November 18, 2021
The Latest Stats on Adoptions From Foster Care
As national attention turns to the importance of providing permanent, loving adoptive families for foster children and youth who cannot return to their families, the KIDS COUNT Data Center provides the latest statistics about this vulnerable population.
Stats on Kids Waiting to Be Adopted
In 2019, 122,637 children were waiting in foster care for adoption in the United States. Among several positive trends, the share of kids waiting 5 years or more to be adopted is down — one in 10 kids had been waiting 5 or more years to be adopted in 2019, a drop from about one in four in the early 2000s. In 2019, a third of kids had been waiting 1 to 2 years and, in less positive news, nearly half (45%) had been waiting 2 to 4 years.
Additional statistics on children awaiting adoptions in 2019:
- 30% were in California, Texas and Florida, consistent with prior years.
- 40% were ages 1 to 5, the largest share, and 4% were infants, figures that have been stable for a decade. Among older kids, just over a quarter were ages 6 to 10, while just under a quarter were 11 to 15, and older youth 16 to 20 have made up 7% for years.
- Trends by race and ethnicity also have been steady in recent years, with white children making up 44% of this group, Latino and African American children each comprising about one fifth (22%), followed by multiple race groups (8%), American Indian children (2%) and Asian/Native Hawaiian kids (1%).
At the national level, African American and American Indian children continue to be overrepresented among children awaiting adoption—and children in foster care, generally—compared to their share of the total child population.
Stats on Kids in Child Welfare Who Get Adopted
In 2019, one in four (26%) children who left foster care in the United States was adopted by a family, up from 17% in 2000. The percentage of children who were placed with family (adoptive family or parent/family member) remained fairly steady, declining slightly from 84% in 2000 to 79% in 2019.
In a broader measure* of adoptions, just over 66,000 children and youth in the child welfare system were adopted in 2019, a considerable increase from about 50,600 in 2013.
Other findings about children who were adopted from the child welfare system:
- In patterns essentially unchanged for a decade, the majority (56% in 2019) of these adoptees are from birth to age 5, about one in four is age 6 to 10, one in seven is 11 to 15 and 3% are older youth ages 16 to 20.
- Over the last two decades, white kids have comprised a growing share of adopted children — from 38% in 2000 to 50% in 2019—while the share for African American children has decreased from 38% to 18%. Percentages for Latino kids also grew from 15% to 21%, and the share for multiple race groups increased from 2% to 9% in 2019, while shares for other groups remained much smaller and stable.
- In the last five years, more than two-thirds (69% in 2019) of these adoptions have been by the foster parents (either relatives or nonrelatives) who cared for the children while they were in foster care. And, in a heartening trend, the share of kids adopted by relatives doubled from 18% to 36% between 2000 and 2019.
Adoptions Statistics in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, Including Data by State and Territory
- Children waiting for adoption
- Children exiting foster care to adoptions and other reasons
- Children in the child welfare system who have been adopted
More Data and Resources on Adoptions and Foster Care
See all regularly updated statistics on adoptions, foster care and more in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, and explore the Foundation’s many publications, blog posts, webinars and other resources related to child welfare and adoptions, including:
- Blog post: Helping Mental Health Clinicians Better Support Adoptive Families
- Report: Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success
- Blog post: A Resource for Strengthening Adoptive Families with Older Kids
- Report: Achieving Permanency Through Adoption: The Permanency Continuum Series
Stay up to date on the latest news and information by signing up for our child welfare newsletter.
* Note: Children in the child welfare system who were adopted includes the following broader group of adoptions, including children who may not be in foster care:
- Children placed for adoption by a public child welfare agency;
- Children who have been in the public foster care system and were placed for adoption by a private agency under contract with the public child welfare agency; and
- Children in whose adoption the public child welfare agency was involved but who had not been in the public foster care system (e.g., children who received Title IV-E funds for nonrecurring costs of adoption).