These are some adoption facts you need to know and consider before you pursue the different types of adoption, whether foster, international, or domestic.

Adoption Facts

Considering adoption? Need a little more information to make an educated decision? Well, you are not alone. Many folks all across America are considering adopting a child, just like you. But you need to be armed with some knowledge of adoption facts because knowledge is power! But first, let’s define adoption and what it actually is.

What is adoption?

Adoption is the transfer of legal custody of a child from one set of parents to another. From the parents’ point of view, it is choosing to be matched with a child and making him or her a part of your family. It is loving that child and providing everything needed to care for that child’s well-being, physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually, for a lifetime! From the child’s point of view, it may be moving from a desperate situation to a stable one; moving from no family to a forever family (depending on the case); moving from uncertainty to consistency. But more literally, it may mean moving from one country to another, moving from one culture to another, or simply moving from one home to another one down the street.

What is foster care adoption?

Foster care adoption is when foster parents choose to adopt a child through the foster care system. These children come into care through no fault of their own due abuse, neglect, or abandonment. When this happens, in foster care adoption, the parent’s rights are either voluntarily relinquished or involuntarily severed. If a foster parent is fostering a child when the rights are severed, they may have the option of adopting the child if there are no other family members available to adopt that child. Another option is to search for foster children who are free to adopt. Either way, in most states, a foster child must be in the home of an adoptive home for at least six months before adopting. The wait time for adopting an infant through foster care could be a few years. However, if you consider adopting an older child or a sibling group, the wait will be much less.

What is private adoption?

Private adoption is when the mom in a crisis pregnancy searches for a family to adopt her child. This mom may have the opportunity to make a life plan for the child in choosing the family that can best raise her child. The adoptive family, in turn, agrees to adopt this infant, sometimes from birth. Sometimes a post-adoptive communication agreement is drafted which guides an open adoption. Private adoptions involve attorneys and adoption agencies for guidance. Private adoptions are finalized in court and approved by a judge. The wait times for adopting an infant could take years unless you already have an identified child in mind or already have a pre-existing relationship with the birth mom. This type of adoption is a beautiful thing because not only is the child being helped, not only is the birth mom being helped, but also the adoptive parents, who may be struggling with infertility.

What is kinship adoption?

Kinship or relative adoption is when a person who is closely related to a child chooses to adopt that child. The adoptive parent may be grandparents, uncles, older siblings, or even cousins. The advantage is that the child may already be familiar with his relative in terms of their home and their rules. The other advantage is that the culture is preserved through the family. Kinship adoption is a great way to keep the family lines intact and to keep the child within the family, rather than a stranger. It reduces trauma and gives hope to the child.

What are adoption facts I should know if I am expecting to adopt?

Preparing to have a baby is one of the most important things a person can do. Here are some adoption facts that will help you to prepare if you are still trying to make a decision on adoption.

  • There are about 2 million prospective adoptive parents in America. There are many people in the U.S. who would love to adopt! Many of these adults have passed background checks, been trained and have a completed background check with a licensed agency. They may be willing to adopt internationally or domestically and may even be willing to adopt through foster care to do so.
  • The total amount of adoptions of children with special needs increased from 45,584 in 2002 to 61,341 in 2014. Special needs can be anything from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy, from autism to epilepsy, from age range to sibling groups. It takes a special person to adopt a child with disabilities and special needs. These children need one-on-one attention and need someone who is prepared to care for them, sometimes for a lifetime.
  • There are about 437,000 foster children in the U.S. for one reason or another. Children come into care, through no fault of their own, through abuse, neglect, or abandonment. When this happens, parents lose custody of their child, temporarily. These children enter foster homes, group homes, or residential treatment facilities. A small portion of these children are part of the juvenile justice system.
  • Many of those foster children are waiting for adoption, 125,000 of them to be exact. Over 25 percent of all foster children are waiting to be adopted. In other words, they have a goal of adoption and/or their parents’ rights have either been voluntarily relinquished or have been involuntarily severed by the courts. All they need is to find the right family to meet their needs.
  • About 3 in 5 of all foster children are reunited with their parents or other family members. Most case plans in juvenile courts, for foster children, are for reunification. That means that the court allows for parents to become free from addiction, to become employed and to gain housing. The court also may order certain training such as parenting, anger management and may also get involved in drug treatment such as alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous. Most parents are successful and therefore regain custody of their child.
  • The median age of a child who is adopted from foster care with public agency involvement is 5 years of age. Though most people want to adopt infants, the fact is, many older children need to be adopted. As a matter of fact, the longer a youth stays in foster care without being adopted, the more likely he is at risk of moving from home to home, which causes instability in the child’s life.
  • Over 23,000 teens in America age out of the foster care system every year without ever being adopted. If a teen is not adopted by the time they “age out” of the system by age 18, they stand at a great risk of homelessness, incarceration, drug addiction and crisis pregnancy. These youth need to be adopted as well. As a matter of fact, in many states, a person can be adopted up to the age of 21.
  • A foster care adoption costs virtually $0! If you adopt a child through the foster care system, there are little to no costs involved. This means that the attorney fees, foster care agency fees, and home study fees are all covered by the state. And even if there are any fees, depending on the state in which you reside, those fees are reimbursable.
  • There are roughly 140 million orphans around the world. Though statistics vary because it is just impossible to know for sure, estimates are that between 87 and 147 million children around the world have experienced the death of at least one parent. This is the result of war, poverty, natural disaster, or gang-related crime. When a child becomes an orphan, depending on what nation they reside, they are at great risk of homelessness, disease, poverty, human trafficking, and abuse.
  • The most adoption-friendly nations are Ukraine, India, South Korea, and Mexico. These nations have a friendly relationship with the U.S. and do not have as many restrictions as other nations do.
  • An international adoption can cost anywhere from $40,000-$60,000! International adoption has become very expensive over the last few years. These costs include attorney fees, adoption agency fees, foreign adoption agency fees, and travel. Costs vary from nation to nation and from agency to agency.

