Adoption Statistics

About two percent of children have found their permanent homes and families through adoptionFamilies choosing to adopt may have different motivations for it, but the result is always the same, one more child out of the foster care system and given a loving and stable home. Here’s an analysis of the current state of adoptions in the United States.  

Number of adoptions and considerations

  • There have been 275,891 total adoptions in the U.S. (Travel.state.gov) 
  • Adults considering adoption are more likely to be younger, a minority, and single or never been married (Davethomasfoundation, 2017) 
  • No more than 2% of Americans have adopted, but one-third have considered it (Davethomasfoundation, 2017) 
  • About 81.5 million Americans have considered adopting a child in their lifetime (Davethomasfoundation, 2002) 
  • 65% of Americans have experience with adoption either through their own family or through close friends (Davethomasfoundation, 2002) 
  • Experts estimate that there are currently two million couples waiting to adopt (AmericanAdoptions) 

Types of adoptions and motivators

  • Most adoptions in the U.S. are by a stepparent; the second most common type is foster care adoption (Parents) 
  • The most commonly reported motivation for adoption among parents was providing a permanent home to a child in need (81%), followed by a desire to expand their family (69%) and infertility (52%) (Aspe.hhs.gov) 
  • 38% of all adoptions are private ones from within the United States, where the child has not been in the foster care system (Aspe.hhs.gov) 
  • 32% of children in foster care are staying in the home of a relative (“kinship care”) (Childtrends, 2017) 
  • Nearly half of all foster children (45%) lived in the homes of non-relatives (Childtrends, 2017) 

Who adopts?

  • The most common family structure that decided to adopt is married couples (68%), second on the list is single women (25%), and third is unmarried couples (3%) and single male (3%) (Acf.hhs.gov, 2018) 
  • Adoptive parents are mostly Caucasian (77%) (Ifstudies) 
  • Caucasian children were adopted the most (49%), next were Hispanic (21%), and African American (17%) (Acf.hhs.gov, 2018) 
  • Texas had the most intercountry adoptions in the U.S. (310), Vermont had the least (5) (Travel.state.gov, 2018) 
  • The most important factor when adopting a child is their mental and physical health; people cared less about the age, gender, or race of the child (Davethomasfoundation, 2002) 

International adoption

  • The total costs of international and domestic adoption are similar, range from $25,000 to $50,000 (Americanadoptions) 
  • Some countries have marriage requirements or age limits, and many countries don’t allow LGBTQ couples to adopt (Americanadoptions) 
  • International adoptions have declined significantly, from 11,058 in 2011 to 7,092 in 2013 (Travel.state.gov) 
  • The majority of overseas adoptions are from China, India, Columbia, South Korea, and Ukraine (Statista, 2018) 
  • The number of children aged 1 to 2 years adopted from abroad in 2018 was 1,124 (Statista, 2018) 
  • The international adoption fees for Canada are the highest at $32,310 and lowest for Togo $3,500 (Travel.state.gov, 2018) 

Foster care adoption

  • The number of children in foster care in the United States is 437,283 (Statista, 2018) 
  • There are more male children in foster care (52%) than female (48%) (ACF, 2019) 
  • Most of the children in foster care are Caucasian (44%), African American (23%), and Hispanic (21%) (Acf.hhs.gov, 2018) 
  • More than 60% of children in foster care get adopted within two to five years after being in the system, 20% spend five or more years after being adopted (CMC, 2004) 
  • The total cost for support of adoption and foster care is up to $4.5 billion per year (Adoptioncouncil, 2011) 
  • The average child waits for adoption for more than three years (Adoptionnetwork) 

Open adoptions

  • The most common fear by 82% of Americans is that the birth parents would try to regain a child once the adoption is completed, which in reality rarely happens (Davethomasfoundation, 2002) 
  • 95% of adoptions are open to a degree, either mediated, fully open, or somewhere in between, and only 5% are closed adoptions (AmericanAdoptions, 2017) 
  • The majority of birth and adoptive parents in open adoptions report more positive experiences and are more satisfied with the adoption process (NCBI, 2009) 
  • 73% of adoptive parents are becoming very comfortable with the idea of open adoptions and contact (Sciencedirect) 
  • Openness in adoptions reduces the adoptive parents’ fears and increases empathy towards birth parents (PubMed) 
  • Almost all adopted children (97%) know that they were adopted (Aspe.hhs.gov) 

Although the process is long, complicated, and costly, more families choose to make this lifelong commitment.