5 facts about adoption in America

November 10, 2016

Each year in November, the President of the United States issues a proclamation to announce National Adoption Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of the need for adoptive families and to encourage citizens to become involved in the lives of children and youth in foster care.

Here are five facts about adoption in America:

1. Adoption remains rare, and over the past decade, has been on the decline. In 2002, only 600,000 women age 18-44 (1.1 percent) had ever adopted a child. That rate dropped in half, to about 300,000 (0.61 percent), between 2011 and 2013. In 2002, 1.3 million men age 18-44 (2.1 percent) had ever adopted a child. That rate also dropped nearly in half, to about 700,000 (1.3 percent), between 2011 and 2013. (The rate of adoption for men is higher because men are more likely to adopt their stepchildren during marriage.)

2. In 2014 there were 415,129 children in foster care and 107,918 waiting to be adopted. The average age of a child in foster care waiting to be adopted was 7.7 years old. The average age of children in foster care being adopted was 6.2 years old.

3. On average, a child will spend 32.3 months in foster care awaiting adoption. About 55 percent of these children have had three or more placements with foster care families, and 33 percent had changed elementary schools five or more times, losing relationships and falling behind educationally.

4. Of children adopted with public agency involvement in 2014, almost two out of three (67 percent) were adopted by a married couple. About one in four (26 percent) were adopted by a single female. Relatively few were adopted by unmarried couples (four percent) or single men (three percent).

5. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a government-funded adoption information service, estimates the average U.S. adoption costs of various types of adoptions:

Intercountry Adoptions — $15,000 – $30,000

Independent Adoptions — $8,000 – $40,000+

Licensed Private Agency Adoptions — $5,000 – $40,000+

Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions — $5,000 – $40,000+

Public Agency (Foster Care) Adoptions —  $0 – $2,500

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is the author of The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. He also serves as an executive pastor at the McLean Bible Church Arlington location in Arlington, Virginia. Read More