Families, Markets, and the Color LineElizabeth Raleigh
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.
“ In this highly readable contribution to the critical adoption literature, Raleigh considers the central role of race in the private adoption market (both domestic and international) during a time of ‘crisis.’ Her use of qualitative interviews foregrounds the perspectives of adoption workers and provides new insights into the commodified intersections of race and kinship.”
— Sara Dorow, Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta, and author of Transnational Adoption: A Cultural Economy of Race, Gender, and Kinship
“Selling Transracial Adoption is a welcome addition to the current literature on race and the market forces that shape building families through transracial adoption. By focusing on adoption providers, Elizabeth Raleigh adds to our understanding of how changes in the political economy of adoption pressure adoption providers to market children in their programs to clients who are not prepared to address the complexities of parenting across race. Acquiescing to the pressures of sustaining programs in a shrinking market, adoption providers must face difficult choices to balance the welfare of children with the demands of prospective parents. Raleigh provides a balanced analysis of the challenges to adoption providers and offers suggestions to address the conditions of power and privilege in the formation of family so that all participants are better served. This is an important contribution to understanding the market dynamics of transracial adoption.”
—Pamela Anne Quiroz, Professor of Sociology and Director of Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston and author of Adoption in a Color-Blind Society
"The research that is the basis of this book is incredibly important and groundbreaking.... This book is not about blaming individual adoptive parents, adoption workers or adoption agencies. This book does, however, ask us to think about how the racism, ableism, and adult-focus (even within a supposed 'best interest of the child' framework) of our culture and society (in the U.S. at least) plays out the way we practice adoption. This book really asks us to step back from our own personal stories and ask a couple of important questions."
"In this well-researched study, Raleigh makes a compelling argument for viewing adoption as a business, a business in which 'love and markets intermingle,' as she writes in the introduction.... (T)he author skillfully weaves narrative from adoption workers with her own views about family and the demarcation of the color line. The text illustrates racialized adoptive practices and questions not only how adoption workers manage the market demands placed on their services and commodities, but also what the future of this industry will be now that the number of global adoptions (market share) has significantly decreased.... Summing Up: Recommended."
"Raleigh offers a nuanced and compelling discussion of the consumerism of international and domestic adoption economies.... (She) crafts a compelling examination of how markets of children are created and how this shopping for children is packaged to become palatable for prospective adoptive parents as they select the children they wish to adopt.... (I)n its focus on transracial domestic and international placements, Selling Transracial Adoption contributes significantly to recent debates and conversations concerning the market logics of this kind of adoption."
— Adoption and Culture
"This book is a frank and fascinating look at adoption in the United States today; however, what makes this book an important addition to the transnational and private adoption literature is that Raleigh does not take a pro or con position on transracial adoption but rather focuses on what the largely unacknowledged market forces mean for the adoptive process and transracially adopted children and their parents." — Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
"Raleigh provides us with a rich sociological insight about the intersections between markets, kinship and race....The book fills an important gap to address the paucity of literature into adoption providers’ perspectives in this crucial area. In its exploration of domestic and international adoption and the colour line, Raleigh’s work adds to the cannon of literature in this critical domain.... The book contains vital policy and practice implications for adoption providers; and warns against a colour-blind approach. To help promote the well-being of children in transracial settings in race-conscious USA, the book should be recommended reading for such agencies and would-be adoptive parents." — Ethnic and Racial Studies
"Selling Transracial Adoption convincingly demonstrates how racial hierarchies are produced and reproduced through the policies and discourses found within the market-based, fee-for-service model of private adoption.... Overall, with her excellent writing and clear organization, Raleigh helps the reader understand the motivations behind adoption providers’ choices while simultaneously illustrating how these actions jeopardize goals of promoting child welfare. The ultimate strength of this book lies in her thoughtful framing of how private adoption is a powerful site to study race in America. Raleigh offers a concise and accessible history of private adoption in the United States." — American Journal of Sociology
"Elizabeth Raleigh boldly dares to address adoption’s proverbial elephant in the room in her powerful and enlightening book, Selling Transracial Adoption .... The organization of the material, the explicit detailing of the objectives, and the rich content make a compelling case for her arguments in each chapter and the book overall.... In a sea of books on transracial adoption from psychological, counseling, and social work perspectives, this sociological contribution is much needed and appreciated." — Contemporary Sociology