NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Adoption in America

August 22, 2003

The Census Bureau's first profile of adopted children, out today, shows that 1.6 million adopted kids under 18 are now living in U.S. households. Although foreign adoptions are increasing, the report shows 87 percent of adoptees under 18 were born in the United States.

Some of the findings:

  • About one in six adopted children (17 percent) are of a different race than the head of their household.
  • About half (49 percent) of the foreign-born come from Asia; Korea leads the list.
  • Adopted kids tend to live with older and more economically secure parents.
  • Adoptive families are fairly evenly distributed across the United States.

The report, based on data from the one in six households that filled out the long 2000 Census form, is large enough to compare adopted kids and other children. Adoptees make up about 2.5 percent of the country's 65 million children; children living with biological parents are 92.5 percent; and stepchildren are 5 percent.

Although only 13 percent of adopted children younger than 18 were born in other countries, the adoption of foreign-born children has increased. The number of immigrant visas issued to orphans coming to the United States for adoption increased from about 7,000 in 1990 to nearly 18,000 in 2000.

The fact that Census is now asking about adoptions is almost as significant as the findings. Clearly adoption is alive and well in America today, says Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council For Adoption.

Source: Karen S. Peterson, "Census counts adoptees: 1.6M kids," USA Today, August 22, 2003.


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