Adoption Statistics Guide

Find the facts. Forget the fiction.

David Caissie January 20, 2015

Fears, misconceptions, and uncertainties can cause even the most enthusiastic among us concern when we first embark on our adoption journey. While some claim statistics as the cause of confusion, statistics actually arm you with facts.

To properly handle your worries, it is important to have the facts. This slideshow of adoption statistics was created to provide you with accurate adoption-related statistics to assist you wherever you are in your adoption journey. Use this guide on statistics to help overcome your doubts.

Are you interested in growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.

Changing Attitudes
1. Changing Attitudes

In many ways, the world of adoption has entered a new era. Slowly, adoption myths are being dispelled, replaced by solid research and open communication. An integral part of this new era is an improved view of the adoption process by the general population.
According to the Adoption Attitudes Survey conducted by The Dave Thomas Foundation in 2013:

- 65 percent of Americans have a "favorable to extremely favorable" opinion of international adoption.
- 80 percent of Americans have a "favorable to extremely favorable" opinion of domestic infant adoption.
- 84 percent of Americans have a "favorable to extremely favorable" opinion of foster care adoption.

Why Adopt? A Global Pandemic
2. Why Adopt? A Global Pandemic

The following is a collection of statistics assembled concerning the health problems facing children without families around the globe.

- Worldwide, some 17,900,000 children are without families and living in orphanages or on the streets. They face a variety of health problems due to a lack of good healthcare and the proper attention required for healthy development. (Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20)

- Research from 32 European countries states that no child under three years of age should be placed in institutional care without a parent or primary caregiver. Young children in institutions are at greater risk of attachment disorders, developmental delays, and neural atrophy in the developing brain. (Source: Child Centre)

- It has been documented that children raised in orphanages have an average IQ of 20 points less than their peers in foster care. (Source: IQ of Children Growing Up in Children's Homes A Meta-Analysis on IQ Delays in Orphanages)

- In 2012, 23,396 children reached 18 years of age in the U.S. foster care system. Of those that “aged out,” 25% did not have a high school diploma or GED, nearly 40% were homeless, 50% were involved in substance abuse, and nearly 60% of young men had been convicted of a crime. (Source: AFCARS Report, No. 20, Jim Casey Youth)

If you're considering adoption, check out our adoption forums to learn from other adoptive parents.

Why Adopt?
3. Why Adopt?

Every family has their own reason for adopting a child. These statistics, taken from The National Survey of Adoptive Parents, illustrate the most common reasons for each type of adoption.

The Cost of Adoption
4. The Cost of Adoption

Most middle class Americans believe that the cost of an adoption is too prohibitive to consider as an option for adding to their family. The truth is that most adoptions can be entirely affordable on most family budgets. The total cost for each type of adoption can vary greatly, and should be considered as a factor when selecting the best fit for your family. Consider the statistics above taken from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents.

Click here for more information about the costs of adoption and some ideas on affording your adoption.

Who Can Adopt?
5. Who Can Adopt?

You don’t have to be rich, white, and married to adopt.

Adoptive parents of today come from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and income levels. In fact, according to the most recent statistics compiled from the Adoption Attitudes Survey, Americans who have considered adoption are more likely than ever to fit the following demographics:

- Minorities
- Younger, with the consideration for adoption progressively decreasing with age
- Single/never married
- Income between $25,000 and $50,000

Modern Family
6. Modern Family

One need look no further than the television show “Modern Family” to understand that the American family of today looks far different than it did just twenty or thirty years ago. Consider the following percentages also taken from The National Survey of Adoptive Parents:

- A mere 70% of today’s adopted family structures consist of married couples.
- An impressive 22.7% consist of single females.
- Approximately 5.5% are single males.
- 1.6% are unmarried couples.

The point is that just like families with biological children can have many different family structures today, so can families with adopted children.

Modern Family: LGBT Adoption
7. Modern Family: LGBT Adoption

Yes, the modern family structure of today is far more varied than in decades past, so it’s not surprising that the number of same-sex couples adopting children is on the rise. In the year 2000, the U.S. Census reported that 65,000 children lived with same-sex parents. The 2012 Census revealed a nearly 100% increase to almost 110,000 children! More and more birth mothers of today are choosing same-sex couples to adopt their unborn children.

(Source: Lifelong Adoptions)

Modern Family: Transracial Adoption
9. Modern Family: Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoptions are much more common today than they were decades ago. In fact, the National Survey of Adoptive Parents states that transracial families make up 40% of all adoptive families today. When considering transracial adoption, it can be helpful to learn as much as possible about the culture of the child you are adopting.

Types of Adoption
10. Types of Adoption

Generally speaking, there are three different types of adoption: domestic infant adoption, international adoption, and foster adoption. Each type of adoption has its own unique variables that make it the best choice for different people. It’s important to educate yourself about each type so you can choose the one that suits your family best. The Adoption Attitudes Survey conducted by The Dave Thomas Foundation found that, of people considering adoption

- 69% are considering adoption through foster care
- 64% are considering domestic infant adoption
- 53% are considering international adoption

It’s worth mentioning that there is also a fourth type of adoption called stepparent adoption, which is “when the child's legal parent marries a person who then wishes to assume legal and financial responsibility of the spouse’s child.”

