Can you think of anything anywhere there are 36 ready and willing buyers for everyone offered and no one is doing much to meet the demand? Something there’s at least a 2 to 7-year wait? We couldn’t either. In a capitalist country, supply would simply rise to meet the demand. Unless it’s a short-range disruption, generally it’s the government doing something wrong (think Cuba or Venezuelan) and/or not providing the proper legal framework to allow markets to do their job.
So it is with the shortage of babies for adoption. Right now, more than 2 million couples are waiting in line to for a baby. Families waiting to be completed. How many more are too discouraged by the incredible gauntlet of our adoption system to even try, have dropped out or are looking elsewhere is unknown? If you are among the few not having a family member or friend that has gone through the adoption misadventure, go online to read the endless stories of woe. We feel for a much lower number of transgenders wanting to get on with their lives, but we ignore the stress these millions are going through for just wanting to have a family.
Even if you can’t get worked up over what these couples are going through, you just might be over the possibility of our declining national population. Countries with declining populations such as Japan or Russia are locked in very slow growth with less young people supporting an ever-growing aged population. This will only get increasingly untenable in the future. So how do we maintain or increase our working-age population down the road? We can allow much greater numbers of immigrants. This, however, is a great bone of contention between our two major parties with no resolution anywhere on the horizon.
In the last several years U.S. births have declined, last year by 53,000. In that year we had approximately 55,000 babies adopted. Just think if we could encourage enough births to satisfy just 3% of the backlog of waiting for prospective parents we could double this figure offsetting this decline. 5 to 10% would put us on the way to healthy growth.
So how do we increase the number of babies for these desperately seeking couples? First of all recognize the maze of laws, policies, and uncertainties they have to negotiate. Evey state and adoption agencies have different rules. If just satisfying their rules and demands weren’t enough, even when they’re successful in adopting they still may face legal hurdles from the birth mother, the father or even other organizations. After all, the baby may have some Native American DNA and the adoptive parents may have none. No wonder many couples seek babies abroad. Unfortunately, these adoptions come with their own set of problems. One thing they all have in common here and abroad is it is very difficult and expensive.
The saving grace is there is a general agreement as to what constitutes a solid prospective adoptive couple. A background check and financial capability are all that’s needed. Good character and means to provide a good home for the child. On the other side, the birth mother needs to know whatever financial arrangements made are met. This may be of utmost importance to prospective surrogates. Some may want some continuing relationship with the child or demand the relationship remain secret. Mothers giving up a child not fitting into their present circumstances may find the latter important.
Standardizing anything makes it much easier to set up markets to serve a need. We trade standardized contracts for almost anything. from pork bellies to the S &P index. All that is needed is a law preferably national setting forth the legal parameters for adoption. A universal application and who makes and certifies the background and financial checks. Setting forth the proper protections for adopting parents with no later lawsuits. For the birth mother, making financial arrangements are met and any relationship or not is delineated. Doing this would allow a national adoption market.
This would permit prospective parents once the background and financial checks are completed to make their offer widely known on adoption clearing sites. Pregnant women or potential surrogates could easily find what is offered and make a decision knowing the clearing site will make sure all conditions are met. The adopting parents. would be similarly protected.
Standardizing leads to wider and more efficient markets. By eliminating multitudes of middlemen and confusing rules we lower the costs to buyers will increasing returns to sellers. In this case, a woman with an unwanted pregnancy could easily weigh abortion versus guaranteed medical birth coverage and a cash bid. Surrogacy presently runs on average from $90,000 to $130,000. (Higher in California). This gives us some idea of the present conditions faced by prospective adopters. Clear legal parameters and wider markets would bring costs down while still upping the actual returns to birth mothers by eliminating high-cost middlemen and consolidating paperwork.
A woman with an unwanted pregnancy might be dissuaded from abortion when birth expenses and say $50,000 tax-free are guaranteed. It should be a tax-free transaction because it is definitely in the public interest. Instead of pregnancy hindering a college dream, it just might make it possible. A woman considering becoming a surrogate could easily see what is offered and make a decision. This can’t help but increase the number of babies available for adoption.
As anyone can see, a standardized market approach would have a multitude of virtues. We know families contribute greatly to our personal and national well being. A national law would do away with any discrimination in adoption. Ease and cash will go a long way to overcome a birth mother’s discriminatory thoughts in any case