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50+ Adoption Statistics

Gain insight into the current state of adoptions in the United States with 50+ crucial statistics and trends, providing valuable information on the evolving adoption landscape.
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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 & Considerations

  • By 2019, there have been 275,891 total adoptions in the U.S. (Travel.state.gov, 2019) 
  • Adults considering adoption are more likely to be younger, a minority and single, or have never been married. (Davethomasfoundation, 2017) 
  • No more than 2% of Americans have adopted, and one-third have considered it. (Davethomasfoundation, 2017) 
  • About 81.5 million Americans have considered adopting a child in their lifetime. (Good Housekeeping, 2015) 
  • Among those who have adopted a child, foster care adoption remains the most common. Higher than private infant adoption and international adoption. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)
  • Experts estimate that there are currently two million couples waiting to adopt. (AmericanAdoptions) 
  • One in ten US adults is adopted. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)
  • Eight in ten adults would keep an adopted child connected to their race or culture. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)

Who Adopts?

  • Adoptive parents are mostly Caucasian (77%). (Ifstudies) 
  • Texas had the most intercountry adoptions in the U.S. (310), and Vermont had the least (5). (Travel.state.gov, 2018) 
  • Adults considering adoption are more likely to be younger and Hispanic, come from moderate-income households, and have personal experience with adoption. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)
  • In 2021, around 36,000 got adopted by married couples, and about 13,000 were adopted by single women. Single men and unmarried couples adopted about 2,000, respectively. (Statista, 2022) 
  • Approximately 28,000 were adopted by their foster parents. A tad more than 17,000 got adopted by relatives, and 5,000 by non-relatives. (Statista, 2022) 

Types of Adoptions & Motivators

  • Most adoptions in the U.S. are by a stepparent; the second most common type is foster care adoption (Parents, 2005) 
  • 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, 2009) 
  • 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, 2009) 
  • 32% of children in foster care are staying in the home of a relative (“kinship care”). (ABA, 2017)
  • Nearly half of all foster children (45%) lived in the homes of non-relatives. (PLWG, 2017)
  • The most common types of adoptions in consideration are foster care (82%) and private infant adoption (70%). 52% are considering international adoption. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022) 
  • The main reason why American adults are considering fostering is that they want to help a child in need (71%), they are aware of the need for foster care parents (53%), or they want to add a child to their family (29%). (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022) 

Foster Care Adoption

  • In 2018, the number of children in foster care in the United States was 437,283. (Statista, 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 $4.3 billion per year. (Adoptioncouncil, 2011) 
  • The average child waits for adoption for more than three years. (AdoptionNetwork) 
  • Four in ten Americans have considered becoming a foster parent. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)

  • The main reason for foster parent consideration is to help a child in need. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022)

  • In 2021, there were 391,098 children in foster care in the US. (Statista, 2022) 
  • In total, 206,812 new children entered foster care in 2021. (Statista, 2022) 
  • There were slightly more boys (199,969) than girls (191,037) in foster care in 2021. (Statista, 2022) 
  • Most children in foster care are under three years old. The least represented are those aged 18,19, and 20. (Statista, 2022) 
  • About four in 10 Americans have considered becoming a foster parent. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022) 
  • 31% would prefer to foster a child younger than two years old, and 27% would prefer one aged between two and five. Only 4% would like to foster a teenager. (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022) 
  • In 2021, 11% of children in foster care waited less than 12 months or more than five years, respectively, to get adopted. 28% waited between 12 to 23 months, 27% waited 23 to 35 months, and 23% waited for three to four years. (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2023) 

International Adoption

  • The total costs of international and domestic adoption are similar, ranging 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, 2013) 
  • 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 the lowest for Togo at $3,500. (Travel.state.gov, 2018) 
  • In 2021, Colombia, India, Ukraine, South Korea, and Nigeria were the leading countries for intercountry adoptions in the US. (Statista, 2022) 
  • The time it took to adopt a child from a different country in the US in 2021 depends on the country. For countries such as El Salvador, Belize, Guinea, Haiti, Burundi, and Venezuela, it took an average of 1000-1500 days. (Statista, 2022) 
  • The significant concerns that adults have with international adoption are behavioral issues (78%), not being able to pay for the adoption (76%), and whether they will have adequate support after the adoption (74%). (US Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2022) 

Open Adoptions

  • 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 (Sciencedirect1998) 
  • Openness in adoptions reduces the adoptive parents’ fears and increases empathy towards birth parents (PubMed, 1994) 
  • Almost all adopted children (97%) know that they were adopted (Aspe.hhs.gov, 2018) 

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

Written by shortlister editorial team

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