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Adoption and Guardianship Facts and Figures

Statistic & Overview

There are no comprehensive numbers on total adoptions in the U.S. each year or the number of specific types of adoptions other than child welfare and intercountry adoptions. Of the approximately 135,000 adoptions in the U.S. each year, close to 40% are adopted by stepparents and another 40% or so from the U.S. foster care system. Private infant and intercountry adoptions together make up the remainder and are much smaller numbers. According to the U.S. Census, 1 in 25 families with children have an adopted child – about half of these have both biological and adopted children.


Challenges in Tracking Adoption Statistics:

How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008? Child Welfare Information Gateway. Sept. 2011.

Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2010. Population Characteristics. U.S. Census Bureau. April 2014.

Knowing the Numbers: Accessing and Using Child Welfare Data. The First Focus State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC), Sept. 2014.

Provides an overview of data sources that are useful to the child welfare community specifically and answers the following questions: What are the major data sources? What can I do with the data/what can they tell me? How do I access them?

Child welfare adoptions climbed after the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, peaking at over 57,000 a year in 2009. They have remained above 50,000 each year since that time (AFCARS, 2014).

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Data on Child Welfare Outcomes: In FFY2013, 101,840 foster children were waiting to be adopted, and 50,608 were adopted that year. In addition, 17,664 foster children exited care through guardianships (July 2014 estimates).

Intercountry adoptions peaked in 2004 at just under 23,000 and then began to decline—a pattern that exists worldwide. The most recent figure reported by the U.S. Department of State for 2013 was 7,092.

U.S. Department of State, Intercountry Adoption Statistics

Global Statistics:

Key Tables for Intercountry Adoption: Receiving States 2003-2012; States of Origin 2003-2011. Peter Selman (2013).

Private infant adoptions of voluntarily relinquished newborns have declined nine-fold since the early 1970s (National Survey of Family Growth).

Data from the National Survey of Family Growth: Who Adopts? Characteristics of Women and Men Who Have Adopted Children. Jan. 2009 (includes findings on voluntary relinquishments of newborns)

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