9 Surprising Facts About Adopting a Baby from Foster Care
Adopting a baby from foster care happens more often than you might think and seems to be on the rise. While we caution people that the greatest need for parents is for school aged children, it is worth checking out these nine facts you probably didn’t know about adopting an infant from foster care.
- It is possible to adopt a baby from foster care. Infants (children under the age of 1) are a growing proportion of first-time admissions to the foster care system.
- Most children adopted from child welfare are under the age of 3. Nearly half of all adoptions are of children who entered care before age 1.
- The majority (60%) of babies in foster care are children of color (39% Black and 21% Hispanic), compared to 46% for older age groups.
- More than half (54%) of children adopted through the child welfare system are adopted by their foster parents.
- Physical neglect/failure to thrive is the reason almost half (46%) of babies enter the foster care system.
- Parental drug or alcohol abuse is present in 61% of infants in foster care. Parents contemplating adoption a baby from foster care should assume that the infant has had prenatal exposure to drug and/or alcohol.
- Over half of the families whose babies are in foster care report having difficulty paying for necessities. (57%)
- Many babies available for adoption from foster care are part of a sibling group.
- Since the early 2000s, there has been a steady decline in the number of children in foster care, with a similar decline in the number of children waiting to be adopted. (Update: 2017, the numbers are on the rise again, most likely due to the opioid crisis.)
If you are considering adopting a baby from foster care, you will need to decide whether to use a private adoption agency or adopt through your local child welfare agency. This tip sheet will help: Differences Between Public and Private Foster Care Agencies.
- Source for the 9 facts: Domestic and International Adoption: Strategies to Improve Behavioral Health Outcomes for Youth and Their Families by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. January 2015.
- First published in 2015: Updated 2017.
- Image credit: Baby with knit hat (Michael Glasgow); Sleeping baby (peasap); Baby with ball (Vinoth Chandar); Baby with lemon (Nadia Phaneuf); Baby on grass (Shutter Bunny); Baby in black background (Laura Dye); Baby in frame (Fayyaz Qasim); Baby with pink hairband (cheriejoyful)