Class Privilege, White Privilege, And Adoption: What You Need To Know

When we began our adoption journey, white privilege never crossed my mind. But now...

Kathy Asbery November 12, 2016
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When I first sat down to write an article, it was on white privilege and adoption. What I found as I began to ask others in the adoption triad what their thoughts were that yes, there is a little of white privilege, but mostly, there is class privilege. So I explored them both.

When we began our adoption journey, white privilege never crossed my mind.

When we began our adoption journey, white privilege never crossed my mind. Some say that is because I am white and I do not know what it is like to be a person of color. That’s true. But I felt we had to jump the same hoops, meet with the same social workers, get the same fingerprint scans, submit the same number of pictures; every little thing was the same. So it never dawned on me to think that we were anything special. Just a family who wanted to adopt a baby girl.

A friend of mine brought up that we may have had some privilege in our social workers eyes. That the way we answered questions or the neighborhood we lived in may have had her take our answers and not look any further. Honestly, I thought we had no issues with our home study because we lived in a small town, middle class neighborhood, our house was rodent free, our kids were loved and clean. Again, I never thought we were anything special. I stressed over every meeting, every question, every piece of paper. I felt that our very opportunity to adopt was hanging on one woman’s views of us. Was I shortsighted? Maybe.

One adoptive mom brought up the fact that caucasian adoptions are more expensive than other races. That they charge up to $10,000 more for non african american babies in the form of advertising fees. Since we were open to all races, I didn’t see this should apply to us. Although, we did pay a higher fee for being gender specific. That was because they would have to screen potential expectant moms to see if they knew which gender they were carrying. We did not see this as an additional fee because we were white, but because we specified that we wanted a daughter.

What all of my research boiled down to in the adoption world is the feeling that if you are of a higher class, then you have more fluid income, that your wait time is much shorter, and your adoption journey is smoother. Many feel that if they do not have 40k saved up, then they are in their adoption journey for the long haul. For some, that money is an entire year’s salary.

This is where things get sticky for me. We did have the cash saved to adopt. Our process was short. We were able to pay for our birth mom’s trust fund from the time we were matched and six weeks after our daughter’s birth. Part of that money came from years of saving on my part, but mostly it was because of my husband’s job and our income. Did that make us privileged? I’m not sure. We work hard. We save. We scrimp in areas of our lives. We’ve lived on little. So to me, that makes us the same. But at that moment in time, we had the ability to pay without hardship. I am not immune to that knowledge.

But, I have also had friends who have high incomes who have waited years for a match to work through. I have watched them jump hoop after hoop for international and domestic adoptions. Their money did not make things go faster or smoother. I’ve also watched people in the adoption world have little expendable income be matched quickly and have their babies on their way even before their home study is finished.

Raising our children is the first priority here.

So my final thoughts are mixed. Raising our children is the first priority here. That is our ultimate goal, to fill our homes with laughter and our hearts with love. I’m willing to acknowledge that we may have breezed through certain steps of our home study. Because we are white? Or because we are law abiding citizens with no contact with law enforcement other than an occasional speeding ticket? Was our adoption journey fast because we had dispensable income? I don’t know. I do know I was grateful we could support our daughter’s first mom during the last weeks of her pregnancy and six weeks after the birth. I’m also grateful that adopting our daughter did not put hardship on our family or on our other children.

But mostly I’m honored for the privilege to be a part of a triad that involves learning more everyday about each side of our stories. For me, the privilege lies in being a part of the adoption community.

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Kathy Asbery

Kathy is the busy mom to four kids and a part-time weight loss life coach. Holding a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology has helped her not only in child rearing and surviving breast cancer, but through the adoption process as well. Her favorite saying is: Live the life you love, and love the life you live!


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