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Adopted Children

Narrative

In 2007, there were approximately 1.8 million adopted children living in the United States. Of all adopted children, 38 percent were placed with families through private domestic adoption, meaning the child was voluntarily placed for adoption by his or her biological parents. Another 37 percent of adopted children were placed with their families through foster care adoption, and the remaining 25 percent of adopted children came to their families through international adoption.

Overall, the sex distribution of adopted children is about even, but this varies by adoption type. Only one-third of children adopted internationally are male (33 percent) compared to 57 percent of children adopted from foster care and 51 percent of children adopted privately in the U.S. The racial/ethnic distribution of adopted children also varies across adoption types, with private adoptions most likely to involve non-Hispanic White children and international adoptions most likely to involve Asian children.

The majority of adopted children, 85 percent, were reported by their parents to be in “excellent” or “very good” health, however, nearly 40 percent of adopted children have special health care needs. Children with special health care needs are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.1 Children adopted from foster care are more likely to have a special health care need (54 percent) compared to children adopted privately from the United States (32 percent) or internationally (29 percent).

1 McPherson M, Arango P, Fox H, Lauver C, McManus M, Newacheck P, Perrin J, Shonkoff J, Strickland B. A new definition of children with special health care needs. Pediatrics, 102(1):137–140, 1998.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

adopted children by type and sex graph

This image is described in the Data section.

adopted children by tupe and health status graph

Data

Adopted Children,* by Adoption Type and Sex,** 2007
Adoption Type Percent of Adopted Children
Male Female
*Adopted children were defined as those with at least one adoptive parent, but no biological parents, in the household.
**Published analyses of this data source round all estimates to the nearest whole number.
Source: Vandivere S, Malm K, and Radel L. Adoption USA: A chartbook based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2009. Accessed January 2011
All adopted children 49 51
Foster Care 57 43
Private Domestic 51 49
International 33 67
Adopted Children,* by Adoption Type and Selected Health Status Indicators,** 2007
Adoption Type Percent of Adopted Children
Health Status is Excellent or Very Good Special Health Care Needs
*Adopted children were defined as those with at least one adoptive parent, but no biological parents, in the household.
**Published analyses of this data source round all estimates to the nearest whole number.
Source: Vandivere S, Malm K, and Radel L. Adoption USA: A chartbook based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2009. Accessed January 2011.
All adopted children 85 39
Foster Care 81 54
Private Domestic 84 32
International 93 29

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