Rising costs, added restrictions, and ever-increasing regulations make it more difficult to adopt overseas. Despite these numbers, if you have the resources to adopt internationally, you should do so. There’s a child out there somewhere that needs you!

  • A domestic infant adoption can cost between $20,000-$40,000! Domestic adoption can be a bit less expensive than international adoption. This is because most people want to adopt infants. However, the costs can be a bit less if a prospective adoptive parent wants to adopt older children or sibling groups of a child with disabilities.
  • Many adoptive parents may be eligible for the adoption tax credit. If you have adopted a child in one year, you can claim the adoption tax credit the following year. The maximum credit a person can receive is about $13,000-$14,000! Regardless of whether you adopted domestically or internationally, privately or through foster care, you may be eligible for a tax credit. It is a credit that goes against your tax liability of the year you claimed it on your federal income tax return. It is not a tax refund, which is different. 
  • In many states, many adoptive parents are eligible for an adoption subsidy. This is a monthly stipend that covers the expenses of raising an adoptive child until he turns 18 years of age. In many cases, the adoptive child needs to have special needs in order for the parents to be eligible for the subsidy.
  • The ratio of infant adoption to abortion is 17.3 adoptions per every 1,000 abortions. There are many factors that reflect these numbers, and we could spend lots of time discussing the controversial topic of abortion. That is not the goal of this article. However, the fact remains that if more abortion-minded women knew about the joys of adoption or the presence of pregnancy resource centers or the viability of open adoption, their choices might be different. True empowerment of women comes when women are fully informed of all their choices. If this happens, we may see a rise in adoption, overall.
  • In terms of adoptive family structure: most are married, two-parent families are the ones who are adopting children and youth. This is followed by single moms, unmarried couples, and single dads. Different states and agencies have different qualifications for who can adopt. But even though married couples may have a bit more support than singles, it is still important that all families find support.
  • About 10 to 25 percent of adopted children in the U.S. have been disrupted from their adoptive family, depending on different populations. This is usually at the request of the family. This means that an adoptive child was removed from an adoptive family for one reason or another. Some of the reasons are due to behavioral issues in children, lack of trauma-informed training, unrealistic expectations and lack of support.
  • Post-adoption support services exist in every state. These services exist to support families after the adoption is complete and also to preserve adoptions. Some of the supports that are available to families that have already adopted are support groups, training, special events, counseling, and other activities for adoptive families. These supports are important because adoptive families can often feel isolated, alone, and unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead of them. But many of the challenges are merely barriers that can be navigated with the right support from experienced people.

Whether you plan to adopt overseas or here in the state, it is important to be educated. This way you can make an educated decision when planning to take your first step. Do your homework! See links below; read adoption-oriented books; listen to adoption podcasts; and most importantly, spend time with other families who have successfully adopted children. This experience is invaluable and will go a long way in helping you to make your final decision.

Sources of the above statistics can be found on the following websites:

Child Welfare Information Gateway:


The Dave Thomas Foundation:


Casey Family Programs:


National Council on Adoption:


Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.

Derek Williams

Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journeys. He and his wife started their own adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children, 6 of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities, including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.