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Adoption Statistics and Studies

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The first modern adoption law was passed in Massachusetts in 1851. Called the Adoption of Children Act, it was the first to focus on the best interests of the child rather than adult interests. Since then, adoption has grown tremendously into what it is today.

General Adoption Statistics

  • 1 in 35 children in the United States are adopted
  • 50,000 children are adopted every year in the United States
  • 28% of adoptions in the United States are transracial adoptions (parent and adopted child are of different race or origin groups)

Form of Adoption Pursued by Adoptive Families in the United States

  • Private Domestic Adoption: 38%
  • Foster Care Adoption: 37%
  • International Adoption: 25%

About Adopted Children...

The following are general statistics representative of all adopted children in the United States. The statistics represent children under 18 at the time of data collection.

Gender

  • Male: 47%
  • Female: 53%

Birthplace

  • Born in the US: 83%
  • Foreign Born: 17%

Race/Ethnic Origin

  • White: 49%
  • Black/African American: 16%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 2%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 10%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 19%
  • Other: 4%

About Adoptive Parents...

The following are general statistics representative of all adoptive families in the United States. The statistics represent families of children under 18 at the time of data collection.

Average Age:

  • 44.8

Marital Status

  • Married couple: 73%
  • Single female parent: 20.5%
  • Single male parent: 6.5%

Median Household Income:

  • $73,378

Educational Level:

  • Less than high school: 9%
  • High school graduate: 20%
  • Some college: 32%
  • Bachelor’s degree: 22%
  • Graduate or professional school degree: 17%

Reasons for Adopting a Baby

  • To provide a permanent home for a child: 81%
  • A desire to expand family: 69%
  • Inability to have a biological child: 52%
  • Wanted sibling for another child: 24%
  • Had previously adopted the child’s siblings: 7%

Adoption Community

  • 42% helped other adoptive families

Adoption Satisfaction

  • 87% would definitely make the same decision to adopt again

About Domestic Adoption...

The following are general statistics representative of domestic adoption in the United States. The statistics represent families of children under 18 at the time of data collection.

Open Adoptions

  • Adopted children with a pre-adoption agreement regarding openness: 67%
  • Adopted children with post-adoption contact with birth family: 68%

Gender of Adopted Child

  • Male: 51%
  • Female: 49%

Race/Ethnic Origin of Adopted Child

  • White: 50%
  • Black: 25%
  • Hispanic: 13%
  • Asian: <1%
  • Other: 12%

Educational Level:

  • Less than high school: 9%
  • High school graduate: 20%
  • Some college: 32%
  • Bachelor’s degree: 22%
  • Graduate or professional school degree: 17%

Transracial Adoptions:

  • 21% of domestic adoptions are transracial adoptions (parent and adopted child are of different race or origin groups)

Marital Status of Adoptive Parents

  • Married: 59%
  • Cohabiting: <3%
  • Single or other: 38%

Adoptive Parents’ Reasons for Adopting a Baby

  • To provide a permanent home for a child: 70%
  • A desire to expand family: 60%
  • Inability to have a biological child/Infertility: 52%
  • Wanted sibling for another child: 16%
  • Had previously adopted the child’s siblings: 7%

Siblings of Adopted Children:

  • Adopted child is only child: 24%
  • Child has siblings who are adopted and none who were born to parent: 22%
  • Child has siblings born to parent and no adopted siblings: 33%
  • Child has adopted siblings and siblings born to parent: 21%

Adoption Satisfaction

  • 93% of adoptive parents definitely would adopt again

Siblings of Adopted Children:

  • 34% of adoptive families helped other adoptive families

Adoption Studies & Reports

Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections

  • By Deborah H. Siegel, Ph.D., and Susan Livingston Smith, LCSW. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.
  • This report discusses how extensively adoption in the United States has changed over the last several decades.

Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons

  • From the Child Welfare Information Gateway — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
  • This factsheet discusses the impact of adoption on adopted persons who have reached adulthood.

Last updated November 2015

Sources:

U.S. Census Bureau, 2009–2011 American Community Survey
Rose M. Kreider and Daphne A. Lofquist, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2010, Current Population Reports, P20-572, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. 2014.

2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents
Vandivere, S., Malm, K., and Radel, L. Adoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. (Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2009).

The Donaldson Adoption Institute, New York, NY.