption providers and employs candid interviews with adoption workers, social workers, attorneys, and counselors, as well as observations from adoption conferences and information sessions, to illustrate how agencies institute a racial hierarchy—especially when the supply of young and healthy infants is on the decline. Ultimately, Raleigh discovers that the racialized practices in private adoption serve as a powerful reflection of race in America.

Table of Contents


1. Staying Afloat in a Perfect Storm
2. Uneasy Consumers: The Emotion Work of Marketing Adoption
3. Transracial Adoption as a Market Calculation
4."And You Get to Black": Racial Hierarchies and the Black–Non-Black Divide
5. Selling Transracial Adoption: Social Workers' Ideals and Market Concessions
Conclusion: The Consequences of Selling Transracial Adoption and the Implications for Adoptive Families


About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Raleigh is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.