Surprising Adoption Statistics You May Not Know About

Adoption is all around us, even if we don't see it. Every day, there are children being adopted into loving families all across the country. Here are some interesting adoption statistics you may not know about.

How long does the average child spend in the foster care system?

More than 60% of children in foster care spend two to five years in the system before being adopted. Almost 20% spend five or more years in foster care before being adopted. Some never get adopted.1

How many children are waiting to be adopted in the United States?

Of the over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., 114,556 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted. Among these children, males outnumber females, African American children are disproportionately represented, and over half are 6 years old or older.2

How many Americans have adopted a child?

Although no more than 2% of Americans have actually adopted, more than 1/3 have considered it.3

One out of every 25 U.S. families with children have an adopted child. According to the U.S. Census, about half of these have both biological and adopted children.

How common is international adoption?

U.S. citizens completed 19,942 international adoptions in 2007, which declined to 9,319 in 2011 as international adoptions became more restrictive.4

How common are open adoptions?

Today, almost 60%-70% of domestic adoptions are now open adoptions, which means there is a degree of openness and disclosure of information between two sets of parents and the adopted child.5

How many Americans are adopted?

Around 7 million Americans are adopted persons.6

How many children are adopted each year?

Around 140,000 children are adopted by American families each year.7

How common is adoption?

Nearly 100 million Americans have adoption in their immediate family, whether this includes adopting, placing, or being adopted.8

6 in 10 Americans have had personal experience with adoption, meaning that they themselves, a family member, or a close friend was adopted, had adopted a child, or had placed a child for adoption.9

How many Americans are adopted?

There are about 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, which is 2% of the population, or one out of 50 children.10

What percent of babies are adopted?

62% of children adopted privately are placed with the adoptive family when they are newborns or less than one year old. 88% of adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple, while 83% of non-adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple.11

How many children are adopted per year?

About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Of non-stepparent adoptions, about 59% are from the child welfare (or foster) system, 26% are from other countries, and 15% are voluntarily relinquished American babies.12

How many people are waiting to adopt a child?

There are no national statistics on how many people are waiting to adopt, but experts estimate it is somewhere between one and two million couples. Every year there are about 1.3 million abortions. Only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies give their children up for adoption.13

How many children are in the foster care system in the United States?

And instead of being safely reunified with their families — or moved quickly into adoptive homes — many will languish for years in foster homes or institutions. On any given day, there are nearly 428,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.14

What is the most adopted race?

A minority of adopted children are non-Hispanic white (37%), compared with a majority of children's parents (73%). Overall, 40% of adopted children are of a different race, culture, or ethnicity than both of their adoptive parents (or their sole parent if there is only one parent in the household).15

How many children are up for adoption in the United States?

There are 107,918 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted. In 2014, 50,644 foster kids were adopted — a number that has stayed roughly consistent for the past five years. The average age of a waiting child is 7.7 years old and 29% of them will spend at least three years in foster care.16

What is the average age of an adopted child?

The average child waits for an adoptive family for more than three years. 11 percent spend 5 years or more waiting for a family (43,083 children). The average age of children waiting for an adoptive family is 8.17

How much does it cost the government to keep a child in foster care?

State and federal expenditures for foster care administrative costs (placing and monitoring children in foster care) totaled $4.3 billion. The number of children entering foster care or in care totaled 679,191. Thus, the average administrative cost per child served per year was $6,675.18

1  Coughlin, Amy and Caryn Abramowitz. Cross-Cultural Adoption. Washington, D.C.: Lifeline Press, 2004.
2  Facts about Adoption.” Children’s Rights. 2013.
3  Jahng, Kenny. “Adoption Awareness: 10 Facts about Adoption That Will Surprise You.” The Adoption Journey. June 17, 2012.
4  Domestic vs. International Adoptions.” American Adoptions. 2013.
5  Adamec, Christine and William L. Pierce, PhD. Adoption. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc., 2000.
6  “Adoption Facts.” Adoption Research. 2013.
7  “Adoption Facts.” Adoption Research. 2013.
8  “Adoption Facts.” Adoption Research. 2013.
9  Evan B. Donaldson Institute, 1997
10  “Research: Adoption Facts.” Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. 2013. Accessed: September 17, 2013.