Are whites adopting Asian children guilty of, well, something?

Is there some issue, or should there be some issue with a white couple adopting Asian children?

Long story short, three couples out to dinner last night, one of the couples are Chinese-American. Upon seeing a white couple with two Asian kids, they remarked that it troubles them when whites adopt Asian kids, because they are “cute.” I had to admit that I had thought of this in the past, as it seems somewhat belittling to the children on some level, but I can never completely put my finger on it.

Is this just political correctness invading my brain, or is there something to it? And have any of you ever heard of pushback on this?

Is “because they’re cute” a typical reason people adopt Chinese or other Asian babies?

I’ve heard that comment. Whether it’s the main reason or not, I don’t know.

If they are actually from Asia, then possibly. International adoptions are fraught with lots of dishonest brokers looking to take advantage of well-meaning and desperate Westerners and poor and impoverished non-Westerners. There’s a heck of a lot of money floating around the adoption industry and there are definitely people who want their fingers in that pie. They will sometimes employ kidnappings or pay parents to take their children. Children can go for depressingly low sums in some countries and Westerners will pay exhorbitant amounts with adoption brokers pocketing the rest.

There’s also the whole debate about cross-racial adoptions. Many people find them distasteful at best. You’re raising a child with all of the appearance of their race, but without the culture that goes with it. If you’re a black adoptee, you look black, you are treated black by society, but you may have been raised white with no real knowledge of black culture beyond a text book. I think that there is some amount of agreement that being adopted by someone of your own race is likely best for development, but there’s differing opinions on how harmful being adopted across races is. My daughter is black and was 15 when she came to us, but I think there are still lots of cultural issues that we have difficulty addressing. I couldn’t imagine a younger child dealing with them.

BTW, ‘because they are cute’ is probably not why people are adopting Asian babies. Because they are cheaper and easier is the real reason-which of course forces you to ask why they are cheaper and easier and it generally has to do with lax laws and dishonest brokers in their home countries. You’ll notice that very few of these Asian kids are coming from Japan and even Korea has clamped down. China is currently clamping down on their adoption market as well. Vietnam is still the wild west of adoption, so that’s where a lot are coming from these days.

The only issue I take with international adoptions is the obvious fact that there are untold numbers of children in this country who need to be adopted. What makes international adoption more attractive? I’m sure people have their reasons, and in any case, it’s none of my business - I’m happy that there’s one less orphan in the world. But there are kids in communities all across the country who go their entire childhood without parents.

As an ethnically Chinese person, I’ve noticed this indeed. There is an attitude among some white couples who adopt children from Chinese orphanages that is akin to pet owners selecting a puppy from an animal shelter.

I have also noticed a strong preference among American white couples to adopt girls, and not boys, from foreign orphanages. I suspect it also has something to do with the ‘cute’ motive mentioned in the OP. It’s possible that due to the erstwhile One-Child Policy, there may be more girls than boys in Chinese orphanages to begin with, but I think this Western preference for girls surpasses that orphanage girl:boy ratio.

No, it is not wrong to adopt a kid “because they are cute.” On a subjective basis, most babies are cute. That’s just dumb. My guess is there’s some sort of racial thing going on where they don’t think whites should have “their” babies. Kind of like the cultural appropriation crap that’s going around. The “cute” thing is just a cover. Yes, I’m questioning their motivations.

The only time someone is guilty in adoption is if it happened illegally.

I suspect that a lot of it might be that it’s apparently a BIG process to adopt an infant or very small child here in the US, and it might be much easier to adopt a foreign one.

And sadly enough few people want to adopt children above a certain age; I think the notion is that to some extent they’re “damaged goods”, in that they’re already formed in a lot of ways, most of which are probably not good ones if they were neglected, in the foster system or flat-out orphaned. And most people don’t really want to adopt a kid with those sorts of problems and spend their time trying to fix that, instead of raising a child as their own who doesn’t come with that sort of baggage.

So in short, there are major hoops to jump through and large time scales for adopting native small children that may not be there for foreign children of the same age.

I think you are mistaken about the agreement that being adopted by someone of the same race being best for development. This articlesays that most studies do not indicate any harm from cross racial adoption.
Your information on Vietnam is out of date. Adoptions from Vietnam were banned in 2008-2014 and now there are stricter laws. The country that most americans adopt from is still China by a large margin, then South Korea, Ethiopia, Ukraine, India, and then Vietnam.

Americans adopt from foreign countries because there are so few adoptable children in the US. There are no orphanages here these days, and children in foster care are almost entirely unavailable to be adopted (their parents have not relinquished parental rights). Adoption within the US most likely means the Juno scenario, searching out a pregnant teenager and reaching a private agreement.

International adoptions come from where there are available children and amenable laws. Russia has generally had lots of orphans, but its government clamped down on international adoptions after one went bad (special needs kid – parents were overwhelmed – sent him back). South Korea was the source of a lot of adoptions for a while (Shodan adopted a child from there, IIRC), but no longer. Other Asian countries are more likely sources these days.

As for race, one generally hears the opposite criticism more often, that white parents are inclined to seek out white children preferentially. Whether that’s true or not, there aren’t many adoptable European or Australian children either, for the same reasons as in the US, and adoptive parents who really want kids have looked elsewhere. Ultimately, either same-race or cross-race adoption is going to open the parents up to someone thinking that they’re racist.

In the case of my sister in law, that when she started the process she was considered ineligible in our own country but eligible in the country my nephew comes from: she was single. She indicated preference for a girl again because she thought that, as a single mother, she’d communicate better, manager the relationship better, with a teenage girl than a teenage boy (because hey, kids eventually become teens). Funny-not-haha thing is, we’re both women and either of us would dread having to deal with a Pink Princess… she was simply falling to prejudice.

She was rated for a child up to 6yo; she was expecting a girl about 5. Instead she was assigned a little boy who turned 2yo within a week of coming into Spain.

The people I know who adopted a child from China adopted girls, because China didn’t really want them. The one-child policy became a policy of gendercide, and there is a dangerous shortage of young women for young men to marry. The policy has been changed on paper, but the culture hasn’t.

Adopting children of other races in the US is problematic. There are more minority children available for adoption, but Caucasians are wary. I know of a Caucasian family that had fostered an African-American girl for years, along with many other special-needs kids of many races. When the family began the process of adopting the girl (they adopted the other kids they fostered) they were denied on the basis of race. Some time later the family had gone to a local park, and the girl’s new caregivers had coincidentally gone there too. The girl was so glad to see the only family she had known that she had to be taken kicking and screaming from them. Knowing this is the way race is viewed in the system, why would I want to try to adopt a child of a different race? If I found a judge and social worker who approve the adoption, there will be condemnation from the community.

So much for a color-blind society.

Babies are cute - if they weren’t, they wouldn’t survive to be teen agers. “Cute” is the evolutionary bribe they offer when you are up at 4:00am the fourth night running because they pooped out their fifteenth diaper. Are Asian babies more cute than any other kind? I don’t know. My babies are/were cuter than any others. (My mother says so - don’t argue with my mother). I expect people adopt for the same reasons as they get pregnant and give birth, and one of those reasons is that babies are cute.

The reason we adopted internationally (from South Korea) was because a baby became available sooner from SK than the US. We applied to both programs, but there are a lot fewer babies domestically. I suppose we could have adopted an older child or a special needs child, but we didn’t want to. Is that selfish? shrugs - no more so than anyone who gives birth rather than adopting a special needs child. Everyone’s heard the expression from a pregnant couple “we don’t care if it is a boy or a girl as long as it is healthy”. A healthy child is what people want. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it takes a very different mindset to go into parenthood with that knowledge. Maybe it’s a better, less selfish mindset. But I didn’t go into parenthood purely out of altruism. I want to be a daddy, and being a daddy to a ten-year old is different if you didn’t raise him from six months. (I expect).

And WADR the notion that a given genetic background, skin color, or eye shape should determine what culture a person identifies with is, IMO, [del]moose crap[/del] misguided. The only real experience we had was with a local crackpot (I will name him - it’s Elroy Stock, I think he’s dead, and in any case he can go pound sand up the aperation of his hindquarters) who made it his business to comb thru marriage and adoption records looking for people with Western names who adopted children with Asian names. So after we adopted our son I got a ten-page, double-sided, single-spaced letter from him accusing me of being a race traitor, polluting the culture, and various other neo-Nazi gibberish. Presumably - I only got to the bottom of the first page before I pitched it.

So, to those who believe that race should determine culture, he agrees with you. Is that a side you want to be on?

I believe there are a couple of other Dopers who have adopted Asian children. I will let them chime in on their own if they want.
ETA - FWIW, and 28 years ago, if you didn’t specify a preference for boy/girl, you usually got a boy.


This is racist. Assumes that all whites who adopt Asian kids do so with bad motives.

Unless we know the adoptive parents we are making unfounded assumptions.

  1. that it was an international adoption. These Asian children could have been born and put up for adoption right here in the US of A.

  2. that this couple were not the kids’ God Parents. They could have been close friends of the kids’ parents.

  3. that they were out to adopt ‘Asian children’ and not just ‘children’. As if they were accessories.

  4. that was through an agency. The adoptive parents may have had no desire to adopt until they run across these needy children.

I know some people who adopted internationally after failing at IVF several times. This was about 15 years ago, and at that time, the papers were full of one of the stories of a child who was reclaimed from adoption by a father who had not known about him. It was one story out of a hundred thousand adoption stories, and there was some fluke that produced it, but the parents I knew were terrified of the same thing happening to them, and so they went international, because they thought they’d never have the child reclaimed by the father if they did so.

One of their children is from the Ukraine, and one is from China, so I don’t think Asian “cuteness” played a role, but their first child, the one from the Ukraine, was a boy, and they wanted a girl the second time; they had heard it was easier to get a girl if one went to China, because China had lots more girls available than boys. I have no idea whether or not it is true; it’s just what these people heard through the adoption vine.

So whether it is true or a UL, it is definitely out in the ether that China has lots of girls available.

I’m sorry you got one of those letters. We adopted right about the time he was stopped. Asshole…

People adopt internationally for a lot of reasons. Adoptive parents often pick the country to adopt from very carefully, and almost all consider domestic adoption. But there are far fewer young children available for domestic adoption than people who want to be parents - but children who are adopted after a year of age or so often has psychological issues around attachment - and the longer the delay, the more likely issues will occur, and the severity of those issues increases. There isn’t any guarantee that any child - biological, adopted - won’t be challenging, but reducing your risk as a parent is one of the few benefits available to adoptive parents. As Shodan says, most people want a healthy child…your chances of getting a healthy child quickly out of international adoption are higher than pretty much any other way if you can’t conceive. Another thing non-adoptive parents should be aware of is that each country has its own requirements and costs - so you may end up with a Chinese adoption because they will accept an older parent. Or you may end up in Central America because its affordable for you. There are lots and lots of factors in deciding - almost none have to do with how “cute” the baby is.

Domestic adoption is a complex web of individual state laws, some of which allow the birthparents to reclaim years later. Domestic infant adoptions frequently fall through, and the potential adoptive parents are out thousands of dollars and back at step one.

Race plays a factor. A lot of parents want white babies - which is one of the reasons adoptions from Eastern Europe have been popular. But, as minorities, Asians will face fewer challenges in American society than most other brown people. Parents considering adopting interracially should be aware of racial issues and make decisions that are in the child - which means that the parents shouldn’t bite off more than they expect they will be able to chew. This may be “racist” but its also pragmatic, you should never accept responsibility for raising a child of a different race in America’s racist society without self-awareness.

Not all internationally adopted kids - not all people - are interested in their ethnic backgrounds. My son has never been the slightest bit interested in being Korean - he’s an American kid. He wants to fit in. We have lots of Asian neighbors, and he’s had lots of Asian friends (Minnesota has a huge Hmong population), but he’s also had friends of pretty much every racial group.

And international adoption is FAR from perfect. Its littered with corruption and bribes. I would be delighted if we had a society where every child was wanted by their birthparents, and every birthparent had the means and supportive society to raise them. But that isn’t our world.

Friends of mine adopted a wonderful baby boy from South Korea 16 years ago.

They initially sought adoption in the US, but although they are both college educated (her a masters degree, he a PhD) and great people, they had a very difficult time. One adoption fell through, and they were repeatedly frustrated.

Someone suggested talking with someone in South Korea, and things went smoothly. They were asked to come for a visit and while there, their son was born.

Well, let’s look at it this way. Assume a Asian couple adopted a white child, and the couple got flack for it. What would we call their detractors? There’s a word for that, umm, err- ah yes- Bigots, or racists.

Are there actually white couples who are saying they adopted an Asian baby because it’s cute? Or is this something that’s being attributed to such couples by other people?