Adoption
 
Estimated Number of Printed Pages: 7
 
TOPICS COVERED: This page is a review of facts relating to adoption of children under 18 years old, in the United States and internationally. We've included information relating to: the number of adoptions occurring each year; children seeking adoption; and the types of families and individuals who chose to adopt.
 
MEMOS ON RELATED INFORMATION: Children (General Demographics), Foster Care
 
Links to Sources for this material are available below. Please also see The Factbook Sources page for further information regarding Factbook sources and their availability.
 
 

PAGE INDEX:

 

ADOPTED CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES
WHO ADOPTS?
ADOPTION OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES

 
 
 

ADOPTED CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES

 
 
 
About 127,000
children were adopted in the U.S. in both 2000 and 2001. The number of adoptions each year hasn't really changed since 1987. 1.
 
 
 
119,000
Number of children waiting to be adopted on September 30, 2003. 2.
 
 
 
8.6 years old
Average age of a child waiting to be adopted. 3.
 
 
 
Approximately 3.65 years
Average amount of time a child waits to be adopted. 4.
 
 
 
28,840
Number of children in the U.S. who have been waiting five years or more to be adopted. 5.
 
 
 
In 2000, there were half as many adopted children in American households as stepchildren. There were a total of 2.1 million adopted children, while there were 4.4 million stepchildren. 6.
 
 
 
1.6 million
Number of children in the U.S. who have been adopted by the householder. 7.
 
 
 
Of those families with adopted children, 82 percent have just one adopted child. But 15 percent have two adopted children, and three percent have three or more children who they've adopted. 8.
 
 
 
Two percent
of 45.5. million U.S. households with children of any age are families with only adopted children. 9.
 
 
 
Two percent
of U.S. households with children of any age are families with both adopted and biological children. 10.
 
 
 
0.1 percent
of the U.S. households with children have families containing biological, adopted children, and stepchildren. 11.
 
 
 
1.7 million
Number of all American households with adopted children. That's just four percent of all households where the householder has any children. 12.
 
 
 
Alaska
The State with the highest percentage of adopted children under 18 – 3.9 percent. 13.
 
 
 
90 boys to 100 girls
For every 100 girls who are adopted, only 90 boys are. That isn't representative of the birth ratio. Boys in the same age group who are biological children of the householder outnumber girls: 106 boys to 100 girls. 14.
 
 
 
16 percent
of adopted children under 18 in the United States are black. Seven percent of adopted children are Asian, and two percent are American Indian and Alaska native. Adopted children have a higher chance of being within race groups than they do as biological children or stepchildren. 15.
 
 
 
17 percent
of U.S. adopted children under 18 are of a different race than the householder. That's more than twice as much than for biological children – 7 percent – and greater than stepchildren as well – 11 percent. 16.
 
 
 
13 percent
of adopted children in the U.S. who were born outside the country. That is more than three times the amount for biological and stepchildren: just four percent of them were not born in the U.S. 17.
 
 
 
48,000
Number of Korean-born adopted children under 18 in the U.S. Korea is the largest single-country source of foreign-born adopted children, accounting for nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of them. Almost half of foreign-born adopted children are originally from Asia. 18.
 
 
 
21,616
Number of immigrant visas for orphans coming to the United States to be adopted in 2003. That is an increase of over 7,300 from a decade earlier. Common countries of origin for the children: China and Russia. 19.
 
 
 
82 percent
of European-born children under six who are adopted in the U.S. are from Russia or Romania. 20.
 
 
 
1973
Before 1973 – the year that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States – 8.7 percent of infants given up for adoption were children born by never-married women under the age of 45. Twenty years after Roe, just 0.9 percent of infants given up for adoption were the children of never-married women. The chart at the right shows that the decline – which is most dramatic for white women. 21.

 
 

ADOPTED CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES
ADOPTION OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES

 
 
 

WHO ADOPTS?

 
 
Around 40 percent of adoptions in 2000 and 2001 were done through a public agency. More than 15 percent were "intercountry" adoptions. The remaining adoptions were through private agencies, adoptions by related individuals (including stepparents) or tribal adoptions. This last category is decreasing substantially: in 1992, 42 percent of all adoptions were just those adoptions by stepparents. 22.
 
 
 
43 years old
The average age of an American householder who has adopted children. That is about five years older than the average age of a householder with biological or stepchildren. 23.
 
 
 
$56,000
is the median income for American households with adopted children under 18. That is higher than the median income for families with biological children ($48,000) and stepchildren ($51,000). 24.
 
