Supply and Demand
The overwhelming majority of would-be adoptive parents are white, married, and experiencing infertility, or single and over 30 -- and most of these folks prefer to parent a healthy infant. Since abortion became legal in the U.S. in the 1970s, the number of healthy white infants available for adoption has plummeted. America's growing acceptance of single motherhood has also prompted more young women faced with unplanned pregnancies to keep their babies. There are some healthy African-American, Hispanic, and mixed-race babies available for adoption in the U.S., but many of these children are adopted by same-race families or relatives of the birth parents. Foster care is another source of U.S.-born kids, but many of these children are older and are part of a system that can be bureaucratic and frustrating. All these factors combined have created a serious supply-and-demand problem for those seeking to adopt.
Most U.S. adoptions involving the few healthy white infants available are private and facilitated by attorneys (whereas foreign adoptions are mostly handled by licensed not-for-profit private adoption agencies). This means parents must deal with steep legal fees. They also have to cover the birth mother's medical and living expenses, adding up to costs as high as $50,000. In order to reach out to birth mothers considering adoption, it's also common for prospective adoptive parents to "market" themselves by creating flyers, placing ads, and mailing photo books. And many couples are frightened off by the risk of having a birth mother change her mind.