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April 2007Vol. 8, No. 3Analyzing the Economic Costs and Benefits of Transracial Adoption

A new study on transracial adoption from foster care found that a child adopted transracially spends less time as a legal orphan than the average, adopted African-American child. The study also found that transracial adoptions occur at a younger age and sooner after the termination of parental rights than same-race adoptions.

Using data from the Children's Bureau's Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) for 1996–2003, the study's authors show that adoptions of African-American and other children of color have increased since the 1990s, as have transracial adoptions. However, Black children continue to spend more time as legal orphans, relative to other children. This occurs despite the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions, which were enacted to prevent discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

Using the AFCARS data, the authors conducted an economic analysis to investigate the costs of restricting placements by race. Results show that transracial adoptions have a greater net social and economic benefit due to reduced waiting time to adoption and fewer funds being spent on same-race adoptive parent recruitment.

The authors conclude that greater emphasis on transracial placements and more vigorous enforcement of MEPA would result in gains for African-American children.

The full article, "Transracial Adoption of Black Children: An Economic Analysis," by Mary Hansen and Daniel Pollack, can be found on the website of the Berkeley Electronic Press: