Aired 5 years ago on Radio Monterey 

Should Your Bank Balance Affect Your Right To Adopt?

Sociologist Joshua Gamson, author of 'Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship,' discusses the financial issues would-be parents must consider when they wish to adopt a child.

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"I'm certainly not in the position of telling people that they're too poor to adopt a child"

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TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

When they go to adopt within the United States, there are a lot of questions, a lot of background checks as there should be. And there is the look at what the families finances are. That's a really prickly issue because on the one hand you can't quantify a person's ability to parent well, based on what money they have. But, kids are expensive, so where is that line? I've worked with pet charities. And you know, we would always ask, do you have any idea what it costs to raise a dog? And you're going to do at least that, when you're talking about a human child, but where's the line? - Yeah, I don't know where that line is, and I don't, you know, these things are so much bigger than even the adoption process, because you're talking about something that is a function of you know, a radical economic inequality to begin with, that you know we have so many people who, for whom that, you know, the expense of having a child is overwhelming. You know, even for those of us who have some means it's extremely expensive but it comes up in subtle ways too, the, not just sort of a check on, you know, household income, but you know, when you're doing an open adoption which is really what most people are doing now domestically, you are writing a letter to the birth mother which is a sort of marketing document. - Like getting a house - Yeah, here's why I'll have such great parties at your house. You know, here's why I make a good parent or we make good parents for the child that you're considering placing. And, you know, you can see in some of the decisions about how to write that letter, some of that presentation of you know, middleclassness, as well, and you know, I saw these stories more as, you know, less of sorting resolving that. I don't know how to resolve that. I don't know where the line is. I'm certainly not in the position of telling people that they're too poor to adopt a child. I mean, that makes no sense to me. But I'm not in control of any of those institutions. - Right. - So, this was more, you know, I was thinking, these are the things that people face, these are the structures in which these personal very, very personal experiences take place.