Domestic Infant Adoption
11. Domestic Infant Adoption

A 2013 study called The National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites that domestic infant adoption accounts for approximately 38% of all adoptions finalized in the United States.
(Source: Statistic Brain)

Domestic infant adoption provides an opportunity for you to share all of your child’s milestones from the very beginning. You get to witness first words, first steps, etc. if you’re lucky enough to be there when it happens. Many wonderfully positive things can be associated with domestic infant adoption, but there are some cautions to consider as well. We invite you to more fully explore the journey of domestic infant adoption by clicking here.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Mothers
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Mothers

If you’re considering domestic infant adoption, it helps to understand that birth mothers are just like anybody else. They come from a variety of different backgrounds and make adoption plans for a variety of reasons.

Many people have the false belief that birth mothers are almost always in their teens. Although some birth mothers may be in their teens, the average age of a birth mother is actually 26 years old, according to the Center for Family Building. The typical birth mother is in her 20s, having a difficult time making ends meet financially, and already parenting one or two other children. She is usually making an adoption plan because she wants the best life possible for her unborn child.

Domestic Infant Adoption: How Often Do Birthmothers Change Their Minds?
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: How Often Do Birthmothers Change Their Minds?

The Center for Family Building also cites that less than two percent of birthmothers change their minds after a baby has gone home with a family. While this happens more frequently before or shortly after the birth, all stakeholders need to be aware of the sensitivity of the situation. What is truly important, under any circumstance, is that the baby goes home to a loving and caring family. Adoptive parents should always be aware of this possibility when choosing domestic adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Waiting
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Waiting

The question that most people leaning in the direction of domestic infant adoption ask first is, “How long will I have to wait before a birth mother chooses us as adoptive parents?”

This figure varies depending on the agency that you are working with and a variety of other individual circumstances. Simply put, it just takes the right person to see your profile and choose you. That could be the first birth mother you are presented to, or it could be the 100th. Expect an overall wait time of anywhere from 4-18 months on average. If you are open to adopting a non-white infant, your wait will likely be shorter. Decide what you want for your family regarding gender, race, and health. The more open you are, the more opportunities you will have of getting matched.

(Source:Adoption Services)

International Adoption
15. International Adoption

The National Survey of Adoptive Parents states that international adoptions account for approximately 37% of adoptions finalized in the United States.

International adoption can be a great opportunity for you to bring a child in need of a good family into your home.

For more information regarding the possibility of international adoption, click here.

International Adoption: Top 5 Countries
16. International Adoption: Top 5 Countries

As calculated in 2011 by the U.S. State Department, the following are the five most popular countries from which American citizens adopted:

1. China: 2,589
2. Ethiopia: 2,637
3. Russia: 970
4. South Korea: 736
5. Ukraine: 632

(Please note that adoptions from Russia to the United States have since closed.)

International Adoption: Waiting
17. International Adoption: Waiting

International Adoptions have an average wait time of 12-16 months. This will vary from country to country. Certain regions tend to have a much longer wait time, while others may be much shorter. Additionally, if you are open to adopting a child with special needs (many of whom have correctable medical problems), your wait time will likely be shorter than the average.

(Source:MLJ Adoptions)

Foster Care Adoption
18. Foster Care Adoption

The Adoption Attitudes Survey states that foster care adoption accounts for approximately 25% of adoptions finalized in the United States.

Choosing foster care as your adoption path can be a tremendously rewarding experience. When considering the possibility of foster care adoption, it is especially important to be educated and separate fact from fiction. For more information on opening your heart and your home to the possibilities of foster care adoption, please click here.

Foster Care Facts and Figures
19. Foster Care Facts and Figures

The Adoption Attitudes survey conducted by The Dave Thomas Foundation in 2010 cites the following statistics:

- Number of children in US foster care: 423,773.

- Number of children in foster care available for adoption: 114,556.

- In the year 2009, 69,947 children had parental rights terminated by the courts. However, only 57,466 were legally adopted.

- Median age of a child in foster care: 9.2.

- Median length of stay in foster care: 14 months.

- If just one in 500 adults who say they are considering adoption actually adopted, all of the waiting children in the foster care system would have a permanent family.

Adoption and Mental Health: Your Marriage
20. Adoption and Mental Health: Your Marriage

The National Survey of Adoptive Parents claims that 88% of adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy couple.”

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
- George Sand, French novelist and memoirist

Adoption and Mental Health: Your Child
21. Adoption and Mental Health: Your Child

Adopted children can face a unique set of circumstances to address as they grow into adulthood. Adoptive parents need to be prepared for—but not afraid of—the social and behavioral challenges their children may confront. Consider these social behavioral statistics gathered from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents in 2013.

To learn more about parenting adopted children, click here.

The Most Important Statistic: 100%
22. The Most Important Statistic: 100%

While the concept of adoption has enhanced the lives of children and their adoptive parents everywhere, there are still hundreds of thousands of kids in need worldwide. 100% of children everywhere deserve a loving family and a place to call home.

If you think you can be that special someone to provide this for a child, choose adoption. It could be the best thing to ever happen to you and the child you adopt.

Domestic infant, foster, international, and stepparent adoption all provide tremendous opportunities for children and parents.

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David Caissie

David Caissie is a freelance writer, technical communicator, and staff storyteller for Most importantly, he is a dedicated husband to his wife, Amy, and devoted adoptive father to his daughter, Madeline. A family man, sports fan, and dog lover, he resides with his family and faithful basset hound, Bella, in the comfy confines of a quaint home in Stow, Massachusetts. He also welcomes your polite comments, courteous thoughts, and helpful insights on any of his articles.

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