 
 
78 percent
of American adopted children under 18 live in homes owned by their adoptive parents. That is 11 percent higher than the percentage of biological and stepchildren living in parent-owned homes. 25.
 
 
 
33 percent
of U.S. adopted children under 18 live with a householder who has at least a bachelor’s degree. Just 26 percent for biological children and 16 percent for stepchildren live with householders having college degrees. 26.
 
 
 
31 percent
of those who had ever taken steps to adopt actually end up adopting a child. 27.
 
 
 

ADOPTED CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES
WHO ADOPTS?

 
 
 

ADOPTION OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES

 
 
5,680
Number of adoptions in England and Wales in 2003. U.K. adoptions fell sharply from 22,502 in 1974 to a low of 4,317 in 1999. 28.
 
 
 
1967
The year that began a rapid decline in the number of adoptions in the United Kingdom. The Government believes there were two chief causes for the dramatic decline at this point. First, abortion became legal in 1967. Then, in 1975, a law in custody required courts to dismiss applications to adopt step-children if continued legal custody was in the child's best interest. 29.
 
 
 
72 percent
of the children in the United Kingdom adopted in 2002 were children born outside of marriage. Such children, despite legalized abortion, have made up the majority of adoptions from 1971 to the present. 30.
 
 
 
1999
The year that it became legal for heterosexual unmarried partners in Portugal to adopt children: same-sex couples cannot adopt. 31.
 
 
 
2000
The year that it became legal for heterosexual unmarried partners in Belgium to adopt children: same-sex couples cannot adopt. 32.
 
 
 
2001
The year that it became legal for British unmarried partners – including same-sex couples – to adopt children. 33.
 
 
__________________________________________________________________
 
1. ________, How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001? Washington, DC: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.(2004). Available at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_adopted/index.cfm.
2. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
3. These numbers are those as of September 2003, the most current data available as of August 2005. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
4. These numbers are those as of September 2003, the most current data available as of August 2005. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
5. These numbers are those as of September 2003, the most current data available as of August 2005. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
6. Rose M. Kreider, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, Census Special Reports, CENSR-6RV. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 3 (internal citation omitted). Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-6.pdf
7. Jason Fields, Children and their Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, Current Population Reports P20-547, US Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 2 . Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-547.pdf
8. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
9. Rose M. Kreider, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, Census Special Reports, CENSR-6RV. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 18. Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-6.pdf
10. Rose M. Kreider, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, Census Special Reports, CENSR-6RV. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 18. Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-6.pdf
11. Rose M. Kreider, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, Census Special Reports, CENSR-6RV. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), pp. 18-19. Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-6.pdf
12. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
13. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
14. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
15. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
16. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
17. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
18. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
19. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004)(citation omitted). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
20. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
21. Both the facts and chart originate from ________, "Voluntary Relinquishment for Adoption: Numbers and Trends," National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (3/2005). Archived at: http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_place.cfm
22. ________, How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001? Washington, DC: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2004), p. 1. Available at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_adopted/index.cfm.
23. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
24. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
25. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
26. ________, "Facts for Features: National Adoption Month," Press Release, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC (9/20/2004). Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html on 8/15/2005.
27. ________, "Persons Seeking to Adopt: Numbers and Trends," National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (3/2005), p. 2. Accessed at: http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_seek.cfm on 8/13/2005.
28. ________, "Society: Adoptions," National Statistics Online, National Statistics, United Kingdom . Accessed at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=592 on 8/16/2005.
29. ________, "Society: Adoptions," National Statistics Online, National Statistics, United Kingdom . Accessed at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=592 on 8/16/2005.
30. ________, "Society: Adoptions," National Statistics Online, National Statistics, United Kingdom . Accessed at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=592 on 8/16/2005.
31. Karin Wall, "Families in Portugal: Policies, Challenges and Opportunities," General Monitoring Report, 2004, The Situation of Families in Portugal in the Late 1990s, European Observatory on Family Matters (2004), p. 11. Archived at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/eoss/downloads/gm_04_Portugal.pdf
32. Wilfried Dumon, "Families in Belgium: Policies, Challenges and Opportunities," General Monitoring Report, 2004, and Wilfried Dumon, The Situation of Families in Belgium, 1996-2001, European Observatory on Family Matters (2001), p. 7. Archived at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/eoss/downloads/gm_01_belgium_dumon.pdf
33. Ceridwen Roberts, "Families in the UK: Policies, Challenges and Opportunities," General Monitoring Report, 2004, The Situation of Families in the UK, 1997-2002, European Observatory on Family Matters (2004), p. 12 (internal citations omitted). Archived at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/eoss/downloads/gm_04_UK.pdf