Hoping to Adopt

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Since the end of World War II, interest in adoption primarily has focused on healthy, young infants. By the mid-1950's, the demand for healthy infants grew so significantly that it exceeded the number of children available for adoption, a trend that has accelerated with each passing decade. (Freundlich, 1998)

How Many People are Seeking to Adopt?

  • According to the data from the National Surveys of Family Growth from 1973, 1982, 1988, and 1995, that there were 9.9 million women who had ever considered adoption, 16% had taken steps towards adoption, and 31% of these had actually adopted a child. (National Center for Health Statistics, 1999)
  • The 1995 National Survey of Family Growth found that 500,000 women were currently seeking to adopt a child. (Freundlich, 1998)
  • Of the 500,000 women seeking to adopt, only 100,000 had actually applied to adopt a child. (National Center for Health Statistics, 1997)
  • The 1995 National Survey of Family Growth found that 232,000 women were currently taken concrete steps towards adoptions, compared to 204,000 in 1988. (National Center for Health Statistics, 1999)
  • According to the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth there are an estimated 3.3 adoption seekers for every actual adoption.
  • According to the 1988 National Survey on Family Growth, about 2 million women ages 15 to 44 (3.5%) had ever sought to adopt a child.

    Of these, 1.3 million did not adopt and are no longer seeking.
    620,000 have adopted one or more children.
    204,000 are currently seeking to adopt.
    (Bachrach, London, Maza, 1991)

  • About 2% of ever-married women aged 15 to 44 have ever adopted a child; this statistic has remained stable since the 1970s. (Bachrach, Adams, Sambrano, London, 1990)

Who are They?

Analysis of data from the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth shows that:

  • Black and nonblack women were equally likely to have sought to adopt. (Bachrach, London, Maza, 1991)
  • Of women 15 to 44, the percentage of women who had ever sought to adopt was highest among those who desired three or more children, had experienced child death and/or fetal loss, were currently or previously had been married, or who were older. (Bachrach, London, Maza, 1991)

Adoptions in California: Current Demographic Profiles and Projections Through the End of the Century by Barth, Brooks, and Iyer (1995) found the following:

  • Most adoptive parents are two parent families aged 31 to 40. A growing number of parents are aged 41 to 49. Most parents attended or completed college. The number of parents with college degrees increased sharply from 1983 to 1993.
  • Fewer that 20% of families adopting independently earned less that $30,000, compared with 80% in 1982. Nearly two-thirds of adoptive families earned $50,000 or more. These incomes were not adjusted for inflation, although inflation alone would not explain the shift.
  • Families adopting from the public child welfare system are similar to those adopting independently, in that the majority of each are 31 to 40 years old. A significant number of public agency adopters, however, are less than 30 years old. Public agency adopters have generally lower levels of education and income than independent adopters. Since 1989, public agencies are less likely to place children in families earning $50,000 or more, and more likely to place children in families earning $30,000 or less.


Bachrach, C.A., Adams, P.F., Sambrano, S. and London, K.A. (1990). Adoption in the 1980's. Advanced Data from Vital and Health Statistics of the National Center for Health Statistics, 181.

Bachrach, C.A., London, K.A. and Maza, P. (1991). On the path to adoption: adoption seeking in the U.S., 1988. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53(3), 705-718.

Barth, R.P., Brooks, D. and Iyer, S. (1995). Adoptions in California: current demographic profiles and projections through the end of the century. Executive Summary. Berkeley,California: Child Welfare Research Center.

Freundlich, M. (1998). Supply and demand: the forces shaping the future of infant adoptions. Adoption Quarterly, 2(1), 13-42.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

Visitor Comments (4)
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. - 3 years ago
0 0 2
Your information is old. The latest date you have listed is 17 years ago... #1
Bonnie - 5 years ago
0 3 3
with over 300,000 abortions and the facts that you have I would think that your organization could lobby congress and a campaign to the American people showing you have loving and financially prepared homes for these babies to go to. #2
ricalcala - 7 months ago
The comments of Bonnie, 4 years ago, still seem relevant today. #3
*** - 4 months ago
Updated you statistics #4

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