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Adoption Statistics

Combatting Common Misconceptions About Adoption

Over the years, adoption has become more openly and positively talked about in society. Yet, many misconceptions about adoption still remain.

For example, prospective adoptive parents often wonder if they will be able to love an adopted child as much as a biological child, and birth parents sometimes worry that their child will have ill feelings toward them, to name a few.

However, the U.S. Department of Health and Services has posted the latest adoption statistics taken from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP). This is the first empirical study with quantifiable statistics about adoption that can be used to finally put some of these misconceptions to rest.

The following are some of the most common myths about adoption and what the adoption statistics say about each.

Misconceptions About Adopted Children vs. Adoption Statistics

Misconception: “Adopted children are not loved as much as a biological children.”

This is a very common feeling that not only the birth parents but also the adoptive family may have before beginning an adoption plan.

Adoption Statistic: Nearly 3 out of every 4 adopted children ages 0-5 are read to or sang to every day.

This adoption statistic shows that couples who struggle with infertility gain an astounding appreciation for the gift of parenthood. Adoption presents the couple with another chance to reclaim their dreams of raising a child, and it shows in the little things, such as reading to him or her before bed. Only half of non-adopted children receive this same attention from their parents.

Another national adoption statistic shows that 9 out of every 10 adoptive couples said the relationship they share with their adopted child is “very close,” and nearly half said that their relationship is even “better than expected.” Also, more than 9 out of every 10 people said they would “definitely” make the same decision to adopt again.

These statistics are quite telling considering all of the complexities that may occur throughout an adoption and prove that no matter how difficult the adoption process can be emotionally, the end result is what matters – that the family loves the child as much as they would a biological one.

Misconceptions by Birth Mothers vs. Adoption Statistics 

Misconception: “My child will hate me because I placed him or her for adoption.”

An extended family member or a friend who may not agree with a pregnant woman’s desire to place her child for adoption may say that the child will hate her if she goes through with it. Similarly, some television shows and movies have unjustly portrayed adoptees in this way as well.

Adoption Statistic: 90 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older have positive feelings about their adoption.

Most adopted children are raised in happy homes by loving adoptive parents, so why would an adopted child hate his birth parents, who provided him with such a great life full of opportunity? While the majority of adopted children have little contact with their birth parents, they still appreciate the selfless decision their birth parents made for them, and love them for it.

Misconception: “Once I place my baby for adoption, I will never see her again.”

At one time, this misconception was not a misconception at all – it was reality. It was thought that the adoption process was easier for each member of the adoption triad if the birth mother went on with her life not knowing anything about her child.

Adoption Statistic: 100 percent of all birth mothers have the right to choose the amount of openness they want in their child’s life.

Today, most adoption professionals encourage adoptive families to be accepting of at least a semi-open adoption with the birth parents and will find the right adoption opportunity for both parties based on their comfort levels with openness. Ultimately, the birth mother decides how much contact she wishes to have with the family and her child, and the adoption professional will help her find the best adoption situation.

This has resulted in 67 percent of private adoptions having pre-adoption agreements of at least a semi-open adoption. The 33 percent that don’t have pre-adoption agreements are at the request of the birth mother.

Misconception: “My child won’t know that she was adopted.”

In the past, adoption was very “hush hush.” Often times, a birth mother wouldn’t tell anyone she was pregnant, and in some situations she would even leave for a few months to have the baby and place him or her for adoption. This extended to adoptive parents as well, who wouldn’t tell their child that he or she was adopted, just because it was such a delicate topic back then.

Adoption Statistic: Today, 99 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older know that they were adopted.

All adoption professionals educate adoptive families about how to approach their child about their adoption, once they become age appropriate. As they grow older, their adoption story is just another part of their lives.

This is proof that any sort of stigma that adoption may have once had has since lifted, and nearly all adopted children have a story of where they came from and who they are.

Other birth mother adoption facts learned from the stats:

  • Birth mothers have higher educational aspirations, are more likely to finish school, and less likely to live in poverty and receive public assistance than mothers who parent their children.

  • Birth mothers delay marriage longer, are more likely to eventually marry, and are less likely to divorce.

  • Birth mothers are more likely to be employed 12 months after the birth and less likely to repeat out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

  • Birth mothers are no more likely to suffer negative psychological consequences, such as depression, than are mothers who rear children as single parents.

Source: McLaughlin SD, Manninen DL, Winges LD. Do Adolescents Who Relinquish Their Children Fare Better or Worse Than Those Who Raise Them? Family Planning Perspectives, 20:1 (Jan. - Feb. 1998), pp. 25-32

Misconceptions by Adoptive Families vs. Adoption Statistics

Misconception: “Adopted children are not as healthy as non-adopted children.”

Some people believe that all birth mothers don’t take care of themselves while pregnant, resulting in the child having many health, emotional and behavioral problems later in life.

Adoption Statistic: 85 percent of adopted children are rated to have “excellent” or “very good” health.

The overall health of children adopted as babies is actually higher than the national average of non-adopted children: 82 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Misconception: “Adoption agencies withhold relevant information about the adoption, birth mother and child.”

As early as the 1960s, state adoption facilities thought it was better to withhold medical records because they wanted to respect the child and not release it until the child was 18 years old. They thought that by not disclosing his or her medical records, the child would have a better chance of being adopted.

Adoption Statistic: 100 percent of all known medical information is disclosed to the adoptive family

After many lawsuits and a general shift in perception, today state governments, private agencies, and many state laws and regulations mandate that all known medical information is disclosed to the adoptive family. This information is extremely important for the adoptive family to know any health concerns about the adopted child, and so the adopted child knows how to take care of him or herself.

Furthermore, this is why post-placement contact with the birth parents is so important because they can update the family on their medical backgrounds well into the future.

Other General Adoption Statistics

  • 62 percent of children adopted privately are placed with the adoptive family when they are newborns or less than one year old.

  • 21 percent of private adoptions are transracial.

  • 88 percent of adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple, while 83 percent of non-adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple."

Education Adoption Statistics

  • Nationally, adoptive parents have at least a high school education in 79 percent of private domestic adoptions.

  • Adopted children ages 6-11 are just as likely to read leisurely as non-adopted children.

  • Children adopted privately are more likely to be engaged in school than are children adopted internationally and through foster care.

  • 85 percent of privately adopted children ages 6-17 engage in extracurricular activities.

Home/Neighborhood Adoption Statistics

  • Almost half of privately adopted children are the only child living in the home.

  • Adopted children are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are safe, that have good amenities and are in good physical condition than are non-adopted children.

For a related article, please read How Do Children Feel About Being Adopted.

If you have any questions about how these adoption statistics pertain to American Adoptions, call us today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

*All adoption statistics (except for "More general adoption statistics on the birth mother") are taken from the U.S. Department of Health’s 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP).

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.