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Important Adoption Statistics to Know

Combatting Common Misconceptions About Adoption

Unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about adoption that persist today. We hear them a lot, especially from those who are considering adoption for the very first time.

Adoptive parents may wonder if they will be able to love an adopted child as much as a biological child. Sometimes, prospective birth parents worry that their adopted child will have ill feelings toward them. They both often wonder if adoption is really the right thing for them — or if the stories they’ve heard about “adoptions gone wrong” are all they can expect.

As a licensed, national adoption agency, American Adoptions is here to set the record straight. We’ve gathered some important adoption statistics to highlight the reality of the modern adoption process. While there may be unique challenges along the way, we’ve found that, for many people, adoption can be a beautiful thing.

For many decades, finding adoption facts and figures was difficult. Few national studies were conducted, and extrapolating from smaller studies could be misleading. Thankfully, in 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the most extensive national adoption statistics ever, gathered from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP). It was the first national, empirical study in the U.S. with quantifiable adoption facts and statistics.

Now, we’ll use them to help you see the truth behind the most common adoption misconceptions.

Adoption Statistics in the U.S.: Disproving a Big Adoption Myth

As we discuss some of the common myths about adoption, you may find yourself surprised at how many positive facts about adoption there are. Here at American Adoptions, we’ve seen how great adoption can be, and we’re always happy to share that knowledge with prospective birth and adoptive parents.

So, before we get any further, there’s one big misconception we want to clear up: “An adopted child won’t be loved as much as a biological child.”

This is a relatively common concern — both for adoptive families and prospective birth parents. But, any fears of the adoptive family not loving a child simply because he or she doesn’t have their genes are unfounded. Even before they first lay eyes on a baby, adoptive parents report a great deal of love for the child a prospective birth mother carries. They often feel intense love and respect for her, too.

For evidence of this love, look no further than how adoptive parents interact with adopted children: According to the NSAP, nearly three out of every four adopted children ages 0-5 are read to or sang to every day, compared with only half of non-adopted children who receive the same attention from their biological parents.

Furthermore, well over half of all adopted children eat dinner with their families at least six days per week. 

At first glance, these child adoption statistics may not seem like much, but they give a glimpse into what adoptive parents are all about. Couples who struggle with infertility gain an astounding appreciation for the gift of parenthood. Adoption allows them to reclaim their dreams of raising a child, and their love shows in the little things, such as reading to their child before bed.

It’s no surprise that statistics on adoption show how much adoptive parents cherish the time they have with their children. They appreciate every day the opportunity to be a parent, no matter what their biological connection to their child is.

More domestic adoption statistics show that 9 out of every 10 adoptive couples said the relationship they share with their adopted child is “very close.” Nearly half said that their relationship is even “better than expected.” Even more telling? More than 9 out of every 10 parents said they would “definitely” make the same decision to adopt again.

These adoption facts are remarkable, especially considering the many complexities involved in the adoption process. They prove that no matter how difficult the process can be emotionally, the end result is what matters — that the family unequivocally loves the child.

Birth Parent Misconceptions vs. Statistics About Adoption

Placing a child for adoption is a difficult enough decision on its own. But, when the internet is full of misleading information, it can be hard to know which adoption facts and figures to believe.

If you’re considering “giving a child up” for adoption, statistics like those below can help you better imagine the future you can give to yourself and your baby. Here, we present a few common myths about placing a child for adoption — and the facts behind them.

Misconception: My child will hate me because I placed 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.

Child adoption facts show that over 90 percent of adoptees 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, the ones who provided him with a great life? An open adoption relationship with birth parents helps a child understand their birth parents’ decision and respect them for it.

Want more proof? Read how adoptees Scott and Jennifer feel about their birth parents.

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

At one time, this was not a misconception at all — it was reality. For years, many people thought adoption was easier for all involved if the birth mother went on with her life not knowing anything about her child. However, current adoption statistics reveal that this is not the truth — and that every member of the adoption triad prefers more openness in adoption.

Today, most adoption professionals agree an open adoption creates healthy relationships between each party. Keeping in contact with the adoptive family gives a birth mother the peace of mind that she made the right decision by placing the child in a loving home. It reminds her that she can feel good about her decision, instead of hiding her story in shame.

At American Adoptions, 100 percent of prospective birth mothers have the right to choose the amount of openness in the adoptive relationship. Each birth mother will select the family that is open to her desires, and she will always have the chance to get to know those adoptive parents prior to placing her child with them.

For more information about our open adoption policies, please request free information online.

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

In the early 20th century, adoption was very “hush hush.” A prospective birth mother wouldn’t tell anyone she was pregnant and, in some situations, she would even take a long “vacation” to have the baby and place him or her for adoption. Adoptive parents often wouldn’t tell their child that he or she was adopted.

