Born In USA; Adopted In Canada

<B>Lesley Stahl</B> Reports On Controversial New Trend In Adoptions

The conventional wisdom is that if you are looking to adopt that perfect baby, a healthy infant, you will wait years and pay tens of thousands of dollars. You may have to go to Eastern Europe, Latin America or China.

But what if you were told there are hundreds of healthy newborns that private adoption agencies are struggling to find homes for, right here in the United States, who are available within a few weeks of being born.

They're black or mixed-race infants. With an estimated 2 million American families looking to adopt, it may surprise you where these babies are ending up. Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports on this story that first aired last February.
British Columbia, in Northwest Canada, is best known for its vast wilderness, where blacks are .65 percent of the population. And some of that minority are children adopted from the United States.

Dave and Juanita Alexander adopted Elias two years ago. They got Keiran last summer. The Alexanders, both teachers, live in Langley, a community 30 miles outside Vancouver.

After trying unsuccessfully to adopt a child in Canada, they contacted The Open Door, a Christian adoption agency in Thomasville, Ga., that has placed more than 200 children in British Columbia.

The Alexanders dug deep to come up with the fee of $10,000. No sooner had they sent in the paperwork, than the phone rang about Elias. "That was fast," recalls Dave Alexander. "I wasn't expecting that at all. … Two weeks." With Keiran, it was longer -- just three weeks.

There are now at least 300 families with African-American children in British Columbia. The parents there have organized a monthly gathering so their kids can get to know each other. It's a kind of support group where the parents get help from each other.

It's not just Canadian families adopting African-American babies. You can find them all across Europe, from Italy to Norway, even in Peru. One Florida adoption agency sent more than half its black infants out of the country last year. No one keeps count, but 60 Minutes was told it could involve as many as 500 children a year. Many adoption professionals were shocked when they heard that the United States was, as they put it, "exporting" black babies.

Walter Gilbert, CEO of The Open Door, views these adoptions as a "win-win" situation for the children, and he has strong opinions about why. "Especially in Canada, people are just color blind," says Gilbert. "That's been our experience. We would tend to tell them [birth mothers] that our experience has been there's less prejudice. They know what they experience here."

But the Alexanders say Canada is not as colorblind as Gilbert thinks.

"The first time we walked into school with Elias, and the comment that was made was, 'Your basketball program just got a big shot in the arm,'" says Juanita Alexander.

"Or the assumption that he's got rhythm and he's a great musician," adds Juanita's husband, Dave.

"Do you take all of those comments as racist, or how do you accept those things," asks Stahl.

"We can't necessarily always blame them for the comments, and the curiosity that they have, because, you know, families like ours aren't that terribly common here," says Juanita Alexander.
  • Rebecca Leung

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