Fact Sheet

  • In 2001, there were 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of all U.S. children.
  • The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's 1997 public opinion benchmark survey found that 58 percent of Americans know someone who has been adopted, has adopted a child or has relinquished a child for adoption.
  • The Hague Convention, passed in 1993 and implemented in the U.S. in 2008, seeks to prevent human trafficking and protect children's safety, promote transparency in the process by requiring agencies to disclose fees and expenses in writing, and provide adoptive parents with adoption certificates and other paperwork that eases children's entries into their new homelands.
  • Though U.S. citizens adopted nearly 13,000 children from 106 different countries in 2009, a little more than two-thirds of all children came from only five sending countries: China (23 percent), Ethiopia (18 percent), Russia (12 percent), South Korea (8 percent) and Guatemala (6 percent).
  • South Korea has placed over 100,000 children in the United States since 1958. China has placed more than 70,000 children, 91 percent female, with families abroad, 70 percent of those American. While the exact number of U.S. children placed for adoption in other countries is not reliably reported, a decade ago adoption experts estimated the number at 500 annually.
  • In 2006, the Chinese government proposed a new set of rules requiring that adoptive parents must meet certain educational and financial requirements, be married, be under 50, not be clinically obese, not have taken antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication in the previous two years and not have any facial deformities.
  • The organization Families With Children from China provides a network of support for families who have adopted in China and to provide information to prospective parents. There are currently more than 100 chapters of the group throughout the United States.
  • The estimated cost of adopting from China is $20,000 to 25,000.
  • While inter-country adoption may be the most visible category, the majority of American adoptions actually involve children adopted out of foster care. About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Of non-stepparent adoptions, about 59 percent are from the child welfare (or foster) system, 26 percent are from other countries, and 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished American babies.
  • Domestically, the percentage of infants given up for adoption has declined from 9 percent of those born before 1973 to 1 percent of those born between 1996 and 2002.
  • Adoption costs tend to differ according to the origin, race, sex and age of the child, as do waiting times involved, with white American-born baby girls costing the most and older black boys the least.
  • Adoptive mothers tend to be older than mothers who have not adopted children. Fifty-one percent of adoptive mothers are between 40 to 44 years of age compared with 27 percent of non-adoptived. Eighty-one percent of adoptive mothers are 35 to 44 years of age compared to 52 percent of non-adoptive mothers.
  • Although never-married persons aged 18 to 44 years are less likely to have adopted children compared with those who have been married, about 100,000 never-married women and 73,000 never-married men adopted children in 2002.
  • Currently Florida is the only state that bans adoption by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some states, such as Mississippi, allow a man or woman to adopt alone but will not allow second-parent adoption by a same gender partner. The state of Utah prevents any unmarried couples from adopting.
  • Same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents. An estimated 65,500 adopted American children are living with a lesbian or gay parent.
  • Jones, Jo. "Who Adopts? Characteristics of Women and Men Who Have Adopted Children." Center for Disease Control and Prevention, January 2009.

    Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "Adoption Facts."

    The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. "Adoption: China."

    Adoptive Families. "China Adoption."

    Adoption.com. "The Cost of Adopting - A Worksheet for Families"

    Badgett, M.V. Lee, Kate Chambers, Gary J. Gates and Jennifer Ehrle Macomber. "Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States." The Williams Institute and The Urban Institute, March 2007.

    The Economist. "Discount Babies." May 14, 2010.