This essay expounds on the shifting motivation for adoption in the United States using a critical race feminist theory lens to explore how adoption remains wedded to marriage, the control of wealth, and family identity. These three elements have been historically and legally tied to race in that the law was intentionally written to exclude certain persons of color from being able to access marriage or wealth, thereby diminishing their ability to establish family identity.

This essay proceeds in three parts. Part II sets forth an overview of the evolution of adoption by exploring the breakdown of formal adoption and informal adoption. Part III discusses how families have changed over time, how societal changes have changed family law, and how these changes have impacted adoption and the number of children available for adoption. Part IV analyzes why marriage, race, and family identity are still so salient in adoption practice and how the impediments they present could be overcome with an extended family network constructed of multiple families.