It’s been 30 years since a comprehensive study on the numbers related to adoption has been completed and released to the public. It seems shocking that in our world of technology, our increasing global reach to care for children and the work being done to improve the lives of individuals, that our country has fallen behind in tracking numbers that are essential to reveal how we can better care for our children. So why has this happened? And why do we finally have those statistics available?

It’s not that the United States doesn’t care about numbers. We surely do! We track all kinds of things. But, when autonomy was given to the individual states to track—or not to track—private adoptions in 1975, we lost the ability to create a complete picture of what adoption looks like in the United States. The gathering of data regarding international adoptions has been the responsibility of the State Department; and adoptions through foster care have been tracked by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thankfully, the National Council for Adoption has known the value of numbers in regards to all types of adoption. When states were no longer required to track adoptions, the NCFA picked up the ball. This has resulted in an in-depth and comprehensive report, Adoption By The Numbers, released just a few days ago.

Why do numbers matter? Among other things, numbers tell us what are the trends. We learn from numbers where we are lacking and what needs our attention. With the NCFA hard at work, we have learned, though overall adoptions have declined, infant domestic adoption has remained steady. We’ve learned foster adoption has increased, although the number of children going into foster care has also increased. Also from this study, we’ve learned the biggest contributor to the overall decline in adoptions is the 75% drop in international adoption. With these numbers, we can analyze where our focus should be to continue the work and save the children of our world.