Adoption in the US 2018: How Many? How Much? How Long Do They Take?
I’m always amazed that it is so hard to answer the basic questions about adoption: how many adoptions take place each year in the US, how much does it cost to adopt, and how long does it take to adopt a baby or child?
The first step in answering these questions about adoption is to break down the basic types of adoption—domestic infant adoption, international adoption, and foster care adoption. We have strong information on the numbers and cost of international adoption and foster care adoption, and we have a good estimate on the number of domestic infant adoptions in the US. (We only have an estimate because domestic infant adoption is controlled by state law, and there is no one source for compiling the data.)
How Many Kids Are Adopted in US each Year
In general, adoptions in the US are declining. In 2007, the total number of adoptions were 133,737. The numbers for 2014, the last year that full data is available, fell to 110,373. Of those adoptions, 41,023 were adoptions within the family (where the child is related to the adopting family) and 69,350 were unrelated adoptions. This overall decline is primarily due to a decrease in intercountry adoptions (international adoptions) and in kinship or related adoptions.
Let’s look at the breakdown of the three main types of adoption for a deeper understanding.
How Many Domestic Infant Adoptions in the US?
The number of infant adoptions in the US has increased very slightly from 18,078 in 2007 to 18,329 in 2014, the last year data is available. Domestic infant adoption comprises only .5% of all live births in the US and only 1.1% of births to single parents.
How Much Do Domestic Infant Adoptions Cost & How Long Do They Take in 2018?
Adoptive Family Magazine does a survey each year to find out the average cost and timing of adoptions in the US. Creating a Family also does an informal survey of agencies and adopting families to check costs, and our numbers track closely to what Adoptive Family Magazine reports.
When looking at cost, don’t forget to factor in the federal Adoption Tax Credit. Creating a Family has extensive information on this credit at our Adoption Tax Credit Headquarters and how it applies to domestic infant adoption. Take our Adoption Tax Credit 2017 course for a complete overview and check out the following:
- 10 Tips for Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit (blog post)
- 8 Facts You Must Know about the Adoption Tax Credit (blog post)
Adopting a Baby via an Adoption Agency:
Average cost: $43,000
Matched within 1 year: 62%
Matched within 2 years: 82%
Adopting a Baby via an Adoption Attorney:
Average cost: $38,000
Matched within 1 year: 68%
Matched within 2 years: 84%
The article in Adoptive Family Magazine goes into more detail and is well worth the read.
How Many International Adoptions to the US?
The greatest change in adoptions has been within the international adoption community. For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, the Intercountry Adoption statistics from the U.S. Department of State reported 3,980 total adoptions, with a relatively even split of boys and girls continuing to be reported. In 2007 the total international adoptions were 19,601 (61.1% girls, 38.9% boys). The highest number of international adoptions were in 2004, when 22,989 children were adopted from abroad to the US.
The numbers of international adoptions in FYE 2016 for the top ten countries that place children in the US are:
- China – 1687
- Congo – 263
- Ukraine – 212
- S. Korea – 162
- India – 157
- Haiti – 150
- Ethiopia – 133
- Uganda – 129
- Philippines – 127
- Bulgaria – 123
We wish we could say that this decline reflects less need for international adoption with fewer children entering state care and greater numbers of adoptions within the country. Unfortunately, this is not true.
The reasons are complex and involve increased regulations both in the US and in the sending countries, reports of corruption, and a growing feeling in some countries that international adoption is not good for the child and for their national reputation. For a more detailed look at why international adoptions are declining, check out these Creating a Family articles: What’s happening with International Adoptions?, What the Heck is Going on With International Adoptions?!?, and Ethics of International Adoption & the Orphan Care Movement.
How Much Does International Adoption Cost & How Long Does It Take in 2018?
The cost and timing of international adoption vary greatly by country. Creating a Family has detailed charts on the top 16 placing countries to the US. Often the cost variation is due to travel costs, which is covered in these detailed charts.
When looking at cost, don’t forget to factor in the federal Adoption Tax Credit. Creating a Family has extensive information on this credit at our Adoption Tax Credit Headquarters and how it applies to international adoption. Take our Adoption Tax Credit 2017 course for a complete overview and check out the following:
- 10 Tips for Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit (blog post)
- How to Best Use the Adoption Tax Credit(blog post)
Here’s a look at the cost and timing for the three of the top sending countries, for a general idea.
Average cost: $36,000
Traditional Program (non-special needs), matched within 5 years: 0%
Waiting-Child Program, matched within 6 months: 62%
Waiting-Child Program, matched within 1 year: 75%
Waiting-Child Program, matched within 2 years: 90%
Adopted a child younger than two years: 25%
Adopted a child younger than five years: 72%
Average cost: $35,000 (much variation due to travel requirements: 1 long or 2 shorter trips; approximately 6 to 8 weeks long or 3 to 4 weeks and 10 to 14 days long)
Matched within 1 year: 100% (The Ukranian international adoption referral method requires that both parents must be in Ukraine to receive a referral.)
Adopted child younger than 2 years: 50%
Adopted child older than 10 years: 50%
Average cost: $48,000
Matched within 1 year: 85%
Matched within 2 years: 100%
Adopted a child younger than two years: 69%
Adopted a child younger than five years: 100%
How Many Children are Adopted from Foster Care Each Year?
Adoptions from foster care are increasing. The most recent and comprehensive breakdown of the numbers of adoptions from foster care is the AFCARS report by the US Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau. For 2016 (the most recent year from which the data has been reported), the total number of adoptions from foster care was 57,208. That represents an increase over 50,913 in 2011. About 25% of children who enter foster care are adopted and about 50% go back to their birth families.
The total numbers of children in care have also risen: 437,465 in 2015 up from 397,605 in 2011.
How Much Does It Cost to Adopt from Foster Care and How Long Does It Take in 2018?
To learn more about how to adopt a child from foster care check out Creating a Family’s extensive resources on foster care adoption.and 25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from Foster Care.
The bottom line is that it cost very little to adopt a child from foster care—anywhere from free to about $2,600. In addition to the low cost, families who adopt from foster care are also eligible for the full federal Adoption Tax Credit even if they do not have adoption expenses.
Creating a Family has extensive information on this credit at our Adoption Tax Credit Headquarters and how it applies to international adoption. Take our Adoption Tax Credit 2017 course for a complete overview.
The timing for adopting from foster care is hard to calculate because often families start as foster parents and may have several foster placements before the child they are fostering becomes available for adoption. Also, unlike in international adoption, the child often lives with the adoptive family as a foster placement while they are waiting for the adoption to be finalized.
About 60% of families seeking to adopt from foster care are matched within one year. The length of time that families wait is usually related to how many restrictions they place on the type of child that they want to adopt (age, special needs, race).
- Creating a Family International Adoption Country Comparison Charts
- Adoption By the Numbers This report is a ton of numbers and statistics, and if you are a true data geek like many of us here at Creating a Family, you can view the full report, including graphs, charts and formulas that will make your nerdy heart sing.
- Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 2016 data
- Adoptive Family Magazine Their annual survey includes lots of detail and is well worth the read.
- FY 2016 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption Again, full of numbers, graphs and charts to make the data geeks happy.
Image credits: (these children are not available for adoption) Domestic Infant and Foster Care: makelessnoise International Adoption nendra_gunawan Foster Care Adoption: Lance Tet