Fortunately, the adoption world has changed: Today, 99 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older know that they were adopted. It’s one of the most reassuring domestic adoption facts — and a sign that stigma around adoption is becoming a thing of the past

Rest assured that nearly all adopted children know the story of where they came from and who they are — and your child will, too. American Adoptions, like other adoption professionals, emphasizes this importance to adoptive parents and will only move forward with those who can make this commitment. And, thanks to open adoption, you will be able to share your adoption story with your child on your own terms.

Misconception: “Only irresponsible/lazy/selfish mothers choose to place a baby for adoption.”

Sadly, there are some persistent stereotypes out there about the women who consider adoption for their babies, leading some expectant mothers to worry that choosing adoption is wrong or that it makes them a bad person. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, United States adoption statistics suggest that birth mothers are among some of the strongest, bravest and most successful members of society. Just take a look at these adoption facts and statistics about birth mothers:

  • 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.

In short: Placing a child for adoption is not “giving up on” or “giving away” your child. It’s making the brave, selfless choice to do what is best for both of you — and it’s one to be commended.

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

Adoptive Family Misconceptions vs. Domestic Adoption Statistics

If you’re considering adding a child to your family via adoption, it’s important that you’re fully educated first. Adoption isn’t always “rainbows and butterflies” — but it’s not always a worst-case scenario, either. If you plan on raising an adopted child, you should be ready for all the nuances involved.

Before you choose this path, learn more about what’s ahead with these adoptee and adoptive family statistics behind common misconceptions.

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

This false misconception stems from the many inaccurate stereotypes about birth mothers. Some people think that a prospective birth mother won’t take care of herself during pregnancy if she is placing the baby for adoption. This is untrue. 

In fact, current adoption statistics show that 85 percent of adopted children are rated to have “excellent” or “very good” health. The national average for non-adopted children is 82 percent, according to The National Center for Health Statistics, making adoptees slightly healthier on average than those who are not adopted! 

While some adopted children do, of course, have certain special needs or medical conditions in their background, there is no evidence that they are more likely to experience medical issues than non-adopted children. Know that the vast majority of infants placed through American Adoptions are healthy newborns. Our agency also provides financial assistance for prospective birth mothers, to cover their medical expenses and make obtaining prenatal care that much easier.

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

As recently as the 1960s, state adoption facilities thought it was better to withhold medical records from adoptive families until the child was 18 years old. They thought that, by not disclosing his or her medical history, the child would have a better chance of being adopted. This practice obviously ended up doing more harm than good.

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 to have; the adoptive family will know of any health concerns about the adopted child, and the adopted child knows how to take care of him or herself.

American Adoptions works closely with a prospective birth mother to gather as much medical and social history she knows. We explain to her the importance of this information to her child and their future parents, and we provide as much information as we can to the adoptive parents (with identifying information redacted, if requested by the birth mother).

Misconception: “We have to wait years to adopt an infant.”

Many hopeful adoptive parents choose to pursue private domestic infant adoption. But they often worry that, because so many parents are hoping to adopt a newborn, they will have a long adoption wait time.

While there are no national adoption waiting list statistics, it’s estimated that around 2 million couples are waiting to adopt a child. The Donaldson Adoption Institute has reported that 81.5 million Americans — about 40 percent — have considered adopting a child at one time in their lives.

These numbers can be daunting, but they don’t mean there are years of sadness ahead for couples waiting to adopt. Statistics from 2015 show that, of those parents who pursued an agency-assisted infant adoption in the U.S., 62 percent were matched within 1 year and 84 percent within 2 years.

At American Adoptions, our numbers are even better: While every adoptive family’s wait time is unique and can vary based on several factors (including their openness to a variety of adoption situations), Our families become parents average of 12 months.

Other General U.S. Adoption Statistics

As mentioned, having the right facts about adoption will make all the difference. While personal stories and anecdotes can be helpful, they can also be narrow in scope. Talking with an adoption professional like American Adoptions will help you learn more about this journey ahead.

As you continue your research, keep these adoption rates and statistics in mind:

  • In 2007, the breakdown of adopted children in the United States was as so:
    • Private domestic: 677,000 (38 percent)
    • Foster care: 661,000 (37 percent)
    • International: 440,000 (25 percent)
  • 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. From 1999 to 2011, the proportion of adopted children being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group increased 50 percent.
  • 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

  • While it’s not a requirement to adopt through our agency, more than 95 percent of American Adoptions’ adoptive families have a high school education, and more than 90 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Nationally, adoptive parents have at least a high school education in 79 percent of private domestic adoptions. While higher education is not necessarily a guarantee of better parenting, these statistics show that many adoptive parents value education — and will be more likely to provide the opportunity for higher education to their children.
  • 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 amenities and are in good physical condition than are non-adopted children. 
  • 90 percent of adopted children live in households with incomes above the poverty line.

We know that these adoption facts only tell a small part of the story. Adoption is a big deal, but we’re here to help you choose the path that’s right for you. To learn more about the statistics of adoption, or to start the adoption process with our agency, please contact American Adoptions today.

Except where noted, all information is 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. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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