Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Some more numbers: International Adoptees and African slaves

Some adoptees assert that intercountry adoption is the largest migration of unwilling immigrants since the transatlantic slave trade. In fact, that premise gave me the idea for this blog. 

The numbers are comparable: About 500,000 Africans were brought to the U.S.* (and the colonies that would become the US). If we accept that this website is correct, from 1970 to 1999, then 265,677 people were brought to the US for adoption. Then, to bring the numbers to include the boom years of 1999 to 2011 another 233,934 must be added, for a total of 499, 611. Now, if 1999 is included twice since we’re combining sources here, then we have to subtract 15,719 (all of these figures are from the State Department) we’re down to 483,892. But, of course, intercountry adoption in its current form started in 1954, which these numbers don’t capture. Additionally, some of these adoptions were not intercountry adoptions in the sense that most think of; they were relative adoptions. So, if we take out the relative adoptions, but add in the adoptions before 1970, I estimate we would still be in the same ballpark as 500,000. 

Now, of course the numbers of Africans who were brought to the US does not include the great number of humans who were captured but died on their way to the western hemisphere. It also should be noted, too, that the transatlantic slave trade to the US existed from 1675 to 1866, about 200 years. Intercountry adoption in its current form has been around for just about 55 years.

I’m not arguing that the experience of Black slavery is comparable to what intercountry adoptees experience. I'm just pointing out that the two groups are similar in two ways: we are unwilling immigrants (forced migrants) and we have similar numbers, currently. Adoptees will mostly likely soon surpass the number African slaves who were brought to the US. Interestingly, the source of the post-500,000 will also come from Africa, at least in part. 

Will adoptees also impact the demographics of the US in the same way that Black slavery has? 

*This website, however shows 305,326 Africans slaves coming to the US.