Adoption: The Latest Numbers

The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) has released their 2017 Adoption: By the Numbers report. You can read the report HERE.

Overall, the numbers suggest a continued conflict between the willingness of many families to adopt children and several factors that constrict the number of children who can be adopted.

Within the US, adoption continues to be chosen much less frequently than abortion in unplanned pregnancies. Globally, many countries with large numbers of orphaned children continue to restrict international adoption. As a result, both private domestic adoption and international adoption numbers have seen long-term downward trends.   A notable exception, however, are adoptions from foster care, which have begun to rise modestly over the past five years.

Data of particular note in the report includes:

  • The total number of all adoptions taking place in the U.S. has fallen, from a count of 133,737 adoptions in 2007 to 110,373 in 2014. The drop in the number of intercountry adoptions accounts for more than half of this decline.
  • The number of domestic infant adoptions has remained mostly steady from 2007; there was even a small increase from 18,078 in 2007 to 18,329 in 2014.
  • The number of domestic adoptions represents only 0.5% of all live births and only 1.1% of births to single parents. However, it is worth noting that after decreases in the number of infant adoptions in every National Adoption Data report since 1992, this latest report saw no further decrease.
  • Since 2004, the number of intercountry adoptions has fallen steadily to a low of 5,647 in 2015. The 2015 number is similar to the numbers in the 1970s and early 1980s.
  • The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) has since reported that foster care adoptions increased to a five-year high in Federal Fiscal Year 2015.

Many factors beyond law and policies affect these trends. However, wise government policies can indeed enable more children to find loving families through adoption. (It is worth noting that the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 doubled the number of children adopted from foster care within a handful of years.)

Policies that help ensure that women facing unplanned pregnancies are fully informed and well-supported in all their options could likely increase infant adoptions in the US. Policies that help governments of developing nations to build effective, ethical systems for local adoptions – as well as for international adoptions when local placement is not an option – could increase international adoption. And improvements in the foster system – including more robust foster family recruitment and support – could further increase adoptions from foster care.

Certainly, there are many vulnerable children in the world who need not adoption, but caring mentors or foster parents, education or medical care, or broad supports for their struggling parents. But for the millions of children today in need of a family, nothing in the world can meet that need like adoption.

Read the full NCFA report, Adoption: By the Numbers.