How Many Children Are Adopted Each Year in the US

Dawn Davenport


How many children are adopted in the US every year?

How many children are adopted in the US every year?

Simple question, right? “How many children are adopted each year in the United States?” Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer.  Believe it or not, and I’ll admit that I’m clearly in the “not” camp, the US does not have a central source for tracking the number and type of adoptions that occur each year.  The latest guesstimate is based on data from 2008 and has recently been published by Child Welfare Information Gateway

  • In 2008, 135,813 children were adopted in the US in all types of adoption, including foster care adoptions, intercountry adoptions, and private baby adoptions. The 2008 number is a 6-percent increase in total adoptions from 2000, when 127,985 children were adopted.
  • Although the total number of adoptions has risen, the adoption rate per 100,000 adults in the United States has decreased. The adoption rate per 100,000 adults (i.e., persons aged 18 and older who became adoptive parents) in 2000 was 61.5, and the adoption rate was 58.3 in 2008—a 5-percent decrease.
  • Adoption from foster care accounted for 41% (55,303) of all adoptions in 2008. In 2000, they made up 40 percent of all adoptions.
  • International adoptions accounted for 13% (17,416) of all adoptions in 2008. In 2000, 14 percent of all adoptions were of children from foreign countries.
  • Other adoptions (private adoption from adoption agencies or adoption attorneys, tribal, step parent) accounted for the rest—about 46% (63,094) in 2008.  In 2000, they accounted for approximately 47 percent of all adoptions.

For me, the most fascinating part of this report was the break down of number and type of adoption by state. Wow, what differences there were.

Variances in Adoption Type by US State for 2007 and 2008

District of Columbia431525525011111350274
New Hampshire365141143649414167106687
New Jersey1081,5645762,2486201,2655272,412
New Mexico2503558068519742770694
New York4,4812,4881,1998,1685,0122,3941,1188,524
North Carolina3,9671,5216056,0932,9191,6945855,198
North Dakota1231252727511315927299
Puerto Rico1491801834715415218324
Rhode Island1612398448417026062492
South Carolina9534312191,6038255251961,546
South Dakota1551605336817517656407
West Virginia45940360922425523621,010

*Other could include private infant adoptions from adoption agencies or adoption attorneys, tribal, and step parent.

Image credit: aka Quique

10/02/2012 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 19 Comments

19 Responses to How Many Children Are Adopted Each Year in the US

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  4. Avatar shelbylyn seipert says:

    i need a mentor for my senior project. i choose to do adotion becaiuse i was adopted when i was little.

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  7. Avatar Sylvia says:

    So I really need the statistic of adapted children from 2009-2014 by state for my project nut I can’t find any website and I figured this website could help me so please help me

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Re-read the article and you’ll see that these stats aren’t kept. You can make guesstimates but that’s about all.

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  9. Avatar Rebecca says:

    I read what other people had to say about adopting a child and I agree it is hard to do but at the same time it’s a great thing also cause there are so many Children that need good homes. My dad was adopted twice until they found him a good home to live at and I’m thankful for that and so is he. I have a friend that lost all three of her Children and they went into the Foster care system and she fought for six years to get them back and finally she got two out of the three of her Children back her baby girl was adopted my the father’s parents but it’s ok now cause she still gets to see her daughter every year and she can talk to her on the phone anytime she wants and that makes her very happy and it also does her other two daughters.

  10. Avatar Steve says:

    I’d like to find some stats on how many U.S. children are victims of illegal/wrongful/fraud adoptions annually. I’m a grown adult, knew I was adopted as a child, unfortunately went through some sexual, physical, and mental abuse as a result, later placed in boys’ homes. I was raised to believe my father gave permission for the adoption to take place, as my mother was deceased. However, in part of this, I was abducted / kidnapped out of the state, and the adoption took place in another state. At the age of 40 years old I learned the truth about my adoption as I obtained favor with a judge to have my “sealed” adoption records opened. I was appalled at what I was reading, and was able to have copies made to take home and read. I’ve recently learned that the juvenile court to this date still practices the same tactics and this is supposed to be “legal”?! I recently wrote a book about my experience and it became published in March of this year. I truly hope I can help other children and their parents prevent such wrongful adoptions.

  11. Avatar Billy says:

    These are statistics ranging from 2007-2008. The amount of overseas adoptions has been drastically halted by U.N. laws, which started being passed from 2000-2006, protecting poor families overseas from the huge demand for adoptable children (especially infants) from the U.S. The demand inside the United States for children that have no attachments has outgrown it’s “supply.” In 2008, a new law was signed by President Bush giving cash incentives to people adopting children from the U.S., giving foster homes double the amount of funding, and giving more Title IV funding to child welfare agencies. This has made some children service state agencies to become overly agressive in removing children from homes across the U.S., and adopting those children to new homes, especially children under the age of 2. The law passed in 2008, Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, has had a big impact on families that are struggling with the recession. Also with the recent epidemic of opiate abuse in the U.S., those adoption numbers will dramatically increase for 2012 and 2013. It’s called supply and demand. One children services worker, recently resigned, had told me in confidence that there are actual bets, placed within State agencies by workers, on which children will get removed out of their homes and adopted. And with the middle class epidemic of bank foreclosures, they are just now starting to remove children from homes of middle and working class families.

    • Avatar Kurt says:

      To my knowledge children can not simply be removed from a home due to poor living conditions. They must be a victim of some for of neglect. I don’t see then how families who’ve lost their homes would be at risk for having their children taken.

  12. Avatar Michelle @ Bridge Communications says:

    How did they collect the data? I understand that with international that requires a visa and state wards the state govt can count the numbers but who counted all the rest?

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Michelle, the data were collected primarily by the following sources: State courts, State bureaus of vital records, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

  13. Avatar Sherry says:

    I wish they could seperate the private adoptions and step parent adoptions. Also would love to see a state specific list that has placing mothers statistics. I wonder how disproportionate utah would look!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Sherry, I too was frustrated that they lumped step parent adoptions into the “other” category, rather than breaking them out. If I understand it correctly, they didn’t have the ability to do that with the data sources they were working with.

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